Rev.H.Hoeksema and the Flag Controversy during WWI

As promised – though later than I intended – I point you to the story of Rev.Herman Hoeksema and the U.S. “flag controversy” which occured during the WWI years and stirred up quite a public outcry in West Michigan and beyond. This controversy occured when Hoeksema was pastor of Fourteenth Street Christian Reformed Church in 1918.

I mention this because an article on this just reappeared in the latest issue of Leben magazine (German for “Life”, with the sub-title A Journal of Reformation Life), published quarterly by the City Seminary of Sacramento, CA (July 2014 issue, vol.10, #3). The article, “Herman Hoeksema and the ‘Flag in Church’ Controversy” is penned by Dr.Robert Swierenga, research professor of history at the A.C.Van Raalte Institute for Historical Studies at Hope College in Holland, MI.

I say this article “reappeared” in Leben because it is actually a reprint of an article which Swierenga wrote for Calvin College’s Origins magazine (CRC archives) back in 2007 (vol.25, No.2, pp.28-25). In its original publication the article was titled “Disloyal Dutch? Herman Hoeksema and the Flag in Church Controversy During World War I”. Below is an image of the title page.

Fall07_25_2_Page_28

You can actually find this full issue and the article at that page link above (scroll down to the issue #). It makes for fascinating reading, as I never fully understood the intense reaction in the congregation and in the community, nor the full reasons for Hoeksema’s position. Swierenga does an excellent job of laying out the case and Hoeksema’s reasons for not wanting the U.S. flag in his church during worship services – and that, by the way is what his position was – not opposition to the flag in the church per se. It was a principled matter with him and he stuck to his position, though the war had created a passionate patriotic atmosphere and it cost him reputation personally and ecclesiastically.

This is how Swierenga begins his description of the controversy:

In nearby Holland, Michigan Reverend Herman Hoeksema of the Fourteenth Stree CRC ‘stirred up a hornet’s nest’ in 1918 when he barred the American flag from his church sanctuary. The congregation was the first English-speaking body of that denomination in town and proud of its Americanizing ways. But, according to Hoeksema’s logical mind, unfurling the nation’s banner in church was conceding too much to Caesar’s realm.

Later he adds these details:

The growing practice of linking God and country and blessing the American flag was too much for a strict Calvinist like Rev.Hoeksema. To honor the nation more than God smacked of a civil religion, not Christianity. The issue was joined for Hoeksema on Sunday morning, 10 February 1918, when he entered his pulpit and saw a flag on a staff in the front corner of the sanctuary. He said nothing until after the service, when he asked the consistory to have it removed before the evening service. They complied and that evening in the course of his sermon Hoeksema explained to the congregation that the flag ‘had no place in a church and that the national anthem should not be sung there.’ Some congregants did not agree with their dominee and they broadcast his views far and wide. In the charged atmosphere of the war, this brought an immediate public outcry” (Leben, p.17).

If you wish to obtain the article as it appears in Leben magazine, contact them through their website.

Letters from the (WWI) Front « Seeking Michigan

Letters from the Front « Seeking Michigan.

On this “Archives Thursday” we plan to feature two items related to World War I, the 100th anniversary of which occurs this month of August. The second one relates indirectly to our own PRC history (Rev.Herman Hoeksema and the U.S. “flag controversy” when he was minister in a Holland, MI CRC), but this first one relates to the Michigan archives.

BandemerSoldiers1-300x168The “Seeking Michigan” blog of the state of Michigan archives website is presently featuring some letters of a Michigan soldier of WWI. Since this significant anniversary is worth noting, we point you first of all to it today.

Below is the introduction to these letters; to read excerpts from the letters, visit the link above.

August 2014 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I. A few years after the war began, a young man from Saginaw enlisted in the Army. William (“Ted”) Bandemer served from 1917 until 1919 and was stationed in France starting in 1918. His letters home to his family can be read in the Archives of Michigan (William Bandemer Papers, MS 99-67). They document the day-to-day lives of soldiers as well as the challenges of being stationed far from home before communication was as fast and easy as it is today.

Koinonia: Why Study Biblical Hebrew? Neglect the Languages, Lose the Gospel, Says Luther!

Koinonia: Why Study Biblical Hebrew? Neglect the Languages, Lose the Gospel, Says Luther!.

