This article was published in: P. Post (ed.), Christian Feast and Festival. The Dynamics of Western Liturgy and Culture (Leuven 2001), 423 - 440.



Opposition to a festive celebration of the Good Friday in the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland and their predecessors[1]


Klaas-Willem de Jong


In 1854 the synod of the Christelijk Afgescheidene Gereformeerde Kerk declared the Good Friday 'under no account to be celebrated festively'.[2] This decision typifies the attitude towards the Good Friday which is found amongst some orthodox reformed believers in the 19th century. It differs from the conviction expressed by the majority of protestants in the Netherlands, especially by most in the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk. In this article I intend to describe the attitude itself, its backgrounds, development and influence.


1. Historical backgrounds


The National Synod of Dordrecht 1618-19 sanctioned in its church order five official holidays: Christmas, Circumcision, Easter, Ascension Day and Whit Sunday. In most places already during or shortly after the Reformation period services on Good Friday had been abolished during or shortly after the Reformation period. In some congregations, however, this old custom continued to exist. In the city of Utrecht, for example, on this day the Calvinists still met for even several services until at least 1647, whereas in the surrounding countryside these occasions already had died out at that time.[3] After some time services remained intact in some regions: in the province of Friesland, where the church did not confirm most resolutions of the Synod of Dordrecht, and probably also in some congregations in the (north-)eastern part of the country.[4] In doing so the congregations concerned did not act according to ecclestiastical law, but - strictly speaking - did not went against it either. Apart from this a custom to commemorate Christ's suffering on the seven Sundays before Easter came into being all over the country in the 17th century.

          This situation lasted until the end of the 18th century, when in the city of Delft protestants from Walloon origin founded a religious society and considered how to improve the traditional liturgy.[5] Their aim was to relate their services directly to christian life. For them this implied revalueing Good Friday and administering the Lord’s Supper in the evening of this day, to relive the memory of His death and to strengthen their faith. To our knowledge the administration of the sacrament on this day had been an unknown phenomenon in the protestant churches until this moment. Therefore it seems unlikely that the Group in Delft follwed any exmple in this matter. In the Reformed Church too the awareness grew, that the traditional liturgy had to be renewed. After a thorough reorganisation of the church in 1816, again a national synod was instal­led, the first after the assembly of Dordrecht. The synod of what now was called the Nederlandse hervormde Kerk was asked to reflect on the liturgy of the church, and so it did in the summer of 1817. It wanted services to be more 'edifying' and 'solemn'.[6] Among other things it prescribed ministers to preach on the 'Friday before Easter', 'the day of the death of Him, who is both our life and the life of the world': there should be held 'a service in remembrance of this great event'.[7] About the administration itself of the Lord's Supper on this day the synod kept silence.[8] Notwithstanding the fact that in quite a few places believers opposed the decision of preaching on Good Friday, it became a highly valued service all over the country in the next decades. In 1818 in at least one congregation the minister did not only rehabilitate the Good Friday service, but also initiated the celebration of the Lord's Supper in this service. In the fourties a growing number of especially liberal congregations urged the synod to promote the Good Friday as an official holiday as well as to set rules for administering the Lord's Supper on this day. Initially the highest assembly of the church hesitated, but it met these wishes in 1853. In a letter to the church councils the synod recommended a dignified celebration of the Good Friday as a whole. If possible the Lord's Supper should be administered.[9] A compari­son of the decision-making in 1817 and 1853, shows some interesting differences in its approach of the matter (compelling against inviting and appealing), origin (deliberations in the synod itself against requests from congregations and ministers), means of memorial (preaching only versus sanctifying the day and administering the Lord's Supper too) and address (ministers versus church councils). To understand the synodal point of view in 1853, the growing influence of the liberal theology should be taken into account. Because its spokesmen stressed Jesus' human nature, His death appealed more to their imagination then His resurrection. Rather than being a sacrament, the Lord's Supper was a meal in remem­brance of Jesus' death, which should be held on the evening of his crucifixion. Though quite a lot of congregations welcomed the synodal proposals, more orthodox circles opposed to it.[10] They indeed valued the service on Good Friday, but they wished to abide by old customs, for example the administration of the Lord's Supper at Easter. In the course of the next decades some of them still changed their minds, while others kept refusing to adapt their liturgy to the new standards. We may well suppose that at the turn of the century the celebration of the Lord's Supper was common practice in large parts of the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk.[11]


2. Opposition in the church of the seperation of 1834


In 1834 a few ministers and a comparatively small group of believers separated from the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk. They rejected the church organisation of 1816 and fell back on the classical reformed confessions, liturgy and church-order, which had been established by the Synod of Dordrecht 1618-19. They unanimously claimed therefore to be the continua­tion of the old Reformed Church, but the new church occurred to be very heterogeneous and heavy conflicts were bound to happen. At the synods held in Amsterdam 1836 and in Utrecht 1837, some wanted to preserve the existing traditions while others wished to reform church life in accordance with the Scriptures. Though initially the latter group seemed to have won, at the synod of Amsterdam 1840 the former group was in the majority and decided to have the church-order of Dordrecht unaltered. We may suppose their congregations gathered for services on at least Sundays and the (above mentioned) prescribed holidays.[12] For lack of facts we do  not know their point of view towards the Good Friday.

