Book review

1834: Hendrik De Cock’s Return to the True Church, by Marvin Kamps. 512 pages, Retail price: $43.95

 1776 is an important year for citizens of the United States of America.  In particular Americans celebrate July 4, 1776 as the birthday of the nation.  1776 is so important to the nation’s existence that it is easy to understand why many Americans are interested in studying the historical events that took place that year in years surrounding the American Revolution.  The year 1834 is of similar significance for members of Reformed churches, especially those that trace their heritage to the Netherlands.  Any Reformed denomination with Dutch roots that adheres to the Reformed confessions likely owes its existence as a confessional denomination to the church Reformation that took place in 1834.  Because the Reformation of the church is so much more important than the formation of an earthly nation, members of Reformed churches ought to be more interested in the history of 1834 than US citizens are in 1776.  And if you are interested in 1834 it is my pleasure to introduce you to Mr. Marvin Kamp’s book, 1834: Hendrik De Cock’s Return to the True Church.

1834, the title of the book, is the year sixty-eight members of the Reformed Congregation in Ulrum signed a document entitled Act of Secession or Return. By this act these Reformed believers separated themselves from the government sanctioned Reformed Church in the Netherlands and formed a new congregation that was (re)committed to the principles of the 16th century Protestant Reformation.  In the first 239 pages Marvin Kamps deftly explains and analyzes the events that resulted in faithful Reformed believers leaving a false church in order to begin a new true church of Jesus Christ.  Kamps appropriately focuses on Hendrik de Cock, the pastor of the Ulrum congregation in 1834, whom God used almost single handedly to spark a momentous Reformation of the church commonly referred to as the Afscheiding in Dutch or Secession in English.  The last 251 pages contain seven very valuable appendices, which would be worth purchasing and reading on their own.  These appendices contain important historical documents Kamps translated from Dutch into English. 

            The first part of the book is a must read for Reformed Christians.  Kamps explains why the Reformation was doctrinally necessary.  The State Reformed church had become doctrinally corrupt.  Did you know that the only Reformed church in existence in 1834 allowed people to deny the doctrine of the trinity and of the divinity of Jesus Christ?  Did you know that this denomination that rejected Arminianism at the Synod of Dordt in 1618-1619 was thoroughly dominated by Arminianism by 1834?  Did you know that Reformed ministers could graduate from seminary without even reading John Calvin’s Institutes in the 1800s?  By 1834 you could not find in the Netherlands a Reformed denomination that bore the three marks of a true church set forth in the Belgic Confession Article 29!  Kamps explains how in 1834 God formed anew a true church that bore these three marks. 

            1834 is a must read for you if you are a Reformed Christian because it explains your history.  It explains from a historical point of view why your denomination exists.  It explains the doctrinal and church political issues that are important to the Reformed faith.  It explains why it is so important to defend and uphold the Reformed confessions—they were lost once before, they could be lost again. 

            The book is written in a way that is accessible to most readers, including teenagers and maybe even preteens.  I highly recommend that they be assigned to read the book at home by their parents or in school by their teachers. 

            Finally, I would like to mention that the book is also available in both the epub and mobi digital formats.  In either the hardcover or electronic format I highly recommend the book. 

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