Returning Church Discusses Form of Subscription

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A group of pastors and members of the Christian Reformed Church calling themselves the Returning Church met recently in Byron Center, Mich. The Returning Church was formed by six pastors three years ago to “advocate restoration of scriptural adherence in the CRC.”

Their latest topic of discussion was the Form of Subscription, a document officebearers in the church must sign, promising to adhere to and defend the historic confessions of the church.

Robert Swierenga, research history professor at VanRaalte Institute of Hope College and a member of Pillar Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich., said the officebearers who do not understand the Form of Subscription should receive a clear explanation before they sign it, rather than the church changing the form itself.

Synod 2005 decided the form needs clarification to reflect cultural and world changes, so a proposed revision of the form, with a new name, is coming to the CRC’s annual synod in June.

Swierenga detailed the history of the form in Reformed churches, and a three-member forum took questions from the audience of about 50 lay workers, seminary students, and ministers.

Panelists Swierenga; Rev. Thomas Groelsema of First CRC in Byron Center, Mich.; and Rev. C. James den Dulk of Trinity CRC in Sparta, Mich., said retaining the current Form of Subscription will guide the CRC in truth.

Fourth-year Calvin Theological Seminary student Tom Mulder found the content informative: “It made me think about how to inspire people my age to be more confessional—to understand what we believe and why and not just chase after the latest thing.”

The CRC’s Form of Subscription can be found in the back of the gray Psalter Hymnal. For the revised version being presented to Synod 2008, see “Form of Subscription Revision Committee Report” at

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