The Translation of “Voice of Our Fathers” (Homer Hoeksema) into the Russian Language
By: Andrew Magni
Russian translation of the Third Part of the Voice of Our Fathers [VOF], Homer
Hoeksema, 1980, RFPA, arose out of the perceived need of the Evangelical Reformed Church
Union of Russia [ERCUR] for an exposition of the Canons of Dort. The ERCUR is
devoted to exposing and refuting Arminian soteriology as another gospel, and Baptistic
[even Reformed] ecclesiology as a perversion of the nature of the covenant and so of God's
work with His church. A friend of the PRCA, after years of vainly seeking believers of the
true gospel in the region of the [now former] USSR, in the mid nineties received contact
information for Vladimir Lotsmanov (elder of the Moscow ERCUR), and in January of 2000
spent one month in Tver, and Moscow, Russia fellowshipping with, and engaged in
negotiations with the leadership of the ERCUR, which culminated in the agreement to have
their translation/publishing ministry, Reformation Society [the director of which is
Vladimir Lotsmanov] to translate/publish in Russian and in Russia, for the ERCUR,
Hoeksema's Voice of Our Fathers, in installments. Subsequently, another project
had been agreed to and completed: the translation out of Latin of ‘Godescalc
of Orbais', the ninth century double predestinarian, essays on predestination.
The present translation of the commentary on the Second Head of the Canons, plus a brief excerpt from For Thy Truth's Sake Herman Hanko, RFPA, 2000, an essay entitled (36) Arguments Against Universal Redemption, by Pastor John Brown of Wamfrey, Scotland, published in 1695 and written while in exile in Rotterdam, excerpts from four essays from which Pastor Brown quotes in his essay, and scripture, name, and subject indices for Hoeksema's Third Part, and Brown's essay. This massive undertaking took at least two years, and is still awaiting printing in Moscow. The translation of the Fourth Part is scheduled, as God permits, to commence in September 2005. The translation of the Second Part was completed several years ago and has been distributed with much gratification since. Printings, so far, have been of one thousand copies and they are not sold, but are distributed gratis.
The ERCUR consists, formally, as an ecclesiastical union of four congregations who maintain the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort as their symbolic basis. They are registered with the government and thus are given particular liberties with respect to publishing, holding seminars, and inviting foreign guests. Recently they held a "Congress" where members of various churches, including foreign representatives, participated.
Below is a recent communication from
Pastor Kashirsky of the Tver congregation and a notice regarding the Congress from an
American observer that affirms the pastor's commitment to a declared, not an offered,
gospel, and reiterates the current works of the ERCUR. The text from
the UK of which the pastor refers is, "Free Grace, Free Will and
the Free Offer," which refutes the concept of a free offer of the gospel, by
J.H.Gosden, The Huntingtonian Press, 2002.
Dear brother Andrew!
Thank you for the book which has come from UK.
I received it yesterday and read the half of it. I agree with the first part: we do not share the Gospel, we preach it. Hope that will be agree with the rest of the book.
Actually in Russian we say ПРОПО-ВЕД-ОВАТЬ [pronounced PROPO-VED-OVAT - cp. " propogate knowledge "], the root is ВЕД [pronounced VED] that means "to make known" or "to give knowledge". (Rather dubious.) It is close to Indo-European or sanscrit "VEDA".
Russian preachers like to say: to bring the Good News.
May be it will be interesting to you I am
sending you a report of Gary Timmerman - missioner from CRC who was at the Congress.
Please, find it below.
God bless you!
Reformed Churches Union of Russia (ERCUR)
Held its Second All-Russia Reformed Congress November 26-27, 2004
In Tver, 100 km northeast of Moscow, a gathering of fifty Reformed brothers revealed landmark shifts in growth-strategy for the young Reformed denomination across Russia. Delegates came to the once-in-five-years Congress from Vladivostok, Ussuriisk, Omsk, Moscow, Tver, Ufa, Kazan, Tomsk, Tyumen, Odessa, St. Petersburg, Smolensk region and other places, and also guests from Odessa (Ukraine) and Tashkent (Uzbekistan). Reports were given by delegates from each region about the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ across the land in deep and life-changing ways.
The fact that such open-floor reporting took place is evidence that the EVANGELICAL REFORMED CHURCHES UNION OF RUSSIA (ERCUR) as a denomination takes a new route as a ‘confederation of entities' with some local autonomy for each church. The reports demonstrated that these men have not only studied the academic knowledge of Calvinism that the Reformation Society and Calvinism Study Center have has so diligently been propagating across the former Soviet Union during the last 10 years, but they show that real fruit is showing up in the lives of people and communities. Pastors and missionaries, won over to the Reformed worldview and Reformed confessions, have advanced their knowledge of Christ's love and nurture as it can be applied into the practical sphere, in the church communities. It was heard how important it was to see so many Reformed MEN giving leadership in churches and Reformed communities, and that the movement of the Reformation is now at a mature stage to grow and multiply throughout Russia. The resolutions that all the brothers democratically discussed and wrote together are important results of this bond that the brothers experienced together. Leading brothers Eugene Kashirsky and Vadim Skakovsky gave honour and encouragement to all the brothers by creating this openness for discussion and respect to all the brothers; they did a splendid job in guiding the creation of some culminating resolutions that will guide the ongoing efforts toward the Third Congress in 2009.
Some additional highlights of the Congress and my interactions there:
CHURCH ENTERS THE UNION. Birth-of-Christ Evangelical Reformed Church of St. Petersburg,
pastored by Mikhail Poluboyarinov, has been admitted into the ERCUR following examination
and one-year probationary period. Pastor Mikhail challenged the Union to develop a
strategy for youth ministry.
After the Congress, a FIFTH CHURCH (Evangelical-Reformed Church in Ufa, Bashkortostan – Autonomous Republic) handed in an application to enter the Union.
The ERCUR is convinced that the Soviet ideology deliberately marginalized Russian men, and even encouraged their self destruction (so as to eliminate any would-be revolutionaries against the Soviet state). As such, the ERCUR leadership attempts to train their male members to take upon themselves their scriptural roles as leaders of not only the congregations, but also of the family and finally the community generally.
In the library of the Tver congregation is the classic drawing of the Synod of Dordrecht : the ERCUR views itself in a battle against Arminianism, the preachers of whom are false ministers acting as "messengers of light" to bewitch and snare the children of God. They also recognize that the scripture does not encourage Baptistic or Russian Orthodox " world flight," but rather commands a complete godly engagement with all legitimate arenas of God's creation, and, as such, the congregations completely focus on the application of the gospel of grace's doctrine of the absolute sovereignty and rule of God to all aspects of their members lives, and livelihoods.