What is the Reformed Church in America (RCA)?Question: "What is the Reformed Church in America (RCA)?"
Answer: The Reformed Church in America or RCA is one of the so-called mainline Protestant denominations. Until the mid-19th century, the Reformed Church in America was part of the Dutch Reformed Church. Disagreement over issues such as slavery and the use of English during church services led to the American congregations becoming functionally independent of the European churches.
As a nominally Protestant Christian church, the Reformed Church in America holds to reasonably biblical views on most fundamental topics, such as the Trinity and salvation. On some doctrinal issues, such as infant baptism, we would categorize their view as incorrect but not as critical as more eternal issues. Not long ago, the RCA moved to force all of its individual churches to open ordination to women, contrary to the biblical standard.
Beyond bare doctrine, the Reformed Church in America also takes some troubling stances. There is a noticeably left-leaning political slant in the church’s positions on several issues on which it offers opinions. These include topics such as gun control, fair trade, and immigration. While none of these topics are inappropriate to discuss, it is easier to find RCA statements on those topics than details on the Bible, salvation, or other more fundamental Christian concepts.
Related to this concern, the Reformed Church in America is also closely associated with denominations that are clearly in defiance of the Bible, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Church of Christ, which have all but abandoned Christian doctrine in favor of modern, politically liberal preferences. For example, these groups embrace homosexuality and ordain both women and homosexuals as ministers. Yet the RCA is in “full communion” with these other denominations. This means the RCA recognizes their sacraments and ordinations. For all intents and purposes, the Reformed Church in America labels these other groups as doctrinally valid.
This association with heretical churches is a problem for the Reformed Church in America for two reasons. First, it represents a dangerous lack of spiritual judgment. Groups that take blatantly anti-scriptural stances should not be embraced as being in “full communion.”
Second, it does not bode well for the future of the RCA’s theology. Going back to the issue of homosexuality, the RCA technically considers it a sin. And yet RCA leaders seem to be constantly debating, “assessing,” and considering the subject. The RCA seems reluctant to adhere to the biblical, historic view of marriage. Given its open association with denominations that reject the biblical view of sexuality, the Reformed Church in America is poised to change their view.
Strictly speaking, those who hold to the doctrines taught by the Reformed Church in America are following a biblical model of salvation. And, for the most part, their stance on moral issues comes from a scripturally accurate view. However, the RCA leans heavily toward a modern, liberal approach to religion and is drifting from the biblical view of sexuality.
Recommended Resources: Complete Guide to Christian Denominations: Understanding the History, Beliefs, and Differences by Ron Rhodes
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What is the Reformed Church in America (RCA)?