MLutherPicWith the opening of Seminary classes less than a week away now (next Monday, August 25 for registration and Tuesday, August 26 for actual classes) and students returning for grueling Greek and Hebrew sessions, I found this article on the Koinonia website interesting (other than its lousy reference to “common” grace!).

Jeremy Bouma – turning to the wisdom of Martin Luther – highlights why it is necessary for students to learn the original languges. The quote from Luther is worth the look (see below), but the rest is profitable too.

Here’s the opening part with some vintage Luther; find the rest at the “Koinonia” link above (or below):

In a week Hebrew and Greek professors will be confronted with that perennial one word question:

Why?

Why study the original biblical languages?

The Reformation reminds us why. “Ad fontes!”—To the fountains, or sources!—was their battle cry for a reason. For it was when Reformation Europe rediscovered the ancient languages that the Bible’s impact as a shaping force accelerated.

In fact, after his conversion, Martin Luther was convinced that “we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages.” He goes on:

The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out, they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments. If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall…lose the gospel… (emphasis added, 120)

Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt highlight Luther’s convictions in Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar. In addition to teaching the language itself, they provide inspiring insights in the importance of studying the biblical language.

I often need to be reminded how crucial this is for my vocation. Today brother Luther provides five insights into why the languages are vital, not only for our profession, but for the gospel itself.

- See more at: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2014/08/why-study-biblical-hebrew-neglect-the-languages-lose-the-gospel-says-luther.html?

In a week Hebrew and Greek professors will be confronted with that perennial one word question:

Why?

Why study the original biblical languages?

The Reformation reminds us why. “Ad fontes!”—To the fountains, or sources!—was their battle cry for a reason. For it was when Reformation Europe rediscovered the ancient languages that the Bible’s impact as a shaping force accelerated.

In fact, after his conversion, Martin Luther was convinced that “we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages.” He goes on:

The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out, they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments. If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall…lose the gospel… (emphasis added, 120)

Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt highlight Luther’s convictions in Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar. In addition to teaching the language itself, they provide inspiring insights in the importance of studying the biblical language.

I often need to be reminded how crucial this is for my vocation. Today brother Luther provides five insights into why the languages are vital, not only for our profession, but for the gospel itself.

- See more at: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2014/08/why-study-biblical-hebrew-neglect-the-languages-lose-the-gospel-says-luther.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FpQHu+%28Koinonia%29#sthash.O3I0sGt2.dpuf

In a week Hebrew and Greek professors will be confronted with that perennial one word question:

Why?

Why study the original biblical languages?

The Reformation reminds us why. “Ad fontes!”—To the fountains, or sources!—was their battle cry for a reason. For it was when Reformation Europe rediscovered the ancient languages that the Bible’s impact as a shaping force accelerated.

In fact, after his conversion, Martin Luther was convinced that “we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages.” He goes on:

The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out, they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments. If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall…lose the gospel… (emphasis added, 120)

Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt highlight Luther’s convictions in Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar. In addition to teaching the language itself, they provide inspiring insights in the importance of studying the biblical language.

I often need to be reminded how crucial this is for my vocation. Today brother Luther provides five insights into why the languages are vital, not only for our profession, but for the gospel itself.

- See more at: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2014/08/why-study-biblical-hebrew-neglect-the-languages-lose-the-gospel-says-luther.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FpQHu+%28Koinonia%29#sthash.O3I0sGt2.dpuf

Why We Love to Read | Challies Dot Com

Why We Love to Read | Challies Dot Com.

I also enjoyed this homey and summery illustration from Tim Challies last week (posted August 13, 2014). If you fish, you will make the connection. But, even if you don’t, you can appreciate the image and the lesson.

Here’s the heart of his point; read the rest of this brief post at the link above.

I do not fish, but I do read, and I find them similar. The avid reader takes in book after book, day after day, searching each one, looking carefully for those few but important ideas. Four hundred pages—or eight hundred—is a small price to pay for an idea. It is a small price to pay for knowledge that leads to application that leads to life change.

Sometimes you need to do a lot of reading to come away with one really good idea. Some books yield nothing but nonsense; some yield nothing but ideas you have come across a thousands times before. But then, at last, you find that one that delivers. There is such joy in it. Such reward.

Yes, that IS why I love to read. And fish. :)

Published in: on August 19, 2014 at 4:58 PM  Comments (1)  

The Pleasure of Reading to Impress Yourself – The New Yorker

The Pleasure of Reading to Impress Yourself – The New Yorker.

