Dutch Reformed Wiki

A Brief History of the Protestant Reformed Churches by Rev. Allen Brummel

Events in the Christian Reformed Church leading up to 1924[]

  1. The Maranatha case of 1918-1922.
    1. Rev. H. Bultema wrote a book entitled Maranatha in which he defended premillenialism and dispensationalism.
      1. He denied the Kingship of Christ over the church.
      2. He denied the unity of the Old Testament and the New Testament.
    2. These views were discussed and condemned by classes and by the Synod of 1918 and 1920 because they were contrary to the Reformed Confessions.
    3. Synod urged his consistory to take action against their minister, but they refused to do so.
    4. Finally, the classis set him and his consistory outside of the denomination. [This is the origin of the Berean Church in Muskegon, Michigan.]
    5. Rev. H. Hoeksema was one minister who opposed Rev. Bultema.
  2. The Janssen case of 1922.
    1. Dr. Janssen was a professor of Old Testament at Calvin Seminary.
      1. Dr. Janssen questioned the infallibility and authority of Scripture.
      2. He cast doubt on some miracles, explaining them from natural causes.
    2. Synod of 1922 condemned his views and relieved him of his position in the seminary.
      1. From the beginning Janssen appealed in defense of his case to common grace, with emphasis on the fact that unbelievers can do good.
      2. Janssen refused to come before the synod, so he was judged on the basis of His writings and class notes.
      3. Synod condemned his methods of interpreting Scripture, but did not say anything about common grace.
      4. Rev. H. Hoeksema was on the committee which condemned and opposed Dr. Janssen's heretical teachings.
      5. Common grace became an issue after the Janssen controversy.
  3. Rev. H. Hoeksema and Rev. H. Danhof had begun to write against the idea of common grace in the Banner.
    1. The Christian Reformed Church had no position on the matter, although there were divided opinions throughout the churches.
    2. These men began to question the issue and were trying to get the churches to discuss the matter more thoroughly and come to a decision.
  4. Supporters of Dr. Janssen were infuriated with Rev. Hoeksema for his actions against Dr. Janssen.
    1. They vowed to see to it that Rev. H. Hoeksema would also be kicked out.
    2. Others who had joined Rev. Hoeksema against Dr. Janssen now turned on Rev. Hoeksema.
    3. They attacked Rev. H. Hoeksema on the issue of common grace.

The protests against Rev. Herman Hoeksema.[]

  1. Various protests were made against Rev. Hoeksema from members of his congregation, Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church.
    1. These protests were carefully planned.
      1. Three men came to file a protest against him.
      2. Rev. Hoeksema agreed to meet individually with each of the three men to discuss the grievances in the protests.
      3. Only one man would do so, and after stumbling and faltering in trying to explain the protest; he finally admitted that the protest was not his.
      4. Instead of talking with the pastor, they accused Rev. Hoeksema of public sin in his preaching.
      5. The consistory sided with Rev. Hoeksema and placed these men under discipline.
    2. At the end of April, 1924 Revs. J. Van Baalen, J. VanderMey, and M. Schans each presented a protest against Rev. H. Hoeksema to the consistory of Eastern Avenue Church.
      1. They did not go to Rev. Hoeksema about the overture against him.
      2. The main content of the protest was that Hoeksema's head, not his heart ruled his theology.
        1. They objected to Rev. Hoeksema's teaching that grace is always particular, excluding any common grace.
        2. They objected that Rev. Hoeksema placed too much emphasis on predestination.
        3. They objected that Rev. Hoeksema rejected social reforms and the good that the ungodly do.
        4. They objected that the invitation was lacking in Rev. Hoeksema's preaching.
  2. Classis Grand Rapids East met on May 21, 1924.
    1. They accepted the overture as legally before them.
    2. They tried everything to avoid the issues and just pass it on to the broadest court, synod.
    3. They finally avoided an open discussion by sending it on to synod, asking synod to investigate into the writings of Revs. Hoeksema and Danhof.
  3. The Synod met in Kalamazoo on June 18, 1924.
    1. The overture from Van Ballen, VanderMay, and Shans was there, 8 protests from other consistories or individuals, and 4 protests from other classes.
    2. The 78 delegates were ill-prepared and tentative, especially from the point of view of how to proceed with the protests.
      1. The committee met for two weeks in order to formulate their advice, during which period they never called for either Rev. Danhof nor Rev. Hoeksema to clarify their viewpoints.
      2. Rev. H. Danhof was a delegate to synod, and was allowed to speak and defend himself.
      3. Rev. H. Hoeksema was not a delegate and was denied a right to speak until he promised he would only speak once.
        1. They then gave him the right to speak once.
        2. He gave a powerful 2 hour speech that evening on God's grace, His sovereign grace, which God shows only to His chosen people, the ones He loves. "An eloquent speaker, Hoeksema showed from the pages of the Scriptures that God always has grace for His chosen people and never has grace - not even a common, temporary grace - for those He has reprobated. He drew a sharp line of the antithesis between the church and the world; and he emphasized that the denial of common grace was the only position the churches might adopt, for it was the position of the Scriptures." (A Watered Garden by Gertrude Hoeksema, p. 36)
    3. After two weeks of meetings, the committee of pre-advice came to Synod with four proposals which were adopted at the July 7, 1924 meeting.
      1. First, they offered a formulation of common grace, and recommended that synod accept the three points of common grace and make it binding on the churches.
      2. Second, they stated that Rev. Hoeksema and Rev. Danhof were Reformed, though they had a tenancy toward one-sidedness.
      3. They wrote up an admonition and testimony to abide by the decision and to avoid a misuse of the doctrine of Common grace, which would allow a break down of the antithesis.
        1. This warning was to be circulated to all the churches.
        2. This was never done for some reason!
      4. The president was asked to admonish Revs. Danhof and Hoeksema and make them promise to abide by these three points and refrain from making propaganda against the three points.

