Christian Reformed Church

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Greg, Oct 16, 2008.

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  1. KenPierce

    KenPierce Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with Scott. Growing up amid the CRC (though myself RCA), one has to marvel at how productive that relatively-small denomination was for the kingdom of God (maybe that's why Billy called it the sleeping giant?). I mean: Bethany, a gozillion excellent Christian schools, Calvin, 3 of the top Christian publishers in the US (Baker, Zondervan, and Eerdmans), the NIV (for good or ill), top notch scholars heretofore mentioned, the list goes on and on.

    All of it was the fruit of a comprehensive world and life view. That is now going away, sad to say, in the interests of being like everybody else.
  2. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    To throw another thing into the mix, I grew up in an immigrant CR church. The CRC was by then Eighty yrs. old and counting, and we were relatively new to it. Our local church consisted mostly of people well trained in Reformed doctrine, though very few of them had any more than a High School level education. Some could recite any Psalm and any Catechism answer upon request. Being a new church we were a no-nonsense type church, relying on the simple gospel grounded in a long tradition of Reformed testimony. The men may not have had much of an education but they know about doctrine, about church, and how to adminster the offices. My parents didn't have much, but they gave liberally to various necessities, such as school and missions, on top of their sacrifices for the physical church.

    That's the church I grew up in.
  3. Grymir

    Grymir Puritan Board Graduate

    Hello all, my name is Lynn. I am wife to Grymir (Tim). I have asked that my husband post this for me.

    The CRC is a subject dear to my heart. This may sound strange, but here's my experience in the CRC....

    Born and raised in Grand Rapids.

    In 1968, my mother, was a divorced woman struggling alone with 3 young daughters. I am the oldest. With the exception of a few visits to an undenominational and a Baptist church, we were unchurched.

    She met a single man at her place of employment who expressed interest. He was Dutch, multi-generational CRC. He married my mom in a CRC church in GR in 1969. I was 8 years old. To his credit, he took his new duties seriously, even to the point of legally adopting us girls, so we'd all have the same last name.

    He immediately imposed upon his new family all the "rules" of a "good Dutch family". Strict Sabbatarian, HC memorization, Catechism classes, on and on ad infinitum. Or so it seemed to me at the time. LOL!!

    He tried, hard. He really did.

    In my opinion, his church (and most of his family) let him down. Big time.

    His family wondered why he wanted to "ruin things" by marrying a divorced woman with kids. His parents supported him 100% and treated us well, but with the sole exception of his sister, his sibs were a whole nother story....

    My sisters and I were baptised (dedicated?) in 1969. Sprinkled in front of the whole congregation, very few of whom ever spoke to us. Afterwards, we were forever teased by other kids, as being "infants".

    Ya'll have no idea how many times I heard on the Lord's Day....."If ya ain't Dutch, ya ain't much."

    If all that wasn't enough, we were derided regularly because my mom and step-dad decided to keep us kids in public schools, rather than enroll us in Christian school. I overheard a coversation between them once. Adjusting was becoming difficult at best, and they feared more ill-treatment for us girls "another 5 days a week."

    It was like that until 1972, they bought a new house out in the suburbs. Dad decided to check out a couple of different churches in that area, rather than travel all the way into town on Sundays. RCA if I remember correctly. He said "they were just too liberal for his tastes." LOL!!

    He wanted to go back to our CRC home, but my mom objected. All pious hypocrites, she ranted. Exclusionary. Separatist. Elitist. All they wanted was money. They treated us non-Dutch folks horribly.

    My mom sure didn't learn much about "that submission thing." They argued about that, too.

    Dad caved. We completely stopped going to church in 1973.

    Looking back with the eyes of an adult, I think he was heartbroken and became quite depressed. I really do. Many years later I asked him why we quit. He said it wasn't worth fighting with mom about anymore, and it hurt him to see how his family was treated.

    He told me once that he secretly wished someone from the church would have called, or visited after noticing us gone, but I don't believe anyone ever did. Maybe with reinforcements from the elders or something, he would have stood his ground and insisted we go to church. I dunno.

    Mom is gone now, almost 3 years, and she died an alcholic. Dad will be 80 next spring, is alcholic and has NEVER been back to a church for a worship service. EVER.

