Protestant Reformed Theological Journal

November 1995

Table of contents:

Editorial Notes

Prof. H. Hanko

Biographical Information

(on: Bassam Madany)

Re-thinking Missions Today

Rev. Bassam Madany

A Review of Luther and Erasmus

Free Will and Salvation
Fook Meng Cheah

The Cambridge Platform: A Reformed Option?

(A Review Article)
Prof. David J. Engelsma

Book Reviews

The Biblical Flood: A Case Study of the Church's Response to Extrabiblical Evidence, Reviewed by David J. Engelsma

Towards a Feminist Christology: Jesus of Nazareth, European Women, and the Christological Crisis, Reviewed by David J. Engelsma

Editorial Notes

Our readers will find this issue of the Journal of particular interest. It includes, for the most part, articles by others than the faculty of the Seminary and deals with subjects which are not usually treated in our paper. We hope that the readers will find the articles worthwhile and instructive.

In the Autumn of 1994 the Seminary was favored with two speeches by Rev. Bassam Madany, minister to the Arabs for the Back to God Hour. He spoke to the faculty and student body on the general subject of ministry to Islam. The speeches were not only interesting from the viewpoint of the information concerning this important work, but they contained valuable information on the whole subject of the methodology of foreign mission work in general.

Common in the field of missiology is the whole notion of contextualization. Rev. Madany discusses this approach to missions, subjects it to scathing criticism, and demonstrates from Scripture that such methodology is contrary to the Reformed view of mission work. His speech is, therefore, important for a correct and biblical view of missions.

His first speech appears in this issue of the Journal; his second speech will appear, the Lord willing, in the spring issue. We are grateful to Rev. Madany for giving us permission to publish these speeches and for preparing them in article form for publication.

A brief biography of Rev. Madany appears at the beginning of his article.

The students in the Seminary are required to write many papers to meet the requirements of their courses. It is always a special pleasure when a paper of the students is sufficiently worthwhile to publish in the Journal. We have included such a paper in this issue.

The paper was authored by Fook Meng Cheah, a student from the Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore. Brother Cheah is in his third year of Seminary studies with us and will graduate in the Spring of 1996. After his graduation, he will return to Singapore to take up the ministry of the Word in the Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore.

The paper is a careful and thorough analysis of the great debate between Martin Luther and Erasmus during the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century. The debate was crucially important for the Reformation itself, but it revolved around issues which are still pertinent for the church today. Luther represented a return to the truth of the Word of God; Erasmus represented the Humanism of the Renaissance. While for a time it seemed possible that Erasmus would join forces with the Reformation, Luther and Erasmus parted ways at last. The issue over which they parted was the issue of the free will of man vs. the sovereignty of God in salvation.

Brother Cheah gives us a careful analysis of the issues and discusses their importance by analyzing Erasmus' book, The Freedom of the Will, and Luther's response in his famous book, The Bondage of the Will.

Our readers will readily see, in reading this essay, why these issues, so fiercely fought out at the time of the Reformation, are still important for the church today.

In the ongoing debate over the nature of Reformed Church Government, the issue of Independentism (sometimes called Congregationalism) has become a burning issue. The recent republication of The Cambridge Platform has brought the issue into sharp focus. Prof. David Engelsma subjects this important historical document to careful scrutiny in the light of Reformed church polity. We suggest that all our readers give careful attention to this review of Prof. Engelsma, for the principles of a Reformed system of church polity are clearly defined and it will help those who want to be Reformed in their conception of church government to understand its biblical character and genius. For those who are tempted to follow Independentism, the article will show why this form of church government is not an option for a Reformed man. Perhaps you will want to copy this review and circulate it as widely as possible. You have the permission of the Journal staff to make such copies if you should so choose.

Be sure to read as well the review of the latest book by Davis Young, for the issues brought up in this book are vital for the confession and life of the church.

We hope you will enjoy what can only be called a special issue of our paper. s

Biographical Information

Bassam Michael Madany was the Arabic Broadcast minister of the Back to God Hour, the radio ministry of the Christian Reformed Church, from mid-1958 to mid-1994. His broadcasts are still being aired daily to the Arabic-speaking world (North Africa and the Middle East), over several international radio stations.

Rev. Madany was born in Seleucia, in the province of Antioch, Syria. He received his pre-seminary education in British and French schools in the Middle East prior to and during World War II. In 1950 he came to the United States and studied at the Reformed Presbyterian Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA, graduating in May 1953. As a theological student, he served a church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where he met Shirley Winnifred Dann (secretary to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press). After his ordination, they were married in the summer of 1953 and left for the mission field where they labored together in Latakia, NW Syria. The rise of nationalism and the restrictions placed on missionary activities, forced the Madanys to return to Canada in 1955. In 1957 they joined the Christian Reformed Church and moved to Grand Rapids, MI, where Rev. Madany took further studies at Calvin Seminary. He holds a Bachelor of Divinity degree from that institution.

In June 1958, Rev. Madany was appointed as Arabic Broadcast Minister. He pioneered Arabic radio missions and developed a Bible-based ministry which emphasizes the centrality of the Word of God in missions to Muslims. He has authored several books in Arabic for his follow-up ministry. They can be found in the homes of listeners all over the world. Mrs. Madany was involved in several aspects of his ministry and directed the follow-up department of Saatu'l Islah, the Arabic name of this radio mission.

For several years, Rev. Madany taught a course on Islamics during the spring session of Reformed Bible College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His book, The Bible and Islam, is a fruit of these courses and is being widely used as a guide for missions to Muslims. It is now in its third printing and available at Christian bookstores. A special edition for East Africa and another one for South Africa have been published. This book has also been translated into other languages. He has contributed numerous articles and book reviews to Christian periodicals dealing with the Christian perspective on Islam.

Besides his interest in biblical and theological topics, he has specialized in Middle Eastern studies and teaches a course on Middle East history at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, a suburb of Chicago, IL. He is widely traveled both in the Middle East, Europe, and North America and has lectured on the Christian mission to Islam, the challenge which radical Islam poses to the Western world, and the chronic problems which beset the lives of Arabic-speaking people in the Middle East and in North Africa.