September 15, 1996 ; Vol. 72, No. 21
Meditation - Rev. Meindert Joostens
Editorials - Prof. David J. Engelsma
A Defense of (Reformed) Amillennialism
Feature Article - Herman Hoeksema
When Thou Sittest in Thine House - Mrs. MaryBeth Lubbers
The Reformed Family: Teachers
Search the Scriptures - Rev. Mitchell C. Dick
By the time this issue reaches our readers, the season of the study of Scripture in the societies and various classes will also be upon us. In an open letter, the Rev. Mitchell Dick, writing in the spirit of Martin Luther, challenges us to diligent study of Scripture. As the open letter indicates, Rev. Dick will be writing outlines on the book of John, to help us in the study of the Word of God, particularly in the classes for Bible study in the congregations.
The training in the school must be adapted to teach the child that the way in which it must go in every sphere of life is the fear of the Lord. That is the purpose of the Christian school. All the rest must be banished. There is no excuse for anything else.
MaryBeth Lubbers' article, "The Reformed Family: Teachers," remembers an outstanding teacher in the Protestant Reformed Christian schools. She had the gift "to challenge students to dig deeper, think more broadly, and reach higher" - "the mark of a classic teacher." The article breathes gratitude, excites to emulation, and suggests that the diligent exercise of great gifts in the kingdom of Christ is never wasted - not even in little country schools, perhaps especially in little country schools.
By the time this issue reaches our readers, the present 72nd -volume-year of the Standard Bearer will have ended. This issue, therefore, contains the complete index to volume 72. For this thorough, helpful index of texts, book reviews, titles, and subjects, we are indebted to the characteristically meticulous work of Judi Doezema.
A timely issue, one could say.
Rev. Meinard Joostens; Rev. Joostens is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church in Lynden, Washington.
"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Proverbs 27:6
Although all Scripture is God-breathed and "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," we always look for particular little nuggets of practical wisdom that find immediate application to our lives, passages with which we can readily identify in our daily living. We find an abundance of such Scripture in the poetical books of the Bible, and the book of Proverbs stands out in our minds. I want to explore with you a moment such a practical nugget, one which exposes our vanity and will guide us in evaluating the praise and criticism of others.
In all honesty, we must confess that we often fall prey to the flattery that is heaped upon us and we are unjustly angered by faithful rebuke and warning! Unwarranted praise tickles our fancies and seems good to our flesh, while we tend to bristle at well-meant correction, admonition, or rebuke. God, through the Preacher, has some wise counsel for us in this regard when he writes, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Prov. 27:6).
We find wounds and kisses standing over against each other in typical Hebrew parallelism. They appear in stark contrast, the one to the other. They are as different as day and night, black and white. A wound is the painful aftermath of violence or accident. It is a laceration that cleaves the flesh and lays bare the nerve ends which signal great pain. Who is not familiar with such intense pain? A kiss on the other hand is a symbol of friendship, love, and intimacy! We plant them upon the cheek or lips of those for whom we feel deepest affinity and love. Among the ancients it was a customary greeting among friends. Today it signifies the intimacy of a relationship of love. A tender kiss stands at one end of the spectrum of feeling, and a painful wound at the other.
But you notice that, strangely enough, the wounds are here ascribed to a friend, while the kisses are planted by the enemy! It is evident that the Preacher is not speaking in literal terms but in symbolic. Faithful "wounds" are faithful words! "Kisses" are deceitful lies!
Faithful wounds are spoken words of truth which are uttered out of deepest care and loving concern. We can place stock in such words. They are words in which we can have confidence, because they are motivated by a sincere love and are intended to serve the purpose of correction and warning.
But the kisses of which the Preacher speaks are nothing more than flattering lies motivated by hatred and by a desire for our ruin. They are like the kiss Judas placed upon the Lord's cheek in the garden of Gethsemane. And they betray, even as that disciple betrayed our Lord for thirty pieces of silver.
True friends withhold their lips from betraying flattery. True friends refuse to employ such a loving sign to betray. They withhold their lips from false flattery and speak the truth in love. But the enemy will use even the beautiful symbol of a kiss to deal falsely. His words are full of deceit and lying.
You will find such deceitful words in the world. They proceed from the mouths of Satan's children. They perform the lust of him who is a liar from the beginning and the father of it (John 8:44). But words of truth, though they inflict deep wounds, may be found in the realm of the church and among the people of God where His love pertains.
It stands to reason, does it not? True friendship is found exclusively among the children of God in the covenant and church. For such friendship is of God! He called the patriarch Abraham His friend, as we read in James 2:23. God is the sovereign Friend of His people as He has justified them in the blood of His Son, even as He did Abraham. And it was our Lord Himself who called us His friends when He was about to lay down His life for us (John 15:13).
That friendship is revealed unto us by God in the gospel as we find it in His Word. And we understand, do we not, that the faithful Word of God which calls us powerfully into His friendship and makes us mutual friends in the body of Christ inflicts a painful wound. For the gospel does not come with flattering words which appeal to the flesh, but with painful words, words of truth that inflict deep wounds and devastate our pride, words which, taken together, form the first of the "tulip" doctrines of Calvinism, namely, the total depravity of man.
Who cares to hear it? By nature none of us does. It makes our flesh bristle in hatred to hear God's faithful Word speak the devastating truth about us. For it humbles all our pride and makes us fall upon our knees and beat our breast, saying, "God be merciful to me the sinner." That faithful Word of God humbles us so deeply and makes us feel so ashamed when we learn from it that the only way of salvation is found in that accursed tree. Yet, it is precisely such faithful wounds inflicted by the Holy Spirit that bring about our spiritual good to His glory!
The Word of God inflicting such faithful wounds is found among God's covenant people, who as His friends gather round His Word from Lord's Day to Lord's Day. And that Word of God becomes the fountainhead of all their speech and activity! It is the church of God which makes the Word of Truth her faithful and inerrant guide. First of all, therefore, we find a friend in our pastor, who as the oracle of God leads us in the green pastures of that Word.
Through preaching he inflicts deep wounds, and we feel as if our toes have been stepped on. Pastors are the "power of God" unto salvation! (I Cor. 1:18). Such faithful wounds are also inflicted by the words that are found upon the lips of faithful and conscientious elders of the congregation, who discipline us by means of the Word of God as a "remedy" for our spiritual health. It would be deceitful, and they would make themselves our enemies, if they planted flattering kisses upon us as we walk in the way of sin to our destruction.