The aftermath of Synod.[]

  1. There was dissatisfaction with the Synod.
    1. Synod had not condemned the two men, but called them Reformed.
    2. Synod had at the same time adopted the three points of common grace with which these two pastors were in disagreement.
  2. Classis Grand Rapids East met on August 20, 1924.
    1. They were in a dilemma.
      1. If they condemned Rev. Hoeksema's position, they would be condemning a preacher whom synod had not condemned.
      2. If they agreed with Rev. Hoeksema they would be saying that the doctrine of common grace was wrong, and be going against the synod which adopted this new doctrine.
    2. Classis finally instructed Eastern Avenue to lift the censure and admit the protesters to the Lord's supper.
      1. The members who opposed Rev. Hoeksema refused to meet with the consistory and had been placed under silent censure.
      2. The classis stated agreement with the protesters and condemned Rev. Hoeksema for public sin.
      3. The classis went further than synod would go.
    3. Troubles continued, so Classis Grand Rapids East called a special classis meeting on November 19, 1924.
      1. Great crowds attended the sessions.
      2. 92 people from Eastern Avenue CRC presented a protest against the consistory of Eastern Avenue CRC.
      3. Rev. Hoeksema was not allowed to speak in his defense.
      4. Classis sent a letter to the consistory of Eastern Avenue demanding that their pastor submit to the teachings of the three points of common grace.
      5. The consistory replied that the classis did not have the right to demand this of the consistory.
        1. Classis did not accept this answer and asked again.
        2. Rev. Hoeksema and his consistory answered that they were in total agreement with the Bible and
        3. confessions.
        4. Classis complained that Rev. Hoeksema was evading the issue. Would he submit to classis demand that he preach and teach common grace: YES or NO.
        5. Pastor Hoeksema saw a split coming, and did not want that, so he suggested that he be re-examined for the ministry and sit his exam. Classis refused this.
      6. The Classis finally met on December 12 and asserted that Rev. Hoeksema had by his refusal to answer Yes or No been insubordinate to the proper ecclesiastical authorities, and therefore by his own act was suspended from office.
      7. They stated that the consistory of Eastern Avenue was also insubordinate, and therefore, had also severed their connection with the CRC.
    4. Classis Grand Rapids West convened on January 13, 1925.
      1. 8 churches sent letters which requested that Classis force Rev. Danhof and Rev. Ophoff to submit to common grace.
      2. Classis wrote a letter to the two ministers requesting that they declare themselves in full agreement with the three points of common grace adopted by Synod 1924.
        1. Neither of the ministers had been accused of heresy.
        2. Both responded that they were emphatically opposed to the three points of common grace.
      3. On January 22, 1925, Classis Grand Rapids West deposed Rev. G. M. Ophoff and Rev. H. Danhof with their consistories from the CRC.