          More can be said about the minority which rejected the compulsory celebration of holidays. Its most important representatives, the ministers A. Brummelkamp (and A.C. van Raalte) working espacially in the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel, and H.P. Scholte (and G.F. Gezelle Meerburg), serving in the province of Noord-Brabant, in the south-eastern part of Zuid-Holland and initially also in Zeeland, alienated themselves from the mainstream of the church.[13] Each of them founded a school. Their questioning of the holidays goes back to the so-called Nadere Reformatie, a 17th century reform movement of puritans and pietists. They did not only feel affinity with its theology, but also identified with its treatment in the church and by the government at that time. Some of its spoke­smen were suspended from their ministry, a fate which happened even twice to Scholte: in 1834, and again in the new denomination of the separatists in 1840. The latter event confirms his decrea­sing influence.

          We restrict our attention to one representative of the Nadere Reformatie, J. Koelman, whose works were known by Scholte and more fragmentarily also by Brummelkamp.[14] On December 26, 1672, Koelman preached about Galatians 4, 9 - 11. Later elaborated this sermon and published it under the title of Reformatie nodigh ontrent de feestdagen, naaktelijk vertoont, ende beweezen.[15] Its careful line of reasoning and the passion with which it is written, still impress the modern reader. Koelman wasn't the first to fight the holidays. He refers to other representatives of the Nadere Reformatie, especially to his teacher G. Voetius, but also to other reformed theologians and deals with their views. Koelman states that the holidays are typical of the papacy and observing them diverts from the essentials in christian faith. Therefore they should be abolished. He founds his conviction on a long range of arguments, of which the biblical ones form the basis. He tries to prove all holidays were abolished in the New Testament. Celebrating holidays threatens the observation of the one rest day which is given each week, Sunday. He even considers it against the fourth commandment, in which six days of labour are ordered. Koelman's stressing this point must be seen in the broader context of the debate about the character of the Sunday in the decades before. In the second part of his book Koelman discusses the matter from the point of view of ecclesiastical law. He is not impressed by the rules of the church-order of Dordrecht. The prescription of five holidays is against the Scriptures and therefore illegal. Though a lot of other pros and cons are given, this remains the basis of his point of view. He argues that a previous synod of Dordrecht (1574) decided the church should be satisfied with the Sunday only, that some rules (as the one in question) are of no use, that difficult rules should be pushed aside if that should uplift a congregation, that a lot of rules have fallen into disuse, etc. In the end he shows to be aware of the fact that abolishing the traditional holidays can cause a lot of problems to the minister concerned. He seems to point to himself then. Officially his refusal to use the liturgical forms was the cause of his suspension in 1674, but his view about holidays and other opinions will have been also taken into account.

          As stated above, Brummelkamp, Scholte and others seemed to have won the synods of Amsterdam in 1836 and Utrecht in 1837 for their alterations of the church-order of Dordrecht. In the case of the holidays the influence of the Nadere Reformatie can be clearly recognised, when the Synod of Amsterdam stated: celebrating holidays is not prescribed in the Bible and therefore can not be imposed to anyone, nor in any way to be compared with observing the rest day. Services should be held on the prescribed holidays, but no one is obliged to observe these days.[16] The latter provision is weakened in 1837. It is only said then, that those who do not work on the holidays should spent their days in edification.[17] After the reintroduction of the traditional church-order of Dordrecht and the suspension of Scholte in 1840 most congregations in the province of Noord-Brabant went their own way. Three years later Scholte's companion Gezelle Meerburg edited a revised church-order. In the case of the holidays it is less definite and more ecclesiastical than its predecessor of 1837: not the individual, but the church (!) is free in its choice to celebrate the holidays; it is not the responsibility of the individual, but of the ministers to prevent idleness on holidays.[18] For Gezelle Meerburg personally this ment a change of mind. From another source we know he completely rejected the holidays in the past. To show this publicly he once ordered the maid to clean the front windows of the parsonage on Christmas Day.[19]

          Taking all the facts into account we may suppose, that in the first decades of the Christe­lijk Afgescheidene Gereformeerde Kerk – as the majority of those who had left the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk in 1834 called their church – Good Friday was considered an average workday, even when a minister preached on its evening. Only the Sunday (and, depending on the region, some holidays prescribed in the church-order of Dordrecht) should be sanctified as a day of rest.

