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Who We Are

History of the Christian Reformed Church
in North America

by Lawrence K. Spalink

Prepared for the Tokyo Theological Institute of
the Reformed Church of Japan
under the supervision of Dr. Cornelis Venema
of the Mid-America Reformed Seminary,
Dyer, Indiana
May 1997

Table of Contents

PREFACE
INTRODUCTION: THE EVANGELIZATION & REFORMATION OF HOLLAND
PART I: BEGINNINGS IN THE NETHERLANDS (THE SECESSION OF 1834)
PART II: IMMIGRATION TO AMERICA AND INTEGRATION WITH RCA
PART III: AFFILIATION WITH THE R.C.A.
PART IV: THE BIRTH OF THE C.R.C.N.A.
PART V: MERGER WITH CLASSIS HACKENSACK
PART VI: A. KUYPER, THE DOLEANTIE AND FURTHER IMMIGRATION
PART VII: GENERAL DEVELOPMENTS AND GROWTH OF THE CRCNA
PART VIII: AMERICANIZATION
PART IX: EARLY DOCTRINAL CONTROVERSIES
PART X: DOCTRINAL CONSOLIDATION & MISSION EFFORTS
PART XI: ECUMENICISM
PART XII: THE IMPACT OF WWII; GROWTH, ESPECIALLY IN CANADA
PART XIII: THEOLOGICAL EXPLORATION IN THE 50'S
PART XIV: BEYOND ETHNICITY TO MAINSTREAM EVANGELICALISM
PART XV: MODERNISTIC INROADS AND PRESENT DECLINE (Late 70's and 80's)
CONCLUSION: THE PRESENT STATE OF THE CHURCH AND ITS MINISTRIES
APPENDIX I: THE "WOMEN IN OFFICE" ISSUE
APPENDIX II: SELECTED DECISIONS ON DOCTRINE AND ETHICS
APPENDIX III: CONTEMPORARY DISCUSSIONS in the CRCNA
APPENDIX IV: WORSHIP IN THE CRC (R. E. SYTSMA PAPER)
BIBLIOGRAPHY: ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Table of Graphs

NW EUROPE WITH NETHERLANDS/BELGIUM AREA AT CENTER
BELGIC CONFESSION ARTICLE 29
MAP OF NORTHEAST US SHOWING IMMIGRATION ROUTES
BRATT'S FOUR MENTALITIES IN THE CRCNA
GROWTH OF THE C.R.C.N.A.

** Graphs not available here **

 

Preface

This paper is the fruit of a seed which was planted in 1993 by Rev. Shoji Yauchi, pastor of the Tokyo Reformed Church and then chairman of the Reformed Theological Institute of the Reformed Church of Japan (RCJ). A devoted scholar and member of the RCJ from its founding in 1946, Rev. Yauchi has observed and participated in the growth and maturing of his denomination over the 50 years of its existence in partnership with various foreign mission groups, and he has a passionate desire for the church to understand itself and its history. Since the vast majority of the Tokyo-area RCJ's relationships with missionaries and much of the church-planting in the region have been accomplished in partnership with the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA), Rev. Yauchi suggested to me that he would appreciate it if someone in the CRC mission (spoken with typical Japanese indirectness, but meaning yours truly) would teach a course at the Tokyo Theological Institute on the history of that denomination, so that the RCJ could gain more insight into the CRCNA, which in so many ways has been an "older brother" to the RCJ and contributed so much to its growth.

After assembling some materials, I presented a series of lectures to a group of interested pastors, seminarians, and lay people during 1995 and 1996. Since I was unable to complete the instruction I had envisioned and desired to make the material available to all who were interested, not just to those who would attend the lectures, I requested and was granted a study leave by Christian Reformed World Missions to complete the syllabus. The Institute has proposed to publish it in Japanese.

The history presented here is given in somewhat broad strokes, and there are no doubt some areas which are inadequately treated. Some may question some of the evaluations of the significance of aspects of the history or judgments concerning directions the denomination is taking. I believe that history is more than a curiosity; it is our heritage, something from which we must draw insight and correction. In that spirit I have incorporated some of the evaluations and emphases which the reader will encounter. I have developed a new appreciation for the CRCNA as I have pursued these studies, and I believe that as the story of this church's birth, growth and present ministries and difficulties unfolds in the pages ahead, the reader too will grow in appreciation this denomination.

I want to thank Rev. Yauchi for his encouragement to complete this project, Dr. Cornelis Venema of Mid-America Reformed Seminary for agreeing to supervise the production of this manuscript, the Christian Reformed World Missions committee for allowing me the time to work on it, and my colleague in Japan missions, Rev. Richard E. Sytsma, for allowing me to incorporate his paper on worship in the CRCNA is this syllabus.

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