RCA Prof Predicts Demise of the RCA (and the CRC)

Donald A. Luidens is a sociology prof at Hope College and he’s written a provocative and interesting essay in Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought (which I think is descended from the old Reformed Journal) in which he argues that loss of confessional orientation is one of the reasons for the decline (and impending fall) of the RCA. He says that the death knell is sounding for the CRC.

Another factor he mentions is the influence of broad evangelicalism. Those in my communion (URCNA) who think that it was “liberalism” that wrecked the CRC are just wrong. It wasn’t “liberalism” at all but rather the very thing that Foppe Ten Hoor and others worried about in the early part of the 20th century: evangelicalism. They called “Methodism” but they meant by that what we call “evangelicalism,” the substitution of religious experience and/or fundamentalism for the theology, piety, and practice of the Reformed churches.

Hmm, someone ought to write a book about that phenomenon.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. I don’t know about that book that you linked 🙂 … but I agree that liberalism was not the root cause of destroying the CRC or the RCA years earlier.

    As an outsider, it may be easier said than practiced, but I think that when the confessional men left the CRC they basically took the life blood out of her. Now if they would have stayed and fought for reformation the CRC may be in a better place than it is today. It worked in the ARP in the 1970s-80s. It is sad to see these old historic denominations crumble- but when the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

    May the CRC return to her confessional roots.

    Nathan Eshelman
    Los Angeles RPCNA

    • I thought this sections was interesting in light of some Reformed denominations which adhere to biblical inerrancy.

      “What emerges from these data theologically, then, is a generic form of American evangelicalism with a thin Calvinist overlay. The authority of Scripture for faith and life becomes transmuted when washed, as it has become in the RCA, in the language of biblical inerrancy. Its descriptive insights are lost to prescriptive formulations.”

    • What was the CRC synod’s decision on the Proposed New Form of Subscription? Wasn’t that supposed to mark the end of the CRC as a confessional church?

      • Joel,

        No decision was made this year. It has been put off for further study, which is code for “We like this a lot but need to take it slow.” Yes, it would mark the end of the CRC as a confessional church and signal just how serious the CRC is about joining the evangelical fiesta. For whatever it may be worth, there is at least one confessionalist voice remaining. But from what I witnessed as our church interviewed him for our pulpit, men like Randy Blacketer really don’t get a fair hearing:


  2. The CRC is an apostate church. To stay in the CRC is spiritual suicide… that why many left and they did leave because the CRC was both liberal/despised it’s distinctive reformed confessional heritage.
    I do not need to read a book about this …. our family lived this.

    One fella said it well,

    “Why has this happened? (1) The CRC started ordaining men who did not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. (2) The CRC started ordaining men who believed the atonement was universal and non-effacicious. (3) The CRC started ordaining women.”

    • “Why has this happened? (1) The CRC started ordaining men who did not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.”

      The Authority and Inerrancy of Scripture are vital doctrines to uphold and defend. Consequently, the CRC (and other churches and denominations) are reaping what they are sowing.

  3. Scott
    Well, you know John Armstrong is now in the RCA encouraging all who will listen to jump on his generous ecueminical/emergent bandwagon. That should help, don’t you think?

  4. There is a middle ground between a confessionally reformed church and an apostate church. The CRC is more in this middle ground. The CRC for the most part has become a broad evangelical church. But the CRC for the most part still retains the gospel and the marks, thus they are not apostate.

  5. To say that the CRC is apostate is an extreme position and unfounded in historical understanding of what it means for a church to be ‘apostate’. If they are apostate, then the evangelical church is apostate as well. Remember that when Paul wrote to Corinth, he still called her a church- and she was in worse shape than the CRC.

    We need to pray for her- and pray that God would raise up men who will be faithful from within and fight for what she once was and what Christ wants her to be.

    We would not throw out our own marriages when things get rough- why would we throw out Christ’s and a part of his bride?

  6. If the evangelical church actually existed, it would be apostate. But it doesn’t really exist.

  7. “Someone” – you are embarrassing yourself. But, I guess that doesn’t bother you too much since we don’t know who you are. Bill Evans has been particularly kind and gracious on this blog, especially given few on here have actually read his book and yet feel duty-bound to comment in areas they have little or no expertise. And we call this Christianity?

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