The Reformation of 1857

Church reformation is God’s work. The church is God’s, and when it deforms, He raises up the nec­essary leaders; but God reforms His church. Reforma­tion involves a rejection of errors present in the church and a return to biblical teaching and practice as sum­marized in the confessions of the church. Reformation almost always results in the church being re-formed, i.e., a new institute forms, because an apostatizing church rarely returns to the biblical pattern.

A reformation occurred in 1857. Four small church­es seceded from the Reformed Church of America (their current name, then the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church). The seceders formed the Holland Reformed Churches, later adopting the name Christian Reformed Church.

As reformations go, this was not the cleanest, most well-defined break. Disagreement existed then, and still exists today, as to whether or not the issues raised by the seceders were genuine or manufactured, grossly exaggerated or real problems.

In spite of these differences in viewpoint, history has made plain some of God’s purposes for this new beginning. Through this new denomination God would preserve in this new land the Reformed heritage of the Afscheiding (Secession) of 1834. Into the CRC would flow thousands of Reformed Dutch immigrants belonging to the Reformed Church of the Netherlands (the Gereformeerde Kerken Nederlands, the union of the Afscheiding and the Doleantie). Out of the CRC would later come three other denominations—the Protestant Reformed Churches (1920s), the Orthodox Reformed Churches (1980s), and the United Reformed Churches (1990s).

With this issue, the Standard Bearer continues its practice of highlighting a church reformation, in com­memoration of the great sixteenth century reformation. The goal of this issue is to acquaint the reader with the history and significance of 1857. Various articles explain the doctrinal and practical matters involved in the event.

The church must know her history in order to re­main faithful in her doctrine and walk. May this SB issue be used to assist churches in the twenty-first cen­tury—reinforcing the determination of the faithful to continue in the right paths, and calling those who have left them to examine the past, look for the old paths, and (may God grant it) return to them (Jer. 6:16).