Is The URCNA Going Forward, Backward, Or Sideways?

Years ago a Protestant Reformed minister told me that the URCNA was nothing more than the CRCNA of the 1950s. I took exception to that statement but it did make me wonder how much truth was in it. Would the URC be a church of the twenty-first century with its own purposeful Reformed conviction, or would it cling to a point in the CRC trajectory where it felt most comfortable with its past cultural identity? If the latter was true, I knew the URCNA would struggle with identity, soon finding itself having a difficult time being able to distinguish between the essentials of what binds them together in unity with secondary non-confessional issues. It was easy to come out of the CRC as fighters, and the danger remained that if we lost the heart of our gospel fellowship, it wouldn’t take much to begin unraveling the newly “United” Reformed churches, especially living in an ever increasing vicious blogosphere and internet world where people can remain largely unaccountable for their actions.

With this in mind, the URC should always be careful to think through the decisions they make today and how these decisions will affect their unity tomorrow. Decisions made by office bearers today without carefully thinking through the consequences of their actions can have devastating effects upon the unity of our federation of churches.

— Chris Gordon, “Extra Confessional Binding & The Belgic 36 Beat Down (1)Part 2

    Post authored by:

  • 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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    • Tom,

      The Belgic was published in 1561. According to my Particular Baptist friends, there were no “Baptists” in 1561. So, you must mean the (ana/kata)Baptists who took over Münster by force, who executed Lutheran “heretics” and instituted a region of terror that they called “the New Jerusalem” or the (ana/kata)Baptists who formed an army under the leadership of Thomas Müntzer?

      Unless, of course, there there really are substantial connections between the Particular Baptists of the 1640s to the General Baptists of 1611 (who were Brownists who met Dutch Mennonites) which connect them back to the 1st generation Anabaptists or Katabaptists of the 1520s. In that case, there wasn’t always as much difference between them and the magisterial Protestants as is sometimes thought.

  1. I hear from my Canadian friends that they have the same problems in Canada. We are still recovering from and ‘fighting’ these sentiments among (Dutch/Afrikaans) Reformed Churches here in SA.

    It looks like even Lutherans and Anglicans (yep, in spite of their obvious ‘ethnocentrism’) are making a headway in ways we haven’t even started to… Just sayin’.

  2. There’s a tension present and perhaps more pronounced now than when this blog was first posted. There is a sizeable group who look back to when the CRC ordained women and want a church that exists minus that decision. Family legacy is more in play for them than a return to the historic roots of the Church in the 16th and 17th century. Then there are the engrafted gentiles, like myself, who leap over centuries of Dutch lineage to the source documents of the magisterial reformers. We refer to such writings and say this is reformed. The ex CRC folk are offended by such comments and think we gentiles are presumptuous to tell them what is reformed. We look at the reformed Faith as a treasure for all. They look at the reformed Faith as a Faith preserved by them and handed down to their families, which would be Dutch for the most part.

  3. Hi Tom,

    I agree that we “Gentiles,” as it were, relate to the Reformed faith a little differently. I have seen some of what you describe but I wonder if among our Dutch brothers and sisters there is not an assumption that what they have experienced is 16th and 17th-century Reformed theology, piety, and practice. I suspect that the NAPARC and CRC worlds are no longer aware of the discontinuity between what we know and experience today from what was confessed and practiced in the classical period. So, it’s a matter of encouraging all of us to re-think our assumptions and to get back to sources (Scripture & confession and the then the earlier writers) and to recover our theology, piety, and practice.

    At the same time, the stability afforded by those strong family ties preserved enough of the old theology, piety, and practice that there was a place for us “Gentiles” land. Thus, we are in debt to our older brothers and sisters and they have typically received us warmly, which is a grace for which we should also be thankful.

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