          At the synod of Zwolle 1854 a period of internal squabbles and mutual estrangement was closed, though not all differences were solved. The synod reacted unanimously to the decisions of the synod of the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk concerning Good Friday in the way already quoted: Good Friday is 'under no account to be celebrated festively'.[20] This decision can be understood in two ways: Good Friday should not be celebrated at all, or it should not be celebrated festively. The congregation at Schiedam for example chose the latter interpretation.[21] After some hesitation its church council decided to meet for a service in the evening, but it added explicitly the Lord’s Supper was not to be celebrated on Good Friday, but at the traditional time of Easter. We suspect this position was not uncommon.[22] De Bazuin, an influential weekly, published since 1854 in favour of the Theological School in Kampen, started to publish meditations under the title Good Friday in 1861. In the case of holidays in general, however, the old differences maintained, though accents changed. F.A. Kok, minister and representative of the traditional school, the so-called Drentse richting, chose a legal approach: a good Duthc citizen observes the holidays because the law forces him, a good reformed adherent in addition also because the church-order of Dordrecht prescribes so.[23] Hel. de Cock, son of Hendr. de Cock, one of the leaders of the seperation in 1834, took up an ambivalent and pragmatical position in his lectures in Kampen.[24] In his view in the choice of the text for his sermon a minister somehow has to take it into account the ecclesiastical year and its holidays, because it influences the mood of the congregation present. Still De Cock has his doubts about Good Friday, especially about the way it is observed in the Neder­landse Hervormde Kerk. In spite of the reservations in the province of Friesland with its long tradition of celebrating Good Friday there has been at least one congregation with even two services on Good Friday.[25] The comparatively progressive Brummelkamp still repeatedly took a stance against holidays in general and Good Friday in particular, using a broad range of arguments.[26] He refers to several New Testament texts arguing that the celebration of holidays is not necessary from a biblical point of view, and warns that it is forbidden to impose these human creations (Matth. 15, Acts 15, 10, Rom. 14, 5 and 6a, Gal. 5, 1, Col. 2: 16, 23); he points to older Dutch church-orders, in which holidays are put into perspective or even turned away on principle; he mentions spokesmen of the Nadere Reformatie, who are of the same opinion as he is (A Brakel, Voetius); he describes the situation in foreign countries as Scotland and America where certain Calvinist branches do not observe any holidays at all. It should be noticed that theologically the traditional school stood much closer to 'old writers' as A Brakel and Voetius, but did not follow them in respect to the holidays.[27] It appears Brummelkamp arguing that he did not only have the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk in his mind, but also the Roman Catholic Church. In 1853 the episcopal hierarchy had been re-established in The Netherlands, which was considered a serious threat to church and society by large sections of the protestant population. Brummelkamp criticised for example cabinet ministers who had given their officials a day off, because it was Good Friday. He was afraid it could be used as a precedent by Roman Catholics claiming a legal status for their special holidays. Within the sphere of influence of Brummelkamp hardly any service is to be held on Good Friday. In Winterswijk for example this situation lasted until 1893, when the two existing reformed congregations united (see below).[28] In the former work area of Gezelle Meerburg and Scholte a simular situation can be observed. A letter of a concerned believer shows us in the Gereformeer­de Kerk of Hardinxveld in 1920 a service on Good Friday was not known yet.[29] But it also suggests the introduction of such a service is only a matter of time. The author blames ministers for promoting this development.


3. Opposition in the churches of the seperation of 1886


Before continuing with the 20th century we must take a view at the second separation, which took place in the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk. In the fifties and sixties of the 19th century the orhodox reformed movement in this denomination grew slowly but surely. Abr. Kuyper became one of its most important spokesmen and had a leading role in the seperation, which took place in 1886. As well as in 1834 the preservation of the orhodox reformed tradition was the aim, but this separtion was more deliberate and base don well-considered ecclesiological and juridical principles. In his first (Nederlandse Hervormde) congregation, Beesd, Kuyper followed the orthodox tradition of administering the Lord's Supper at Easter. In some of his earlier meditations about Good Friday and Easter, published in 'Dagen van goede boodschap', Kuyper gives the impression he approves of celebrating the Lord's Supper on Good Friday.[30] In the preface, dated March 1, 1888, on the other hand he forcefully rejects breaking up the connection between crucifixion and resurrection by administering the sacrament on Good Friday. Therefore in his view the Lords' Supper should take place at Easter.[31] But having a service on Good Friday (without the Lord’s Supper) still seems to be obvious to him.

          W. van den Bergh, a follower of Kuyper in his struggle for a truely reformed church, was of another opinion. In both the congregations he served, Schaarsbergen and Voorthuizen, he stopped preaching on Good Friday.[32] He referred to the Scriptures (Gal. 2, 11 - 19, Col. 2, 19f), the church-order of Dordrecht and the Confessio Belgica (art. 25). He argued that new customs and holidays were human inventions and typical of liberal theology in imitation of the Roman Catholic Church. It was a sign of denying the authority of the Bible. Van den Bergh especially opposed the administration of the Lord's Supper on Good Friday. He saw it as a contempt of the sacrament, because it was not valued as such when celebrated on this day. The Lord's death should be commemorated personally every day, and in particular when the Lord's Supper was administered. We note that Van den Bergh stressed the sacramental and dogmatical side of the issue. This had been of less importance to the followers of the seperation of 1834, who paid more attention to the ethical question whether Good Friday should or should not be a day of rest.[33] Van den Bergh's more specific approach may have been caused by the fact, that in the eighties the administration of the Lord's Supper had been become more current in orthodox circles, from which he wanted to distinguish clearly.

