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The Foundation of the Protestant Reformed Church

The issue of sovereign and particular grace has been an issue since the time of Augustine. Though always present, this issue came to a head again during the time of the Reformation and was one of the main issues of the Reformation. The fact that this issue of sovereign and particular grace came to a head again during the time of the Synod of Dordt proves that Satan never gives up the battle to make the Church his ally.

God in His Word exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints’’ (Jude 3). This exhortation is for the Church of all time. In 1924, when the issue of sovereign and particular grace again came to a head, there were saints who earnestly contended for that faith. This led to the break from the Christian Reformed Church and the founding of our own Protestant Reformed Churches. It is obvious, therefore, that our Churches stand in the line of the Reformation, of Calvin and of Dordt and are the true Church of the Reformation, even though we are only a small part of the Church universal.

The Synod of the Christian Reformed Church, which met every two years, met in June of 1924. On the 18th of June the Synod adopted the three points of common grace. These three points said that God has a favorable attitude toward all men, that there is a restraint of sin in the life of man and of society in general because of the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, and that the unregenerate, though incapable of spiritual good, are able to perform civic good. The Christian Reformed Church had departed from the truths of the Scriptures.

The Reverends Hoeksema, Danhof, and Ophoff and their consistories had been strongly opposed to these three points before the Synod met and had expressed their opposition by written pamphlets and by simply refusing to preach the three points of common grace. The Synod was aware of this opposition and a committee advised Synod to admonish Danhof and Hoeksema and demand from them that they promise to abide by the three points and refrain from making propaganda for their dissenting views regarding the three points. If they did not, they would be disciplined. Synod did not accept this advice.

In August of 1924, Classis Grand Rapids East informed the Consistory of Eastern Avenue that their minister, Rev. Hoeksema, had to sign the three points of common grace. This he refused to do. A special meeting was held by Classis from November 19 – December 12 to deal with the matter of the Eastern Avenue Church and Rev. Hoeksema.

On December 9, 1924, the Consistory of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church was deposed and Rev. Hoeksema suspended because of their refusal to abide by the decision of Synod with respect to the three points.

On January 24, 1925, Classis Grand Rapids West deposed and suspended the Reverends Ophoff and Danhof and their consistories. The break was sealed. Even though these ministers had appealed their case to the Synod of 1926, this appeal was ignored by the Synod of 1926 and by that time the Protestant Reformed denomination was well established.

On January 29, 1925, Rev. Hoeksema and the Consistory of the Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Rev. Ophoff and the Consistory of the Hope Christian Reformed Church, and Rev. Danhof and the Consistory of First Kalamazoo Christian Reformed Church met in the basement of Eastern Avenue Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. They appointed a committee to consider the matter of organization and outline a program for future action.

These three Consistories met again on March 6 and the committee reported. The decision was made to form a temporary organization on the basis of the Act of Agreement. This Act of Agreement stated the reason for the temporary organization, the adoption of the Three Forms of Unity as their Confessions, and the intention to address their appeal to the Synod of 1926. The temporary organization was given the name: “The Protesting Christian Reformed Churches.”

The men present at this meeting reached another very important decision. They agreed on a plan of action for circulating propaganda on their views regarding the three points.

Soon after this meeting, Rev. Hoeksema travelled over the country organizing and establishing other Churches. Ever since, even though our denomination is not large, we have enjoyed steady growth through God’s work.

God has preserved the cause of Christ and the truth through our Churches. The great responsibility of continuing to preserve the cause of Christ and the truth is in our hands. With God’s help, we will preserve it that we may always be the true Church of the Reformation.