1. Currently the Canadian Reformed Church is being challenged by the ReformedAcademic quartet. A recent creation, global flood and the direct creation of Adam are all under fire, to be replaced by some form of theistic evolution.
2. These views are hardly new. In fact, the positions and arguments advanced by ReformedAcademic are virtually indentical to those promoted back in the 1980's, in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), by the Calvin College professors Davis Young, Clarence Menninga, and Howard van Till. They, too, equated mainstream science with divine revelation and claimed to be in the Reformed tradition of Calvin, Kuyper, and Bavinck. They, too, denigrated the traditional view as fundamentalist, anti-intellectual, dangerous, and an impediment to evangelism.
3. The CRC was at that time heavily influenced by its Dutch sister church the GKN (Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland: Reformed Churches in the Netherlands). Many CRC and GKN ministers studied at the Free University (VU), a Reformed institution established by Abraham Kuyper in 1880. Heavy promotion of evolution began in 1958, with the publication of VU biologist Jan Lever's Creation & Evolution. Lever soon garnered support from VU geologist J.R. van de Fliert. By 1968 VU theologian H.M. Kuitert declared that there was no historical Adam and no historical fall into sin. In 1971 Herman Wiersinga, a GKN minister, in his VU doctoral dissertation, asserted that Christ did not die for atonement of sin. Although objections were made to GKN synods, those synods never disciplined Kuitert or Wiersinga. Further doctrinal degeneration soon followed.
The tragic demise of the GKN was documented by A.S. Lindeboom in his book “De Theologen gingen voorop" (The Theolgians led the way: A simple tale of the dismantling of the Reformed Churches). The titles of the first 6 chapters sketch the course of the disintegration:
Chapter 1. The arrival of intellectualism
Chapter 2. Under pressure from modern science
Chapter 3. Bible criticism begins – Genesis 1
Chapter 4. Continuation of Bible criticism
Chapter 5. Consolidated advance – Gen.1-11
Chapter 6. The son of God (his divinity, resurrection, return)
Lindeboom's title is perhaps somewhat inaccurate, for it was not the church theologians who led the way but, rather, its scientists. Once the GKN scientists had undercut the historical basis for Genesis, the theologians merely followed through by discarding the doctrinal principles (e.g., original sin, atonement) grounded in that history.
Today, the GKN no longer exists. She united with the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk (Netherlands Reformed Church ) to form the Protestantse Kerk in Nederland (PKN).
4. The Canadian Reformed Church in 2010 is currently in a position similar to that of the CRC around 1985. It, too, is heavily influenced by a straying Dutch sister church, the Gereformeerde Kerken Vrijgemaakt (GKV). In 2002 a book appeared, titled Woord op schrift [The written Word: theological reflections on biblical authority], a publication of the liberated reformed Theological University of Kampen. This contained a contribution by Rev. J.J.T. Doedens wherein he argued for a non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1. Another contribution, by dr. A.L.Th. de Bruijne, argues for a more metaphorical approach to Gen.1-11 that places stress on extra-biblical sources. In 2004 Prof. Dr. J. Douma published the book Genesis, wherein he is declared himself to be open to big bang cosmology and human evolution.
Although objections were sent to GKV Synod 2008, it refused to discipline either of these men.
A recent poll in the Dutch Reformed magazine Nederlands Dagblad (2009) reveals that only 10% of GKV ministers believe in literal Genesis days. The top category is a non-historical Genesis, the next presumably some form of day-age, then literal days, myth, and, at the bottom, the framework hypothesis.
Kampen Seminary Prof. Gert Kwakkel, supporting literal days, remarked that 10 years ago more than half of the GKV ministers would have chosen literal days. A remarkably rapid decline that bodes ill for the futureof the GKV.
The mark of a true church is its rejection of all things contrary to the pure Word of God (Belgic Confession Art.29). The Bible clearly teaches creation in six historical days. On such grounds the above graph suggests that the Gereformeerde Gemeenten and the Hersteld Hervormde Kerk are much nearer the mark than the GKV. A survey of other controversial issues reinforces the conclusion that the GKV is setting off on the same trajectory as the former GKN.
Would it therefore not be prudent for the Canadian Reformed Church to reconsider its ties with the GKV, lest it be enticed to follow suit?