It is the love of God which encourages us, as saints, in mutual admonition, which refuses to allow a brother and sister in the Lord to walk in the way of sin. Children and young people ought to understand that they have friends in their parents, who stood before the face of God in the midst of the congregation and vowed concerning them that they would nurture them in Jehovah's fear by speaking words of Christian chastening and rebuke. For the words of godly parents, teachers, elders, preachers, and fellow saints of God create "faithful wounds" which are inflicted in the spirit of love and devotion for God's sake.
But if we desire that smooth kisses of deception which spell our ruin be lavished upon us, then we must set our ear toward the world, where the enemy will gladly embrace us with his godlessness. The wisdom of the world, which is foolishness in their science, philosophy, psychology, etc., will pleasantly deceive us. They will, with enticing words as lush kisses placed upon our cheeks, betray us. The world, as the enemy of God and His church, is as so many Judases who seek to plant betraying kisses upon Christ's brothers and sisters in trying to persuade them of the truthfulness of the lie!
Let us be warned! The kisses of the enemy are sweeter than honey, but their end is bitter as gall. The lie inevitably leads to ravaging and destruction. We can count on the fact that the father of the lie is bent on our devastation, for his time is short. He will spare no effort. As the Prince of the power of the air, he enlists the whole of the sinful world against us, and through them he whispers his sweet lies. We can hear it in the entertainment of the world. We can mark it in her culture. We perceive it in reading her philosophy. We are continually exposed to it in the advertising of the world: sweet nothings, pretty pictures, and attractive ways as so many smooth kisses motivated by deceit and geared to our destruction. He who is the Liar from the beginning uses the facade of reprobate men, concerning whom Paul warns that "... their throat is an open sepulcher ... the poison of asps is under their lips: ... Destruction and misery are in their ways" (Rom. 3:13-16).
It is so easy to fall prey to the flattery of those who masquerade as friends but are, in fact, our enemies. It is so difficult to hear good words of true friends who inflict faithful wounds for our spiritual welfare. We do well to turn away from the deceitful kisses of the enemy and hearken to faithful words of our true friends in the Lord!
Prof. David Engelsma
Postmillennialism - the teaching about the last things that posits the earthly victory of the church and a coming "golden age in history - rests its case, finally, on Old Testament prophecy.
Emphatically not on New Testament doctrine about the days leading up to the coming of Christ.
Old Testament prophecy forecasts glorious prospects for Judah and Jerusalem.
One such passage is Isaiah 65:17-25. Jehovah creates new heavens and a new earth (v.17). In this new world, Jerusalem will be a rejoicing and the citizens of Jerusalem, a joy (v.18). None will die young, and old sinners will be accursed (v. 20). The people of Jerusalem will live productive, profitable, peaceful lives, free from disappointment, opposition, and trouble. They will build houses and live in them; they will plant vineyards and eat of them; theirs will be lives without weeping (vv. 19-23). Such will be the bliss of this new world that even the animals will be at peace: "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together" (v.25).
According to postmillennialist, Christian Reconstructionist Gary North, this proves that, when the church aggressively works at dominating nations and culture, there will be a long period of earthly victory, earthly prosperity, and earthly peace for the saints before the second coming of Christ. This will be the Messianic kingdom of Jesus in its full, final glory.
The passage in Isaiah 65 prophesies of a coming era on earth and before the final judgment (since sinners will still be active) in which there will be great external blessings, including very long life spans ("Foreword," in Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion, Institute for Christian Economics, 1992, p. xxvii; see the longer explanation of the passage by North quoted in the August, 1996 issue of the Standard Bearer, pp. 439, 440).
To the postmillennialist, the Isaiah 65 passage is not only one of many Old Testament prophecies that predict a glorious future of earthly power and peace for the church in history, but it is also the passage that clinches the postmillennial position against amillennialism. It is "the one passage more than any other passage in the Bible, that categorically refutes amillennialism" (North, He Shall Have Dominion, p. xxviii - the emphasis is North's).
The postmillennial interpretation of the passage is erroneous. The error is obvious and grievous. It is the error of interpreting Old Testament prophecy in a literal way, so that the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy is earthly, rather than spiritual.
North freely acknowledges that his interpretation of the passage is literal. Indeed, he boasts of this as though it were a virtue, railing against the spiritual interpretation of amillennialism as a fault.
A postmillennialist can interpret this passage literally: a coming era of extensive millennial blessings before Jesus returns in final judgment. So can a premillennialist.... But the amillennialist cannot admit the possibility of such an era of literal, culture-wide blessings in history. His eschatology denies any literal, culture-wide triumph of Christianity in history. Therefore, he has to "spiritualize" or allegorize this passage (He Shall Have Dominion, p. xxviii).
Equating the spiritual interpretation of Old Testament prophecy with allegorizing is either ignorance or malice. Both are inexcusable in one who claims to be a Reformed defender of the faith.
But our interest is drawn to this postmillennialist's startling admission of a literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecy.
Does he not know that in this insistence upon a literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecy the postmillennial Christian Reconstructionists break with the entire Reformed tradition? Commenting on the very passage under discussion, Isaiah 65:17ff., John Calvin wrote:
Now the Prophets hold out those things which relate to the present life, and borrow metaphors from them; but it is in order that they may teach us to rise higher and to embrace eternal and blessed life. We must not fix our whole attention on these transitory blessings, but must make use of them as ladders, that, being raised to heaven, we may enjoy eternal and immortal blessings (Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, vol. 4, Eerdmans, 1956, p. 401).
Expressing, not a Dutch Reformed idiosyncrasy but the Protestant consensus, the great Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck wrote:
And this kingdom (of Messiah -DJE) is sketched by the prophets in hues and colors, under figures and forms, which have all been derived from the historical circumstances in which they lived.... But into those sensuous earthly forms prophecy puts everlasting content.... Prophecy pictures for us but one single image of the future. And this image is either to be taken literally as it presents itself but then one breaks with Christianity and lapses back into Judaism or this image calls for a very different interpretation than that attempted by chiliasm (millennialism DJE).
This "very different," and correct, interpretation of Old Testament prophecy is, Bavinck continued, "symbolic" and "spiritual" (The Last Things, Baker, 1996, pp.90-98).
Does Gary North not know that this issue of the literal or spiritual interpretation of Old Testament prophecy is the basic issue between dispensational premillennialism (the "rapture theory"), which is the enemy of the Reformed faith, and Reformed covenantal theology?
Does not this postmillennial Christian Reconstructionist see that the Spirit of Christ speaking in New Testament Scripture gives a symbolic, spiritual interpretation of Old Testament prophecy? The raising up of the tabernacle of David is not fulfilled in the restoration of the earthly dominion wielded by David's royal line, but in the spiritual salvation of the Gentiles (cp. Amos 9:11 with Acts 15:16-19).