          Van den Bergh's radical measures hardly met with any response. The first provisional synod of the new denomination took a position strategically. Having a service on Good Friday is a matter of the local church council, it declared in 1887, but the Lord's Supper shall not be administered.[34] Some church councils wanted more guidance. In the assembly of the region (classis) of Franeker there were severe doubts as to having a service on Good Friday, but delegates were not able to really convince one another of either point of view.[35] In Winterswijk another question rose: how should believers spend Good Friday.[36] The synod had to speak out again and concluded there was a principal difference between Good Friday and the Sunday, because only the latter is established by God as a day of rest. Therefore working on Good Friday is allowed. The synod also stipulated that a service should not be encouraged. But, so it added diplomaticly, should a service already exist and should the congregation be attached to it, then this should be handled carefully. It could continue, but the congregation had to be instructed that the remembrance of Christ's death should not take place on Good Friday exclusievely. It belongs to the heart of everyday christian life.[37] In this last sentence we sense the influence of the pietist Van den Bergh. The basis for the approach as a whole, however, had been layed by Abr. Kuyper in a rational proposal in his weekly De Heraut some months before.[38] He was convinced that a good explanation to the congregation concerned would soon end the need to attend a service on Good Friday. In the meantime a church council was free to call the congregation for a service in the evening, as it was free to do so on any day.


4. Accomodation


Aftera n insecure period of sometimes tough negiotiations the two churches, separated in 1834 and in 1886, united in 1892; the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland came into being. It seems Good Friday was no longer an issue. Having a service on this day was optional: not compulsory but not prohibited either. Especially for those originating from the seperation of 1886 it would have been difficult to abandon the old custom. They had been used to it for many decades in the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk. All members of the new denomination were convinced Good Friday should be observed as a normal working day.[39] This is confirmed by some personal research in oral history.[40] There were villages, where members of the Gereformeerde Kerken ostentatiously worked on Good Friday: while other christians walked to the their church, women scrubbed the doorstep and the pavement, and men wheeled manure.

          Yearly directories show us, how the observation of Good Friday slowly developed and changed. Among a lot of other things these directories contained calenders with some practical data. Until 1911-12 the calenders only give the official holidays of the church-order of Dordrecht. In some years before Good Friday is also mentioned, but it seems only by accident. From 1911-12 the date of Good Friday is consistently published.[41] In church papers on the other hand the local correspondents and the editors didn't choose a clear attitude. They precisely published which minister took a service on a particular Sunday or holiday.[42] Services on New Year's Eve, not even mentioned in the church-order of Dordrecht, are consistently mentioned and appear to be held almost everywhere. Services on Good Friday on the other hand are rather carelessly dealt with. According to the church papers they were absent in some congregations, though on the basis of some combined data we may suppose they really were held in most cases.

          In the twenties having a service on Good Friday was widely spread in the Gereformeerde Kerken, though the attendance of these services left a lot to be desired.[43] Because members of the Gereformeerde Kerken were regular churchgoers, this indicates the service on Good Friday was considered not essential by many of them. The resistance to celebrating this day as a holiday calmed down in these years, though the old principles towards its observation didn't change. K. Schilder in the weekly De Reformatie, for example, still opposes to the Good Friday as a holiday and incites his readers to meditate the facts Christ's substitute suffering in everyday life.[44] He sees this orthodox attitude endangered by liberal denominations where in the Good Friday service superficial and fleeting feelings are played on. This kind of subjectivism threatens the objective reformed approach.

          We conclude, that the observance of the Good Friday as such is not brought up for discussion anymore. Another minister, K. Fernhout, even supported an interdenomina­tional movement, which sought to ask the government to give Good Friday the same rights as the Sunday.[45] Fernhout was a minister in the capital, in Amsterdam. Nowhe­re more then in a city like this, Good Friday was not observed as a day of rest. Fernhout must have sensed and seen the decreasing influence of christian faith on society. In this environment making Good Friday a public holiday could be seen as a proclamation of the faith. It is characteristic of the changing opinion in the Gereformeerde Kerken that the authoritative weekly De Heraut in 1932 openly questioned the arguments of Van den Bergh, which were called to mind again by the church council of his congregation in Voorthuizen.[46] The council fought a rearguard action and surrendered in 1949 when it decided to have a service in the evening of Good Friday.[47] It probably was the last church council in the Gereformeerde Kerken to make this move. During a thorough revision of the church-order in 1958, the national synod finally decided to prescribe church councils to call their congregation together for a service on Good Friday.[48] Because this had already become common practice, hardly any objections were made. In the same year even the traditional K. Dijk, professor in Kampen, seems to suggest people should work as little as possible on Good Friday.[49] Though he was influential in his church, in this case he didn't find considerable support. The wish to observe Good Friday as a day of rest faded away in other denominations. The differing opinions of the past approached each other now.

