Grace Reformed Church is a member congregation of the Reformed Church in the United States, whose heritage reaches back to the Protestant Reformation in Germany in the sixteenth century, when the Christian church returned to the Bible as the ultimate authority for faith and life, and to its good news of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9).
“That well-known movement grew out of efforts of committed Christians such as Martin Luther to reform … the Roman Catholic Church. Luther had no intention of starting a new church; he merely joined his voice to the rising chorus calling for a correction of blatant abuses.” But he “came to the unshakable conviction that, to be faithful to the Lord, the Church must build on the absolute authority of Scripture…. Luther’s uncompromising stance forced him to leave the Church of Rome in 1520, and the new movement was underway. Unfortunately, a division occurred after a few years between the new churches associated with Luther (Lutherans) and those reforming in Switzerland and other parts of Europe, which were labeled ‘Reformed’ churches. The eventual leader of the Reformed churches was the Frenchman John Calvin,” whose “influence was so extraordinary that even today the terms Reformed and Calvinist are nearly synonymous.”
Calvin “went to great lengths to avoid being original by testing his thoughts against biblical teaching and the views of the great Christian teachers who preceded him. What emerged from Calvin’s writing and extensive Bible teaching was the conviction that the Bible, when allowed to speak for itself, was internally consistent and provided a perspective from which every question in life could be viewed. Calvin’s classic illustration speaks of the Scripture as eye-glasses we put on to correct our vision, which is distorted by sin. Through these eyeglasses we gain a proper understanding about God and the world he created” (Stephen Smallman, What is a Reformed Church?).
“The earliest and most influential settlers of the United States – the Puritans of England, the Presbyterians of Scotland and Ireland, the Huguenots of France, the Reformed from Holland and the Palatinate [in Germany] – were Calvinists, and brought with them the Bible and the Reformed Confessions of Faith. Calvinism was the ruling theology of New England during the whole Colonial Period” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 8:vi).