Is it wrong to be proud of the Christian Reformed Church?
To some people it seems as if belonging to any denomination makes you guilty of a superiority complex, as if you’re saying, “We’re right and everybody else is wrong.”
True, at one time many of us may have declared ourselves “Christian Reformed” with a tone of arrogance. But today it seems the trend has gone in the opposite direction. It’s as if we’re embarrassed by the association. A co-worker once told me she went to Victory Church (or something like that), and I asked if the church was Pentecostal. Another co-worker standing nearby interjected, “It doesn’t matter.”
Every individual has reason to find esteem in and give thanks for their gifts or achievements. I think the same is true for every church. All churches have been used in unique ways by God to do his work. Taking pride in being part of the CRC does not suggest my friend can’t be proud of belonging to the Reformed Church in America or the Missouri Lutheran Synod or the Assemblies of God or the Wesleyan Church. We can appreciate another denomination’s unique contribution to God’s kingdom while also holding up the contributions of our own.
While the CRC is by no means perfect, here are a few reasons I’m proud to be part of this particular faith community:
In sharing the good news of Jesus, the CRC has made remarkable moves. World Missions has been active for more than 100 years and currently supports 250 missionaries working in 25 countries around the world. Back to God Ministries International sends the gospel over the airwaves into 131 countries around the world. The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee actively shows God’s love in 36 countries by helping existing local churches and organizations with relief and development.
In spite of being a relatively small denomination, the CRC has made significant contributions toward Bible translation into English. The NIV Bible is the best-selling English translation of the Bible, and it was originally the brainchild of the CRC. (See the Preface to the NIV.)
Grand Rapids, Mich., has been called the “Christian publishing capital” thanks to the Zondervan, Eerdmans, and Baker publishing houses and the CRC’s publishing ministry Faith Alive—all of which were founded by Christian Reformed members.
For a historically Dutch, Caucasian church, the CRC has become remarkably inclusive. More than 170 CRC congregations speak a primary language other than English or Dutch. All together, CRC congregations speak 21 different languages, including Korean, Navajo, Laotian, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Swahili.
Our commitment to Christian education is seen in the multiple colleges connected with the CRC: Calvin, Dordt, Trinity, Redeemer, Kuyper, King’s, and the Institute for Christian Studies. Moreover, Calvin College is often considered one of the top Christian colleges in the United States.
The CRC has produced many Christian scholars who have made major contributions in theology, biblical studies, philosophy, and other fields: Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lewis Smedes, Louis Berkhof, Alvin Plantinga, Cornelius Plantinga, Richard Mouw, Cornelius Van Til, Geerhardus Vos, John Stek, and David Engelhard, among others.
The CRC has played important roles in developing major interdenominational organizations: The Bible League, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Gideons International, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and Wycliffe Bible Translators, to name a few.
The CRC has definitely been used by God in powerful ways, and surely there are more exciting things in store for us. I’m proud to be part of that.