God's calling them "my people" which were not His people does not refer to earthly Israel, as the literalist must hold, but to the spiritual church of Jew and Gentile (cp. Hosea 1, 2 with Rom. 9:24-26).
Ezekiel's new temple is not a physical building that will yet be erected on a mound of dirt in the earthly city of Jerusalem, but the spiritual body of Jesus Christ (cp. Ezek. 40-48 with John 2:18-22 and I Pet. 2:1-10).
The irenic Bavinck was not too severe when he said that to interpret the prophecy of the Old Testament literally means that one "breaks with Christianity and lapses back into Judaism."
Christian Reconstructionism with its avowed literalist interpretation of Old Testament prophecy, its binding of all the civil laws that regulated national Israel upon New Testament Christians (if not today, then in the coming millennium), and its willingness to impose such ceremonies as the dietary laws of the Jews and the garb of the Jewish priests upon the church of the new dispensation has already succumbed to this mortal peril.
But postmillennialism generally flirts with this horrendous heresy by its identification of the Messianic kingdom with an earthly kingdom of physical dominion, material prosperity, and worldly peace. This was, and is, the hope of the Jews (see John 6). The cause is a literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecy.
Whatever Isaiah 65:17ff. may mean, it is not a prophecy of the improvement of the present form of creation; of material houses, fields, and work; of physical life extended to hundreds of years; and of the avoidance of mundane troubles.
The fulfillment of Isaiah 65:17ff. is not earthly.
The prophecy may not be interpreted literally. The New Testament teaching that all prophecy is fulfilled spiritually in Jesus Christ, His gospel, and His church forbids it.
It cannot be interpreted literally. Gary North cannot interpret the prophecy literally. To interpret the prophecy literally would mean that literal, earthly, Old Testament Jerusalem and its people, the Jews, will be the main delight of Jehovah God in the coming Messianic kingdom (v.18).
Interpreted literally, the passage teaches that nowhere will anyone cry during the "golden age": not the mother in childbirth, not the child who gets a spanking, not a penitent sinner over his sins, not a mourner at the deathbed of a loved one. For "the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying" (v. 19).
Also, a literal interpretation demands that prior to the second coming of Christ, before the radical renewal of all things, the fierce wolf will be friendly with the domestic lamb and that the carnivorous lion will eat straw (v. 25). Now the Christian Reconstructionists are jolly optimists, as they never tire of telling us. But does even the most optimistic of them really expect this radical change in the animal world before the coming of Christ? Will frogs no longer eat bugs? Will spiders no longer catch flies? Since lambs will be safe from wolves, and bullocks from lions, will lambs and bullocks also be safe from the saints? Must we all become vegetarians in the millennium? But this is demanded by a literal interpretation.
North, Gentry, and their Cohorts cannot even explain the glorious opening words of this important prophecy literally: "I create new heavens and a new earth" (v. 17). A literal interpretation does not vaguely and lamely speak of a "fundamental transformation of the way our world presently works," as North does in the quotation given in the August, 1996 issue of the SB.
Isaiah did not prophesy a "fundamental transformation of the way our world presently works." He prophesied a new world. Such will be its newness, said the prophet, that it will be radically different from the present world. It will be a new world in distinction from "the former" world.
Nor will this new world come about by gradual "transformation," much less transformation "in response to the ethical transformation of the great portion of mankind," as North explains. In plain language, the new world of Isaiah 65 will not come into being by the efforts of the church to dominate culture and as the effect in history of men's obedience to the law.
But Jehovah God will "create" the coming new world. The word in Hebrew is bara, the word that describes the exclusively divine action of calling into existence the things that are not as though they were. By a wonder of divine power, wisdom, and goodness, comparable to and outstripping the wonder of the original creation of the heavens and the earth, a new world will replace the old one. This wonder will be an act of sheer grace, not something that the saints have deserved by keeping the law.
North's interpretation does not do justice to the plain sense of the main thought of this important prophecy, much less explain it literally.
Isaiah 65:17ff. is not about the present world, Jerusalem, Jews, long and trouble-free earthly lives, nice houses, good farms, plenty of money, ease, happy times, and tame wolves.
It is about Jesus Christ, His church, salvation, eternal life, and a new, different world.
It is about a spiritual Christ, a spiritual people, spiritual salvation, spiritual blessings, spiritual life, and a spiritual world.
If the prophecy is not about this, the Jews can have it.
A Christian is not interested.
A powerful voice in defense of particular, sovereign grace in the preaching of the gospel!
A voice that devastates the latest effort to corrupt the doctrines of grace in Calvinistic circles: the well-meant offer of the gospel!
It is the voice of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia (EPC).
The voice is sounded through two recent publications. One is a 20-page pamphlet entitled, "Common Grace: A Paper by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia on the Westminster Standards' Position in Relation to Common Grace." This paper was issued by the presbytery of the EPC in July, 1995.
The other publication is a little book of 73 pages, The Biblical Offer of the Gospel. The author of the book is the Rev. C.J. Connors. The book was published in May of this year.
Connors' book is occasioned by the book of Australian Presbyterian minister, K.W. Stebbins, Christ Freely Offered. In this 1978 publication, Stebbins defended the well-meant offer of grace, explicitly attacking the doctrine of the preaching of the gospel maintained and practiced by the Protestant Reformed Churches. Oddly, no one in the PRC responded to Stebbins' book, even though it was written against their view.
There is no longer any need for a response from the Protestant Reformed. Connors' "analysis and answer to Rev. K.W. Stebbins' Christ Freely Offered in Light of Scripture and the Confessions" is decisive.
Connors lays bare both the inherently weak and the unreformed character of Stebbins' doctrine. With a Reformed scholar's honesty, the EPC theologian considers every important argument of his opponent. With a Reformed preacher's procedure, he tests Stebbins' brand of the well-meant offer by Scripture and the creeds.
Stebbins' notion of God's loving pursuit of every sinner is found wanting: It is ungrounded, unreformed, and insincere.
Connors also clearly and convincingly sets forth the "biblical offer," or as we are accustomed to say, "the external call of the gospel." He demonstrates the falsity of the charge that denial of the well-meant offer destroys urgent preaching to all.
The little book demands a response from the Rev. Stebbins.
The wider Reformed and Presbyterian community in Australia will have to listen to this voice.
So will Calvinists in other lands.
Advocates and defenders of the well-meant offer abound. They will not successfully ignore Connors' work - not if it falls into the hands of the people.
The book can be obtained from:
Magazine and Literature Committee of the
Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia
9 Talune Street
Youngtown, TAS 7249 Australia.
Price is not indicated.
I assume that the pamphlet on "Common Grace" can also be ordered from this address.
