The Free Reformed Churches of Australia
Why are our churches called ‘The Free Reformed Churches of Australia’?
Since 1955 the Free Reformed Churches of Australia have been using this name. Three churches, the churches in Albany, Armadale, and Launceston, formed this federation of churches in 1954 at the first synod in Armadale, and in 1955 a final decision was made about the name of the churches.
Rev. Van Gurp explained in a short article in 1955, in Una Sancta Volume 3, no. 4, (12 November 1955), why this name was chosen. We quote a few lines from his article:
Reformed: with that, we confess, that the church is led out of the house of bondage by the LORD, not only during the Great Reformation of the 16th century but also thereafter time and again. This is an acknowledgement and confession of the great deeds of God in the past.
Free: the church that is Reformed, must always continue to reform. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage”, Galatians 5:1. Free from human hierarchy, free from the slavery of sin, free from the dominion of the devil; and therefore, now free for the service of the LORD.
I can add to that an explanation for the word ‘churches’, and then especially the plural. There are many denominations which use the singular (church): the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, etc. However, we believe that Christ gathers the Holy Catholic Church worldwide, but also in every town/city (Titus 1:5, Revelation 2-3, and many more texts where the Bible speaks about churches in a certain place.) In the local congregations, the Lord calls and appoints office bearers. No local church will have authority over other local churches, but they are all directly under the authority of Christ Who rules every local church through the service of their office bearers. These local churches work together with other local churches and form a federation of churches. Not the synod has the highest authority on earth, but the consistory, which has to give account directly to Jesus Christ. We don’t have a hierarchy, like the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and so many other centrally governed churches.