the beginning of the 20th century, alongside the Evangelical
Free churches and the Methodist churches, there were two large
Protestant denominations in France that had come directly out of the 16th
the Reformed Church, with around one
hundred and fifty local churches,
the Evangelical Reformed Church with
approximately four hundred and fifty churches.
The First World War (1914-1918) was
characterized both by a terrible human slaughter and by a chaplaincy
corps that worked together. This experience marked a turning point in
In the years that followed the War there was a
renewed interest in theology and in ecumenical contacts, along with a
series of economic crises. Many felt the necessity of unity in the
church at such a time.
Thus in 1938, resulting from discussions started
in the early 1930’s, a large number of local churches from several
denominations decided to unite to create the Reformed Church of
However, some churches, in spite of their desire
to demonstrate the unity of the Body of Christ, decided mainly for
doctrinal reasons not to join this new church organization. They desired
to affirm their belief, with no restrictions, in the Declaration of
Faith of 1872, which underlines, in agreement with the declarations of
various Reformation churches, "the sovereign authority of the Holy
Scriptures in matters of faith, and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ,
only Son of God, crucified for our sins and raised from the dead for our
These churches gave birth to the Independent
Evangelical Reformed Churches (EREI). This is the origin of the
more detailed description of these events can be found in the brochure :
Réformées Evangéliques (English
edition), Price : 2 euros.
brochure can be ordered from : Nuance Publications, 74 rue Henri Revoil,
30900 Nîmes France.
- The adjective "Independent"
does not carry great importance. It indicates that the EREI churches are
not part of the ERF. It was added 60 years ago to distinguish the new
Evangelical Reformed Churches from those of the previous denomination of
that name that ceased to exist in 1938;
- The adjective "Evangelical"
is used in the way that this term was understood, first in England then
in France, in the 19th century, that is, a branch of
Protestantism that puts an emphasis on the authority of the Bible and a
type of spirituality that teaches the necessity of being "converted"
to Jesus Christ by a personal decision;
- The term "Reformed" indicates
the historical and theological tie that these churches maintain with the
original Reformation movement in France. This is shown particularly
through the rediscovery of the thinking of the reformer John Calvin (especially
through the Theological Seminary in Aix-en-Provence), and also the
importance of the Confession of Faith of La Rochelle in the Church
Discipline and the life of the EREI denomination.
is the source of all existence.
whole universe announces God’s existence and declares his glory.
this reason, the question of God must be faced by the human conscience,
mankind is incapable by his own efforts of having true knowledge of his
God can speak the truth about Himself.
a revelation "from above", all theology is only useless
believe that God decided to speak to mankind in a historical process that
he Himself initiated.
word of God, finished and offered to our world, is the Bible.
What the Bible says concerning:
God is the unique Being
who precedes and has dominion over every other being. He has neither
beginning nor end.
God is all powerful.
That doesn’t mean that He does anything and whatever. His power
serves His will, which is reflected particularly in the laws that
govern the universe.
God, the creator of the
human person, cannot be an impersonal reality. Rather, He is a free
will, giving meaning and basis to moral values. God is "holy",
which means He is:
always true in what He says;
always just in what He does;
always good in His intentions.
is total absence in Him of any untruth, any injustice, and any form of
God is not part of the universe (he is transcendent) and yet, He is in
relationship with it. This personal God thus wants to have a personal
relationship with mankind … and with each man.
God is as much the source of unity as of diversity. God is ONE, but he is
not solitary: He is "Father", "Son", and "Holy
Spirit". In Him, diversity finds harmony through communion.
God is not only the creator of humanity, He also wants to be the Savior
of a world broken by sin. God, in His Son, Jesus Christ, came to live
among men in order to live out in human experience those acts which
inaugurate a new era in which evil and death will no longer exist.
The future of the world is found in Jesus Christ. He is the solid
foundation of hope.
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the "Trinity", is the
breath of life. From the beginning, He has been working in the history of
the world. Today, He comes to spread throughout the earth the benefits of
the salvation that Jesus Christ acquired for humanity.
He is the one that brings forth faith. By Him, I can recognize the
authority of biblical revelation and discover God as Father.
The universe had a
definite beginning. Matter/energy is not eternal. It was created from
nothing by the will of God, who alone can determine existence.
Having depended on God
for its origin, the universe continues to remain dependent on Him for
its existence. Anything that happens, the predictable as well as the
unpredictable, cannot escape His sovereign direction, which remains
total and permanent.
This means that the
future of the world is not limited by a cold determinism but is open
to the personal will of the living God.
A description of the
universe is incomplete if it is limited to only its physical or
quantitative measures. The world is also beautiful and good,
reflecting the innate values of its Creator.
Thus, the great
importance of mankind in the universe flows from the fact that he
possesses a high degree of resemblance to the divine Person. God made
man his privileged partner in the midst of His immense creation.
For reasons that we
cannot fully comprehend, the perfect good will of the Creator was
ignored by the human creature when he chose to adhere to the
illusionary language of the forces of evil. In this way, evil entered
the world, with its long cortege of suffering which affects all of
creation to some extent and especially humanity.