It would be helpful if some organization in the United States, perhaps the Reformed Book Outlet in Hudsonville, MI, would obtain a supply of the books for the convenience of readers of the SB in North America.
They will like to hear this voice.
They will also benefit from it.
I am writing to compliment your excellent series on amillennialism. As a seminary student who has read and studied extensively on this subject, I find that your view confirms what I concluded through my studies independently. It is a real blessing to me to have a group as learned and highly respected for biblical integrity as the PRC theologians arrive at the same conclusion that I have. It shows me that I am not alone in my beliefs.
Being raised in a pre-millennial church prior to converting to the Reformed (Presbyterian) faith, I was always unsettled by the view that attributes everything in Matthew 24 to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. To think that we in our age are always going to experience smooth sailing, while the Bible clearly warns us to expect persecution, is pure fantasy.
I hope that someday you will print a commentary on Matthew 24 that all Reformed churches will have available to them. Perhaps you could put all the past writings of PR men on this chapter together into one book. Having come in contact with the Standard Bearer only a year ago, I am sure I missed a lot that you wrote on the subject.
Jerry Grigsby Cincinnati, OH
The ongoing endeavor by Rev. Woudenberg to revisit the disruption of 1953 in a series of articles in the Standard Bearer is to be commended. Indeed, for myself I have found it to be extremely edifying. However, as I have read these articles I can't help but think that maybe we are missing the forest for the trees in the exchange between Rev. Woudenberg and Messrs. DeJong and Tuininga. It seems to this reader that the ongoing debate centers in the content and intention of a private letter of Prof. Holwerda and the not-too-subtle suggestion by Messrs. Dejong and Tuininga that Revs. Hoeksema and Ophoff were somehow guilty of ecclesiastical chicanery in the action of the PRC Synod of 1951 in the adoption of the Declaration of Principles. But really all this is quite a secondary matter.
It seems that the fundamental issue here is a defective view of the nature of the unity of the visible church on the part of our liberated brethren. It seems that in the mind of the liberated there ought to be "sufficient room for various views on the covenant." Indeed Dr. DeJong boasts that "In fact 'Liberated' means that binding to one particular view on the covenant was explicitly rejected." And that is the crux of this whole issue. In I Corinthians 1:10 the apostle Paul commands the church that "ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (ASV). The noted New Testament commentator R.C.H. Lenski comments here, "Paul desires that the same mind and the same judgment be found in all of the Corinthians and not divergent or contradictory conclusions. Yet mere harmony and agreement is not Paul's ideal but a unity of right understanding and of judgment. This is the thought that underlies his words."
Now, as Prof. Engelsma has rightly observed elsewhere, "the truth of the covenant lies at the center of all the teachings of Scripture, error in the doctrine of the covenant will certainly affect other biblical teachings as well, specifically the doctrine of sovereign grace." This being the case, I would submit it would have been sinful if the Synod of 1951 would not have adopted the Declaration of Principles. For, fact is, there is wide and fundamental difference between the covenant conception of Rev. Hoeksema and those of the liberated churches. So serious a matter is this that Rev. Hoeksema declared in print that the view of the liberated churches was really an Arminianizing of the covenant. Now my question to Messrs. DeJong and Tuininga is, how can a church be faithful to the apostolic injunction of I Corinthians 1:10 to be of the same mind and the same judgment, to not have divergent and contradictory conclusions, and at the same time have in the preaching and teaching ministry of the church radically different views of the covenant ("the center of all the teachings of Scripture") being propagated? Thus it was necessary, and in fact demanded by Scripture, that Synod of 1951 take the action that it took to insure that in the PRC one view and one view only of the covenant would be taught to the churches. Rev. Hoeksema and Rev. Ophoff, far from being guilty of "overreaction" and a "highly charged reactionary attempt to shore up Hoeksema's view of the covenant," in fact exhibited the greatest piety and concern for Christ's little lambs by seeing clearly (even prophetically) the great harm that would come if the churches were so broadened as to include a multitude of various conceptions of the covenant. For this they should have our eternal gratitude.
Dr. DeJong argues that, "Had the brothers been more cautious and less stringent in their approach, they would not have lost so many people to the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and the Canadian Reformed Churches." But again, such a view flies in the face of the Bible's teaching: "Shall two walk together, except they have agreed?" (Amos 3:3, ASV). Fact is, "the brothers" did see this scriptural principle and knew only too well that a failure to have harmony in the doctrine of the covenant would not have resulted in larger churches but total, all-out disintegration of the churches eventually. As Lenski notes in his comments on I Corinthians 1:10, doctrinal differences, "If they are allowed to continue, the result must eventually be ... factions and rents in the congregation, which are not only disturbing but also destructive in their effect." I ask Dr. DeJong what good are churches with many members if those churches are filled with factions and rents due to doctrinal disharmony? Surely the present experience of the CRC answers this question all too well. The "liberated churches," far from boasting "that binding to one particular view of the covenant" is rejected, ought to repent and give themselves that same clear, crisp, doctrinal direction that Rev. Hoeksema and Rev. Ophoff gave the denomination so many years ago.
I would also like to add a personal note. Over ten years ago when our Lord, by His grace, was pleased to call my family and me out of the error of the "Reformed Baptist" persuasion, we had a difficult time. It was difficult precisely because in our Presbyterian circles no view of the covenant was binding. Yes, those Presbyterian churches have many more people on the rolls than our churches probably will ever have. But our inability to become fully persuaded on the issue of infant baptism and to have clear and certain views of why we practiced it was due precisely to the fact that no clear, uniform sound was coming forth from the Presbyterian pulpits on the matter. In I Corinthians 14:8 the apostle Paul asks, "For if the trumpet gives an uncertain voice, who shall prepare himself for war?" (ASV). It was only through private correspondence with Rev. Engelsma, and reading the writings of Prof. Hanko and Rev. Hoeksema, that we were able to embrace fully infant baptism with clarity and certainty in our minds. Why? Because it was no uncertain voice we were hearing but one voice speaking "in the same mind and in the same judgment." That would not have been the case if Synod had not acted in 1951. Today the PRC would be as confused and aimless on the issue as the Presbyterian churches are today.
This is not to say that the churches handled all things as well as they could have in the period of disruption. Indeed, I think the lesson in this period for us today is to avoid the very great temptation to add significantly and suddenly to rather small numbers by relaxing doctrinal standards. The history of the disruption shows that we must never give in to the temptation to bring large numbers of persons at one sweep into the churches by dropping our ecclesiastical guard as it were. The events of 1951 are far from irrelevant for us; for as the apostasy of the institutional church around us grows we will, I judge, be faced again with the same temptation as 1949-1951. We will, I pray, be diligent to learn from that experience.
