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It is clear to see the Bible and its inerrancy’s place in the heart of Hudsonville Reformed Church. Among many issues, it's the reason for our recent denominational move. We are a people who love God’s word, but few of us — and few Christians generally — know the story of how we got the Bible we have today. Throughout church history, there have been lots of other Christians who too have a passion for the Bible, so I want to point out five events in Church history that give us a glimpse of how they impacted how you and I read the bible today.

From the beginning of Christianity, the Old Testament had always been seen as scripture. Largely in part because of Jesus’ high view of the Old Testament. But now in the new era of the church, it was clear that new scripture was being written. So, the question is how did we the 27 New Testament books we read in our bible today?

#1 Athanasius’s letter recognizes the New Testament canon

The gospels we know in our bible had — nearly unanimously — accepted as scripture. But there was some debate over some of the other letters “floating” around the Mediterranean. It wasn’t until a great and early church father settled the matter. Athanasius was a pastor in Alexandra, and on the Easter of 367, he wrote a letter where he laid out the 27 books we know today. This event was important because this was the first time someone laid out these 27 books. After this, there was uniform agreement that this was the New Testament.[1]

We must remember that scripture isn’t invented by man. What I mean to say is that Athanasius didn’t invent the New Testament canon.

Scripture is like money (for this illustration), a police officer can recognize a fake bill or legitimize a real one, but what he can’t do is make a fake real or a real fake.

We as humans have the ability to recognize God’s words, not create them, nor make our words a forged version of his.

#2 the Council of Hippo 393 and Carthage 397

In 393 and 397 the Council of Hippo and Carthage solidified what Athanasius wrote on Easter. The reason this makes the list is that it now recognized the New Testament canon officially. If Athanasius’s Easter letter was a presidential promise, these two councils were the bill being signed into law. It may seem like a formality, but this really is a landmark event, because it was evidence of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration for the New Testament.[2]

#3 Martin Luther’s 95 thesis

This is easily the most notorious event on this list, yet it may seem like the most out of place. So far we have talked about the Bible, what does this have to do with it? Well, one of Martin Luther’s main objections was against the catholic church’s use of the Bible.[3] Martin Luther did great work in translating the Bible into the language of the common people. He flew in the face of the very church that — at one time — recognized the canon of scripture. But now this institution had corrupted and distorted scripture past what it once was.

Martin Luther liberated the church to see the beauty of the Bible so they could see the beauty of the One who breathed it out.

Luther championed preaching the word. Something that was lost in the dark ages of the church, yet something that is one of the marks that our church values as a sign of health. The German reformer was a powerful preacher who would rather die than compromise his belief in salvation by faith alone. This belief would spur Luther on to the bold preaching of the word that he was so known for. [4]

#4 Tyndale’s Interpretation of the Bible into English

We owe much of our understanding of scripture to the great reformer William Tyndale. You may know his name, but when you think of your personal spiritual journey, you don’t think of William Tyndale. You may have a pastor, professor, teacher, or parent whom you would say helped you grow in your understanding of scripture. Yet without Tyndale’s work, you and I would probably understand the Bible in a different language or in a different way. Tyndale is known for his work of interpreting the Bible into English for the average person in England. [5]

While Luther did an amazing job translating the Bible into German. Tyndale’s revolutionary work was translating the original Greek manuscripts into English. He did this all at a time when it was illegal to do this. Much of Tyndale’s work was done on the run from the King of England, and yet he not only translated the Bible into English, but he had a magnificent preaching ministry.[6]

Unfortunately for William — and the rest of Christianity — he was caught in 1536 and burned at the stake for the work he did to give the English-speaking world a bible to read.[7] Many people fail to realize how much of his interpreting fingerprint can still be found in the versions of bibles we read today. [8]

#5 The formation of the Presbyterian Church of America

Now you might be seeing the dots connecting. So far we have journeyed through significant moments in church history revolving around the Bible. And now we connect the story of how we got our bible with Hudsonville Reformed Church.

In 1974 the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) was born as a split from the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA). The main reasons for the split were the growing theological liberalism in the PCUSA. The PCA’s website describes their reason for leaving this way, the PCUSA “which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. Additionally, the PCA held to the traditional position on the role of women in church offices.”[9]

In a paper written on the history of the PCA, Dr. Marshall C. St. John names the number one reason for the new denomination as “The PCUS denied the authority of the Bible.”

The PCA’s commitment to the Bible is one of the primary reasons Hudsonville Reformed Church has chosen this denomination as its new home. The PCA recognizes the beautiful history of scripture, all the way from Athanasius to William Tyndale.

[1] Kenneth Scott Latourette, “Christianity Takes Shape in Organization, Doctrine,” in A History of Christianity, 4th ed., vol. 1 (Prince Press, 2007), pp. 133-135. [2] Kenneth Scott Latourette, pp 133-135. [3] Bruce Shelley, “A Wild Boar in the Vineyard,” in Church History in Plain Language, 5th ed. (S.l.: ZONDERVAN, 2021), pp. 286-287. [4] Tim Dowley, “Reform,” in Eerdmans' Handbook to Christian History (Grand Rapids, Mi: Eerdmans, 1977), pp. 362-363. [5] Kenneth Scott Latourette, “The English Reformation,” in A History of Christianity, 4th ed., vol. 2 (Prince Press, 2007), pp. 798-799. [6] Tim Dowley, pp. 370-371. [7] William Tyndale et al., “The Works of William Tyndale,” in The Works of William Tyndale, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2010), p. xiv-xxxi. [8] Merle d'Aubigné J H., History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, vol. 5 (New York, NY: American Tract Society, 1835), 109. [9] Dr. Marshall C St. John, “Brief History of the PCA by Marshall St. John -2 - TVP PCA,” A Brief History of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), August 12, 2007,

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