The Protesting Christian Reformed Churches.[]

  1. The three consistories (Grand Rapids, Walker, and Kalamazoo) met on January 29, then again on March 6, 1925.
    1. At the March meeting they decided to organize in order to bring an appeal to the Synod of 1926.
    2. They decided to call themselves the Protesting Christian Reformed Churches.
  2. Several other congregations of the CRC expressed interest.
    1. 40 families were organized in Hull, IA as a Protesting Christian Reformed Church.
    2. There was a constant demand for lectures and preaching.
  3. The three ministers started a seminary to provide basic training for prospective ministers.
  4. Synod 1926 refused to acknowledge their protest and declared the three churches to be outside the denomination.

The establishment of the Protestant Reformed Churches.[]

  1. In November of 1926 the three congregations met to organize a classis and chose a new name; the name chosen was the Protestant Reformed Churches.
  2. In that same month, Rev. Danhof began to become disillusioned, dissatisfied, and troublesome.
    1. He was jealous of the leadership of Rev. Hoeksema.
    2. He left and his congregation became independent, returning to the CRC after a few years.
    3. This caused emptiness and sadness to the new denomination.
  3. Soon congregations sprung up throughout the country, and God's blessing became evident upon the new denomination.
  4. The truth of God's sovereign, unconditional grace had been preserved in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
    1. The organization of the PRC was church reformation.
    2. The PRC restored the truth of the Scriptures to the Church.

Events leading up to 1953.[]

  1. The churches experienced a time of fabulous growth.
    1. First Protestant Reformed Church], the church of Rev. Hoeksema now numbered 500 families.
    2. Hull church was organized in 1926.
    3. 1927 saw congregations begin in Kalamazoo, MI; Oak Lawn, IL; Rock Valley, Pella, and Oskaloosa IA.
    4. In 1929 a congregation was organized in Holland], MI.
    5. 1932 added Creston, in northwest Grand Rapids, MI and Redlands, CA.
    6. 1934 saw the organization of Orange City, IA.
    7. 1935 - Bellflower, CA.
    8. 1936 - Grand Haven, MI.
    9. 1938 - Edgerton, MN.
    10. 1943 - Randolph, WI.
  2. In the 1940's a spirit of discontentment arose.
    1. Events began to occur which reflected problems.
      1. A new radio program, the "Sovereign Grace Hour," was started by the Northwest Iowa and Southwest Minnesota congregations in opposition to the "Reformed Witness Hour."
      2. These same congregations began to publish a new periodical, the Concordia, which competed with the Standard Bearer.
      3. There was a great desire for growth, even if it meant compromise.
      4. Strife and jealousy arose increasingly among the pastors.
    2. Professor Schilder visited from the Netherlands.
      1. He was a minister and professor in the Gereformeerde Kerken in the Netherlands.
        1. The Gereformeerde Kerken of the Netherlands were the sister churches of the Christian Reformed Churches of America.
        2. Rev. Schilder had been unjustly deposed, much like Hoeksema.
        3. 100,000 people followed Schilder out of the Gereformeerde Kerken and formed a separate denomination.
      2. Many members from Schilder's churches were migrating to America.
        1. They did not want to join the Christian Reformed Churches because that was the sister church of the ones who deposed them.
        2. They wanted to look into joining the Protestant Reformed Churches.
        3. They also denied common grace.
      3. Rev. Schilder came to visit Rev. Hoeksema and the Protestant Reformed churches.
        1. The first visit went well, and Rev. Schilder preached in all of our churches.
        2. The second visit was not as well, because it became evident that Rev. Schilder's view of the covenant was different from ours.
        3. Rev. Schilder still preached in all of the churches and made friends with a lot of the ministers, especially in Classis West.