Finally, Dr. DeJong speaks of making progress "in Reformed ecumenicity." I may be misreading the brother at this point but Dr. DeJong seems to imply that "Reformed ecumenicity" means, among other things, the institutional organic uniting of various segments of the church. This is simply not correct. One may and should fellowship with brethren from the same Reformed background. We may and should help each other in common endeavors. We must pray for and love one another. But the call to unity in the Bible is founded on a doctrinal unity, and where there is no doctrinal unity on major biblical teachings no organic unity should be contemplated. It is really the error of modern ecumenical teaching to speak of organic unity of the churches even when serious doctrinal issues are unresolved. Fact is, they never get resolved after the "unity" finds expression.
Doctrine simply disappears altogether as a consideration. I consider myself united with my liberated brethren, but in a biblical sense. I praise our God for them and rejoice in their commitment with us to the Three Forms, but at the same time I realize that, from a biblical perspective, so long as we differ on the doctrine of the covenant each of us must maintain our own churches.
So, in conclusion, I do not believe that the issues here are a private letter and a synod. Rather, the real issue here is what constitutes the unity of the churches? Is it doctrine or some other standard? The liberated brothers, for all the dialogue back and forth in the recent issues of the SB, do not seem to want to grapple with this fundamental question.
Mark L. Brooks
Rev. Herman Hoeksema
This article is the conclusion of a public lecture by Herman Hoeksema on Christian education. For the first part of this lecture, confer SB, September 1, 1996, p. 463.
The education must train the child in the way in which he should go. That clause has been variously interpreted. The original reads literally: "according to the demand of his way." Because of this literal reading of the original, there are those who say that the meaning is that you must train the child according to his age and character, according to his ability, according to his capacity. Now that is undoubtedly true. The child must be trained also in that respect according to the demand of his way. Children are not all alike. They are not alike in age. They are not alike in character.
They are not alike in mental capacity. That is why we should not have large classes. The one is wilful and stubborn and must be broken. The other is slow and must be spurred on. Another is quick in developing, but also in temper, and must be checked. All children cannot be educated according to one line and method.
So it is with regard to age. The system of grade to grade instruction is largely due to that development of the child. That is the difficulty in the Sunday School. The difficulty in the Sunday School is that the same material is taught to all. You cannot bring the same material at any age. You would not feed a baby course food. But that is what we attempt to do spiritually. The child must have it mostly in story form. The child develops. The imagination is first. To that the education must be adapted. You must train the child even if it does not understand that which you bring it. The child will commit it to memory even if it does not understand it. You must bring to the child that upon which it will reflect later on. That is God's way. We must not be afraid to bring to the child what it does not understand. That which you bring it, the child will store away. It will come back to him in later years, and he will reflect upon it. You must not treat the child as you would the youth. Neither must you treat the youth as if it were a child.
Yet, important as that may be, it is not the meaning of the text. That is plain from the last part of the text: "even when he is old he shall not depart from it." That is, he will not depart from the way in which you have taught him to go in childhood. So that the meaning is that you must train the child in harmony with the way in which he must walk in the midst of the world.
The way of man refers to his whole life. Scripture often speaks of the life of man as a way. It speaks of that way of man from a twofold point of view. In the first place, it speaks of the way of man as God has determined that way, as God sets that way before him. In the second place, it speaks of the way of man as man walks that
way, from a spiritual-ethical point of view.
In the first sense, the way includes all the sorrow and joy, the adversity and prosperity, that comes upon our way.
In the second sense, the way includes three dements. There is the idea of direction, of progress, and of purpose. Man does not walk at random. He walks according to a certain standard. He walks according to the law of God, or he does not walk according to that law. He walks in the way of righteousness, or in the way of unrighteousness.
As there is the idea of direction, so there is the idea of progress. Man does not stand still. He is constantly developing. He never ceases to develop. He never ceases to change. The way of righteousness, or of unrighteousness, is a way of progress.
So it is with the purpose of man's way. The purpose is God, His honor, His glory, and His kingdom; or the purpose is corruption, self, man's own honor and
glory and position. The destination of the way is life, the perfect man of God, thoroughly furnished unto all good works; or the end is death, outer darkness.
That is man's way.
Now the training of the child must be with a view to the way in which it must go. That is true of all training. The world also trains her children in the way in which she conceives that they should go. So also it is the calling of the people of God to train their children. It is their calling to train their children in such a way that they become exercised, and they must supply the means by which the child may be trained in the way it must go. The way in which it must go is the fear of the Lord.
Now remember, that is applicable to every way of life. We can speak of many ways of life. There is the way of man in his family life. There is the way of man in the church. There is the way of man in the world. There is the way of man in his business. There is the way of man as employee. There is the way of man as employer. But in all these ways man walks according to righteousness or unrighteousnesss.
Therefore, to train the child means that all its training must be adapted to that purpose - not merely in the home and the church, but in the school as well. The training in the school must be adapted to teach the child that the way in which it must go in every sphere of life is the fear of the Lord. That is the purpose of the Christian school. All the rest must be banished. There is no excuse for anything else.
Do not say, that is impossible. Do not say that the Christian school is a school with the Bible.
The Christian school is a school, or should be, where the fear of the Lord permeates all the branches of instruction. It is not a school that is just like the public school in its teaching of history and geography, etc., but that differs in this respect, that it opens with prayer. It is not an institution to save souls. It is not a place where the child learns to sing hymns. If that were all, the church could very well take care of it. If it is merely an addition, it is not worth the cost.
No, but the Christian school is based on the fear of the Lord. It must breathe the fear of the Lord. And in all the talk and actions of the teachers, the fear of the Lord must become manifest. We must remember that.
Then we have this assurance that when he is old he will not depart from it. The text in the original points to a very old man. He goes along with his cane, stooping low. Who would think that that old man would still, by virtue of the training he received in his childhood, walk in the way in which he must go? Who would think that he would still remember that training? You ask him what he did yesterday, and he will say, "I forgot." But ask him about his training, about the precepts in which he was instructed in his early age, and he will tell you, "In spite of all the opposition, in spite of all the powers that have tried to draw me away from that way, I still walk in the way in which I should go, by virtue of the training I received in childhood."
You say, that is not always true? You say, some that are trained in the way they should go never walk in that way? My answer is that Scripture never has a view to all, but is always particular. It does not mean that your training can cause anyone to walk in the right way. You must have a good man, to teach him to walk in the way he should go. You must have a wise man, to produce a wise man. But the purpose of the text is that, if God's people train their children upon whom rests the promise, that training the child will never forget, and when he is old he will never depart from it. He will have the fruit of that training until the day of his death. In the day of Christ you will be able to say, "See, I and the children which thou hast given me.