    My youngest sister is a crack addict, and my other sister drinks too much. I am the only one sober, and doing my best to follow the Lord and learn how He would have me to be, to HIS GLORY ALONE.

    When my mom was dying of cancer, I asked many times if I could contact a church in his area, and see if I could get someone to visit him. My PCUSA pastor here in the Quad-Cities was willing to try to help get someone to him back in MI.

    He wasn't interested. It's very sad. Please pray that he repents before it's too late. My sisters, too.

    For the longest time, I was so mad at the CRC and by extension, God Himself I guess. For how my family turned out....Not any more. I don't understand God's reasoning for allowing all this, but I'm confident in His Grace to somehow use my story for good.

    Pastors-check on those sheep that have wandered from the fold, will ya?

    Now, as for my CRC training, it was pretty much exclusively rote memorization HC, not much Scripture. I remember sitting with the family Dutch Bible and a English KJV, trying to teach myself some Dutch. Dad guarded that Dutch Bible, and I recall being surprised that he allowed me to even handle it. Only at the dining room table, and closely atched. LOL!!

    In the summers growing up, we spent weeks on end with many cousins, visiting at my maternal grandmothers rural 10 acre playground. Not much for rural kids to do during the summer, so a Baptist church regularly sent a bus around for multiple weeks of VBS. All Scripture, all the time, and only KJV Scripture there, for sure.

    Do you Baptisits have kids still do Sword Drills? I loved those!! Worked hard to memorize the books of the Bible in Order one summer just so I win Sword Drills more often! LOL!!

    God is gracious. Solidly Reformed, but understanding the primacy of God's Word. Maybe I got the best of both worlds, so to speak?

    Anyone at our PCUSA church that has knowledge of the CRC has asked me if I was from Pella, IA. Have never been there, but I've heard a big Dutch immigrant population there. Wondered how a girl from GR ended up in the cornfields of Iowa!

    I Would love to visit a CRC again, loved the liturgy as a child. I think the nearest is in Fulton, IL. Tim says it's about an hour and a half from here.
  4. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    See John, that's just my point. If it was still that way today, there would be no question of staying. BUt last time I checked, it wasn't...
  5. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Thanks, Lynn, for a moving story!

    You highlight my own cognitive dissonance. My church experience (as both parishioner and pastor) has been pretty affirming and supportive. However, the boundary-challenged "anything goes" attitude of the mainline morass was matched by the intrinsic failures of broad evangelicalism without any confessional boundaries either. Yet, surely the answer cannot be found in a church so insular and hidebound that it shuns a woman and her children! Since when is purity of doctrine to be purchased at the price of sincere love for the brethren? It is sooooo frustrating that we are often left with real world alternatives between doctrinally indifferent (yet affirming and emotionally sustaining) fellowships and those that are doctrinally precise, yet full of the sourness of pharisaical self righteousness.

    Oy veh! :confused:
  6. Grace Alone

    Grace Alone Puritan Board Senior

    Welcome, Lynn. Your story is just heartbreaking. :(
  7. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior


    That story has been told many times. Sadly, in those cases, it was the triumph of a narrow, immigrant, reactionary, fearful, insular culture over the theology, piety, and practice of the catechism.

    There have been entire novels and many short stories documenting the very sort of thing that you describe. Tragically, the catechism becomes implicated in all this, but to borrow from the NRA, the catechism doesn't hurt, people do.

    People could write and tell similar stories, however, about being excluded from ethnically German, or Swedish, or Norwegian, or Czech, or Korean congregations.

    The "right wing" of the Dutch Reformed churches (whether PR or URC or CanRC) has a serious duty to be sure that what we mediate to people is not our "Dutchness" or our ethnicity but Christ and his Word and the summary of the faith in the catechism.

    I understand what it is to be a gentile grafted in. I'm a wild olive branch grafted into onze volk. Before that I ministered among the German Russians for a number of years. In Christ there is no male, female, Dutch, German, Korean, or whatever. The dividing wall has been broken down.

    That said, as John Muether's biography of Van Til illustrates, there were some great traditions in the old Dutch Reformed tradition. The table piety of the old Dutch Reformed faith was a blessing and, in Lynn's case, despite all the ugliness that went with it, God did bless that bible reading and prayer. The baptism did come to fruition, by the grace of God. We should pray that all the broken, baptized, wandering sheep "out there" also realize the promise of their baptism, sola gratia, sola fide, solo Christo, sola Scriptura.
  8. Grymir

    Grymir Puritan Board Graduate

    Thanks Y'all. Lynn looked at me and said "It's comforting to know I'm not alone."