SofareadingI came on this article late last week in one of my (e)mailings, and found it interesting (posted August 13, 2014). The perspective presented here on reading is not that of a  Christian, yet it is profitable. It may also seem to be self-centered, but I believe it contains some good thoughts about how our reading (even for pleasure) ought to challenge us mentally and emotionally. And I would add, for the sake of us Christians, spiritually.

So, read with discretion (there are other points made here with which we would take issue – e.g., what one reads), but benefit from the valuable thoughts here about reading to be stretched. And maybe you want to think about keeping a record book of your reading. It’s not too late. Read on!

But there are pleasures to be had from books beyond being lightly entertained. There is the pleasure of being challenged; the pleasure of feeling one’s range and capacities expanding; the pleasure of entering into an unfamiliar world, and being led into empathy with a consciousness very different from one’s own; the pleasure of knowing what others have already thought it worth knowing, and entering a larger conversation. Among my catalogue are some books that I am sure I was—to use an expression applied to elementary-school children—decoding rather than reading. Such, I suspect, was the case with “Ulysses,” a book I read at eighteen, without having first read “The Odyssey,” which might have deepened my appreciation of Joyce. Even so—and especially when considering adolescence—we should not underestimate the very real pleasure of being pleased with oneself. What my notebook offers me is a portrait of the reader as a young woman, or at the very least, a sketch. I wanted to read well, but I also wanted to become well read. The notebook is a small record of accomplishment, but it’s also an outline of large aspiration. There’s pleasure in ambition, too.

Published in: on August 19, 2014 at 6:55 AM  Leave a Comment  
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The Ordinary Christian Family – Tedd Tripp

The Ordinary Christian Family by Tedd Tripp | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August 2014Continuing to make my way through the featured articles on “The Ordinary Christian Life” in this month’s Tabletalk, I read yesterday the above-linked article by Dr.Tedd Tripp.

Pointing out at the outset how marriage and the family are under serious and severe attack in our day, Tripp nevertheless shows us from the Word of God (with clarity, confidence, and encouragement!) what God’s norm is for the Christian family. Breaking down the “ordinary Christian family” into three callings, he explains how the family is 1) a school of theology; 2) a school of social relationship; and 3) a school for understanding the gospel.

You would be well-profited to read the entire article, but I give you that section where he explains how the Christian family is a “school of theology”. Follow the Ligonier link above to read the rest.

SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

God’s call for ordinary living is summed up in the two tables of the law: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Mark 12:30-31). Loving God and loving others is a good description of the ordinary Christian family.

The family as a school of theology is the first table of the law. The family is the place for being mesmerized by the wonder of who God is and for instilling in children a profound sense of the glory of God. The psalmist puts it like this: “One generation shall commend your works to another” (Ps. 145:4). What does this look like? What do you talk about as one generation commending God to the next? Psalm 145 tells us. It means meditating on the glorious splendor of God’s majesty; speaking of God’s majestic deeds; declaring His greatness; pouring out the fame of His abundant goodness; singing of His righteousness; speaking of the glory of His kingdom; talking of His kindness; speaking His praise (145:4-20). Love for God is instilled as we meditate on His glory and goodness. Children cannot be brought to delight in God in a conceptual vacuum. And if parents are to show their children God’s glory, they, too, must be dazzled by God. The family is a school of theology.

Dr. Tedd Tripp is an author, conference speaker, and elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Hazelton, Pa. He is author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart and, with his wife, Margy, Instructing a Child’s Heart.

J.Calvin on Psalm 146: “…So many reasons why we should hope in him.”

JCalvinPic1For our further meditation on Psalm 146 today, we include this commentary of John Calvin on vss.7ff., where he remarks on the character and works of God that call us to hope in Him and to praise Him. May His words encourage us to see God for Who He is and to fall down before Him in perfect (complete) trust and adoration.

7. Rendering right, etc.

He instances other kinds both of the power and goodness of God, which are just so many reasons why we should hope in him. All of them bear upon the point, that the help of God will be ready and forthcoming to those who are in the lowest circumstances, that accordingly our miseries will be no barrier in the way of his helping us; nay, that such is his nature, that he is disposed to assist all in proportion to their necessity.

