Dutch Christian Reformed


#1

Hello! I was wondering if anyone is familiar with the Christian Reformed Church. I believe it is of Dutch origin. I was wondering what their beliefs are, and of what reformer they heed most closely to. I ask this because I am currently in a apologetics discussion with one and I am wondering what viewpoint they are coming from. Any info would be much appreciated!


#2

A protest against laxism in the Dutch Reformed Church led to the formation of the strict Christian Reformed Church in 1857. Ministers of five congregations accused the mother church of diluting Calvinism, slighting the doctrine of predestination, and tolerating Masonry and other secret societies…

This church supports a seminary in Grand Rapids, and two colleges…

Since its founding the Christian Reformed Church has held fast to the rigid Calvinism of the Heidelberg, Dordrecht, and Belgic Confessions… It reports 199,000 members. The Christian Reformed Church reflects sixteenth century Geneva Calvinism in twenty-first century America.

Source: Separated Brethren (Revised): A Review of Protestant, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, & Other Religions in the United States, by William J. Whalen. ©2002, Our Sunday Visitor.

I had been looking for a book like this for years - one which gives the theological background of various denominations, and discusses how their current beliefs compare. The fact that it’s written from a Catholic point of view makes it that much more useful and easy for me to relate to. Whenever I meet someone who belongs to a new denomination I’m not familiar with, I’ll crack open this book when I get home to get a better handle on where they’re coming from. The entry for this denomination is not very long because it’s a small group, but the book devotes 10-15 pages to Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and other major groups.

I picked mine up at my local Catholic bookstore after a priest recommended it, but I included links to Amazon for a detailed description, and to the publisher above.

Didn’t mean to hijack the thread to shill for the book, but I suspect other people curious enough to read this thread may find it as useful as I did.:nerd:


#3

[quote=j9house]Hello! I was wondering if anyone is familiar with the Christian Reformed Church. I believe it is of Dutch origin. I was wondering what their beliefs are, and of what reformer they heed most closely to. I ask this because I am currently in a apologetics discussion with one and I am wondering what viewpoint they are coming from. Any info would be much appreciated!
[/quote]

Ask any question and I’ll try to answer. I live in a Dutch town and attend a Reformed Church often (which is a little bit different than the Christian Reformed Church, but not much).

~mango~


#4

I’m with Mango, attending RCA most of the time (KS & MI). Here is the CRC denomination website, with a page that covers the basic beliefs (and links to more info).

crcna.org/whoweare/beliefs/index.asp?WhoWeAreMenu


#5

Speaking of Dutch Reformed Theology…
I don’t agree with everything John Calvin said, but I tell you what I do like. His emphasis on grace alone as the sole vessel of salvation is right on, understanding that we don’t have free will to do good without God (what he calls total depravity), and that God chooses us before we can choose him. Granted he got most of this from St. Augustine, which is why it’s so similar to Catholic theology, but man is that true. I find it very key to understand the perspective these guys (Calvin and Augustine) bring to our attention with regards to the big picture of God’s omniscient plan of salvation for his Church.


#6

Thanks for all the input everyone!! I will definitely check out the book and the website. I have just started my discussion with the CRC member, so I don’t have too many specific questions yet.

The one topic we tried to dicsuss in depth was salvation and sola fide. It seemed to me that we pretty much agreed, but were just using different wording. I argued the point fpr faith and works. She agreed with me, but said the works would come out of the faith, so works were not a requirement, but more of a natural extension of faith. I’m not very familiar with Calvinist theology. Is this a typical viewpoint? And if so, aren’t we both kind of arguing the same point?


#7

Most people do agree when they get away from faith with/without works and actually talk about what they are saying. I have found that to be the case in 99% of my dialogues with interfaith Christians.

As for Calvinist theology, James Akin ( a great apologist and former Calvanist, now Catholic) reconciles the views in his book The Salvation Controversy. I think you’ll find most of your questions about sola fide and Calvin’s 5 points addressed very thoroughly in this book. God bless.


#8

[quote=j9house]The one topic we tried to dicsuss in depth was salvation and sola fide. It seemed to me that we pretty much agreed, but were just using different wording. I argued the point fpr faith and works. She agreed with me, but said the works would come out of the faith, so works were not a requirement, but more of a natural extension of faith. I’m not very familiar with Calvinist theology. Is this a typical viewpoint? And if so, aren’t we both kind of arguing the same point?
[/quote]

Yes, most Christian Reformed and Reformed Christians are Calvinists. However, many people in these churches do not understand what they believe…which seems to be the case in any denomination. :slight_smile:

“How” Calvinist they are varies. Some are 5 pointers, and some only adhere to 3 or 4.