"...receive instruction, that thou nzayest be wise in thy latter end." Proverbs 19:20
Mrs. MaryBeth Lubbers (Mrs. Lubbers is a wife and mother in the Protestant Reformed Church of South Holland, Illinois.)
There is a certain danger in writing about a person who has died. That danger is heightened when one loved the person now deceased. One tends to immortalize that person, or, at least, to eulogize him. One sees only the good, the strong and likable facets; one is blinded to the character flaws and the negatives of that person.
I write this reminiscence with my blinders on.
I was an eighth grade student, gap-toothed and gawky when I first came under the tutelage of Miss Alice Reitsma in 1955. She had come to Hope PRCS as its administrator and jurnor high teacher in 1950 from our Christian school in Redlands. We were rural kids, and many of the raw-boned ninth grade boys who went up to the front to ask her a question - or just to be noticed by her - towered over her.
That first day in class, I studied her well.
She was single.
She was blond.
She was shapely and trim.
She was a smart dresser who wore ecru-colored silk blouses and pleated wool skirts, and she tied scarves sassily over her sweaters.
She wore fashionable pumps.
She never raised her voice; yet she had the control of a drill sergeant.
And her eyes, the corners crinkled and they sparkled when she laughed - and she laughed a lot.
In short, she was everything our mothers were not.
Miss Reitsma had beautiful handwriting, and when we arrived at school each morning, the blackboard was filled end to end with all our assignments, lengthy outlines, and notes. This was the era before copying machines. We students wrote and copied, and took notes all day long, and my third finger on the right hand still bears an extra little pad of flesh with a callus on it.
We memorized line after line of poetry and scores of Psalter numbers, which we also wrote for penmanship. Every Friday afternoon we sang from the "yellow book" of spirituals and patriotic songs. We had no formal school choir, but our love for singing is shown yet today in the church choirs and professional singers, members who passed through Miss Reitsma's capable hands. We engaged in formal debates, polishing our inherent argumentative skills. Without a doubt, our arguments shed more heat than light; nevertheless, skills of logic and rhetoric were encouraged. The time-lines we made were lengthy and thorough, printed by hand on ordinary typing paper, taped together with yards of Scotch Tape. Every once in a while my husband pulls my copious junior high history outlines out of his file. We both agree that the students in this country school lacked no good thing. We had an exemplary education. Miss Reitsma embraced the pedagogy that the object of teaching a student is to enable that student to get along without a teacher. She was unquestionably influential for the ministers, professors, and teachers who came out of her classes - I count seven out of the 21 students in grades eight and nine.
Try as I can, I scarcely remember one individual lesson that Miss Reitsma taught. I only recall how eagerly I looked forward to school each day; how good she made you feel about yourself; how kind and patient she was, especially to students of lesser abilities; how enthusiastically she taught her courses; how happy she always appeared - even when breast cancer viciously attacked her.
Once every month or so, Miss Reitsma would invite a local PR minister to come and speak to us junior high students. We listened to Rev. Heys, Rev. Harbach, Rev. Blankespoor, Rev. Lubbers, Rev. Lanting, Rev. Hanko, Rev. McCollam, Rev. H. Veldman, Rev. Ophoff. More than once we listened to the venerable Rev. Vos from Hudsonville PR Church. Besides stimulating our love for spiritual things, this helped us become acquainted with our ministers. We peppered them with questions, and drank deeply of the cup of wisdom which they offered. According to my best judgment, Miss Reitsma pioneered the present-day practice in our schools to hold regular chapels for the student body.
Undoubtedly, Miss Reitsma was also the innovator of the all-school program. She fine-tuned this activity to an art form, complete with narrators and hand-painted banners conveying the theme. She taught us songs we were totally unworthy of singing; she gave us speeches to recite more worthy of senators. Nothing but the best for this little country school. And we rose to the occasion. Many parents will recall the program given in Hudsonville Church where all the students came in at once, using all the aisles, singing full throttle:
We're marching to Zion, Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We're marching upward to Zion,
That beautiful city of God.
The School Board could have doubled tuition that night, and the parents would have cheerfully paid it.
Miss Reitsma could teach, she could inspire ... and she was a head-turner. I saw farm boys tuck in their shirts, tie their shoe laces, slick back their hair, and act just a bit more like a gentleman when she was around. I saw grown men trip over their own feet in an effort to be chivalrous. It was amusing, really. I can imagine women felt more than a little threatened by her. And this didn't escape us astute teenagers. We had an eye for that sort of thing. The late Sietze Buning would have called it "Purpaleanie."
I remember our ninth grade class trip to Chicago. One of our excursions included a walk down the now defunct Maxwell Street. Every foreign merchant snapped to when she walked by. Teachers weren't supposed to look this way! I can still hear the Jew with whom she had been haggling call out, "Come back, Blondie! Come back!"
When Miss Reitsma stepped out on our sandburred playground - infrequently, I might add, due to her heavy teaching schedule and that blackboard she felt compelled to fill up for the afternoon session - everyone batted a little more briskly, teeter-tottered a little more rapidly, jump-roped a little more agilely, and pumped the swing a little higher. She motivated kids indoors or outdoors. Such was her talent.
Eminently qualified for teaching, Miss Reitsma was above all inspirational. She motivated us kids to think and respond above and beyond that which we ourselves thought possible. And, isn't this what teaching is all about? Anyone can assign pages, parrot teachers' manuals, and hand out detention slips. But to challenge students to dig deeper, think more broadly, and reach higher is the mark of a classic teacher. To give students roots and wings signals a real teacher. Miss Alice Reitsma was a real teacher.
I have attended school for many years. Almost all my teachers were above average. I remember them with fondness. Many, I even love. But Alice Reitsma was peerless. She came to Hope School "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14b).
It is a credit to the confidence parents had in her that she was able to show the movie "Drums Along the Mohawk" for our history class - a practice not common in our Protestant Reformed schools - with not so much as a raised eyebrow from our parents. I remember how she held her hand over the lens when the husband and wife in the film went to bed. How her eyes danced with mischief as we kids called out our protests!
My sister recalls the long illness which plagued Alice Reitsma. She recalls how Miss Reitsma would leave the classroom in pain, telling the students to sing loudly so they would not be able to hear her cries in the hallway. But in between the songs, the students could hear the agony she was in. She remembers the wail of the ambulance jouncing up the gravel driveway of school to carry her beloved teacher away. Breast cancer had inexorably wasted her body from its onslaught seven years earlier. This was 40 years ago, and very little research had been done on this debilitating disease. I had occasion to remember my dear teacher when I wrestled with my own demons with breast cancer.