He says first, that God renders justice to the oppressed, to remind us that although in the judgment of sense God connives at the injuries done to us, he will not neglect the duty which properly belongs to him of forcing the wicked to give an account of their violence. As God, in short, would have the patience of his people tried, he here expressly calls upon the afflicted not to faint under their troubles, but composedly wait for deliverance from one who is slow in interposing, only that he may appear eventually as the righteous judge of the world.

It follows, that he gives bread to the hungry. We learn from this that he is not always so indulgent to his own as to load them with abundance, but occasionally withdraws his blessing, that he may succor them when reduced to hunger. Had the Psalmist said that God fed his people with abundance, and pampered them, would not any of those under want or in famine have immediately desponded? The goodness of God is therefore properly extended farther to the feeding of the hungry.

What is added is to the same purpose — that he looses them that are bound, and enlightens the blind. As it is the fate of his people to be straitened by anxiety, or pressed down by human tyranny, or reduced to extremity, in a manner equivalent to being shut up in the worst of dungeons, it was necessary to announce, by way of comfort, that God can easily find an outgate for us when brought into such straits.

To enlighten the blind is the same with giving light in the midst of darkness. When at any time we know not what to do — are in perplexity, and lie confounded and dismayed, as if the darkness of death had fallen upon us — let us learn to ascribe this title to God, that he may dissipate the gloom and open our eyes. So when he is said to raise up the bowed down, we are taught to take courage when weary and groaning under any burden.

Nor is it merely that God would here have his praises celebrated; he in a manner stretches out his hand to the blind, the captives, and the afflicted, that they may cast their grief’s and cares upon him. There is a reason for repeating the name Jehovah three times. In this way he stimulates and excites men to seek him who will often rather chafe and pine away in their miseries, than betake themselves to this sure asylum.

What is added in the close of the verse — that Jehovah loves the righteous, would seem to be a qualification of what was formerly said. There are evidently many who, though they are grievously afflicted, and groan with anxiety, and lie in darkness, experience no comfort from God; and this because in such circumstances they provoke God more by their contumacy, and by failing for the most part to seek his mercy, reap the just reward of their unthankfulness.

The Psalmist therefore very properly restricts what he had said in general terms of God’s helping the afflicted, to the righteous — that those who wish to experience his deliverance, may address themselves to him in the sincere exercise of godliness.

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 146

Psalm 146For this new Sunday, as we awaken to new mercies and fresh revelations of God’s faithfulness (Lam. 3:22,23), we turn to the Word of God in Psalm 146.

As we continue to make our way through this OT Psalter, using it especially to prepare ourselves for the worship of the Lord in His house of prayer, we note that these last five psalms all begin and end on the note of “Praise ye the LORD” (or simply, “Hallelujah”). As such, these closing songs of the OT church’s songbook are most fitting for our worship – public and private – for the theme of our worship as well as of our daily walk must be the praise and adoration of our sovereign God and King.

And as we look at Psalm 146, we see that this is the psalmist’s resolve and testimony too. He will not praise the Lord occasionally or sporadically, but as long as he lives and as long as he has being (v.2). This is the way we must tell our own souls to praise God (v.1).

And the psalm writer also gives himself and us good reason to praise the Lord. The God of Jacob (which is another way to say that He is the God of the covenant and church) is the God of boundless power and saving help for His people. Read carefully the things he mentions here in describing the Lord and His power and works. And note too how broad and deep these works and ways of the Lord are, from creating the heaven and earth out of nothing to relieving the fatherless and widow. O, yes, this God reigns – forever! And He is “Thy God, O Zion, unto all generations” (v.10).

How foolish then to put our trust in anyone else but this sovereign Lord! The psalmist calls the people of God not to place their trust in princes or in the son of man (v.3). For obvious reasons (vss.3b,4). Rather he points us to the incredible happiness – and blessedness! – of having the one, true God for our help and hope (v.5). Is He such to us? Have we placed and do we place our trust in Him alone? Is He our only hope, in life and in death, in good times and in bad times, in prosperity and in adversity?

As we come into His presence today, may we find Him to be all that He is revealed to be here – the God of amazing creation, of faithful providence, and of gracious salvation. In Jesus Christ, the Son of Man Whom He made strong to save us and help us in all of life and in all of life’s circumstances. And finding Him so, may we place all our hope (trust) in Him alone. So that with solid hope in our souls, we may say with the psalmist, “Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.”

Psalm 146

146 Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.