Hope that helps.

~mango~


#9

[quote=mango_2003]Yes, most Christian Reformed and Reformed Christians are Calvinists. However, many people in these churches do not understand what they believe…which seems to be the case in any denomination. :slight_smile:

“How” Calvinist they are varies. Some are 5 pointers, and some only adhere to 3 or 4.

Hope that helps.

~mango~
[/quote]


#10

[quote=mango_2003]Yes, most Christian Reformed and Reformed Christians are Calvinists. However, many people in these churches do not understand what they believe…which seems to be the case in any denomination. :slight_smile:

I find it very intersting, they don’t understand what the church believes. If I understand what you are saying. Is it because the church isn’t really important its the Bible that is central to their belief system?

You are Peter and upon this Rock I’ll build my Church. Maybe our Protestant borthers would believe Jesus if He would have said, you are Peter and upon this Book I will build my Church? :rolleyes:
[/quote]


#11

I wish to say something in response to this:

Actually, the difference isn’t merely terminological, but perhaps your Protestant friend did not realize this. In Protestantism, it is held that good works have no saving efficacy and are merely byproducts of faith; it is the faith alone which has saving efficacy. But according to Roman Catholicism, good works (prompted by grace) really do causally contribute to salvation. Thus the Catechism (1994) says that t[font=Arial]heological virtues evoked by God’s infused grace “make [men] capable . . . or meriting eternal life” (no. 1813). This is a claim to which no strict Protestant would agree. It is crucial to see the difference, for if there is no difference, the Reformation and Council of Trent were in vain. Calvin states that “we must not suppose that subsequent grace is paid to [man] as a reward, as though by using the earlier [grace] well he has merited it” (The Bondage and Liberation of the Will, 5.353). The Catholic would say in contrast that w[font=‘Times New Roman’][font=Arial]e merit for ourselves and for others the grace needed to attain eternal life (cf. CCC, no. 2027). [/font][/font][/font]
[font=Arial][font=‘Times New Roman’][/font][/font]
[font=Arial][font=‘Times New Roman’][font=Arial]To bring out the difference more clearly, suppose a Christian engages in a mortal sin but later repents. To demonstrate his remorse, he engages in acts of penance such as fasting, prayer, almsgiving and weeping. Under certain circumstances (i.e., the priest prescribed these acts of penance), the Catholic would interpret this state of affairs by claiming that the actions of the sinner played a role in converting his heart to God and obtaining forgiveness of sins. Thus his works contribute to his salvation. The Reformed Protestant, on the other hand, believes that forgiveness of sins is part and parcel of justification and that, since justification is by faith alone, the good works do not causally bring about forgiveness of sins and conversion. They are mere evidences of faith and repentance; they do not have any intrinisic, saving worth. [/font][/font][/font]
[font=‘Times New Roman’][/font]
[font=‘Times New Roman’][font=Arial]So there really is a difference, and it is a very important one. I hope this helps.[/font][/font]
[font=‘Times New Roman’][/font]
[font=‘Times New Roman’][font=Arial]- Ashton[/font][/font]
[font=Arial][font=‘Times New Roman’][/font][/font]


#12

I’ve never had anything to do with that Church, but I believe it is similar to Calvinism. (Presbyterians, Puritans, Huguenots)

I’ve found links that might help you:
www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany/drc.html
www.ccruni.gov.uk/research/uu/fawcett94.htm

The latter deals with both the DRC and the PCI (Presbyterian Church of Ireland). I didn’t look thoroughly at the site, so I’m assuming they’re very similar.


#13

[quote=luckyirishguy14]The latter deals with both the DRC and the PCI (Presbyterian Church of Ireland). I didn’t look thoroughly at the site, so I’m assuming they’re very similar.
[/quote]

Lucky,

No, the fact that both are addressed in the same site appears to be more a function of the author doing a comparitive study of how each interacted with the broader society in previously contentiously divided cultures (PCI in N. Ireland; DRC in S. Africa). It appears that the choice to compare these two was based solely on each being the dominant Protestant body within their respective nations.

Even as a view of the DRC, this piece is somewhat colored by the fact that it concentrates on that Church in S. Africa, a very conservative environment in which the Church was likely somewhat skewed in its outlook vis-a-vis that in any other society in which it might have been functioning.

Many years,

Neil


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