    Her past is one of the miriad of reasons I choose her to be my wife. In my quest for a female Rush Limbaugh, I had never heard of the CRC. My conversion took place in Texas, a haven for Baptists and Libs. I always liked the Baptists because they were all scripture, and when I heard they kicked the libs out, I was like "Yeah!! You go!" When she told me about the CRC and what she believed and knew to be true, I was impressed beyond measure. I had in my mind the image of what a 'perfect' church should be from reading the Bible, and the CRC seemed to fit closer than anything I've heard about. They were serious about thier Bible and God. When she told me about Grand Rapids and the CRC, I wanted to grab her and go on a 'holy pilgrimage'!!
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2008
  9. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate


    Your story is heartbreaking but sadly is not too surprising in this area we live in GR and my husband was raised CRC outside this area. We are not in a CRC for a variety of reasons: friendliness is one of the issues (I could cruise along under his last name and heritage but that really is disrespectful to both of us). There is good and bad in ethnic churches but there is hopefully a realization that "sticking with your own" is not exactly God's plan for churches. And hopefully Dr. Clark and others can learn from the parent denomination's major flaws and grow the URC into a healthier denomination (on all levels) than the CRC was.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2008
  10. KenPierce

    KenPierce Puritan Board Freshman


    No question of your experience: a typically Dutch experience, to be sure, and one of the reasons I am PCA, not CRC.

    To cite an extreme case, consider Paul Schrader. One might consider his movie "Hardcore" (which I watched on regular cable so as not to see whatever lewd scenes there might be), as his take on his CRC upbringing. The famous scene in this regard is Geo C Scott as a prosperous CRC furniture maker trying to share his faith with a prostitute in the Las Vegas airport, and relating the five points of Calvinism!

    That said, there have been some grand CRC ministers (Eppinga, Nederhood, etc), and some very fine CRC people. The CRC culture ("just a little bit better") is the problem.
  11. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    Lynn's story is so close to home for me too. I recognize so many of the characters that are in her story. The same happened in our church, in our neighboring CRC church, and in so many other churches. You're right, it isn't still like it used to be. It isn't at all like the rosy picture I drew.

    I don't think that this negates all the good things I knew of the CRC. I'm no longer CRC either, even though I live closer (within walking distance) of the church I grew up in. I live right next door to the original parsonage. I was talking about the many things that I respected of the CRC, and of which I still haven't found in other churches. It seems almost that what was taken for granted, what was so elementary to church teaching and practice, isn't known or heard of in other Reformed churches. I really lament losing those basics. But I think they are proper and right, Biblical and provable, and strive to see them instituted in any church that I am a part of. Where ever I go I would like to see the old CRC revived. So I'm really old CRC at heart and always will be.

    There are two CRC's, just like their visible and invisible church distinction teaches about the true church. There is that to which we strive, and there is the actual. The modern CRC has given up on the former altogether. I am sure that the most eminent professors of theology at Calvin Seminary no longer know the former defined distinction between visible and invisible church. That's been gone a long, long time. The church I am referring to is the invisible CRC, the one we tried so hard to be for ten or fifteen years. The visble CRC did everything to wipe out that image after those years, wipe out that direction, that goal.

    But going back to Lynn's testimony, I know my wife can tell you a story along the same lines too. Her best friend was in the same boat. And the church was not helpful. But together the two of us can tell you a story about how we were treated because we had eleven children. This is a church that champions the covenant, that makes teaching the young a priority, that insists on children going to a Christian school, and most of all, believes children are a blessing from God. In Bible discussions some had no problem at all in talking about their practice of birth control, but it was we who had eleven children who were the perverts, the ones addicted to sexual intercourse. It was so obviously gross and self-condemning, so immoral, and yet they were completely unapologetic about it. We found it to be no different in the FRC or the URC.

    There were many other experiences I could talk about. But none of this even touches that idea which my parents and others strove for when they started this local congregation. What we were taught in our catechism classes exceeds by far what the actual practice by weak men testifies to.

