Think Twice Before Joining a Canadian Reformed Church.
As a blogger who happens to be identified with the federation of Canadian Reformed Churches, I sometimes receive messages from lovely people warning me about how bad the Canadian Reformed Churches are, that this denomination is on the fast track to hell, and that we are not really Christians.
None of us.
There are people who try to warn me that my soul is in danger being a member of such an apostate group of wretches.
Anyway, I don’t read messages from these people any more, but all this got me thinking about some of things that we have been accused of.
So, here are my top ten reasons to think twice before joining a Canadian Reformed Church.
1. Genevan Psalter
Seriously. We sing Psalms. Those are old. Not only that, but we sing them as they are set to 500 year old tunes.
OK, ok…we not only sing the Psalms, we also sing hymns…but they are all old as well! Sure the songs we sing are all theologically heavy, biblically sound, God glorifying and Jesus praising songs, but they are not modern praise songs! No Jesus Culture or Chris Tomlin songs are sung here! Nobody is dancing in the aisles! And most congregations use a pipe organ…
Most churches have a short single page “Statement of Faith,” which usually ends up being quite similar to the Apostles Creed. Those are so easy to read. Well got that creed… and the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed…and the Three Forms of Unity. We are a Confessional Church. We catechize our children in the confessions and our Church leaders have to subscribe to it. Sometimes it can be a bit much, right?! I mean just take a look at how many questions and answers are in the Heidelberg Catechism. And the Belgic Confession is so long winded and wordy. The Canons of Dordt are even longer…and it dares to call differing views, “errors”! How un-Politically Correct is that!?! Aren’t we supposed to be tolerant? And we indoctrinate our children in this stuff, without giving them the freedom to make up their own minds on it!
3. Talk about Sin.
They use the Bible to determine what is right and wrong! They call out specific sins as sin! They don’t beat around the bush! They say that things like homosexuality and abortion are sins! How homophobic and anti-choice can you get? They say that we are all sinful and in need of a saviour. And every week…every single week without fail…you will hear the ten commandments read off the pulpit. How can it possibly be a good thing to be reminded of how often we sin and need a savour? How could it help our self esteem to know that we daily sin and need to repent and look to Jesus, every single day!? Besides, those commandments are archaic, they are like a million years old…are they even relevant any more? I mean especially the 4th one…
4. The Lord’s Day
Seriously. That 4th commandment! They call Sunday the “Lord’s day!” I thought only Puritans called it the Lord’s Day! They take it so seriously! Most people in this church don’t work on Sundays. They don’t go shopping on Sundays. They won’t even go out for lunch on Sundays. They have got to all be legalists. All they do is go to Church twice, and then spend the day in the worship of God and visiting with family and other Church members …
5. Nosy church leaders.
If you miss too many worship services, your elder will give you a phone call. How rude, right? And if you ignore them, they will come to your house! Not only that, they actually schedule visits with every single member in the Church! To talk to you about Jesus, and your faith life, and your spiritual well being and all sorts of other things! How is this at all in line with our individualistic world? Are we not supposed to be autonomous and self sufficient? And don’t get me started on the Deacons! They will visit the poor and needy to make sure that all of their physical needs are met and that they know how to use a budget, and understand the reason behind tithing etc. etc….I like my privacy thank you very much.
6. We have our own seminary.
What better way to create cookie cutter reformed preachers? I mean seriously! Is it not enough that we have the confessions and our ministers have to subscribe to them? We even have a needy student fund to ensure that we have enough men in there! What about other trains of thought, and differing opinions and theological positions? Isn’t variety the spice of life?
7. Our Services are Liturgical
You know those churches that have, like, a half hour of singing, then a short message, and another half hour of singing, then an altar call to finish it all off? Sorry…you wont find that here. We follow a liturgy, which is kind of like a script. It is almost the same every week, except for the sermon and songs. It is all done according to this thing called the regulative principle, where they only do the worship service according to How God has prescribed in the Bible. That means no movies, skits, personal anecdotes, or puppet shows…boring…
8. Biblical Preaching
The preaching is straight from the Bible. No social commentary or get rich quick, or feel-good-self-help spiels here! The preaching is also quite academic. I mean, the pastors all have like a decade of post secondary cookie cutter reformed education from our seminary. How can anyone expect to stay awake through an exegetical sermon that works through scripture – without slide shows and video clips and other physical stimuli? And bringing coffee in is going to get you a few frowns from the faithful…so don’t do that. Maybe just sleep in… oh wait the elders will notice if you are not there…hmmm…
9. Male Headship
Women are not permitted to preach. In fact they are not even permitted to be office bearers. It is almost misogynistic. And the man is head of the house! They say he is like Jesus and the wife is the like the church. Huh? How does that make any sense at all?! And a lot of the women are simply content to be stay at home mom’s and raise godly families! How crazy it that? What about equality? What about women’s lib? What about egalitarianism!? What about ambition!? This is so against the grain of society…
10. We baptize believers… AND THEIR CHILDREN.
Yes, this means babies too…*GASPS*
Finally Jesus is central in everything. He is the reason for everything, the author and finisher of our faith, the way the truth and life, the narrow path, the bread of life, the prince of peace, the alpha and omega… and that comes out loud and clear in the preaching and life of the Church.
We are a group of redeemed sinners, and yes we are very imperfect. And yes there are gong to be hypocrites mixed in with us. We are a local expression of the family of God, those whom God loves. We are sinners, and Christ shed His blood and gave His body to die upon the cross for us. As a local expression of the Church, we are the Ones whom our Triune God has made to be holy. While we stumble and sin, and make mistakes, we do it together, encouraging each other in the Word as we press on toward the goal together in His strength.
So if you don’t like that, if you are not looking for a place to do life and faith deeply and biblically, and make it part of who you are, then you may want to think twice about joining the Canadian Reformed Church.
***The list is satire, just in case you were getting ready to email me a nasty letter.***