What does Reformed mean in Christian Reformed Church?
Reformed is kind of a misleading term today. But historically it was very descriptive and helpful. Essentially it refers to churches that trace their roots to the great Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Reformed churches, are therefore, Protestant Reformation Churches. This means that if you are a member of any Protestant church, in some way, you have the “Reformed” churches to thank. The Reformed churches paved the way for the rest of the Protestant world.
Up to the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church was virtually the only church in the Western world (Western Europe) at the time. But, like all churches, there were human errors and mistakes being made. Some people within the Roman Catholic Church called for “reforms,” corrections of these errors and mistakes. These “Reformers,” used the Bible as their ultimate authority against which to measure any and all practices of the Church. The most famous of the early Reformers was a Roman Catholic Monk by the name of Martin Luther. Luther tried to call the Roman Catholic Church back to submission to the Bible, the Word of God. However, the R Catholic Church leadership refused to accept the Bible as the final authority for their decisions, exalting their “traditions,” and Papal pronouncements “ex-cathedra” to be of equal, (or even greater) authority for their doctrines and practices. As a result, Martin Luther was ultimately “excommunicated,” and a contract was put on his head. Nevertheless, God in his sovereign providence protected Luther. Luther’s call for reform began to spread–ultimately giving birth to the Protestant Churches, i.e. to churches which “protested,” the Biblically erroneous practices of their beloved Roman Catholic Church. These early protesting Reformers did not want to leave the Roman Catholic Church. Their desire was for her reform. However, they were forced out, and started meeting as “Reformed” churches. Today, some of these churches still retain the term “Reformed” in their name. For example, the Christian Reformed Church of North America of which New Covenant is a part, is one of these examples.
For more information on Reformed Churches, you may be interested in the following resources:
Movie: Luther, by Joseph Fiennes, 2003