          As in the next decades the number of ecumenical contacts of the Gereformeerde Kerken increased, the appreciation of liturgy and the liturgical year grew. More Calvinist customs such as the seven Sundays before Easter with sermons in remembrance of the suffering of Christ, lost popularity. In the seventies and eighties a more Catholic, ecumenical approach was welcomed in both the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk and the Gereformeerde Kerken: a (liturgical) period of lent including six instead of seven Sundays, services on Maundy Thursday (in remembrance of the institution of the Lord's Supper), Good Friday and Easter Saturday. On Good Friday only the Passion is read and prayers are said, there is no sermon, not to mention the administration of the Lord’s Supper. These developments are typical of a certain shyness towards the person of Jesus Christ and towards an orthodox reformed theme as reconcialiation once and for all. In the past His suffering and its meaning were at the heart of reformed Faith and preaching. Nowadays for many believers the accent has been moved to reflection on their relationship with God and their personal ethics.


5. Reflection


In his dissertation De emancipatie van de gereformeerden J. Hendriks paints a picture of the history of the members of the Gereformeerde Kerken and its predecessors from a sociological point of view. He characterizes it as an emancipation movement. He distinguishes between several periods.[50] Before c. 1860 their only claim is to be able to arrange their personal and religious life as they want. From c. 1860 to c. 1880 they strife for emancipation of their group and re-christianization of society, trying to cooperate with other protestant movements. In the next period they strengthen their internal organization, slowly reaching the goal of emancipation, more or less giving up the aim of re-christiani­zation. From c. 1920 the isolation intensifies, the life of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland freezes. The thought is cherished that they are the only true church. After World War II, from c. 1950 cracks become visble in their bastion. Relationships with other groups and churches develop slowly but surely. The Gereformeerde Kerken have become a denomination between other denominations. The emancipation is completed.

          This theory deepens our insight in the Good Friday in the Gereformeerde Kerken and their predecessors as a cultural phenomenon, which developed in close interaction with other denominations. The participants of the separation of 1834 united in their opposition to innovations in the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk, from which in most regions a compulsory service on the Friday before Easter is one. They wanted to organize church life as they saw fit, which in most cases will have meant without any service on Good Friday. This was, however, not only a matter of conviction, but also of distinction from the Hervormde Kerk they had left and also from others with whom they turned their back on the Hervormde Kerk. In both cases it strengthened the profile of the own group. After a period with passionate arguments the different groups of the new denomination reached a consensus in the fifties with respect for minor differences. In the case of Good Friday a compromise is found: having a service on Good Friday is tolerated, but observing Good Friday as a day of rest is rejected fiercly. It distracts from what are thought to be the essentials of christian faith - as all holidays tend to do according to a minority. We also see a new contra-argument against coming up, which originates in the re-establishment of the episcopal hierarchy in 1853, and also must have appealed to other protestants: tolerating Good Friday as a rest day may give elbow-room to introducing special Roman Catholic holidays into official state law. Abr. Kuyper seems initially not to have opposed the administration of the Lord's Supper on Good Friday, probably not to alienate kindred spirits from him. When around 1880 this cooperation ended in deception, he adopted a more strict, though still pragmatical attitude towards Good Friday. If in view of the needs of the believers a service is necessary, it can be held, because a church council can organize a service on any day. The Lord's Supper, however, should not be administered on Good Friday, but at Easter. On that festive day both His death and resurrection should be celebrated in the sacrament. Kuyper did not take up such a radical position as Van den Bergh, member of a younger generation, did. Van den Bergh wanted to abolish the Good Friday completely. In his opinion it only did harm. Kuyper on the other hand, known for his tactical insight, recognized he had to meet his followers half way. They had been used to attending one or even two services on Good Friday for many, many decades. Taking all this away at once would not have been understood. Kuyper was aware of the ambivalence of the day, but did not want to exaggerate its more negative sides.

          Although Kuyper principally opposed to the observation of Good Friday as a day of rest, his both legal and pragmatical approach openened the possibility to integrate a service on this day into reformed church life. We get the impression, that after the union of 1892 within a few decades this became a fact in most congregations. It strikes us that in the period of isolation, from c. 1920 until c. 1950, the service on Good Friday is hardly an issue of importance anymore. The own reformed approach didn't seem to need any sort of justification or defense anymore. It had become obvious, so obvious that no further discussion was necessary. Even the thought to observe the Good Friday as a rest day came into the picture and was cautiously allowed.

