Christian Reformed Perspective

The Tos Family has attended the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) for generations and continues to adhere to its particular belief system, which encourages Christian education.

The CRC is a Protestant denomination of Christianity and has been in existence for about 150 years.  The CRC identifies as Protestant and has its own set of doctrines and theology that make it different from other denominations within Protestantism.  

Reformed theology, from which the CRC was built upon, started with John Calvin.  Calvin lived during the 1500s, in the aftermath of the Reformation when Martin Luther split from the Roman Catholic Church.  Calvin lived in France and Switzerland, and dedicated his life to studying the Bible.  His defining work is called Institutes of the Christian Religion and is still widely read by members of the CRC today.

There are five Latin phrases that summarize the theology of Reformers, like John Calvin.  Theologians from this time period believed that these five solae described how their views were different from those of the Roman Catholic church.  To this day, members of the CRC and other Reformed denominations see these five solae as pillars of their theology.


Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone") - Sola scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God and is the only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all—that is, it is clearly presented and self-interpreting.  The Bible has been translated into many languages and a person does not need a priest or any other clergy in order to read and understand the Bible.

Sola fide ("by Faith alone")Sola fide is the teaching that justification ("being declared just by God") is received only by faith, without any mixture of, or need for good works.  Good works are seen as evidence of a saving faith, but do not cause a person to be saved, or to be declared just by God.  The Protestant view of justification (mentioned above) is that a person becoming "just" is the work of God through the means of His grace. Only by having faith in God's grace can a person be declared just by God.  Faith is the righteousness of God that is accomplished in us through word and sacraments. Law and gospel work to kill the sinful self and to accomplish the new creation within us. This new creation within us is the faith of Christ. If we do not have this faith, then we are ungodly. Our own deeds or prayers add nothing—they are nothing. Everyone has some kind of faith — usually a faith in themselves. But we need God to continually destroy self-righteous faith and to replace it with the life of Christ. We need the faith that comes from God through law and gospel, word, works and sacraments.

Sola Gratia ("by Grace alone") - Sola gratia is the teaching that salvation comes only by divine grace or "unmerited favor".   Salvation is not something merited by the sinner. This means that salvation is an unearned gift from God for Jesus' sake.  There is nothing a person can do to earn salvation.  It is a gift from God that no human being deserves; all we can do is accept it as a divine gift.

Solus Christus ("by Christ alone") - Solus Christus is the teaching that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that there is salvation through no other (hence, the phrase is sometimes reduced to, solo Christo, meaning that salvation is "by Christ alone."  No other human, saint, or other being mediates between us and God.  Because of Jesus Christ's sacrifice, each one of us may pray directly to God, ask him for forgiveness of our sins, and can have an assurance of His forgiveness.  Asking God for forgiveness and receiving it reconciles the repentant sinner with God directly through faith in Christ's forgiveness rather than with the priest and the church as mediating entities between the repentant sinners and God.

Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone") - Soli Deo gloria is the teaching that all glory is to be due to God alone, since salvation is accomplished solely through His will and actions.  The Reformers believed that human beings are not worthy of the glory that was accorded them; that is, one should not exalt such humans for their good works, but rather praise and give glory to God who is the author and creator of these people and their good works. However, as good-quality and rare objects are praised, sometimes good people are honored and praised; there are large numbers of benevolent people whose images have been replicated and set up for the commemoration of the good they did for the human race. Religious people whose acts further the Kingdom of God can be honored because of the glory they gave to God, and by doing so we at the same time honor God for His goodness in creating them and giving them the desire to do good.

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