Rev. GH Kersten (1882-1948) as leader of the SGP

Rev. GH Kersten (1882-1948) grew up in the Orthodox Reformed environment. He made his profession at an early age, acted as a practitioner and later as a preacher. He is committed to uniting experimental Orthodox groups. This is how the Reformed Congregations were founded in 1907. As far as politics is concerned, he is committed to the establishment of an orthodox reformed party: the Political Reformed Party (SGP) was founded in 1918. The first seat was won in 1922 and was occupied by Rev. Kersten. Later the number of seats will increase to three. In addition to being a preacher and politician, he is also editor-in-chief of De Banier and De Saambinder. Due to his position in the chamber in connection with the legation to the Pope, the first Colijn cabinet (1925) falls. In the Second World War he seems to want to accept the German occupation (as punishment from God). On this basis, he is not allowed to return to parliament after the war.


  • Kersten’s youth
  • Practitioner, preacher, connector, active in the political field
  • Politics
  • Origin of SGP
  • MP
  • Grow
  • The legation to the Pope
  • Against coercion
  • WWII
  • After the liberation
  • No longer in the Chamber
  • The end


Kersten’s youth

Gerrit Hendrik (Henri) was born on August 6, 1882 in Deventer. The Kersten family is a member of the Christian Reformed Church (CGG). When Henri was ten, the family moved to The Hague. The move is used to transfer to the Old Reformed Church (OGG), Henri’s parents could no longer find it in CGG in a spiritual sense. Henri was impressed at an early age by the serious preaching in the OGG. He comes to realize that he is a lost sinner who cannot be saved on his own, that the Way to salvation is Jesus Christ. He also receives the Divine command that he must show others that Way; in other words, that he should become a preacher. This does not mean that the inner struggle is over. He continues to struggle and pray and he receives confirmation in his calling. When he is sixteen he professes his faith.

After primary school, Henri goes to the training school (the current PABO). In 1901 he received his teaching certificate . As a teacher, he points out to children the necessity of conversion and rebirth to be saved unto salvation.

Practitioner, preacher, connector, active in the political field

When Henri is 18 years old, he leads a service in Lisse for the first time (as an intended practitioner). He is still a teacher. He is then asked to practice in Meliskerke, Zeeland. Many attend his services. He is asked to become a pastor there. He said goodbye to school in The Hague and at the age of 19 he became a trainer at the community in Meliskerke. In 1905 he was confirmed there as a minister within the association of the Cross Churches. Afterwards he was in Rotterdam-Centrum (1906-1912), then in Yerseke (1912-1926) and finally from 1926 until his death in 1948 in Rotterdam-Centrum.

Rev. Kersten has increasingly come to realize that church division is not biblical. He strives for connection, especially between the cross congregations and the followers of Rev. Ledeboe r. With success: in 1907 the Reformed Congregations were established in the Netherlands. In contrast to what was the practice in the relevant municipalities before 1907, the church order now occupies an important place so that the new association is placed on a solid foundation.


Like Abraham Kuyper, Rev. Kersten believes that God’s word has expressive power for all areas of life, including politics. After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Kersten regularly paid attention to current events and politics. The 1917 Constitutional Revision also gave smaller groups the opportunity to obtain a seat in parliament. Kersten sees opportunities for his supporters. Especially because he doesn’t think the ARP and CHU are principled enough.

Origin of SGP

This is how the Political Reformed Party (SGP) emerged in 1918. Rev. Kersten is the driving force behind the establishment, which takes place in Middelburg. The party bases itself on the foundation of God’s Word and the three confessions (Forms of Unity) as established at the Synod of Dordrecht, held in 1618-19, namely the Heidelberg Catechism, the Dutch Confession of Faith and Canons against the Remonstrants.

No seat was won at the first elections (in 1918). However, the party’s support is growing as members of the Chr. Reformed Church and the Dutch Reformed Church. It was not easy to find candidates for the SGP list for the 1922 elections. Ultimately, Rev. Kersten himself was placed on that list. This is much to the dismay of fellow pastors who believe that a pastor should devote himself to his spiritual calling and not to politics. In any case, the majority of male brothers agree that women do not belong in politics. However, there are also some voices that speak out in favor of ‘active suffrage’ for women.