I went to visit her at her home. This vibrant, energetic teacher lay weak and wasted, her pallor at one with the white, crisp sheets. Even those wonderful green eyes were robbed of vitality. I'm told that on one occasion a group of us students stood around her bed and sang for her. Mercifully, I remember nothing of this.
Quoting from the Hope Echoes:
September 14, 1952: Miss Dykstra substituted today because Miss Reitsma went to the hospital for an operation.
September 18, 1952: Mrs. Stuursma came today to take Miss Reitsma's place for some time.
December 19, 1952: Miss Reitsma has been teaching afternoons for 2 weeks and will start full time Monday.
November 4, 1953: Had a big treat today. Miss Reitsma bought us caramel apples because we sang so well at our Reformation Day Program.
September 2, 1954: Rev. Harbach teaches us in the afternoon and Miss Reitsma in the morning.
January 17, 1958: Miss Reitsma wasn't at school today, and we received the news that she is in the hospital for surgery. This makes us all feel very sad and serious.
March 17, 1958: We have been having substitute teachers.... We were happy to see Miss Reitsma well enough to visit school today. She wore the white jacket that the Hope pupils gave her, and treated us all to paddle pops.
April 8, 1959: Everybody is serious and it's hard to work. Miss Reitsma fell this morning and had to be taken to the hospital.
In response to the dedication of the Hope Fchoes to her that spring, Miss Reitsma penned:
When on that final day at school, I lay in the hall on our little army cot with the teachers standing helplessly around and the pupils filing mystified to their classrooms (mine without an instructor), the thought struck me squarely that for this year at least my teaching days were over.... Many times the words of the old familiar hymn "He Leadeth Me" come to my mind:
"His faithful follower I would be For by His hand He leadeth me."
I've always tried to teach you that, and now I'm trying to teach it to myself.
September is a month in which good teachers everywhere take delight. The beginning of a new school year with its fresh hopes and aspirations is hard to replicate. Pencils and erasers, notebooks and brand-new color crayons, and "children's faces holding wonder like a cup" - something this good comes only once a year.
In September of 1959, Miss Reitsma realized that she would not be able to teach that year, and quite likely never again. Here is the final paragraph of a letter filled with information about the coming school year, written to her constituency in the Hope Highlights:
The thought of opening day without an assignment for myself on the teaching staff at Hope quite overwhelms me at times. Often during the summer months I have contemplated this day, sometimes with hope, sometimes with fear, sometimes with the prayer - "O Lord, let me teach any grades, any conditions just give me the strength to teach once more. But opening day is here and the Lord has shown me the way. He has also given the necessary grace. I used to consider the words - that God gives grace as needed - a handy phrase which people said to each other when nothing else seemed appropriate. But it really is true. It is an actual experience.
On December 21, 1959, at 5:00 A.M., Miss Reitsma died at the age of 41 years. No bells tolled, no banners waved, no trumpets sounded. At least, none that we could see or hear.
Rev. Mitchell C. Dick
Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church of Standale, Michigan.
Dear Esteemed Sirs:
In this letter I would address a matter which, you have indicated, is of utmost concern to you, and to those of your estate.
It concerns Scripture Study, which, as at the first, you have continued to show is your joy and delight. Indeed, you have shown yourself to be like those Bereans.
They, you recall, were more noble than those in Thessalonica (Acts 17:10ff.).
Indeed, they were of a different sort of nobility. The Bereans were truly noble. They were truly honorable. Their character and virtue were sterling.
How did they get this way? What was their noble line, their heritage, their breeding, the source of their nobility? The answer, we know, is that these noble men, and honorable women, not a few, were born of God. Their noble line could be traced directly to heaven. Their Father was and is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. And, well-born of the Holy Spirit of God, they were also well-bred of Him through His sanctifying power and divine tutelage.
These Bereans could not help but show their nobility. They did not do this by flaunting earthly wealth and attending public events with great pomp and pageantry. No, there was just one thing, an entirely unworldly thing, which evidenced their nobility. And that was this: their attachment to God. This was especially seen in their being captive to God's Word.
Drawn by cords of love into the blessed life and society of the triune God, delighting daily in spiritual communion with their King and Father, God, these Christian nobles simply loved God's Word! They loved to hear Father speak. They loved to hear His covenant secrets, His promises, His truth as it is in Jesus, the gospel of salvation by grace only, by faith only, in Christ only. They would know and submit to the decrees of the Most High Noble of nobles. There was a power in them, even the power of the living God, compelling them to hear, to know, to revere, to delight in, and to trust God's Word.
That is why, when Paul came preaching to Berea, these noble Bereans attached themselves to Paul and hung on every word he spoke. They had been remade by God to do so. They were born to drink the milk of the Word and to eat its meat, born to receive messages from heaven. And so they received the Word, Acts tells us. They received it with all readiness of mind. There was no hesitation on their part, no doubts. Nor did they receive it to debate with that Word, to criticize it. Rather, they received it by faith, humbly, gratefully, with great expectations that they would be blessed by that Word, and eager to submit to this revelation of God's will for them.
And they searched. They searched spiritually, prayerfully, as Jacob-princes seeking the blessing of God upon them in their quest for God's light and communion through the Word.
And then, prayerfully, they examined the Scriptures. They pored over them. They scrutinized them, comparing Scripture with Scriptures. They did this daily, regularly. Their Bibles, if they had had personal copies, would have become worn with use, and they, very familiar with the Bible's gospel message. They searched! They did this on their own, personally. They did this, no doubt, as families. They did this in societies of believers. They did this on Sunday, and every day of the week. They did this from September to May, and also during the summer months. There was no stopping them!
Why did they so search the Scriptures? Because, in the first place, they understood that this was how God communicates His will and gospel to human beings. They recognized, as so few do today, that the Scriptures are the revelation of God to His church. And even in those days of the early New Testament church, when God was pleased, in the establishing of the church, to confirm the word by miracles, the Bereans recognized the primacy of the Word. They were not like those spiritists who say they can commune with God by circumventing the written Word, or that there are revelations today apart from the Scriptures (I smite their spirit on the snout!). The Bible, for them, was the source of all light. The Spirit of the Word was, for them as for us, the only Holy Spirit.
And search they did, in the second place, for confirmation of what Paul said about the Word.
They wanted to see for themselves, and not just because a preacher told them, that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of prophecy. Not that they despised Paul's teaching - for then they would never have listened to him. But they had received the anointing of the Spirit-teacher, and so would go to the Word themselves. They would not let a priest, a preacher, or a pope usurp their own noble office of all believers!
