A Closer Look . . .
A Deeper explanation of who we are...
The Christian Reformed Church calls itself Christian because it forms one small part of Christ's church on earth. It recognizes as fellow-Christians all people who accept the teachings of the Bible as they are summarized so beautifully in the Apostles' Creed. This includes believers from many denominations such as Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Pentecostal. We may disagree with these believers on some practices or teachings. But we recognize them as sisters and brothers in Christ if they believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and if they confess that Jesus died for their sins, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven.
Together with other Protestant churches, the CRC teaches...
- The Bible is our only reliable guide to what we should believe and how we should conduct our lives (2 Tim. 3:14-17). It is God's unfailing word to us. It shows us who God is by telling us the great things God has done. The Bible leads us to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
- God saves us by grace, by his acts of kindness and love that we do not deserve. Only Jesus' sacrifice on the cross can make us right with God (Eph. 2:8-10). The good we do is the result of our salvation, not its cause.
- We can be saved only by faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16-18).
The CRC calls itself Reformed because it stands in the tradition of the Reformed churches. These churches follow the teachings of the sixteenth-century church reformer John Calvin. Calvin struggled valiantly to return Christianity back to its biblical roots. CRC teachings are closely akin to Presbyterian and other Reformed churches, and it enjoys solid relationships with many of them.
The CRC holds three creeds in common with most other Christian churches...
- The Nicene Creed comes from the fourth century, when some people taught that Jesus was only a creature. This creed boldly emphasizes the biblical message that Jesus is truly, fully God.
- The Apostles' Creed also comes from the fourth century. It elegantly expresses our faith in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The Athanasian Creed affirms the biblical teaching that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but in such a way that there is only one God. It then goes on to confess that Jesus Christ is at the same time fully God and fully human.
There are also three confessions that the CRC shares with other churches of the Reformed faith. These distinguish its teachings from that of other denominations...
- The Belgic Confession was written as a defense against accusations that the Reformed churches promoted false teachings. It summarizes what the Bible teaches about itself, our fall into sin, Christ, salvation, the church, civil government, and our Lord's return.
- The Heidelberg Catechism provides an excellent tool for teaching the Reformed faith. It emphasizes that our rescue from sin is a free, unearned gift of God through Jesus Christ. Responding to that gift, we show our gratitude to God by living in faith and obedience to our Lord.
- The Canons of Dort assert that we cannot save ourselves because sin has affected every part of our nature. We cannot even come to faith by ourselves. God must break through our stubborn rejection. God takes the initiative, choosing us in Christ without consideration of any good in us, and not even foreseen faith. God's Spirit alone can work in us the miracle of saving faith that gives us new life in Christ.