In the 1922 elections, the SGP received enough votes for a seat in parliament, after which Rev. Kersten entered the House. It soon becomes clear that he cannot be the man of compromise if that goes against the Word of the Lord. He stands for principle and testimony politics. For him, arguments of faith are more important than business arguments. He encounters a lot of opposition, people find him too fierce, intolerant and not always realistic. For example, he calls for the introduction of the death penalty, the obligation to take an oath and a ban on Sunday desecration.

Kersten is not always able to attend parliamentary meetings. He is a busy man: father of a large family, preacher (with all the ensuing activities), member of parliament and he writes for the magazines De Saambinder (the church organ of the Ger. Municipalities) and De Banier (the party magazine of the SGP). . He also teaches at the Theological College of Ger. Municipalities.


The number of SGP voters has increased over the years. And in 1925 the SGP won a second seat. Now Rev. P. Zandt will also enter the House. In 1929 there is a third seat, which is occupied by CN van Dis.

The legation to the Pope

Rev. Kersten is opposed to Roman Catholic doctrine. He is seen as a papist, while the Roman Catholic State Party (RKSP) is the largest in both Houses. In 1925 Kersten makes an attempt to abolish the Dutch legation to the Pope (again). In the middle of the night, when the House is almost empty, he submits an amendment to this effect. For various reasons, various parties voted in favor of the amendment and the cabinet (H. Colijn I) fell on Christmas night.

Against coercion

According to Kersten, government intervention should be limited as much as possible. He is against forms of state coercion such as compulsory voting, compulsory education, compulsory insurance and compulsory vaccination. The caring task lies with the churches and the loved ones of the needy, the government has a protective task.


Rev. Kersten sees the invasion of the Germans in the Netherlands on May 10, 1940 as a punishment from God for the sins of people. Then I was deigned to bow under God’s judgment, and to worship His majesty in His judgments. He calls for submission to German authority. He disapproves of resistance to the government. Only a small minority in the Netherlands can endorse this. Some members and ministers in his own church also oppose Kersten’s attitude. However, he also refuses to obey the German government when it takes actions that are against God’s will. For example, he refuses to submit a collection plan to the German government. He also refuses to cooperate with the Winter Aid, because it is a street collection organized by the Germans. Collecting is a Biblical task, he writes in De Banier , ‘and that task belongs within the church. The attitude of the occupier against the Jews does bring about a change in Kersten. He believes that the anti-Jewish measures are against God’s Word and therefore people should resist them.

Rev. Kersten also relinquishes his position as editor-in-chief of De Banier . On the one hand he has to, on the other hand the fact that he does not want to become a member of a pro-German association for journalists plays a role. The Saambinder is banned from appearing.

After the liberation

Soon after the liberation in May 1945, someone from the National Security Office arrived at the parsonage. He has an arrest warrant for Rev. Kersten; it is said to have adopted a German-friendly attitude during the occupation. After an in-depth conversation, the pastor can stay in the parsonage for the time being.

No longer in the Chamber

However, the Purification Committee of the States General has come to the conclusion that Rev. Kersten can no longer return to Parliament. That hits like a bomb. The preacher believes that injustice has been done to him. He explains this later in a brochure, but by then the damage has already been done. However, his own party will not let him down. At a meeting of the SGP in March 1946, Kersten was re-elected as number 1 on the list. But he declined for health reasons. You will then be appointed honorary chairman.

The end

The last years of his life had a serious impact on Rev. Kersten. Not only does this concern the purge from parliament, but also the disagreement within his church about theological views such as common grace affects him deeply. It seems to him as if his life’s work is breaking him down by the hand. He is suffering from heart cramps. On September 6, 1948 he was still working on a commentary on the Catechism Sundays. Then that work is cut short by a heart attack. Rev. Kersten dies. The writer of his biography, B. Bolier, describes this aptly: On the day that Queen Juliana is crowned, Gerrit Hendrik Kersten receives the crown of honor that has been prepared for him from eternity.

He is buried at Crooswijk cemetery

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