Why Kuiper Left the RCA

R. B. Kuiper traded the Christian Reformed Church for the Reformed Church in America (RCA), at least for a brief time.  The Second Reformed Church of Kalamazoo called Kuiper in 1923 and he accepted.  However, he was only there for about two years.  Why did he go back to the CRC in 1925?  It had to do with the doctrinal soundness of the RCA in general and nothing really to do with the RCA congregation in Kalamazoo.

More particularly, it had to do with the appointment of Dr. Edward S. Worcester to the chair of systematic theology at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary (a seminary of the RCA).  That happened in 1923, the same year that Kuiper became an RCA pastor.  However, Kuiper didn’t hear about Worcester’s theology until he’d been in Kalamazoo for six months.

There were several points of concern.  One was that Worcester took issue with the Canons of Dort on the free will of man.  He was essentially an Arminian on that point.  But even more basically, he had serious problems with the doctrine of Scripture.  Kuiper writes in his As To Being Reformed, “Dr. Worcester boldly rejects certain teachings of the Reformed churches.  He finds no Scriptural warrant for the opinion that all men are descended from Adam” (25).  This stemmed from Worcester’s position on the character and authority of Scripture.  Kuiper wrote, “Dr. Worcester appears to be in doubt about some fundamental teachings of the Christian religion.  When it is said in article 5 of the Belgic Confession that we believe, without any doubt, ‘all things’ contained in the Bible, he wonders whether the reference is to the inerrancy of Scripture, or only to things ‘necessary to salvation,’ and adds that he regards the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture as very academic, seeing that it is confined to the original manuscripts” (25).

Synod 1923 of the RCA voted almost unanimously to appoint Worcester to this influential seminary position.  The belated realization of this was the catalyst for Kuiper to leave the RCA.  He concluded, “…let me say that the case of Dr. Worcester convinced me that I could not possibly feel at home in the Reformed Church in America” (28, italics original).

About Wes Bredenhof

Pastor of the Free Reformed Church, Launceston, Tasmania. View all posts by Wes Bredenhof

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