    Because of my catechism training I was able to stand alone against my grades 11 and 12 classmates, defending the Word of God against the idea that the Bible had been discredited in the areas of history and science. I was successful time after time, even though I was an average C student arrayed against A students. This High School had a five year program, but I went to work after grade 12. The A students who tried to defeat the Bible became Christians in grade 13, only a year later, and they came to me one by one to thank me for what I had shown them. And all I can say is that it was my catechism training that has to take the credit, not me. That's the Spirit working as the Reformed churches have always taught should be the case.

    I can't be part of the temporal CRC anymore, but I cannot be separated from the invisible CRC. The visible CRC gave up the invisible CRC, but I haven't. The modern CRC is at war with her original purpose. You can see that in the issues which resulted in the '92 split. It is not so much that they argued for and agreed to women in the offices, or caved when it came to Theistic Evolution, or inclusive language, or "homosexualism" (a word peculiar and original to the CRC), or the other issues; its what they willingly did to the Bible in order to accomplish these purposes. As little as twenty years before it would have been unthinkable, and yet in that short a time it became unthinking and easy.

    Looking back on it today you have to wonder how or why anyone would believe those arguments back then. But its because stories like the one Lynn tells were all too common and familiar to all of us. Not everyone shared the same goals, and in the end the ones with high ideals lost out to the ones with low ideals, to the ones who let their prejudices rule their sense of community.

    I'm not commending staying in the CRC. I would be very careful about leaving it, though. You don't know what's out there, and I can tell that you're likely in for a lot of heartbreak if you think its better elsewhere. You have to go church by church, not denomination by denomination. And give it lots of time so that you can find out what a church is really all about, not just what they say they're about. Its hard, Kevin, but its no less hard the other way.
  12. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    And I had the idea that Clark was a good Friesian name. :eek:
  13. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    Isn't Vandervliet..... Belgian? :lol:
  14. Grymir

    Grymir Puritan Board Graduate

    Hi Y'all, My beloved wife asked me to post this -

    Asking beloved husband to post for me again....

    Thank you all for your kind words. I am finding myself greatly comforted, feeling somehow that a great burden has been lifted from me.

    I would that no one would have to ever experience such treatment from any of God's people. Period.

    Although I have intellectually known for years that it wasn't personal, the emotional part has somewhat lingered.

    The hurt I have felt for my Dad over the years has been intense. To voluntarily separate himself from his family, culture and traditions must have been immensely difficult for him.

    He did what he thought was best to protect his wife and children, at great sacrifice to himself and his own well being.

    He did keep up with denominational happenings for awhile, reading the magazines, synod publications, etc. Railing about women in office, bemoaning the breakdown and liberalization of the denomination of his heritage, even if not attending.

    There are many things about the CRC that make me smile when remembering even today.

    The majesty of their liturgy (as seen through the eyes of a 9 yr old girl) compared to the looser, more relaxed, more freewheeling, somewhat informal style of the typical Baptist churches of my childhood.

    The beautiful church, many gorgeous windows. Huge, too. The sound of the congregation singing with the monster pipe organ. You could FEEL the notes as the people sang in unison.

    At least during the worship services, no snide glances were seen, no unkind words were said to us. In my child's mind, surely this was what worship was going to be like in heaven!

    The piety of the Lord's Table, as Dr. Clark so aptly stated. I found myself nodding my head vigorously at his post. Thank you, sir. I emphatically agree with every single word.

    In later times, during bad stretches of my life that were of my own making, the Lord graciously brought to my remembrance both Scriptures and stretches of the HC to keep me anchored in the truths of my faith.

    To re-iterate, I would visit a CRC again in a heartbeat, if one were nearby. Although I doubt I would ever seek to join one, as they have drifted too far for me to be comfortable.

    As for the PCUSA, husband says that's where we go, so that's it. I respect his authority in this matter. Way too feminist, and egalitarian, but until he's ready to leave, there we shall be. I have some experience in a church full of folks that don't necessarily practice what they say they believe...LOL!!!

