We’ve had occasion to comment several times in this section on the Christian Reformed Church, once known as the True Dutch Reformed Church, and its official publication The Banner.
Strange — isn’t it? — that the NOR would pay so much attention to that little-known Church, but, you see, your Editor [Dale Vree] was born, baptized, and catechized in that Church.
Once upon a time the True Dutch Reformed Church was rock-solid Calvinist. One of the big debates in those decades long ago was whether it makes any sense to evangelize or do missionary work — given that Calvinist doctrine stipulates that before the foundation of the world, God predestined people to Heaven or Hell. If you’re predestined to Hell by God before you were even conceived, you can accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, but you still go to Hell. There’s absolutely nothing you can do about your salvation or damnation. As for evangelists and missionaries, they can preach until they’re blue in the face, but they can never change God’s sovereign decrees about who goes to Hell, for His decrees are unconditional and irrevocable. So, indeed, why preach the Gospel?
However, in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) today, any mention of predestination is largely avoided. And it’s not hard to understand why. For example, if you’re predestined to Heaven, there’s no need to be good. And if you’re predestined to Hell, no amount of good works will save you (nor any amount of faith in Christ). Either way, there’s no point in striving to be good.
But what is Calvinism without predestination? Nothing really. So the True Dutch Reformed Church has lost its identity, and you know what happens then. You shrink.
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