A Question of Identity


What does it mean to be Christian Reformed? From August 3-5 in Detroit, Michigan, more than 800 people explored that idea as part of Inspire 2017. 

The opening speaker, Richard Mouw, said that when he was asked to explain how Reformed Christianity differed from Islam, Judaism, and other religions the first thing that came to mind was the fourth verse of the hymn, “When Peace Like a River.”

“My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, it is well with my soul,” he quoted, explaining that the heart of Reformed theology lies in the fact that Christ alone has paid the price of our sin and we can now live as redeemed people.

Liz Curtis Higgs, who was the speaker on Friday morning, does not come from a Reformed background. She said that she spent some time on the CRCNA website in preparation for Inspire 2017 and discovered that she “speaks with a Reformed accent.” To her, this meant, “I’m a sinner, who needs a savior, his name is Jesus.” It also means that we all must “press on, do the work, love as he loves, until he welcomes us home.”

Reflecting on our Reformed identity was not limited to the mainstage speakers, however. Inspire 2017 also included an “Idea Room” where participants could brainstorm with other attendees and also leave their comments and thoughts. A chalkboard was set up for people to share their perspective on “what does it mean to be Christian Reformed?” Here are a few of the thoughts they submitted:

  • “This WHOLE world belongs to God”
  • “The ‘every square inch’ church”
  • “Christian Reformed(ing) – we’ve never arrived…ever”
  • “We’re an immigration church – first Dutch, now Korean and Spanish. We share an immigration story”
  • “The church who took me in when I had nowhere to go. The “non-Dutch” white guy.”

If you were at Inspire but didn’t get a chance to visit the Idea Room, or if you were unable to attend Inspire 2017, we’d still love to get your perspective. What does being Christian Reformed mean to you?

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