The True Dutch Reformed Churches (TDRC, a.k.a. True Protestant Dutch Reformed Churches, True Reformed Dutch Churches) were born in 1822 following a slow ongoing secession from the Dutch Reformed Church (now Reformed Church in America). The secession had begun in 1815, and a key issue was perceived heresy in the mother church, including Hopkinsianism (sometimes known as Hopkinsism after Samuel Hopkins, "The New Divinity", and Edwardism for Jonathan Edwards, Hopkins' teacher), a form of "3-1/2 point Calvinism" (a.k.a. "moderate Calvinism"), which denies original sin and teaches that depravity is less than total.
In response to what they perceived as "semi-Calvinism" in the Reformed Church, the TDRC adhered to "strict Calvinism", which tends to be dour and self-denying. Strict Calvinism has done much to create the common misconception of Calvinism as a joyless religion.
The TDRC supplied Gijsbert Haan with most of the material used in promoting secession from the RCA in the Dutch Reformed colonies of western Michigan. By the mid-1860s, the TDRC was in correspondence with the True Holland Reformed Church (THRC). Federal union was effected in 1877 and full merger in 1890, at which time the name Christian Reformed Church (CRC) was chosen for the denomination, and the TDRC became Classis Hackensack within the CRC.
But there were many differences, primarily cultural, between the more recent immigrants and the older, more Americanized churches of Classis Hackensack. While both groups were doctrinal Calvinists and condemned Freemasonry, some of the Hackensack churches permitted lodge members in their churches. Since the CRC roundly condemned all forms of lodge membership, this has long been seen as the primary reason a majority of Classis Hackensack withdrew from the CRC in 1908.
Of the six or seven churches that withdrew in 1908*, most eventually became Presbyterian (PCUSA), some died out, and "the last three survivors limped back to the Christian Reformed Church about 1924" (W. Aardsma). This reunion was eclipsed by the Common Grace controversy that lead to formation of [file:///prc/index.shtml the Protestant Reformed denomination].
- According to W. Aardsma, one congregation was a legal fiction set up for a court case to regain control of church property, so only six of the churches were "real".
- A History of the True Dutch Reformed Church, W. Aardsma
- Hopkinsianism, from The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge
- Samuel Hopkins, Wikipedia
- The Hopkinsian Controversy, American Presbyterian Church
- The New Divinity, American Presbyterian Church
- December 20, 1803: Samuel Hopkins Died but His Unusual Theology Lived on, Christian History
- Divines and Moralists, 1783-1860: Samuel Hopkins, Bartleby.com
- Gijsbert Haan, Wikipedia