One hundred eighty-five years ago...

One hundred eighty-five years ago, on October 13, 1834, two elders and three deacons in the small Reformed church in Ulrum, the Netherlands, signed their names to the Act of Secession, or Return. Their actions sparked an uproar in the national Dutch Reformed Church. And as a result, the men and their families faced intense persecution, not only from the church they left, but also from the political authorities in the Netherlands. They, and others who joined them, were forced to house soldiers in their homes. They were forbidden to meet in groups larger than twenty people. When they met, they were fined large amounts, and imprisoned when they couldn’t pay.

The year 1834

God is ever faithful throughout history to preserve his church in the truth of his word. October 31, 1517, marks the great Reformation of the church by Martin Luther. This is significant for all Protestants and Roman Catholics. The sixteenth-century Reformation restored to the church of Christ the truths of the sole authority of God’s word and of justification by faith alone. The first was the formal principle of the Reformation; the second was the material principle. If one denies either of these principles, he stands with Rome in opposition to the Christian church.

The year 1834 marks the reformation of the Reformed Church in the Netherlands. In that year those who separated from the apostate Hervormde (Reformed) Church in the Netherlands returned to these Reformation principles and to the truth of sacred scripture as set forth in the Reformed creeds: the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordrecht.


The Sesquicentennial of the Afscheiding

Pastor de Cock briefly addresses the gathering, pointing them to the seriousness of the moment and of the step they were contemplating. Then they all kneel in prayer to commit their cause to the Lord and to beseech him for grace that they may make their decision in the consciousness of his favor. For their help is in the name of the God of Jacob. 

It was only a little band! 

They did not belong to the noble and the wise and the rich of this world. They did not belong to those who counted for something in this world. But "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are" [1 Cor. 1:27]. 

It was by this little flock of small and despised folk that a step was taken and a decision reached which would prove to be of tremendous historical significance for the Reformed Churches—in fact, for Zion of all ages, for eternity. 

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. 


RFPA Update Spring 2014

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Articles in this Issue:

The Committees behind the Work

Arrival of 1834

Association Meeting

RFPA Board

In Review: 1834: Hendrik de Cock's Return to the True Church

Reader Feedback


1834 Has Arrived!

Anxiously awaiting the book to be carefully unloaded!


The new author, excited that his new book has finally arrived.


NEW Book, NEW Author

                1834: Hendrik de Cock's Return to the True Church

A gripping account of one man’s struggle against a spiritually desolate state church, this book witnesses to the sole authority of sacred scripture and the binding authority of the Reformed creeds.

Learn how, by God’s grace, Hendrik de Cock led his congregation out of the perverse wilderness of the state Reformed Church of the Netherlands, returning to the biblical worship of God as set forth in the Reformed creeds.

Written by new author: Marvin Kamps. Available Spring 2014.


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