Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ!
Allow me to give a brief personal background along with how I came to know the Netherlands Reformed Church.
From about the time I was a year old our family attended a small nondenominational, independent evangelical church in northern New Jersey. From an early age I attended Sunday school, Vacation Bible school, Boys Brigade (a Christian version of the Boy’s Scouts), attended several Christian summer camps, listened to Billy Graham crusades on TV, and during high school attended the Campus Life youth group. I think my evangelical background was very typical for that of a standard evangelical church in the 1980s and 1990s.
When I was about six or seven years old God enabled me to see my sin and my need of a Savior. One night, while lying in bed, I asked Jesus to forgive me of all my sins and give me a new heart. I do believe that my conversion was a genuine conversion because I developed a hunger to know God, a hunger to know and obey His Word, an increasing hatred of sin and a desire to turn from it, and a desire to be a bold witness for Jesus Christ in the public school that I attended. I grew to the point where I honestly didn’t care what other people thought or said of me just so long as I was pleasing in the eyes of God.
After I graduated from high school in 1985 I attended the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. I loved every minute of my time at Moody. After teaching English in Asia for one year I returned to the US and, in the fall of 1991, started a Master of Arts program in Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. My time at Trinity was also a very enriching and spiritually profitable experience. The things that God taught me while at Trinity still have a powerful impact on me to this day.
As you may have noticed from my background, I did not grow up in a reformed Christian background. In fact, it was not until I was half way through my M.A. program at Trinity that I even knew what “reformed” meant. During the summer and fall of 1994 I read in rapid succession three Banner of Truth books by Rev. Iain Murray. That summer I read the biography of Jonathan Edwards. Then, during the fall, I read the biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. During the Christmas holiday I read Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism. The impact of those three books upon me was truly phenomenal making 1994 a watershed year. From 1994 onward my life has changed in an innumerable number of ways. My view of God, salvation, myself, the church, and ministerial training have all undergone a radical change.
Fast forward to 2004. At that time I met some friends who attended the Netherlands Reformed Church (NRC) in Franklin Lakes, NJ and from September 2004 to July 2005 I attended this fellowship. During this time I also carried on a lengthy, in depth email correspondence with a leading NRC pastor. We discussed various aspects of NRC doctrine and life with a particular emphasis upon the Confession of Faith vow. To further challenge my thinking I was given several NRC publications which I read thoroughly.
I am certain that there is still much that I do not know about the NRC. As you can see above, I am an outsider. I did not grow up within the NRC and my exposure to the denomination has been limited. Some might, therefore, say that I am unqualified to speak in regards to the NRC. However, I can respond to what I saw and heard and make an evaluation based on what I know to be true from the Scriptures.
When I first started attending the Franklin Lakes NRC in September 2004 I was very impressed. It seemed to be a very healthy, reformed church. I had the impression that there was a very deep spirituality about the congregation. Slowly, however, over time, I began to see some things that didn’t seem to square with Scripture. Yet, I was unsure how to interpret what I was seeing as I had never been exposed to anything like it before in my life. Many of the NRC beliefs and practices were entirely new to me. It took me a long, long time to sort through all of the doctrines and beliefs. After much prayer, reading relevant Scriptures, reading reformed books, and seeking the counsel of godly reformed pastors (outside of the NRC), I finally began to develop a larger, Scriptural understanding of the denomination. At times it was a difficult and confusing process but God helped me to put the pieces of the puzzle together to see the big picture.
I do not doubt for one second that there are those within the NRC who are genuinely seeking after an authentic relationship with God. I saw many examples of this. There are those who truly do want to experience a genuine love, joy and peace (Galatians 5:22-23) wrought by the Spirit of God. At the same time, I’m sure that many NRC members are also deeply disturbed by the superficiality and shallowness within the American evangelical church. I, too, share many of these concerns. This was one of the things that I loved about the NRC. Such a genuine attitude was very encouraging. I long to see God glorified in all the earth (Habakkuk 2:14) through a church that has been transformed by the Holy Spirit. I also long to see the day where the church is filled with the Holy Spirit and is enabled to speak the Word of God with great boldness (Acts 4:31). This is my continual prayer for all the churches in America, including the NRC.
Although I saw these encouraging signs I also began to see several beliefs and practices that I believe will greatly hinder, if not completely thwart, the growth of true, biblical spirituality within the NRC. Some of those beliefs, I am convinced, are obscuring the “narrow gate” through which the Kingdom must be entered (Matthew 7:13-14). This grieves me deeply. Yet many NRC leaders and members seemed to be unaware of the danger of these beliefs and practices or of their eternal consequences.
My exposure to the NRC had a very deep, profound impact on me and changed me in a hundred different ways. I feel duty bound to share with others the things that God taught me through the Scriptures as I sought to understand the NRC. The purpose of this website is to help both those inside and outside of the denomination.
Please feel free to contact me at the email address below if you have any questions or comments.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Email: fusu1734 AT gmail DOT com