Does the Reformed Church in America hate Catholics?

I was talking to someone and they said that the Reformed Church in America did not like Catholics. Is this true? Also, do we have facts on this church on the website?

Well, it’s kind of hard to make a generalization about all members of a religious denomination right? I’m not too sure about what they believe to be honest.

I doubt it. Possibly some do, but more likely they have an animus towards the Church, that is, towards the institution, not its members personally, or rather towards what they think the Catholic Church is.

Like many others in the so-called reformed tradition, the RCA subscribes to the Heidelberg Catechism which, at least in older versions, calls the Holy Mass “accursed idolatry” (Part II, 30, 80). I don’t think they would see this as a personal attack on the faith of Catholics, but as the exposing of error; thus it would not necessarily proceed from personal hatred. Though of course it is the height of blasphemy.

There may be revisions of this catechism, though, which leave out that part. I believe that recent revisions of the Westminster Confession omit the part about the pope being the antichrist (25, 6). Still that is part of their heritage, so there may be lingering antagonism.

Like anything else, different churches identifying as Reformed have varied tenets which they adhere to. I would say that there are few, in any, that completely hold the tenets that John Calvin did. His Theology is quite different from that of the Catholic Church.

Included are --The total (if not complete) depravity of man – denial of man’s free will – God’s authorship of both good and evil and man’s inability to resist (think like a puppet-master where we are the puppets) – denial of sacraments – strict adherence to predestination (so God decided before we were born that you were going to heaven and me to hell and there’s nothing we can do about it) – Jesus only died for the elect (pointless for Him to die for the damned). That sort of thing.

Today’s adherents tend toward some of those concepts to varied degrees but I would say that they lean towards the sinners prayer that moves one into the ‘elect’ group (Calvin rejected this concept - no free will for man, right). Some say that once there, you mind your P’s and Q’s while others don’t seem to worry about or want to talk about sin (what’s the point, you’re already going to heaven anyway, right). If you hear the expression “free grace doctrine” that’s kinda it.

So, it is very different from the Catholic faith, and as what usually happens it becomes important for some to degrade the Catholic Church because if the Church is right, then they are wrong; and that is not desirable.

There are more than on reformed church. Could you elaborate? Is it a Catholic reformed Church? Protestant? Presbyterian has a newer one i believe. Reformed Church of God?

It’s a Calvinist ecclesial community (not a Church) branched from the Dutch Reformed Church. Its official name is Reformed Church in America.

Here is a link to a post by R.C. Sproul, who is a Reformed Church pastor/author/speaker/apologist. This post describes what I consider to be the typical Reformed approach to the Catholic Church:

Pastor Sproul runs a writing/speaking ministry called “Ligonier.”

In this post, he doesn’t go into details, but he mentions his book, Are We Together?. Apparently this book deals with Catholic/Protestant differences. I apologize, I haven’t read it.

Just in case anyone from CAF is reading this, I would love to see Pastor Sproul debate one of the CAF apologists. Pastor Sproul is a highly-intelligent speaker/writer, and in the past, has been one of the few Protestant apologists who seems to be knowledgeable about what the Catholic Church really teachers. Perhaps someone from CAF could approach him and ask. Thanks.

My family on my father’s side is all Reformed (German Reformed), and one of my great uncles was a German Reformed pastor. We still have quite a few relatives in the Reformed Church in American/Christian Reformed Church. In the very small rural town (only a few hundred people) where my relatives first settled in Northern Illinois, there are actually TWO reformed churches, a RCA church and a CR church! So I have two church graveyards to visit!

My older daughter graduated from Calvin College, a Reformed college in Michigan. She is very knowledgeable about Reformed doctrine, but chose to become Catholic anyway!

My husband and I (and our two daughters, when they were younger) actually spent two years in the Reformed Church (RCA), trying to “re-connect” with my family heritage. We found that the people in the pews were quite conservative theologically and politically, but the national leadership of the RCA veered towards theological and political liberalism. E.g., although many (but not all) of the people in our RCA congregation were pro-life (except for rape and incest), the national leadership published a mushy, useless statement about the tragedy of abortion, but never did actually come out in opposition. I don’t know what the RCA teaches now. So much of their leadership was “mushy.”

From what I can find online, Sproul teaches that same-sex marriage is sin, so I’m hoping that the Reformed Church is one of the few “mainline” churches that is holding out against gay marriage. But I’m not sure if Sproul speaks for the Reformed Church leadership or not. One of the reasons we got interested in Ligonier Ministries is that Pastor Sproul was much more conservative in his teachings than the Reformed Church leadership.

Hi Cat,
I grew up in SW Michigan, which is pretty much ground zero for the RCA and “Dutch Reformed” churches (If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much!). My reformed friends looked askance at Lutherans, at least in the 60s and 70s. My brother belongs to a RCA church now - mainly because many of their friends go there.

Ha, here in the Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch–German) counties of southeastern PA, I still hear “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much”. Before becoming an evangelical Methodist church member, my mom’s PA German family was Reformed and Lutheran.

Sousley, respectfully, your summary isn’t an accurate exposition of Reformed theology.

I grew up in an Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (as reformed as it gets) and the answer is Yes.

Hi Abide. I would gratefully accept correction. I would hate to misrepresent Mr. Calvin due to ignorance.

In an attempt to find a “middle ground” that my formerly Baptist husband would accept, we were members of an ARP Church for a few years. I would agree with your assessment although maybe “hate” is a little strong. At least our babies were baptized while we were there. After my husband quit attending church altogether, I went back to my Lutheran church. The reformed churches seem to think Martin Luther “didn’t go far enough” and thus Lutherans are tarred with the same brush as Catholics.

Hi Stilldreamn. I live in SW Michigan (Allegan). Where were you from. The ‘If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much’ made me laugh; I haven’t heard that in years.

But I have lived down here since 1978. So my accent is a little corrupted :slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit