CRC Pamphlet on Theological Streams in CRC


In our 70+ year old church we are engaged in a bit of research into the differing and dominant theological streams of thought within the CRC. Our pastor, Tom Kok, stated that there is a pamphlet that outlines the three major streams and I'm trying to locate it. 

A little background as to why: Our church is engaging in a "Shalom Sunday" in a few weeks where our worship will take the form of serving our neighbors and the community. We are desiring to make these pamphlets available as it can help people become more self aware of how they are thinking about Kingdom & church matters and also why some other people might be inclined to think a little different. The three streams I have heard of are the Pietistic stream, the Social or Kuyperian Stream, and the Theological Stream. I'm unsure if I have used the correct names for these streams, but hopefully this is enough for you to get the drift. 


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The pamphlet you're looking for is called "What it Means to Be Reformed".  I use it for our new-members classes - it is well-articulated and a helpful summary of the different 'Reformed Accents'

Thanks Paul for your quick answer.   This pamphlet should be very helpful for  our members. 

For what it's worth, I have found this "three streams" snapshot increasingly problematic--or at least the way it is deployed can be problematic.  It tends to foster a certain kind of pigeon-holing--and is also slightly biased in its preference for one of the streams, usually the Kuyperian.

Indeed, one could ask: into which of these "streams" would Abraham Kuyper fit?  The answer, I think, is: "All of them."  And if that's true, then the taxonomy is not very helpful.  

I agree with James' observations about the so-called streams. It not only pigeon-holes people, but in my humble view, how can we possibly have a clear taxonomy of people in the CRC? When in reality, the CRC is composed of a steady flow (in waves, that is) of immigrants from the Low Countries since circa 1850s. Logically, we would be inclined to think that the most recent waves of immigrants are probably the ones who have more influence in the affairs of the church, that is, the post-WWII immigrants, namely, the Canadian side of the church. And, with the same logic we would suspect that the pietistic stream, the oldest, is no longer influential since it is over a century old.

The closest "timing" of such waves that I can think of is divided in eras: 1850s, 1880s, 1920s, and Post-WWII. For me, the era that interests me the most is the fourth one (Post-WWII) for it is in that era that the church began to open just a little to other ethnicities (1950s).

Also, the Kuyperian model is problematic, especially for people of color.

Community Builder

The pamphlet is online at:

In some respects, I think the pamphlet draws from James Bratt's (Calvin professor) book: "Dutch Calvinism in America: A History of an American Subculture."

I think the pamphlet can be very helpful for understanding "who we are," and Bratt's book is too.  But, I'm a Dordt College grad with a double major in philosophy and history (and a subsequent Juris Doctor degree).  Some newcomers to the CRC would love and benefit from reading this pamphlet (and book) but others would find it little more than upsetting.  My wife, livelong CRC member, would probably find both somewhat upsetting.  I would not suggest to her that she read either.  I'm on the other end of that spectrum (we make a good team).

I understand the "pigeon hole" accusation, but tend to set that aside.  Hey, all of theoretical thinking (my Dooyeweerd is coming out) involves "pigeon holing" for the simple reason that human minds need to erect a set of boxes to categorize things as it processes.  If we must avoid "pigeon holing," we have to stop writing any kind of historical or descriptive accounts of anything involving society, CRC or otherwise.

I could certainly see using the pamphlet in a new members class, as Paul does, but that's a "supervised" context, which is probably best for some "newbies" who can become a bit unsettled when things aren't as simple as they might like them to be.  There is a milk-meat factor to all of this, and sheer personality comes into play as well -- and I say that without any disrespect to anyone. We're all parts of the body, none greater than another.

Richard Mouw also mentions a similar concern as JKA Smith with this three streams (and Kuyper) approach