Tags: Christian Reformed Church | Calvinist | Denomination

Christian Reformed Church Evolution: 6 Key Events Since It Began

By    |   Friday, 06 February 2015 11:34 AM

The Christian Reformed Church in North America was formed in 1857, partly as a result of a theological split that originated in the Netherlands. The church is theologically Calvinist and the denomination has 1,103 churches with 245,217 total members as of 2014.

Here are six key events affecting the Christian Reformed Church since it began:

1. Changes Overseas: In the Netherlands in 1886, journalist, statesman and neo-Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church Minister Abraham Kuyper led an exodus from a church of a group that by 1889 had more than 200 congregations and 180,000 members. Those churches in 1892 entered into a union with the country's Christian Reformed Church — which itself had been the result of a 1834 secession from the Dutch Reformed Church — to form the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. The stream of Dutch immigrants into the Christian Reformed Church in North America during the late 1800s shared Kuyper’s more outward-looking vision of making God’s redemptive and recreating work a reality in the marketplace, factory and city hall, says the Christian Reformed Church.

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2. Speaking English: The CRC at the turn of the century began to transition from using the Dutch language to English. The move helped the church emerge from its isolation but also negatively affected its cohesion while making CRC members increasingly vulnerable to the dangers and pitfalls of Americanism.

3. World War I: The CRC expressed support for the United States'  participation in World War I where its members who fought for the U.S. came back feeling more patriotic than ever.

4. A Struggle to Define Itself: The CRC had a difficult time defining itself after World War I as members became increasingly more American, but also wanted to cling to their Reformed practices and beliefs, which many thought could only find full expression in Dutch. This led to disagreements and occurrences that included the Rev. Herman Hoeksema's secession from the church who refused to subscribe to the CRC's doctrine of common grace. He left the denomination to initiate what became the Protestant Reformed Churches in America in 1925. 

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5. Post-World War II Immigration: World War II prompted a large immigration of Dutch Calvinists to Canada in the early 1950s, bringing significant culture clash to the CRC. The Dutch Canadians differed from Americans in mindset and tended to focus on working out the social ramifications of the Gospel rather than personal piety, even though both groups shared a genuine desire and commitment to remain obedient to God's word.

6. The Role of Women: The role of women in CRC leadership became a hot topic during the 1960s, when church members pondered whether females should be allowed to serve in ecclesiastical office. Neither side involved in the disagreement managed to convince the other, with that impasse leading to a compromise decision that allows individual churches to ordain women as elders and ministers of the word. It acknowledged that decision and spurred the departure of more than 40,000 members from the CRC.

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The Christian Reformed Church in North America was formed in 1857, partly as a result of a theological split that originated in the Netherlands.
Christian Reformed Church, Calvinist, Denomination
Friday, 06 February 2015 11:34 AM
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