    Lynn Johnson
  15. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    That's the problem - I LOVE what was and am shocked by what is. My father and I finally had a non-emotional conversation about this topic and I see some wisdom in the advice to "be careful about staying and careful about leaving". None of my children are yet baptized and before too long, I will have to decide where they will receive their baptism. My present church (CRC) is full of people who have been praying for my family for ten years. But coming back and sitting in the pews has been quite a shocking revelation. I love the people there but see so many changes that I have difficult in stomaching, I can hardly stand it. But to turn my back on those who have been praying for us for so long is hardly the Christian thing to do. I have been swimming upstream for a decade in China and am weary of the battle. But as I told my father tonight, I would rather sit in a different church now than across the table from him in a schism a few years down the road. He says get in council, make changes. But I am only 34 and hardly elder material - I am experiencing much inner turmoil over this.

    Sorry to hijack (sort of), but I appreciate what I have read and am reading.
  16. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    I do not have direct experience with the CRC or the HC. However, I am aware the HC is a faithful expression of reformed theology, in general agreement with other historic confessions such as the Westminster Confession.

    The Confession (and Catechisms) themselves teach that they are not infallible. They state that they are "subject to" the Scripture's authority. They represent themselves to be a faithful summary of the doctrine contained in Holy Scripture.

    In the Westminster Standards, every single proposition and statement is footnoted by Scripture. The Scripture "proof texts" appear right below the Confession Statement. The Scripture proof texts are often longer than the Confession Statement they support.

    The Confession and Catechism are a great aid in furthering the peace, purity and unity of the church by providing a standard of biblical understanding of the whole of Scripture. This is especially helpful to new believers who do not have a grasp of what (the whole of) Scripture teaches.

    Practically, the Confessions are used to provoke Bible study, first the "proof texts" then the greater context of the "proof texts" and then to search out Scripture generally on the doctrine. They are a support to, not a replacement of Scripture.

    In a generation where many are falling away from Scripture, they are also falling away from the Confessions (because they neither value nor understand either).:)
  17. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    Why not be that straight up with your calling church too? Don't give emotional answers to their questions, but just straight forward. They aren't the church that sent you; you're coming home to a different church; why not make that plain to them? If they decide that you don't belong, then you have your answer. And if they realize you're right, and want your presence there to help rebuild the church, then you'll know that you belong there. Either way, its the Spirit that will tell you.
  18. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Actually its a very computer-aged name. Everything is streamed nowadays, and my name means "from the stream". So there!
  19. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    John, I think that is what it is going to be - I told my father tonight that I have to sit down with the pastor and talk about this issue. Another factor is that the pastor here is a little more mainstream than anything I've seen written thus far. He's my age, eschews any sort of greeting that includes Revernd/Dominee and a last name, and the services have a much more interdenominational feel to them. A couple of weeks ago, you wouldn't have known that you were in a Reformed church at all. A praise team and sermon anecdotes were the order of the day. I just don't know which way to turn in this, but I truly value your advice thus far.
  20. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    You have my prayers too, Kevin. I used to know your uncle Abe, and so I tend to feel that I know you a bit too. I know what you're up against and the struggles you're going through. I'll be praying for you and your family.
  21. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Whoa! Gail, that's hitting below the belt (and on the Sabbath, no less - have you no shame?!?!) And you a Boer! Tut, tut... :lol:
  22. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    You DID note that I was not born Dutch but married into it.... Belgians make excellent chocolate and beer......:lol:

    Sorry John! :oops:
  23. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    No offence taken, Gail. After all, if you ain't Dutch..., well, you know the rest. :wink: But I took it be a reference to the chocolate and the Beer. What else could you have meant, right?
  24. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Ah, that explains it then.

    That may be, but they still wake up every morning as non-Dutchmen. ;)
  25. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    It must have been my father's uncle - I don't have an uncle Abe (but my Dad has so many uncles and aunts that I don't think he could name them all in one go).
  26. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    Of course I meant to imply the best chocolate and [​IMG] beer :lol:
  27. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    Are you sure you aren't about six years older and did not go to Calvin with my husband? You sound like one of his old roommates..... then again all you Dutch folks sound alike..... ;) :lol:
  28. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Nope, I went to Oklahoma Baptist University in the Southern Baptist heartland. Yeehaw!

    We do all sound alike - it's wonderful, isn't it? :lol:
  29. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    :lol: Rebel! Yeah that dry sense of humor is impressive. Now I can't quite fathom the zombie movie fascination but I have never attended a Classis meeting either..... :lol:
  30. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    The Dutch would be de Klerk. The Friesian would be Clerksma or Clerkenga.
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