History

Distinctively Reformed Publications Since 1924

The Reformed Free Publishing Association (RFPA) is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1924 for the purpose of witnessing to the Reformed truth. The occasion for the formation of the RFPA was a controversy that raged in the Christian Reformed church (CRC) for a number of years prior to 1924. The dispute centered on the nature of grace: Is God’s grace sovereign, particular, and limited to his elect? Or is it general and common, extending in some sense to the reprobate?

Although most in the CRC held to the position of a general or common grace, the Reverends Henry Danhof, Herman Hoeksema, and George Ophoff, all three ordained ministers in the CRC, strongly opposed this erroneous theory in their preaching, teaching, and writing, and used their pulpits and various church publications to defend the truth of sovereign, particular grace. (See For Thy Truth’s Sake by Herman Hanko.)

 Rev. Henry Danhof

Rev. Herman Hoeksema

Rev. George Ophoff

When it became clear that these ministers would never give up their fight for the truth, the CRC closed its church publications to them in an effort to stifle their opposition to the error of common grace. In response, Danhof, Hoeksema, and Ophoff, together with fifteen laymen who stood strong with them throughout the controversy, organized the Reformed Free Publishing Association in April, 1924. Their sole purpose in organizing the RFPA was the publishing of the Standard Bearer, a monthly magazine dedicated to defending the doctrine of particular grace and the whole truth of God’s word. The first issue was published on October 1, 1924.

The Standard Bearer is not and has never been an ecclesiastical periodical. It is a “free” paper, allowing and encouraging the critique of various doctrines and practices within the church world, even going so far as to accept and publish contrary opinions or hostile articles criticizing the periodical itself. This is the paper the three ministers envisioned, and this is the periodical that remains today.

Herman Hoeksema was deposed in 1924 for refusing to keep silent about the truth of God’s sovereign particular grace. Revs.Danhof and Ophoff were subsequently deposed from the CRC after they were charged with insubordination and initiating public schism by defending the truth via the Standard Bearer. These three men, together with their consistories and many from their congregations, organized the Protesting Christian Reformed Churches, later called the Protestant Reformed Churches in America (PRCA). The Standard Bearer clearly played a significant role in the formation of this new denomination.

Since the PRCA’s founding in 1925, the Standard Bearer has played a key role in the maintenance of the denomination, consistently sounding forth the truth of God’s word over against doctrinal error, and is now the oldest continuously published religious periodical in the United States. Although the RFPA is an independent, non-ecclesiastical organization, it is closely allied with the PRCA, publishing the work of its professors, ministers, and educators as a witness to the Reformed truth.

For 40 years the focus of the RFPA was the publication of the Standard Bearer and dozens of pamphlets pertaining to Christian living, doctrine, and church life. This emphasis began to change with the formation of the Permanent Committee for the Publishing of Protestant Reformed Literature (PCPPRL). The PCPPRL began as an ad hoc committee that had as its goal the publication of Herman Hoeksema’s Reformed Dogmatics, as well as other books. Begun by Protestant Reformed businessmen who literally threw start-up money into a pot, it produced Reformed Dogmatics in 1966, and several books thereafter. The PCPPRL subsequently requested a partial merger with the RFPA, offering its books for sale through the RFPA’s superior distribution base. In 1995 a full merger of the two organizations was executed. At this time the work of the RFPA changed, expanding from primarily publishing the Standard Bearer to include the publication of books.

Today, generations of believers from around the world and from many backgrounds and denominations are avid readers of RFPA publications. Over 2300 issues of the Standard Bearer are distributed throughout the United States and abroad. The book catalog now includes over 70 titles. The RFPA has been richly blessed by the Lord and seeks to continue in the proclamation of the truth of God’s Word in the years to come.

For more on the history of the RFPA and the PRCA, read A Watered Garden by Gertrude Hoeksema or For Thy Truth’s Sake by Herman Hanko.

Click on the articles below to read more about the doctrines of the Protestant Reformed Churches.