In the 18th century harmful philosophical influences began to increasingly threaten the confessing character of the church. Especially the Enlightment proved to be a great danger to spiritual life. In spite of the decline of the church, manu church members continued to long for true biblical spirituality. In the 19th century the Church Order was replaced bij a set of rules, imposed upon the church by the secular government. At the same time, the reformed confessions were no longer considered to have a binding character. From this time on, the Dutch reformed churches were referred to as 'Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk' (NHK).
When protests were raised against these developments in the church, a Secession followed, beginning in 1834 at Ulrum in the province of Groningen, where Hendrik de Cock was pastor. From this Secessionmovement the CGKN springs. Another movement in the church of the 19th century was the so-called Doleantie of 1886, which took place under the leadership of dr. Abraham Kuyper. His aim was to restore the 'Nederlndse Hervormde Kerk' from within; but his action resulted in a second secession.
At first the CGKN sympathized with the Doleantie. However, certain objections prevailed. These objections concerned the way the Doleantie viewed the 'Nederlandse Hervomde Kerk', and especially the teachings of the infuentail dr. Kuyper regarding the doctrines of baptism and regeneration. Yet, in 1892 a great majority of churches joined in the unification process by which the churches were called the 'Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland' (GKN). A small segment of the CGKN found it impossible to join with this merger of churches; they held that their objections had not been solved satisfactorily. Therefore, they remained as the continuing CGKN.
They were not motivated by sectarianism but they simply desired to remain faithful to the Scriptures and the Confession of the church. They valued very strongly the heritage of both the Reformation and the Second Reformation, which emphasized the personal experience of faith and the work of the Holy Spirit. During the first years after 1892 the CGKN paid much attention to questions regarding the differences with the CGKN. The CGKN was convinced that the doctrine of presumptive regeneration is unbiblical. During these years there was the necessity to rebuild and renew ecclesiastical life.