          The church-order of 1958 shows having a service on Good Friday is officially accepted in the Gereformeerde Kerken: it obliges church councils to organize one. The practice in the Hervormde Kerk and the Gereformeerde Kerken started to resemble one another more and more. Even in some Gereformeerde congregations the Lord's Supper was celebrated on Good Friday, though it never became common.[51] On the one hand the aim to observe the Good Friday as a day of rest was received with more sympathy in the Gereformeerde Kerken, on the other hand it lost popularity in other denominations. In the end the thought died out slowly, probably also because of the more modest position of the church in society. In the Gereformeerde kerken the need to stress the own identity decreased, the openness towards other churches and traditions grew. This resulted into an ecumenical layout of the service on Good Friday.

          The view can be defended the Gereformeerde Kerken and their predecessors didn't exert any influence at all with their opinion towards Good Friday. Apart from the fact that initially it was no their aim to have any influence, it must be admitted it is more the other way around: others influenced them, for example in the 19th century representatives of the Nadere Reformatie and in the last decades ecumenicals. Still it should be considered a theoretical possibility that without the Gereformeerde Kerken Good Friday would have been declared an official holiday in the Netherlands. In reaction to several requests to do so the synod of the Hervormde Kerk as well as the government stated the support among other denominations was too small.[52] Without any doubt, apart from the Roman Catholic Church of this group the Gereformeerde Kerken was the most important.



[1]           I want to thank G.W. van der Brugge and N. Joosse for their efforts to correct the English text of this article.

[2]           Cf. that this day 'volstrekt niet feestelijk gevierd worde' (Handelingen en Verslagen van de Algemene Synoden van de Christelijk Afgescheidene Gereformeerde Kerk (1836 - 1869) met stukken betreffende de synode van 1843, bijlagen en registers (Houten-Utrecht 1984) 627).

[3]           J. KOELMAN: Reformatie nodigh ontrent de feest-dagen, naaktelijk vertoont ende beweezen (Rotterdam 1675) 22f.

[4]           Cf. K.W. de JONG: Naar oude gewoonte. Een vergelijking tussen Friesland en Zuid-Holland van enkele aspecten van de protestantse eredienst in de 17e eeuw, in: Jaarboek voor Liturgie-onderzoek 7 (1991) 1 - 24, p. 10, 17f; F.J.J.A. JUNIUS: Geschiedenis en belangrijkheid der lijdensprediking (...) I (Tiel 1853) 248f, 256.

[5]           Cf. R.A. BOSCH: Rouwsluier over de Tafel van de Heer? Over de herkomst van de avondmaalsviering op de Goede Vrijdag, in: Eredienstvaardig 15 (1999) nr. 1, 7 - 11.

[6]           C. HOOIJER: Kerkelijke wetten voor de Hervormden in het Koningrijk der Nederlanden (Zaltbommel 1846) 361 ('stichtelijke', 'plegtige').

[7]           HOOIJER: Kerkelijke wetten 364 ('Vrijdag vóór Paschen', 'de dag des doods van Hem, die ons leven, en het leven der wereld is', 'eene Godsdienstoefening, ter gedachtenis van die groote gebeurtenis').

[8]           A proposition in this direction was made by its member the rev. A. Goedkoop (Hand. Syn. Ned. Herv. Kerk 60f).

[9]           Cf. K.W. de JONG: Ordening van dienst. Achtergronden en ontwikkelingen in de eredienst van de Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (Baarn 1996) 31 and the references given there.

[10]          Cf. Kerkelijke Courant 1855, nr. 21 (26th May); cf. also the nrs. 17 (28th April), 20 (19th May), 27 (7th June), 31 (4th August). Even the moderate D. Chantepie de la Saussaye questioned the administration of the Lord's Supper on Good Friday (Ernst en Vrede 6 (1858) 165).

[11]          Cf. the orthodox E.F. KRUIJF: Liturgiek. Ten dienste van dienaren der Nederlandsche Hervormde Kerk (Groningen 1901) 243; Christelijke Encyclopaedie voor het Nederlandsche volk 2 (1st pr. Kampen w.y.) 368.

[12]          Hendr. de Cock, one of the leaders of the secession of 1834, belonged to the mainstream of the new church, but still put into perspective the meaning of the holidays (cf. H. de Cock to H.J. Budding, without date [Dec. 1837/Jan. 1838], in: J.H. GUNNING J.HZ.: H.J. Budding. Leven en arbeid (2nd pr. Rhenen 1909) 562).

[13]          In the province of Zeeland the self-willed minister H.J. Budding must be mentioned too, who soon after the seperation went his own way. Until 1851 facts are lacking. But jugdging by his positive position towards the church-order of Dordrecht he will not have paid any attention to the Good Friday initially (cf. C. DEKKER: Gereformeerd en evangelisch. Ontstaan en geschiedenis van de Buddinggemeente te Goes en haar plaats in het Nederlandse Protestantisme in de periode 1839 - 1881 (Kampen w.y. [1992]) 27ff). His diary shows, that certainly from 1851 he called together the congregation of Goes every Friday before a Sunday the Lord's Supper was administered (which according to the church-order of Dordrecht preferably took place at Christmas, Easter and on Whit Sunday). But in the meetings on Good Friday no special reference seems to have been made to Christ's suffering and death. This didn't change after 1859, when Budding started to break the bread every Sunday. Only in 1875 he notes a short sermon on the occasion of the special meaning of the day (cf. DEKKER: Gereformeerd 531 - 582).

