October 17, 2021

The Secession of 1834 is the designation of an ecclesiastical movement in the Netherlands in the 19th century, which eventually led to independent Reformed churches alongside the Dutch Reformed Church. The Secession of 1834, although started small, had a major influence on the formation of the Reformed denomination within modern Dutch society.

The reason for the secession of 1834

Key Points Leading to the Secession of 1834

The reasons for wanting to secede from the Dutch Reformed Church in 1834 lay mainly in the developments in the Reformed Church of the Netherlands after 1795; the Dutch Reformed Church since 1816. The Reformed confession no longer functioned in practice. The reformed church government (the Dordrecht church order) was abolished. Instead, in 1816 a General Regulation was introduced that provided for a hierarchical church structure headed by the king (William I). Pastors who defended the Reformed confession in word and writing were persecuted and deposed.

Influence of enlightened theologians

Pastors who were placed in the service of the Dutch Reformed Church were trained at various universities such as Franeker and Leiden. During the eighteenth century, more and more professors taught at these universities who had difficulty with the Reformed confessions as established by the Synod of Dordrecht 1618-1619. This last-mentioned synod was held at the request of the Dutch government to settle the disputes of the Remonstrants and Contra-Remonstrants. In addition to the Heidelberg Catechism and the Dutch Confession of Faith, the Canons of Dordt came into being as a result of this synod. Collectively, these three creeds were recognized as the Three Forms of Unity. It was also decided to publish a new Dutch translation of the Bible: the Statenvertaling. Around 1798 and 1813, Johannes Hendricus van Regenbogen, among others, taught in Franeker and Leiden. This professor was known for his progressive theological line and was an avowed opponent of the Three Forms of Unity. According to him, the new insights of biblical science and philosophy had increased to such an extent that he considered himself authorized "to no longer be led by proud formulations that are sometimes completely contrary to the gospel." The professor believed that his vocation was to 'restore the Christian religion in its original form and content'. Van Regenbogen initially avoided a frontal attack on the various doctrines with which he had difficulty, because in his early books he was more moderate in rejecting Reformed Church doctrine than in his later publications. Another theologian was Prof. Petrus Hofstede de Groot was one of the main spokesmen of the then leading Groningen theology. He also felt that the Dutch Reformed Church was no longer bound by the classical Reformed confessions. Fundamental teachings from these creeds such as the atonement doctrine, the election doctrine and the doctrine of the total depravity of man were considered obsolete and were given a different meaning. The image of man became positive and no longer negative, as for example the Heidelberg Catechism, which answered to the question whether man was able to live completely according to the law of God: No, I; for I am naturally inclined to hate God and my neighbor (question and answer 5 H.C.) Theology was limited to morality, the function of the church as an educational institution. The orthodox ministers protested against these developments. The question of the proponent formula The proponent formula with which ministerial candidates declared to subscribe to the Reformed confession as 'corresponding to God's Word' (the Bible) had been adapted by the church board. This in such a way

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