While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:

Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. TheLord looseth the prisoners:

The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous:

The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

10 The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord.

If you desire to meditate on Psalm 146 through music, I encourage you to listen to a versification of this psalm at the PRC Psalter page. Here is one such versification, titled “Trust and Praise” to get you started (Visit the link to hear piano accompaniment and sing along.):

1. Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.

2. Put no confidence in princes,
Nor for help on man depend;
He shall die, to dust returning,
And his purposes shall end.

3. Happy is the man that chooses
Israel’s God to be his aid;
He is blest whose hope of blessing
On the Lord his God is stayed.

4. Heaven and earth the Lord created,
Seas and all that they contain;
He delivers from oppression,
Righteousness He will maintain.

5. Food He daily gives the hungry,
Sets the mourning prisoner free,
Raises those bowed down with anguish,
Makes the sightless eyes to see.

6. Well Jehovah loves the righteous,
And the stranger He befriends,
Helps the fatherless and widow,
Judgment on the wicked sends.

7. Over all God reigns forever,
Through all ages He is King;
Unto Him, thy God, O Zion,
Joyful hallelujahs sing.

Continual Repentance – The Valley of Vision

Continual Repentance | Banner of Truth USA.

After a week of self-examination – and praying for God’s examination of us -(we heard this sermon last Sunday night in our preparatory service)  we anticipate the Lord’s day tomorrow and our celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

ValleyofVisionThinking of this – of my ever-present sin and the need for continual repentance – and of the cross of my precious Savior, where my sins, and the sins of all repentant believers, were blotted out forever – I came on this prayer/meditation taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.

It is wonderfully appropriate as we end this week and look forward to receiving the gospel of grace in audible form (preaching) and visible form (sacrament) tomorrow. May God bless your preparation for entering His presence to worship Him and to receive His Word.

O GOD OF GRACE,

Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
      and hast imputed his righteousness
    to my soul,
  clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
  decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
  my best prayers are stained with sin;
  my penitential tears are so much impurity;
  my confessions of wrong are so many
    aggravations of sin;
  my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
  no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
  and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
  for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
  and always returning home as a prodigal,
  always saying, Father, forgive me,
  and thou art always bringing forth
    the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
  every evening return in it,
  go out to the day’s work in it,
  be married in it,
  be wound in death in it,
  stand before the great white throne in it,
  enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
  the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
  the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
  the exceeding glory of Christ,
  the exceeding beauty of holiness,
  the exceeding wonder of grace.

To find all of these Puritan devotions, visit the Banner of Truth link above.

The Story of the Wrigley Field Ivy (2)

LittlePlaceonNorthSide-GFWillLast week we began to relate the story of how the ivy came to be placed on the walls of beloved Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. That story is told by George F. Will in his great book marking the 100th anniversary of Wrigley this year: A Nice Little Place on the North Side (Crown Archetype, 2014).

The first part of that history involved trees. Trees in the bleachers. Trees which didn’t last very long.

The second part involved bittersweet – and ivy. Let’s allow Will to tell us how it came to be:

Veeck had planned to plant the ivy after the season (1937 -cjt). However, the day before the team returned from a long road trip to end the season with a short home stand, Wrigley told Veeck he had invited some friends to the next day’s game to see the ivy. But Veeck had not yet bought it. A specialist at a nursery was consulted. He said ivy could not be deployed in one night. Veeck asked what could be. The specialist answered with one word: ‘Bittersweet.’ He was not a philosophic merchant commenting on the human condition; neither was he summing up the experience of being a Cub fan. Rather, he was recommending a plant with that name. So that night Veeck and Wrigley Field’s groundskeeper strung light bulbs along the outfield wall to illuminate their work, and by morning the wall was entirely covered with bittersweet. In its midst they planted ivy, which eventually took over the wall.

And with that bittersweet-ivy idea went a few accolades, including one from a local writer:

On September 17, 1937, the Chicago Tribune carried a story with this headline: ‘New Wrigley Field Blooms in Scenic Beauty – and Scoffers Rush to Apologize.’ One of those scoffers was the author of the story, Edward Burns, who had written a series of grumpy reports about changes under way at the field, including enlargement of the bleachers. Now, however, he was prepared to ‘emboss an apologetic scroll to P.K.Wrigley, owner of the most artistic ballpark in the majors.’ Burns estimated that the park was valued at $3 million (pp.88-89).

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