[14]          Cf. L. OOSTENDORP: H.P. Scholte. Leader of the Secession of 1834 and Founder of Pella (Franeker 1964) 84ff, 195 (cf. also H. IMMINKHUIZEN: De Nadere Reformatie. Primaire bibliografie van de 19de-eeuwse uitgaven ('s-Gravenhage 1985) 113 (s.v. Scholte, H.P.); M. te VELDE: Anthony Brummel­kamp (1811 - 1888) (Barneveld 1988) 292f.

[15]          KOELMAN: Reformatie.

[16]          Handelingen 53.

[17]          Cf. Handelingen 136f, 1148.

[18]          Cf. Handelingen 1190f.

[19]          Cf. H.E. Verschoor to J.D. Janssen dated Dec. 31st 1835 (in: Archiefstukken betreffende de Afscheiding van 1834 III (Kampen 1942) 21). It is said Gezelle Meerburg also opposed to having a service on Good Friday, but no evidence is given (cf. Christelijke Encyclopaedie 2, 367).

[20]          Cf. also articles in: De Bazuin 2 (1854) nrs. 36 and 43. The proposal to take a stand in the matter of the Good Friday was made by the congregations in the province of Drente (credentials dated 9th May 1854 - Public Records Office Utrecht, Synodal Archives of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, nr. 40). We note that there was a strong movement to promote Good Friday in the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk precisely in this province.

[21]          A. van der BLOM, J.J. DONKERS Azn.: De Geschiedenis van de Gereformeerde Kerk van Schiedam (w.p., w.d.) 68.

[22]          Cf. P. HUISMAN: Een dorpsgemeente onderweg. Gereformeerd Hazerswoude 1864 - 1989 (w.p. w.y.) 23: "In het voorjaar werd het Avondmaal meermalen op het Paasfeest gevierd" (period 1864 - 1869). Cf. also the confession of faith in the congregation at 's Hertogenbosch on the 3rd of April 1874 (= Good Friday) (announcement of P. Dillingh in Dordrecht). This has probably been followed by the Lord's Supper at Easter.

[23]          De Bazuin 2 (1855), nr. 26 (cf. the contribution of J.A. Smeedes in De Bazuin 2 1855, nr. 36).

[24]          Cf. DE JONG: Ordening 55. The lectures of De Cock were held in 1877.

[25]          R.A. Bosch in Maastricht gave me a sermon of his great-grandfather W. Bosch, said on Good Friday 1886 in Workum. The sermon suggests the existence of a service in the morning as well as in the evening.

[26]          De Bazuin 2 (1854), nr. 43. Cf. De Bazuin 11 (1863), nr. 7; 14 (1966), nrs. 18 and 24; 20 (1872), nr. 34.

[27]          Cf. Te VELDE: Anthony Brummelkamp 292f.

[28]          Cf. J.P. RUITINGA: In en om de Zonnebrink 1841 - 1991. Uit de geschiedenis van de Gereformeerde Kerk van Winterswijk (Aalten w.y.) 53.

[29]          W.H. Swet to H. Bouwman dated 2nd March 1920, published in: De Bazuin 68 (1920), nr. 11 (12th March). Swet refers to his mother, who in this matter was educated by W.H. van Leeuwen in Werkendam (minister in this congregation from 1858 to 1863).

[30]          A. KUYPER: 'Dagen van goede boodschap.' II. De Paaschmorgen (Met Goede Vrijdag) (Amsterdam 1888) 55, 58 and 83.

[31]          KUYPER: 'Dagen (...)' preface; cf. also 122.

[32]          P.L. SCHRA­M: Willem van den Bergh 1850 - 1890 (Amsterdam 1980) 83, 112f; G. van ZEGGELAAR: Wat God deed met Zijn Kerk te Voorthuizen (Barneveld w.j. [1904?]) 88. Cf. W. van den Bergh to Abr. Kuyper dated 28th April 1884 (Kuyper Archive nr. 3308, Historisch Documentatiecentrum voor de Geschiedenis van het Nederlands Protestantisme (1800 - heden), Free University (VU), Amster­dam). According to his edition of the church-order of Dordrecht Van den Bergh also principally rejected Circumsision Day and Ascension Day, because their observance was made dependent on the simple fact they were held in most cities and provinces (cf. De Dordtsche kerkenorde. Met verklaring van vreemde woorden en enkele bepalingen uit de Post-Acta. Uitgegeven door W. van den Berg & G.H. van Kasteel (4th pr. Nijkerk w.y. [1893]) III and 23).