But then, too, they knew that Scripture study was important that they themselves might be confirmed in the faith. The Christian nobility of Berea recognized that searching the Scriptures was a means God gave for strength of faith, and that they might increase in the knowledge of God and in their love and attachment to God. This then they would do in their untiring quest to draw nigh unto their Redeemer.
The mark of Berean nobility was a searching of the Scriptures. You, esteemed brethren, are such nobility - as believers. You are the true nobility of the land. Yours is Christian nobility. You are prophets, priests, and kings of the Most High God. Your delight is believing Bible study: for the Bible, to you, is the light revealing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and the life in Christ now, and that is to come.
You realize you must continue to search. The prosperity of your soul, and of the heart and soul of your religion and that of your children and churches depends on it. This is a crucial way God has ordained for His own to be established and built up: searching the Scriptures!
And how needed today! There was a time when the Word of God was scarce. Now this is true all the more. It is scarce via corrupt translations of the Bible. It is scarce through false preachers and preaching. It is scarce due to a self-proclaimed nobility: the "Christian intelligentsia," who liken Scripture to mythology and ordinary literature, and who declare themselves and themselves alone, to be able to interpret the Scriptures and to find in them the real, historical Jesus and His real gospel. But, as well, Scripture-searching is scarce. No one, or very few, are searching the Scriptures! If there is study, it is easy - simply to confirm one's own prejudices, and not to discern the truth. If there is study it is nonchalant, haphazard, irregular - reflecting on the priorities and worldliness of our age. If there is study it is to criticize man showing he would have the last word. If there is study it is cold, mechanical, lifeless - indicative of dead orthodoxy or killing apostasy resident in the churches.
And you? Christian nobility, I write that you should persevere in your noble quest of the Word. The Spirit, I know, is willing, but the flesh is weak! Persevere! Desire the Word as the deer panting after water brooks. As the babe on the breast. As the saved sinner. As becoming your nobility!
In conclusion, I herewith offer you my services in a series of articles in this noble magazine. It will be found in a column called "Search the Scriptures." Use these articles, if you like, to further your Scripture study at home and in the church, for devotions, formal studies, or to enliven your table talk. I realize that I am a lowly Protestant monk, and the least of all the Christian nobility. But, God helping me, I would gladly help you in your noble occupation.
Let us go on then. For reformation. For continuing reformation. For we either go forward, or we go back to Babylon. And if the latter must be, give me death instead.
Here I stand. And you?
M.L. (in spiriti), 1996
S - ystematically
C - learly
R - egularly
I - ntelligently
P - rayerfully
T - rustingly
U - ntiringly
R - esolutely
E - nthusiastically
S - eriously*
* The author of this acrostic is unknown to me. I found it taped to my dear Katy's well-worn Bible!
Mr. Benjamin Wigger
Mr. Wigger is a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.
The Evangelism Committee of our Hudsonville, MI PRC recently received an interesting letter from a Mr. B. Bassiliades, the editor of a Greek Christian magazine entitled, Tychicus. Mr. Bassiliades wrote that Rev. Gritters' messages prepared under the general title, "The Family; Foundations are Shaking," had been chosen to be translated into Greek and published as articles in this magazine for the benefit of the spiritual brotherhood in Greece.
This August, Hudsonville's Evangelism Committee, along with many volunteers from Hudsonville's congregation, were also busy for the week of the 19th - 24th staffing a booth at the Hudsonville Fair. Plans called for the handing out of informational literature about the PR churches and their doctrines. Orders were also taken for some of the books that are available through the RFPA, as well as Hudsonville's own bookstore.
Past issues of this magazine were also on display, with a free one-year subscription given to any who expressed an interest. Hudsonville felt this was a good way to help the community around them become familiar with our churches and our beliefs.
The congregation of the Hope PRC in Redlands, CA, through the efforts of their Evangelism Committee, prepares a monthly Reformed Witness newsletter. The title of July's letter was, "Archaeology and the Bible." It was written by Phil Climer. Hope now sends this newsletter to about 250 people every month.
Today God gives us, as churches, many different means to broadcast the truth of the gospel, and we do well to stay in touch with these. One such means is the ever-growing Internet. In our churches, Phil VanBaren, son of Rev. and Mrs. G. VanBaren of our Loveland, CO congregation, is doing graduate work in computer science. This knowledge has enabled him to prepare a "homepage" which our churches can use through the Loveland congregation.
This is definitely a worthwhile place to go on the WWW. There is much detail about the Reformed faith and plenty of things to download if interested. The address is:
A Mr. Dennis Lee is also beginning such a work for our sister churches in Singapore. If you would like to see his efforts, check it out at
http:/ /www.iti.gov.sg/staff/dlee/ ercs.html.
The evening of August 15, at our Hope PRC in Walker, MI, Rev. R. Dykstra was installed into the office of professor of theology in our churches' seminary. Prof. Hanko led the worship service, taking as his text the first two verses of II Timothy 2. Rev. Dale Kuiper, president of our Theological School Committee, read the form for installation. We also add here that, due to the fact that Prof. Dykstra plans to remain as a member of the Hope congregation and will preach weekly and teach Monday evening catechism there, no formal farewell program was planned.
Staying with our Seminary for one more news item, we note that Prof. D. Engelsma has played a key role in the publication of the first English-language edition of Herman Bavinck's The Last Things: Hope for This World and the Next.
Bavinck (1854-1921) wrote this study of biblical eschatology as part of his Reformed Dogmatics. This is the first time this section of his work has been published in English. Prof. Engelsma is treasurer of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society which sponsored the translation of this classic. This society draws its membership from the Christian Reformed Church, the Reformed Church of America, the PRC, the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Churches, and the Free Reformed Church.
The publication of The Last Things is the first fruit of the DRTS's efforts. Next will be Bavinck's treatment of creation.
The society hopes eventually to sponsor the translation of Bavinck's entire Reformed Dogmatics. This work is available through Baker Book House.
On the weekend of July 26-27, the young people of the Randolph, WI PRC were able to enjoy a camping and rafting outing.
The congregation of our First PRC in Holland, MI was invited to attend a slide presentation on July 24 of their Young People's trip to the San Luis Valley, made back in mid-June when they spent time with our home missionary there.
Rev. A. Spriensma, pastor of the Grandville, MI PRC, preached at the Atwood CRC in Atwood, MI on Sunday, July 21 in conjunction with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of that church. Rev. Spriensma is a former pastor of the Atwood CRC.
The Hope, Walker, MI PRC has formed a trio from which to call another pastor. That trio is made up of the Revs. denHartog, Key, and Koole.
Food for Thought:
"You can do more than pray, after you have prayed; but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed." --JohnBunyan