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Christian Reformed Church Origins: 6 Things That Led to Its Development

By    |   Monday, 23 February 2015 11:32 PM

Events dating back nearly 2,000 years form the basis of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The church is theologically Calvinist and has been in existence since 1857.

Here are six things that led to the development of the denomination, which had 1,103 churches and 245,217 total members in 2014.

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1. The Early Christian Church
The CRC is one branch of a tree that started growing when the early Christian church was formed on Pentecost nearly 20 centuries ago, according to crcna.org. “The early Christian church was like the single branch of that tree,” the website said.

2. The Christian Church Divides
After about 1,000 years of growth, the Christian church divided into two major parts — the Eastern and Western branches.

3. The Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation in 1517 divided the Western (or Roman Catholic) Church into several branches. One, developed under the influence of Ulrich Zwingli and later John Calvin, was called “Presbyterian” in Scotland and “Reformed” in continental Europe. The Reformed Church embraced Calvin’s teachings of predestination and the sovereignty of God, with those beliefs blossoming in many countries, including the Netherlands.

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4. The Decay of the Reformed Church
While much of the Netherlands remained Roman Catholic, the Reformed faith established itself as that country’s state church and subsequently came to suffer from theological liberalism and moral decay and theological liberalism, said crcna.org. In response, a grassroots movement developed among the county’s less-educated, lower-income people, who maintained a simple, practical faith based on traditional Calvinist doctrines.

5. The Persecution of Traditionalists
The Reformed Church in the Netherlands began to actively persecute leaders of the traditionalist movement, causing a number of groups to secede from the church. Secessionist pastor Albertus Christiaan Van Raalte, who for a time had been imprisoned for his beliefs, fled poor economic conditions and religious persecution by moving in 1846 from the Netherlands to the United States with 53 others, including his family. The New Netherland Institute said the group planned to live in Wisconsin but decided to stay in what is now Holland, Michigan, where it established a Dutch colony.

6. Another Split
Van Raalte and his followers sought help from the Dutch Reformed Church in America, which had been introduced in the United States more than a century earlier. The Michigan churches and the Dutch Reformed congregations of New Jersey then merged. But four churches — led by Gijsbert Haan and consisting of about 130 families of Dutch immigrants — seceded from that union in 1857 and formed the Christian Reformed Church. The new church’s organizers said they left for reasons that included a perceived lack of piety, too much accommodation to American culture by the others, and a perceived lack of solidarity by the Americans with the secessionist cause in the Netherlands, according to crcna.org.

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Events dating back nearly 2,000 years form the basis of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The church is theologically Calvinist and has been in existence since 1857.
christian reformed church, origins
Monday, 23 February 2015 11:32 PM
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