[33]          Cf. De Bazuin 2 (1854), nr. 36, where an unknown author deals with the Lord's Supper on Good Friday.

[34]          Acta Nederd. Geref. Kerken 85 (art. 51).

[35]          Cf. 'Classis Franeker' (H.R. Nieborg) to the General Synod dated ? - Public Records Office Utrecht, Synodal Archives of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, nr. 212. Cf. minutes dated 13th and 14th June 1889, 11th September 1889, 12th March 1890 - Public Records Office Leeuwarden, Archive of the 'classis Franeker', nr. 10.

[36]          Cf. church council of Winterswijk (H. Fransen?) to the General Synod dated 7th June 1890 - Public Records Office Utrecht, Synodal Archives of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, nr. 212.

[37]          Acta Nederd. Geref. Kerken 300f (art. 65).

[38]          Cf. De Heraut nr. 640 (30th March 1890).

[39]          Cf. Abr. Kuyper criticising a movement in the 'Zaanstreek' to establisch Good Friday as an official holiday (De Heraut nr. 795 (19th March 1893)).

[40]          I refer to three letters in my possession (from N.N. without date; from R.S. dated 8th September 1998; from W.D. dated 17th September 1998). Cf. also M.A. VRIJLANDT: Liturgiek (Delft [1987]) 116 ('mestkruien').

[41]          Cf. Jaarb. Chr. Geref. Kerk (from 1911) and Handb. Geref. Kerken (from 1912).

[42]          I studied Friesch Kerkblad. Orgaan vaoor de Officieele Berichten der Gereformeerde Kerken in Friesland, Friesche Kerkbode. Weekblad voor de Gereformeerde Kerken in Friesland and Noord-Hollandsch Kerkblad. Weekblad voor de Gereformeerde Kerken in Noord-Holland.

[43]          Cf. Joh. JANSEN: Korte verklaring van de kerkenordening (1st pr. Kampen 1923) 290.

[44]          Cf. De Reformatie 5 (1924-25) 218f. Cf. also Tj. HOEKSTRA: Gereformeerde homiletiek (Wageningen 1926) 263, where the author mentions Good Friday without any critical remark. The traditional arguments and a subtle evaluation can be found in: H. BOUWMAN: Gereformeerd Kerkrecht 2 (Kampen 1934) 443 and 493 (cf. also 352; De Bazuin 68 (1920) nr. 11 (12th March)); and Joh. JANSSEN: Korte verklaring van de Kerkorde der Gereformeerde Kerken (1st pr. Kampen 1923) 292 - 294.

[45]          Cf. De Heraut nr. 2828 (3rd April 1932); Christelijke Encyclopaedie 2, 365 - 369.

[46]          Cf. De Heraut nr. 2828 (3rd April 1932). Cf. also Joh.C. FRANCKEN: Veel vragen ... één antwoord. Een keur uit de onderwerpen inhet vragenuurtje der N.C.R.V. behandeld (Kampen 1940) 345 - 348.

[47]          G. KUYPERS: Iets goeds uit Voorthuizen? Amsterdam en de moederkerk der Doleantie (Kampen 1985) 161.

[48]          Cf. Acta Gen. Syn. Geref. Kerken 1955-56 (Leeuwarden) art. 377 and 495; 1957-58 (Assen) art. 347 and 348. Cf. also: Rapport van de Deputaten voor de Herziening van de kerkorde, aangeboden aan de generale synode van de Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, welke D.V. samenkomt te Leeuwarden in Augustus 1955 16: 'Wat artikel 72 betreft, zij opgemerkt dat deputaten zich aangesloten hebben bij de in onze kerken langzamerhand gegroeide practijk om ook op den Goeden Vrijdag een kerkdienst te houden.'

[49]          Cf. Christelijke Encyclopedie 3 (2nd pr. Kampen 1958) 271: 'Wel dringt de overtuiging hoe langer hoe meer door, dat op G. [Goede Vrijdag] zo weinig mogelijk moet gewerkt worden'.

[50]          J. HENDRIKS: De emancipatie van de Gereformeerden. Sociologische bijdrage tot de verklaring van enige kenmerken van het huidige gereformeerde volksdeel (= Serie Maatschappijbeelden 8) (Alphen a/d Rijn 1971) 241 - 245 (cf. 234f).

[51]          See for example Centraal Weekblad 6 (1958) 351; 8 (1960) 117; 9 (1961) 307. A protest from the Gereformeerde Werkgroep voor Liturgie shows the popularity of this ritual grew after some years (cf. minutes of meetings on 5th January, 31st March, 31st August 1970 and 4th January 1971 - Public Records Office Utrecht, Archive of the Gereformeerde Werkgroep voor Liturgie, nr. 290; cf. also nrs. 294 and 317).

[52]          Christelijke Encyclopaedie 2, 368; Christelijke Encylopedie 3, 271.