Netherlands Reformed Church, The

Netherlands Reformed Church, The

▪ Dutch Protestant denomination
Dutch  Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk,  

      largest Protestant church in The Netherlands, the successor of the established Dutch Reformed Church that developed during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Reforming interest emerged in the Netherlands early in the Reformation. The emperor Charles V instituted the Inquisition against the Reformation in the Netherlands as early as 1522. The struggle for freedom from Spain was begun by the Netherlands as a protest in demand for greater liberties, including religious, within Charles's empire. Eventually, the Netherlands became free, and the Reformed Church was established. The first general synod of the Dutch Reformed Church took place in 1571, and, subsequently, other synods were held. The presbyterian form of church government was adopted, and the Belgic Confession (1561) and the Heidelberg Catechism (1562) were accepted as the doctrinal standards.

      In the 17th century a theological controversy arose over the doctrine of predestinationi.e., that God elects or chooses those who will be saved. The followers of Jacobus Arminius (Arminius, Jacobus), a Dutch professor and theologian, rejected the strict Calvinist doctrine of predestination, while the followers of Franciscus Gomarus (Gomarus, Franciscus), a Dutch theologian, upheld a strict interpretation of predestination. To settle the controversy, the Synod of Dort (Dort, Synod of) (1618–19) was convened. It produced the canons of Dort, which condemned the theology of the Arminians (also called Remonstrants) and set forth a strict interpretation of predestination. These canons, along with the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism, came to constitute the theological basis of the Dutch Reformed Church.

      In 1798 the Dutch Reformed Church was disestablished, but it remained partly under government control. In 1816 King William I reorganized the church and renamed it The Netherlands Reformed Church. Theological disputes in the 19th century resulted in separations from the church, but it nevertheless remained the dominant Protestant church in The Netherlands.

      In the 20th century the church grew stronger, and in 1951 it adopted a new constitution. Many private Protestant schools were established after public schools stopped teaching religion.

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Universalium. 2010.

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