The CRC Is Right About Kinism (Part Two)

We began discussing the heresy of Kinism and its confusion between nature and grace in Part One of this article. The Kinists claim that people naturally congregate in ethnic/racial people groups, and they seek to use their analysis of nature to leverage grace. As we reviewed, this is a harmful misconstruing of God’s Word. In Part Two of this article, we will discuss how the Christian Reformed Church has spoken and acted against the heresy of Kinism.

The CRC Is Right

Over the 15 years that the HB has been published, I have had occasion to criticize the drift of the CRC toward broad evangelicalism. This, however, is an area where confessional Reformed Christians can learn from our brothers and sisters in the CRC.

As Reginald Smith notes, the Kinists,

look at Old Testament examples to demonstrate how God forbade interracial marriages between Israel and other nations, and they use this to justify the statement that God must also forbid interracial marriage today. Kinists use Genesis 1:25 and 11:7–9 to state that God mandated life based on kinship or relationships with people of “the same kind.”

They not only ignore the plain teaching of Colossians 3 and Galatians 3 but they also ignore the plain teaching of Acts 10:15, where our Lord told Peter in a vision, “What God has made clean, do not call common” (ESV). The next thing we read in Luke’s narrative is that Cornelius, a Roman centurion, wants to speak with Peter. Ordinarily, this would not be a good thing. A Roman centurion had a lot of authority and could have made Peter’s life not only uncomfortable but uncomfortably short. Peter explained to him, “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So, when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me” (Acts 10:28b–29; ESV). The point of the vision was really about how Christians are to relate to one another across ethnic barriers. Kinism defies and denies the unequivocal teaching of God’s Word about the history of redemption and our new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

At Synod, in 2019, the Christian Reformed Church considered overture 7 (pp. 485–505) regarding Kinism. It adopted the following declarations regarding Kinism:

A. Declare that this is a grievous deviation from sound doctrine, a heresy: the Kinist teaching that interracial marriage is sinful, and the theological reasoning supporting this teaching.

B. Declare that this is a grievous deviation from sound doctrine, a heresy: the Kinist teaching that God has ordained separation in a religio-ethnostate, and the theological reasoning supporting this teaching.

C. Declare that any office bearer who teaches or promotes Kinist theology is worthy of special discipline in accordance with Church Order Article 83.

D. Instruct the executive director to create, through the appropriate agencies, opportunities for education, instruction, and discussion so that church leaders and lay members can recognize and refute the heresy of Kinism in various social contexts where they may encounter it.

According to article 74 of the Acts of Synod (pp. 818–20) for 2019, the Synod adopted those for declarations on this ground:

Ground: Kinist theology and practice is neither biblical nor Reformed. Rather, Kinism is a twisting of Reformed doctrine. The Bible makes clear that God’s ideal is a family of every tribe and nation being considered equal in every way. Kinist principles and praxis distort this truth.

Synod also adopted the following motion:

That synod, given the recent history of Kinist teaching in a particular church of the CRCNA, admonish councils and classes to promote confessional fidelity and mutually to pursue special discipline of an office bearer who is found to hold views contrary to our standards.


a. The pastor who was teaching Kinist views was able to do so for several years without special discipline being successful.

b. By admonishing councils and classes to encourage confessional fidelity and special discipline when applicable, it sends a strong message from the broadest body of our denomination that Kinist teaching will not be tolerated in our churches.

Synod adopted another overture offered from the floor:

That synod acknowledge, with lament, the historic tolerance and indifference within our Reformed theological tradition to perpetual hateful racial prejudice and the theological error of Kinism as well as the need to act as a prophetic voice on these matters in the present and future.

Make of the last clause what you will, Synod was clearly embarrassed by the existence of Kinism within the CRC for a decade and wanted to send a clear message that the CRC repudiates Kinism.

In declaration B, Synod called Kinism “heresy.” In part 3 of the same article (74), however, the Synod advisory committee noted that there are some difficulties with using the word heresy this way. They cited Schleiermacher’s warning about abusing the word. That is the first time I have ever seen Friedrich Schleiermacher quoted in Synodical minutes. It should probably be the last, but I digress. They recommended Synod form a committee to work on the question of the proper use of the word heresy and report back to Synod 2020. The recommendation was adopted.

I was able to find a committee report but I was unable to locate a definition of heresy in the minutes of Synod 2021 or 2022. The use of the word heresy is challenging in this context. In the narrow sense, heresy refers to a teaching that contradicts the ecumenical faith as represented in the ecumenical creeds, i.e., the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Definition of Chalcedon, and the Athanasian Creed. The Kinist dogma clearly contradicts God’s Word and the Reformed confession. It does not explicitly deny the Trinity, Christological orthodoxy, or even soteriological orthodoxy as defined by the Council of Ephesus (AD 431, contra Pelagius), but there is a broader definition of heresy which refers to a teaching that contradicts the Scriptures as understood by the Reformed churches. In that sense, Kinism may be said to be heresy.

It is certainly a gross error, schismatic (as it separates what Christ has united), it is ugly and unbefitting of a Christian profession. Let no man cast asunder what Christ has joined together.

Part One

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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  1. Due to a delay with synod not meeting for two years for Covid, Synod 2022 adopted and recommended to the churches an earlier report that had been made to clarify the meaning of heresy. That report included 9 points. If people or movements are to be identified as engaging in heresy, they are to include many or all of these nine points (from the Agenda for Synod 2020, p. 75:
    1. Heresy typically involves serious distortion or rejection of basic or core Christian doctrines, including core Christian teachings about God, creation, humanity, or God’s dealings with creatures.
    2. Heresy typically contradicts doctrines that have been defined by an official church body (such as a creed or confession).
    3. Heresy typically is embedded in an affirmation of Christianity, claiming to be Christian while at the same time distorting or twisting central teachings of Christianity.
    4. Heresy typically involves not just an individual, but a group or a faction that threatens the unity of the church and the Christian faith. Even if heretical teachings are initiated by an individual, those teachings typically do not reach the status of heresy until sufficient numbers of people are swayed by them.
    5. Heresy typically leads its adherents away from genuine faith in the triune God. In contrast, other differences (even what we would regard as errors, such as not baptizing infants or holding a non-Reformed view of the roles of God and humanity in salvation) typically do not lead people away from faith in God.
    6. Heresy typically causes inquirers and other believers to be confused about Christian teaching and thus led astray in their belief or discouraged from believing. In this way, heresy presents a special danger to the church that goes beyond its effect on its adherents.
    7. Heresy typically ends up bringing disrepute on the truth of the gospel. Because it confuses people about what the gospel really is, heresy can lead those outside the Christian faith to mistakenly believe that heretical teaching is actually genuine Christianity.
    8. Heresy typically involves a stubborn refusal to be corrected by patient and gracious engagement with the church. Even when the church thoughtfully shows biblical and theological problems with heresy, proponents of heresy refuse to change their views.
    9. Heresy typically involves a moral failing as well as a theological or doctrinal one. Heresy misleads others about Christianity and threatens to introduce division into the body of Christ. In this way, heresy is a moral as well as a theological problem.

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