Eschatology

Eschatology

Position

Although the Christian Reformed Church is generally amillennialist in its eschatology and especially in its interpretation of the book of Revelation, its assemblies have never made a specific pronouncement to that effect. In response to a theological challenge to its underlying eschatology, the synod of the CRC adopted the following succinct statements in 1920, which implicitly reject dispensationalism and some facets of premillennialism:

. . . according to our creeds there is not the least bit of doubt in regard to:

  1. The unity of the church of all ages, [ancient] Israel not excluded. The church of all ages is one in essence.
  2. The kingship of Christ. Christ is not only head of the church as an organic unity but also king of his church in the juridical sense of the word.

History

Synod dealt with an eschatological matter in 1918 and 1920 that became known as the Bultema Case and that resulted in the deposition of Rev. Harry Bultema. Rev. Bultema had authored a book titled Maranatha, in which he tried to graft premillennialism into Reformed theology. In response to overtures about the Bultema case, synod declared his views to be contrary to the confessions of the church. The particular views were that the church did not exist until after Christ and that Christ was King not of the church but of Israel. Synod 1918 affirmed that "the church of all ages is essentially one," "Israel not excluded," and that Christ is "emphatically King of His Church." Although Bultema's consistory (First CRC of Muskegon) refused to discipline him, the classis deposed him in 1919. Legal battles over church property ensued. In 1920 representatives of Bultema's church and groups in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, Holland, Moline, and Chicago met to form a new denomination, the Berean Reformed Church.

Synod never commissioned a study on this subject. However, the Reformed Ecumenical Synod (RES) did have a study committee on eschatology that reported in 1972. Synod 1974 recommended the study committee's report to the CRC churches for study. Synod 1975 found the RES study insufficient but decided not to ask the RES for a more detailed study.

References

  • Acts of Synod 1918, pp. 77-80
  • Acts of Synod 1920, pp. 73-74, 96-97
  • Acts of Synod 1975, pp. 20, 467-70
  • Acts of the RES, 1963, pp. 34-36, 66-91
  • Acts of the RES, 1972, pp. 128-45
  • Beets, Henry. The Christian Reformed Church in North America, 1923, pp. 116-18 Kromminga, John. The Christian Reformed Church: A Study in Orthodoxy, 1949