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Religion Library: Presbyterian and Reformed

Missions and Expansion

Written by: Ted Vial

Dutch Reformed Churches accept the Heidelberg catechism, but take the canons of the Synod of Dort as the lens through which to interpret all creedal statements.  The nature of the canons of the Synod of Dort is one reason Dutch Reformed churches have been more conservative than German Reformed churches.  The Dutch Reformed Church came with the Dutch West India Company to settle New Netherland.  When the English took it over in 1664 (and it became New York) they lost their privileged status.  The Dutch Reformed Church (since 1867 called the Reformed Church in America [RCA]) has been more of an ethnic church in North America than the German Reformed church.  They maintained their use of Dutch in worship longer (until the 20th century) than the Germans maintained German.  There have also been periodic schisms by those who felt that the RCA was becoming too liberal.  In 1857, conservatives in Michigan formed the True Holland Reformed Church (later the Christian Reformed Church).  The RCA has generally adopted liturgical changes, as have other American Protestants, while the Christian Reformed Church maintains a reserved and traditional form of worship.

Study Questions:
     1.    Who was Marie Dentière? What letter did she write, and why?
     2.    How did the Presbyterian Church become a political agent throughout the 16th century?
     3.    How do German and Dutch Reformed Churches differ from the Swiss Reformed Church? How are they similar?


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