Dutch Reformed Church

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The Dutch Reformed Church or Netherlands Reformed Church (in Dutch: Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk; NHK) is a denomination of Protestant Christianity based on the teachings of John Calvin.

The Dutch Reformed village church of St. Laurens, the Netherlands.


[edit] History

The Dutch Reformed Church was the oldest Reformed church in the Netherlands and before the demise of the Dutch Republic enjoyed status as the 'public' or 'privileged' church. Contrary to popular belief it was never a 'state religion', although the law demanded that every person in a public position should be a communicant member of the Dutch Reformed Church. Relations between governments and the Church were fairly intimate. The Dutch Reformed Church is the main successor to the congregations which came into existence during the Reformation. In this age of religious violence, most leaders of the Dutch Reformed congregations fled abroad and the first synod of 23 Dutch Reformed leaders was held in the German city of Emden in October 1571. The Synod of Emden is generally considered to be the starting point of the denomination.

The first Synod on Dutch soil was held in Dordrecht in 1578. This synodal meeting is not to be confused with the better known 'Second Synod of Dordt' during which Arminians were expelled from the church and the Canons of Dordt were added to the Confessions. (The older doctrinal statements being the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism). These three confessional documents were called the Drie formulieren van Enigheid (Three Forms of Unity) but as it turned out most splits and conflicts in the church were to be brought about by disagreement over the substance and interpretation over these doctrinal standards.

The government of the Dutch Republic, which instigated the Arminians' expulsion and persecution afterwards then prohibited the reformed Synod to assemble, and no Synod was held in the Netherlands until the demise of the Republic.

[edit] The further reformation

The later seventeenth- and early eighteenth century is the age of the Dutch nadere reformatie ('further reformation'), a pietist movement. The main protagonists of the Nadere Reformatie were Wilhelmus à Brakel and Gisbertus Voetius. Less well known pietist authors include Bernardus Smytegelt and Jodocus van Lodensteyn. These authors are still read among the ultra-orthodox calvinists in the Dutch Bible Belt.

[edit] The Regulation-Church

When the Kingdom of the Netherlands was established in 1815 the organisation of the Dutch Reformed church was to become more centralized than ever. The historical church organisation was swept aside by the 'Regulations' imposed by the new government and the church was put under royal control with its Synod being personally nominated by the King until 1852. It wasn't until 1853 that Church and State became fully separated.

[edit] The twentieth century

The Dutch Reformed Church remained the largest church body in the Netherlands until the middle of the twentieth century when it was overtaken by the Roman Catholic Church. The rapid secularization of the Netherlands in the sixties hit the mainstream Protestant church very hard. From the sixties onward, a number of attempts were made to effect a reunion with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands which finally succeeded in 2004.

[edit] Protestant Church in the Netherlands

The Dutch Reformed Church had 2 million members organised in 1350 congregations when it merged with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, GKN) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Evangelisch-Lutherse Kerk in het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden) in 2004 to form the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (Protestantse Kerk in Nederland, PKN).

[edit] Controversies

As a typically 'broad' church, it has always had difficulties accommodating theological differences. The church has undergone numerous schisms throughout its history. The first schism in 1618 led to the Remonstrant church. Other significant schisms include the Afscheiding (Separation) in 1834 and in the Doleantie (The Sorrow) led by Abraham Kuyper in 1886 and, unsurprisingly, the 2004 merger has led to a new schism.

A number of congregations and members of the original Dutch Reformed Church separated to form the Hersteld Hervormde Kerk ('Restored Reformed Church'). Estimations of their membership vary from 35,000 up to 70,000 in about 120 local congregations served by 88 pastors. They disagree with the plural constitution of the merged church which they allege contains partly contradicting Reformed and Lutheran confessions. This group also opposes Blessing of same-sex unions in Christian churches or ordination of women.

[edit] Dutch Reformed churches abroad

[edit] Southern Africa

The Dutch Reformed Church gave rise to several reformed denominations in South Africa, including the Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk, the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk, the Gereformeerde Kerk and the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa. David Bosch, a teacher of liberation theology and missiology and author of Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (1991) was a member of the Reformed Church in South Africa.

Dirk Van der Hoff was an important founding member of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa.

[edit] America

The Dutch Reformed Church expanded to the Americas in the early 1600s as the Netherlands started colonies there. The Reformed Church in America is the most direct descendant among the many Dutch heritage Reformed churches in the United States.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

af:Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerkfamilie de:Niederländisch-reformierte Kirche nl:Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk nds-nl:Nederlaanse Hervormde Karke ja:オランダ改革派 pt:Igreja Reformista Holandesa

Dutch Reformed Church

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