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.

J.Wycliffe, the Morning Star of the Reformation – Stephen Nichols

The Morning Star of the Reformation by Stephen Nichols | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-July 2014The July issue of Tabletalk focuses on the history of the church during the 14th century, as we noted a week ago. When we introduced this issue, we also pointed you to the opening article on this theme, in which Dr.N.Needham gives a wide view of this period.

In the second main feature article, Dr. Stephen J.Nichols provides a more focused presentation of a significant figure from this period of church history, namely, John Wycliffe, under the above-linked title.

His article is a great survey of Wycliffe’s person and work, and shows why he is called the “morning star of the Reformation”. If you have forgotten who this man was and why his work is so important to the church of Jesus Christ, this is a great way to refresh yourself in getting better acquainted with Wycliffe.

I give you the beginning of Nichols’ piece here. Find all of it at this link (or the one above).

He had been dead and buried for a few decades, but the church wanted to make a point. His remains were exhumed and burned, a fitting end for the “heretic” John Wycliffe. Wycliffe once explained what the letters in the title CARDINAL really mean: “Captain of the Apostates of the Realm of the Devil, Impudent and Nefarious Ally of Lucifer.” And with that, Wycliffe was only getting started.

Wycliffe rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation, which states that the elements of the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper become the actual body and blood of Christ. He was against priestly absolution, he spoke out against indulgences, and he denied the doctrine of purgatory. He rejected papal authority. Instead, he asserted that Christ is the head of the church. And he had a profound belief in the inerrancy and absolute authority of Scripture. He fully believed that the church of his day had lost its way. Scripture alone provided the only way back. Now we see why the medieval Roman Church wanted to make a statement against Wycliffe.

John Wycliffe has often been called “the Morning Star of the Reformation.” Jan Hus, another pre-Reformation reformer, felt obliged to express his supreme debt to Wycliffe. And though he lived long after Wycliffe’s death, Martin Luther, too, felt an obligation to recognize the pioneering reforms of John Wycliffe. Luther stood on the shoulders of Hus, who stood on the shoulders of Wycliffe. Hus, Luther, and the other Reformers were indebted to him. So are we. Wycliffe was indeed “the Morning Star of the Reformation.”

Dr. Stephen J. Nichols is president of Reformation Bible College, chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries, and a Ligonier teaching fellow. He is author of several books and teaches on the podcast 5 Minutes in Church History.

July “Tabletalk”: Wycliffe and the Dawn of the Reformation

Forerunner of the Reformation by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-July 2014With the start of a new month it is time to introduce the July 2014 issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries’ monthly devotional magazine. This month’s issue returns to and continues the church history theme, with the focus on the 14th century and the “Dawn of the Reformation” (Note: “TT” has been gradually covering the major centuries of church history for several years now.).

Editor Burk Parsons introduces this theme with the above-linked article. We pull a few lines from it and encourage you to read the rest. And while you are at it, you should read the excellent overview of major events/trends in the church of the 14th century by Dr.Nicholas R. Needham. His article is titled “The Fourteenth Century” and is found at the link provided here.

Here then, are a few of Parsons’ introductory notes to the July “TT”:

John Wycliffe was the morning star of the Reformation. He was a protestant and a reformer more than a century before Martin Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation in 1517. Through Wycliffe, God planted the seeds of the Reformation, He watered the seeds through John Hus, and He brought the flower of the Reformation to bloom through Martin Luther. The seed of the flower of the German Augustinian monk Luther’s 95 theses was planted by the English scholar and churchman John Wycliffe.

…Wycliffe was committed to the authority and inspiration of Holy Scripture, declaring, “Holy Scripture is the highest authority for every believer, the standard of faith and the foundation for reform in religious, political and social life … in itself it is perfectly sufficient for salvation, without the addition of customs or traditions.” As such, Wycliffe oversaw the translation of the Bible from Latin into the English vernacular. This was a radical undertaking, and it was against the express mandate of the papacy. His understanding of Scripture naturally led to his understanding of justification by faith alone, as he declared, “Trust wholly in Christ. Rely altogether on his sufferings. Beware of seeking to be justified in any other way than by his righteousness. Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation.”

In the fourteenth century, at the dawn of the Reformation, Wycliffe shone as a burning and shining light of gospel truth, and his doctrine mirrored his life as one who lived by God’s grace and before God’s face, coram Deo, and for God’s glory. Soli Deo gloria.

Also, as noted before, the daily devotions in this month’s issue continue in the book of Romans, with the starting point in that significant chapter of Romans 9.

New and Notable Books July | T.Challies

New & Notable Books July | Challies Dot Com.

Christian pastor/author/blogger Tim Challies has posted his latest set of new books for this month of July. He has highlighted a variety of profitable titles again.

