Reformed Churches in the Netherlands

Article

October 17, 2021

The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN), also referred to as "synodalen" or "Gereformeerd synodal" (liberated to distinguish it from the Reformed Churches), was a Dutch Reformed denomination until 1 May 2004. In January 1949 the number of souls belonging to the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands amounted to 660,568, of which 343,802 were professing members. There were then 789 pastors. The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands had the highest number of members in 1975; they then numbered over 900,000 members. The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands originated in 1892 when two groups that had separated from the Dutch Reformed Church united, namely the Christian Reformed Church in the Netherlands, which emerged from the Secession of 1834 under the leadership of Rev. H. de Cock, H.P. Scholte, A.C. van Raalte, A. van Brummelkamp, ​​S. van Velsen and G.F. Gezelle Meerburg and the Dutch Reformed Churches, which emerged from the Doleantie of 1886 under the leadership of Dr. A. Kuyper. In name, in confession and church government, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands wanted to be a continuation of the old Reformed Churches since 1618 and the time of the Reformation in the Netherlands. In their name the churches went back to the time before 1816. The acts of the Synod of Dordrecht (1618/1619) begin with the statement: "In the year 1618 a national synod of the Reformed Churches was met and started." Pastors for the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands were trained at two 'own' universities: the Free University in Amsterdam and the Theological University in Kampen. From May 1, 2004, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands merged into the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, which became the largest Protestant denomination in the Netherlands. The merger consisted of the three Samen op Weg churches: the Dutch Reformed Church, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Origin of the Christian Reformed Church in the Netherlands (1834-1869)

The Secession of 1834

The main reasons for their secession from the Dutch Reformed Church in 1834 were: The Reformed Confessions (Heidelberg Catechism, Dutch Confession and the Canons of Dordrecht) [The Three Forms of Unity] no longer functioned in practice. The reformed church government (the Dordrecht church order) was abolished. In its place, in 1816, a 'General Regulations' was introduced that provided for a hierarchical church structure headed by the king. Pastors who defended the Reformed confession in word and writing were persecuted and deposed.

Proponent Formula

In the Dutch Reformed Church, freedom of learning had been introduced by a subtle adjustment of the proponent formula by which pastor candidates declared their endorsement of the Reformed confession as "corresponding to God's Word" (the Bible). For example, the sentence construction was changed from "because" to "as far as" agreeing with God's Word (the Bible).

Groningen theology

During the eighteenth century, theology had been strongly influenced by the Enlightenment. Prof. dr. Hofstede de Groot was one of the main spokesmen of the then leading Groningen theology. He felt that the Reformed Church was no longer bound by the classical Reformed confessions (The Three Forms of Unity). Fundamental doctrines such as the 'reconciliation doctrine', the 'election doctrine' and the 'doctrine of the total depravity of man' were considered obsolete or given a different meaning. The church as an educational institution made its entrance. The Church's message was no longer "reconciliation through satisfaction" but was confined to morality.

Willem Bilderdijk and the revival

Against these developments came various orthodox preachers and thinkers from higher social circles

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