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Book Examines 19th Century
Church "Family Quarrels"

Posted June 22, 1999

          HOLLAND -- A collaboration between two Hope
  College colleagues has yielded a book concerning a divisive
  time in Reformed church history.
          Dr. Robert P. Swierenga and Dr. Elton J. Bruins
  are co-authors of the book "Family Quarrels in the Dutch
  Reformed Churches in the Nineteenth Century," recently
  released by the Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. of Grand
  Rapids.
          Swierenga is a senior research fellow with the
  college's A.C. Van Raalte Institute and an adjunct professor
  of history at Hope.  Bruins is director of the A.C. Van
  Raalte Institute and the Evert J. and Hattie E. Blekkink
  Professor Emeritus of Religion at Hope.
          "Family Quarrels" focuses on the religious history
  of the Dutch Calvinist emigration from the Netherlands to
  West Michigan and the church struggles of the early
  settlers.  The book explores the reasons that Dutch
  religious separatists immigrated to the United States,
  founding settlements like Holland; the Holland Classis
  joining the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in the United
  States; the 1857 secession that produced the Christian
  Reformed Church; and the Masonic controversy that led to
  more secessions in 1882.
          The book deals with the division and strife within
  the Dutch Reformed Church, but according to the authors grew
  out of a spirit of reconciliation and an ardent desire for
  unity.
          The 158-page illustrated and annotated volume came
  out of a lecture series sponsored in March of 1997 by the
  Pillar Christian Reformed Church of Holland in celebration
  of its sesquicentennial.  The lecture series was preceded in
  February of 1997 by a "Unity Service"--a joint service of
  the Pillar Church with its long-estranged daughter church,
  First Reformed Church of Holland--to celebrate the Rev. A.C.
  Van Raalte's founding of the town and church.
          The authors themselves are members of the Reformed
  Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church.
  Swierenga is a long-time member of the CRC and is currently
  a member of the Pillar Christian Reformed Church.  Bruins is
  an ordained minister in the RCA and a long-time member of
  Third Reformed Church of Holland.
          In their introduction, the authors observe that
  they are celebrating the rich religious heritage of the
  Dutch-born Reformed Churches--"a history of factiousness and
  strife, but also of deep piety, love of Christ's church,
  defense of biblical truth, and bold action to work out the
  faith in 'world and life.'"  In his preface to the book, the
  Rev. Michael De Vries of Pillar Church also noted, "Becoming
  knowledgeable about these early struggles within the colony
  will help us understand the past and, hopefully, encourage
  us to go forward in faith and hope."
          "Family Quarrels" is the 32nd volume in the
  Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America.
  General editor of the series is the Rev. Dr. Donald J.
  Bruggink, who is a professor emeritus of historical theology
  at Western Theological Seminary, which is an educational
  institution of the RCA.
  -30-
  


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