Becker Bible Studies Library
Christian Reformed Church in North America
The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) is a Protestant Christian denomination. They follow the teachings of John Calvin through the theology of the Reformed Calvinist.
They were founded by Gijsbert Haan along with other Dutch immigrants in 1800, as he led the secession from the Reformed Church in America. The Christian Reformed Church in North America prevails in Chicagoland, Iowa, western Michigan and in Canada, especially Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario, in the places where the Dutch settled.
They separated from the Reformed Church in America because of theological disputes which originated in the Netherlands. The True Protestant Dutch Reformed Church merged with the Christian Reformed Church in 1890. The Protestant Reformed Church separated from the Christian Reformed Church in 1924. The Untied Reformed Church in North America separated from the Christian Reformed Church in 1990.
It was in 1995 when the Christian Reformed Church decided to ordain women to ministerial positions in the Church. The issue of ordaining women was one of the most significant controversies in the twentieth century. The Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church broke relationship with The Christian Reformed Church in 1997 as a result of their position. In fact, it was this same issue of ordaining women which broke the largest conservative Reformed denomination in the United States, the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council in 2001.
The Christian Reformed Church in North America has its roots in the Reformation movement of the sixteenth century and came from the Netherlands. The Protestant Reformation in the 1517 divided the Roman church into several new divisions. The Reformation division was formed under Martin Luther and they became the Lutheran Church. Ulrich Zwingli and then later John Calvin formed the Presbyterian Church. John Calvin theology was taken to the Netherlands and formed a Reformed group. This Dutch Reformed group immigrated to the United States in 1857 and formed the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
They embraced the teachings of John Calvin and his belief in the sovereignty of God. John Calvin taught predestination and the confidence that no one could seize the chosen out of the hand of God.
The Reformed Church in the Netherlands was established as the State church. There was moral decay of their theological belief because their congregation followed both the Enlightenment movement and the Intellectual movement at the same time. The Enlightenment movement based their faith on the Bible, while the Intellectual movement promoted the human factor.
Those people who followed the Enlightenment movement of simple faith based on traditional Calvinist doctrines were persecuted by the state Reformed Church in the Netherlands. This caused a number of groups to secede from the Reformed Church in the Netherlands which became a branch of Dutch Calvinism which led to the Christian Reformed Church.
Gijsbert Haan was born January 1801, in Hilversum, Noord-Holland, Netherlands. He, his family and Pastor Albertus Van Raalte emigrated from the Netherlands due to persecution and famine, and fled to Holland, Michigan. They held to the doctrine of Calvin, practiced piety, and faithful living. This first colony was crippled by their inexperience and disease and they asked for help from the Dutch Reformed Church which had settled in New Amsterdam, which later became New York. Eventually the Dutch Reformed Church and the Christian Reformed Church merged and formed the Reformed Church of America.
Gijsbert Hann and his followers seceded from the Reformed Church of America. The reasons given were because the Reformed Church of America had an open communion, their hymns were not based on Biblical psalms and the catechism was not being preached, a lack of sound doctrinal preaching, a lack of piety and the Reformed Church of America was accommodating the American culture at the expense of the Bible teachings. Gijsbert Hann and his followers were called the Dutch Reformed Church until 1904 when the name was changed to the Christian Reformed Church.
The Christian Reformed Church gained new members after World War II from the Reformed Church of America. This was because Reformed Church of America decided to permit their members to join the Freemasons. The Christian Reformed Church encouraged the Canadian Dutch Calvinists immigrants to join them following the end of World War II.
The biggest change for them began in the 1960 over the churches involvement in the social disorder. The role of women in the position of leadership was the principal conflict. The Christian Reformed Church chose to ordain women as elders and ministers. The Christian Reformed Church lost many members as a result.
The Christian Reformed Church in North America follows The Belgic Confession which emphasizes salvation through Christ as its central theme. The Canons of Dort emphasizes the primacy of God and His power in human life. The Heidelberg Catechism is based on the Apostles Creed and emphasized the divine authority of the Scriptures and the identity of Christ. They follow The Apostles Creed, The Athanasian Creed and the Nicene Creed.
They believe all doctrines must be based on the Holy Bible which is the infallible Word of God. The Bible is believed to be inspired by the Word of God and that it is the supreme and the final authority in all matters of the Church. They believe the Bible is spoken to every man through the Holy Spirit of God. Scripture is the guide they use to evaluate their Christian practices.
They celebrate two Sacraments of the church; Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
They believe man cannot earn salvation through good works. They believe faith governs their life and is the way God helps people to make decisions in their daily lives.
They believe in the importance of family and encourage fellowship and worship as a family unit. They believe the church is the family of God and should live under the authority of the love and care of the heavenly Father.
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About the Author
Joanne B. Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies teacher and author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She is seeking a second degree in Cultural and Social Anthropology after completing her study of Psychology/Christian and Bible Counseling. She is well-known as a counsleor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on the history of development of the Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.