Netherlands Reformed Church

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The Calvinistic Reformed Church in the Netherlands, Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk (NHK), came into existence at a general synod convened by King William I in 1816 shortly after the political restoration of the country. The roots of this Church go back, however, to the 16th-century Reformation. Synods between 1571 and 1619 established the doctrinal alignment and discipline of the Reformed Church in Holland. Accordingly the NHK inherited as its confessional literature the Confessio Belgica (1561), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the canons of Dordrecht on predestination (1619). see confessions of faith, protestant. At this time the NHK adopted a presbyterian form of ecclesiastical government, with an annual synod to enact legislation. Synodal decrees had to be submitted to the monarch for approval. Greater autonomy was granted in 1852, and all controls were removed in 1876.

Internal troubles, which plagued the NHK from its inception, corresponded to some extent to the current political controversies between liberals and conservatives. Thus, in reaction to the liberal interpretation of the binding force of confessions, a revival movement arose in the 1830s. Under Hendrik de Cock (180142) a group of these revivalists separated in 1834 from the NHK and formed the Christian Reformed Church, Christlijke Gereformeerde Kerk (CGK). Much more serious was the break that resulted from a long-standing controversy between the "modernist" and "orthodox" parties. The latter group, led by Abraham Kuyper, professed fidelity to the original tenets of the Calvinist reformation and protested the corruption of these beliefs by the "freethinkers." Kuyper founded the Free University of Amsterdam (1880) and formed, with his disciples, the Reformed Mourning Church, Gereformeerde Kerk (1886). When many of the CGK joined Kuyper's movement in 1892, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, Gereformeerde Kerke in Nederland (GKN), originated. Within the NHK, meanwhile, tensions between the "ethical" party under A. J. T. Jonker and the "free-thinking" party of Niemeyer led to further divisions. All efforts to achieve real unity before World War II proved fruitless, but the shared experiences during the Nazi occupation created an entente that culminated in a new church order (1951).

In 1965 the NHK had some three million members, about one-third of the country's population. The GKN, with somewhat less than 700,000 followers, represented about seven percent of the inhabitants. The CGK had about 60,000 adherents. All three groups are Calvinist in theology and are organized in the traditional synodal manner. Each congregation elects a consistory composed of elders and deacons, and each local congregation has the right to call a minister to serve it. Synods are of three kinds: (1) synods of various classes, (2) provincial synods, and (3) general or national synods. There are also committees to coordinate the missionary, social, and other activities of the Churches. barthianism had a great impact, especially in the NHK.

See Also: reformed churches; reformed churches in north america.

Bibliography: w. f. dankbaar, Evangelisches Kirchenlexicon: Kirchlich-theologisches Handwörterbuch, ed. h. brunotte and o. weber 2:158996. s. van der linde and k. h. miskotte, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 195765) 4:146567, 146971. w. schatz, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765); suppl., Das Zweite Vatikanische Konzil: Dokumente und kommentare, ed. h. s. brechter et al., pt. 1 (1966) 7:864. f. thŸssen, ibid. 2:1149.

[m. b. schepers]