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Christian Reformed Church

An American denomination with its background in Dutch Calvinism. In the Netherlands, conservative dissatisfaction with modernism and doctrinal laxness led to the secession (Afscheiding) of 1834. A group of seceders emigrated in 1846, settling in western Michigan under H. Van Raalte. They joined the Dutch Reformed Church; for the ultraconservatives among them, this was an uneasy union from the start, and in 1857 four congregations separated and formed the Christian Reformed Church. For some decades its growth was gradual. In 1886 a second and much larger secession (the Doleantie) took place in the Netherlands. Conservative Calvinist emigrants to the United States tended to join the Christian Reformed Church, which now grew rapidly. A seminary was established in the 1890s, a system of Calvinistic day schools started, and by World War I a college established (Calvin College). Membership, including children, was around 100,000. During the 1920s, controversy over “liberalism” and “ultra- Calvinism” erupted; H. Hoeksema, denying God's common grace (gratia generalis) to the nonelect, formed the Protestant Reformed Church. After World War II a wave of emigration from the Netherlands to Canada produced additional members for the Christian Reformed Church, which now includes over 275,000 souls. Growth has been primarily through immigration from the Netherlands and through internal growth. The church has associated with it three colleges and a large system of private elementary and high schools. It has been notable for adherence to Calvinistic orthodoxy. Its headquarters are in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

See J.H. Kromminga, The Christian Reformed Church: A Study in Orthodoxy (1949).