Heresy exposes itself within the denomination.[]

  1. Many of our ministers began to agree with Dr. Schilder and began to write about the differences.
    1. Dr. Schilder believed that there were conditions in the covenant.
      1. He believed that every baby is given the promise of the covenant at baptism.
      2. The child must accept the grace once he gets older.
        1. They were careful to say that it was not the work of the person, but God's work.
        2. They rejected an attitude of men working out their own salvation.
        3. Nevertheless, they taught that the covenant was conditional upon the will of man.
    2. Many of the ministers wanted to be accepted by a larger denomination, and wanted to receive all the immigrants from the Netherlands so they agreed with Rev. Schilder.
      1. They began to write in the Concordia about the covenant with its demands and promises.
      2. They began to support Rev. Schilder.
  2. The Mission Committee was struggling and did not know how to react to all of these people coming from the Netherlands.
    1. They requested a document which would state what our churches believed.
    2. The "Declaration of Principles" was drawn up which defined the Protestant Reformed denial of common grace, and teaching concerning the covenant.
    3. This declaration was adopted for use on the mission field.
  3. Many of the ministers openly objected to this document and refused to accept it.
    1. They preached against it.
    2. They didn't want a covenant promise which was for the elect.
    3. It was only a matter of time before a minister would preach about a conditional covenant.
  4. Heresy reveals itself in First Protestant Reformed Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan).
    1. Rev. De Wolf was one of the ministers of that large church.
      1. He preached, "God promises every one of you that if you believe you will be saved."
      2. He refused to take back the statement.
      3. Later he again preached, "Our act of conversion is a prerequisite to enter the Kingdom."
      4. Many members of his congregation gave him the benefit of the doubt, that he was trying to be faithful and that these statements were a mistake, but he himself declared that he meant these statements and that he would preach them again.
      5. Other members continued to seek discipline for his statements which they felt were openly heretical.
    2. Classis East declared these statements heretical.
    3. After a long, drawn-out affair, Rev. De Wolf was deposed by a minority of the consistory of First Protestant Reformed Church.

VIII. The effect of Rev. DeWolf's deposition.[]

  1. Churches all through the West were upset with First Church's decision to depose Rev. De Wolf.
    1. Most of the churches stuck up with Rev. De Wolf.
    2. A majority from the consistories of Pella, Oskaloosa, Bellflower, Orange City, and Edgerton believed that Rev. De Wolf was right and that his statements were not heretical.
    3. Sizable portions of every other congregation in the west sided with Rev. De Wolf.
    4. Only Doon, IA unanimously sided with Rev. Hoeksema.
  2. A sizable portion of the denomination sided with Rev. De Wolf and left the Protestant Reformed Churches.
    1. They were known as the "De Wolf group" at first.
    2. After a couple years, the "De Wolf group" organized as the [file:///prc/dewolf/index.shtml Orthodox Protestant Reformed Churches].
    3. They remained a distinct denomination from 1953 to 1961.
    4. There was no growth, therefore some of the churches began to return to the Christian Reformed Churches.
    5. They officially disbanded and returned to the Christian Reformed Churches in 1961.
  3. The Protestant Reformed churches lost 1/2 of their membership and pastors.
    1. They were devastated.
      1. Whole congregations and pastors were gone.
      2. Throughout the West, there were little groups of members scattered here and there, left without pastors.
      3. Edgerton had been a congregation of 220 members, but now 100 were left without a pastor.
        1. Families were divided with brothers and sisters going separate ways.
        2. We lost the church and parsonage to the De Wolf group because they had a majority in the consistory.
        3. We had to worship in the Runal's memorial hall for 10 years.
        4. Finally, when the De Wolf group disbanded and tried to sell the church building the case went to the Minnesota supreme court where we won because we were the continuing Protestant Reformed Church.
        5. These court cases caused much bitterness.
    2. The precious Biblical truth of God's covenant was preserved.
      1. The covenant is a bond of friendship established and maintained by God alone.
      2. The covenant is established with Christ and in Him with all the elect.
    3. God preserved His truth in our midst through a bitter controversy.
      1. The controversy was painful, but necessary.
      2. The denomination needed to be purified.
      3. Now, our churches have been able by God's grace to remain distinct and faithful for another 40 years.