God still remains
sovereign, even over the forces of evil, so that we can still perceive
the perfection of the world that God created and so that the joy of
life can still be enjoyed by humanity. Evil is limited in time, and it
is in the midst of this mixture we now live, where beauty and horror
exist side by side, that the divine work of restoring the world has
The last to appear in
the creation of the universe, mankind inherited a special place. He is
the only one said to be made "in the image of God". This
special position implies a special being within creation, along with
special privileges and responsibilities.
Mankind as "God’s
image" was made to live in personal relationship with God. This
conscious, trusting relationship guaranteed him a plentiful life and
an unlimited future.
history began with the rupture of this trusting relationship. As it
was, man used his privileged position within creation to try to build
his life and his own future in a way that would leave him independent
and autonomous from God. What appeared to him to be a summit to attain
was in reality a bottomless chasm in which he lost his footing.
This defining event at
the beginning of his history had incalculable consequences. Humanity
being thus morally (or spiritually) cut off from God, profound changes
affected every level of his being. Beginning with this original choice,
all that we call "evil" (whether suffered or caused) became
a part of human existence.
It is in this double
origin (created as "image of God" but then rejecting God)
that we find the characteristics of all human experience:
Nostalgia (flight into the past) as well as the
irresistible search for a better life (flight toward the future) lead
mankind to feel a constant lack of satisfaction with his present
condition. Man knows that he is someone who is called to a life that is
better, fuller, richer that what he lives day by day.
The progress of knowledge and technical prowess
is a perfect expression of the mandate to dominate the earth that God gave
mankind from the beginning. At the same time, man puts too much hope in
this progress, hoping to find in it a way to escape his fundamental
Man is this being that needs love, communion
with others and personal recognition from them. Fundamentally, he has the
need to be linked by love more than any other creature in the world. And
yet, man ends up being particularly anti-social. The hatred he can feel
for his fellowman and the violence it inspires never cease to surprise him.
In reality, man has the desire to do good, but
he then realizes that he is too weak to resist his own negative instincts
as well as to bear the pressure of circumstances beyond his control. He
must admit that even his good intentions are not durable.
Thoughts of eternity and a thirst for absolutes
only reveal his need of God, but then he manifests these in his numerous
religions, ideologies, humanistic beliefs, and superstitions.
He is continually inventing false gods for himself in order to not
have to listen to the voice of the one true God, whose fatherly authority
he is constantly fleeing.
The human condition is thus both exciting and tragic. The "memory"
of his exceptional dignity awakes in each person extraordinary desires for
life, purity, and love. But sin (that is, the conscious or unconscious
refusal of the true God) that lives in the human heart pushes him to
refuse all of these values. As a result of this, life is lived out in the
shadow of God’s judgment, which means living all the time under a real
threat of failure, of conflict, of disappointment, of suffering, and of
Today’s man is no more able than those of past ages to change this
state of things. History cannot be undone. The real salvation of humanity
can only come from a kind and generous initiative from the Creator Himself.
In spite of the
deliberate choice that mankind made to break the contract of trust
that God originally set up with him, the Sovereign Creator did not
abandon humanity to the inevitable consequences of his offense.
Even more, the
perspective of God’s just and holy judgment, which would have
implied the total disappearance of mankind from the earth, was
canceled. Time was given to reveal, in the history of mankind, a
special story, a time and a place where God would intervene in a new
way for the salvation of many.
This special story began
in the Middle East around 2000 years before Jesus Christ when God
called Abraham to follow Him. This call included the promise of a
blessing for Abraham and his descendents, and by their intermediary
for all nations. Abraham heard this call from the one true God and he
believed. The faith of Abraham thus became a sign of the possible
restoration of communion between God and mankind.
The descendents of
Abraham (that is, the Jews) continued to follow God, sometimes well
and sometimes not so well, receiving throughout their history, from
Moses and the prophets, many of God’s words. In this way, Israel
learned to know the one true God, discovered His moral laws, and could
thus get ready for the event that would reconcile heaven and earth,
and open wide the doors of hope.
Jesus, the Messiah of
Israel, the descendent of Abraham by whom all nations were to be
blessed, Jesus the Son of man and the Son of God appeared in Israel
during the period of Roman occupation. By his life and his teaching he
fully revealed the face of God. And, when he died, being crucified by
the wickedness of men, he had fulfilled the whole mission of salvation:
he, in the name of humanity, erased the original conflict between man
and God, and by his total obedience he honored the contract of trust
with the heavenly Father. He opened the door of the "Kingdom of
Heaven", of the world to come, to whomever would come to him and
His resurrection from
the dead completed his victory in the battle that he fought for us.
From now on, hope has meaning and is based on a solid foundation. In
Jesus Christ, our communion with God is reestablished. In this way,
anyone who comes to Christ by faith receives the seed of a new life
right now. The Spirit of God works everywhere on earth, but it is in
the Church, the people brought together by the call of Christ, that
this power of renewal is shared and communicated to others.
This present age in
which the power of the resurrection lives alongside the power of death
will soon come to an end. God has set a "day" when the final
accounting of human history will take place. Each one will answer for
how he managed the gift of life that he received. A final judgment is
to be feared by those who have ignored the call of the Savior of
mankind. It is only later, after divine justice has finally penalized
the wrongs of this age, that the new morning for humanity will begin,
a day of light and joy, a day of eternity.