One of the things I would like to feature on “archive Thursday” besides old pictures is some old books. Some of these will be from the Seminary library, while others will be from my own personal library.
Today’s featured old book is from my own library, and is a very special one to me. I came into possession of it just last year, as my father gave it to me through my uncle Larry Terpstra.
It is a book from my Grandpa John Terpstra and is the book he received, I believe, at the time he made public profession of his faith in Jesus Christ and became a member in full communion of the Alpine Ave. Christian Reformed Church on the near north side of Grand Rapids, MI. That is also the congregation in which my father, Gordon, was baptized and received his spiritual training.
At the time of my grandpa’s profession of faith Rev.William Masselink was the pastor (from 1928-1942), and he is the one who signed the book given to him. As you will see, it is signed March 13, 1932.
But you will also notice that the book is authored by pastor Masselink. Its title is I and the Children Thou Hast Given Me or Our Covenant Youth and Worldy Amusements (Grand Rapids: Wm.B. Eerdmans, 1931). The book is composed of two parts. In part one, Rev.Masselink treats “The Covenant of Grace” (which as also published separately) and in part two he deals with “Worldly Amusements”.
Now, this book is significant for other reasons beside the fact that it belonged to my grandpa Terpstra. For one thing, his doctrine of the covenant is one with which we in the PRCA sharply differ. Masselink (following L.Berkhof, by his own admission) taught that the covenant was an agreement between God and sinners and that it was conditioned by the sinner’s faith. And he was also a common grace defender, as we would expect. But it is significant that he wrote this book on worldly amusements so soon after the CRC had adopted the three points of common grace in 1924. Yet, he was simply “toeing the line” in the CRC.
You may remember that the CRC also issued a strong warning about worldly amusements immediately after adopting the doctrine of common grace, because, as they stated, they did not want the doctrine to be abused. Now, if a doctrine is adopted by a Reformed church and is said to be on solid, Biblical ground, should you have to issue a warning about it?! But, we can save that for another time.
My purpose is simply to highlight this old book and its value to my library. In spite of its weaknesses, it is a treasure to me. No, because of its weaknesses, it is a treasure to me. For this too belongs to my personal past through my father. I am thankful for his Christian upbringing in the CRC, but also for the fact that he joined the PRC when he married my mother, Eileen (Engelsma). And I am grateful that I have had the privilege of being spiritually trained in the environment of the twins truths of God’s sovereign, particular grace and unconditional covenant. Soli Deo Gloria!
One other tidbit of this history comes to mind. My dad told us that Rev.Masselink had the nickname of “Weeping Willie” because of his emotional style of preaching. I wish I could have heard him :).