Here's some interesting recollections from someone raised in the Netherlands Reformed Church.
My grandparents were devout in the legalistic faith. They did not own a television, and my grandfather was quite preachy and never hid his disappointment of his children or grandchildren if they were failing to walk in a way that was acceptable to the church. My brother and I were coached on not telling my grandparents that we had a TV…but if they happened to ask, don’t lie. “Just say that the TV is just for news and sports, but only if they ask.” It was a legalistic loophole. We hid who we were without blatantly lying. Being alone with my grandparents was nerve-wracking as I was afraid that they would pump me for information on our life at home, and that I would be forced to expose our secrets. The television wasn’t the only secret we held. We didn’t have any bodies buried under the basement or anything, so it was nothing real big. It was just everything little. We were to hide the fact that we sometimes vacationed over a Sunday, and my mother even bought some bread and cheese from a grocery store on a Sunday. “I’ll never forgive myself for this,” I heard her say. We would go to friends’ homes on Saturday nights, and my parents would get good and liquered up…but we always made it to Sunday morning service where we were dressed in our very best, appearing as any good Dutch Reformed family would.
We were all going to hell. I knew that I was hell-bound from the time I knew what hell was. I knew that Jesus died for “His people”, but that probably did not include me. The church embraced predestination with ferocity. Sit and wait for God to convert you from a dirty wretched sinner to a dirty wretched saved sinner. But you will more than likely go to hell because most people do and because you deserve it. So, fill your pew, but live life to the fullest because it doesn’t really matter anyway. I believed that for 29 years. I had accepted my fate of spending eternity in hell. And then there was an event in my life that can only be described as a spiritual awakening.
There is grace after all.