Below are a few of them, along with Challies’ description; find the rest at the link above.

Lifelines-MFaberezLifelines for Tough Times by Mike Fabarez. Here is how the publisher describes this one: “When tough times hit, we often find ourselves vulnerable—to doubt, fear, worry, even depression. We ask, ‘Does God care? Has He forgotten me?’ So why does God allow suffering? Author Mike Fabarez—who is well acquainted with deep pain himself as the father of a special-needs child and as a pastor who has counseled many through life’s hurts—looks to the truths of Scripture for answers. Along the way, he shares how complete trust in God alone can restore your confidence and hope; the power of focusing on God’s eternal goals for you in life’s temporary setbacks; God’s promises to love and protect you no matter what happens. This book will not only help you understand why God allows suffering—it will provide you with the resources to stand strong, rest in God’s care, and endure!” It comes with endorsements from John MacArthur, Joni Eareckson Tada, Jay Adams, and others. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

60 People-CH-Gansky60 People Who Shaped the Church by Alton Gansky. “The Church exists today in its current form because of the people who have come before us. From a consummate storyteller comes this collection of inspiring biographical sketches of people who played pivotal roles in advancing the Kingdom of God on earth. In rich prose and spanning twenty centuries of church history, these engaging narratives range from the well-known to the obscure, highlighting personalities such as Josephus, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Galileo, John Calvin, Blaise Pascal, Jonathan Edwards, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William Wilberforce, G. K. Chesterton, and many others. Readers will feel the past come alive and mingle in their minds with the present state of the Church, encouraging and galvanizing them to live their own faith courageously in our time—and shape the Church of the future.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

A Passion for Preaching and A Long Line of Godly Men: An Interview with Steven J. Lawson

A Passion for Preaching: An Interview with Steven J. Lawson by Steven Lawson | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT_Interview_LawsonThis month’s Tabletalk (June 2014) included another interview feature, this time with pastor Steve Lawson, well-known preacher and author, who has begun a new ministry devoted to church reformation through expository preaching – OnePassion Ministries.

There are many good parts to this interview, but there are two sections in particular I will post here today: one on the great need of the church today and one on his series of books – “A Long Line of Godly Men.” I believe you too will find these interesting and profitable.

To read all of the interview, follow the Ligonier link above.

TT: Why have you focused so much of your attention to the practice of expository preaching and to helping both preachers and laypeople see its importance?

SL: I strongly believe that no church can rise any higher than its pulpit. As the pulpit goes, so goes the church. The deeper the preacher takes his flock into the Word of God, the higher they will rise in worship. The stronger they are in the Scripture, the stronger they will be in the pursuit of holiness. Likewise, strong preaching leads to sacrificial service in the Lord’s work. Strong exposition kindles hearts for the work of evangelism and the cause of worldwide missions. Every great movement of God in church history has been ushered in by a renewed commitment to solid preaching of the Word. If we are to see a spiritual awakening in our day, the church must recover the primacy of preaching. I desire to be used by God to help equip a new generation of preachers and laypeople in recognizing the importance of this primary means of grace.

TT: Why did you decide to establish the book series A Long Line of Godly Men, and what other men do you hope to profile individually in this series?

SL: The Long Line series was birthed in my teaching ministry at the church that I pastor. As I was teaching the men of my church sound doctrine from Scripture, I wanted them to see that what we believe in the doctrines of sovereign grace has been the mainline position by great men and movements down through the centuries. Out of this Friday morning teaching series has arisen these books so that these essential truths may be made available to a wider audience around the world. There is much instruction and inspiration to be drawn from this profile study. In the future, I need to write volume three of the larger books, which will move from John Knox to this present hour. In the smaller books, there are other key figures who I want to address such as William Tyndale, John Wycliff•e, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and, yes, R.C. Sproul.

Ten Books for Eager Reading: The 2014 Summer Reading List – A.Mohler

Ten Books for Eager Reading — The 2014 Summer Reading List – AlbertMohler.com.

Dr.Al Mohler has published his annual Summer reading list once again (May 27, 2014), and it is a great list of suggested books. Especially if you are a man and into war titles – or cars! And, as usual, there are plenty of new war titles again this year (this year also marks the 100th anniversary of the start of WW I).

I give you here Mohler’s introduction to his list and then one of his suggested titles. I hope my male counterparts will pay attention and commit to reading something good for the mind and soul this summer.

G.K. Chesterton once wisely remarked that “there is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read.” It may be true that readers can be divided into these two categories — those who are eager to read a book and those who just want a book to read. These two types of readers experience a book and the art of reading very differently. My summer reading list is for the first sort of reader. These are books that are both interesting and intelligent. They belong in an intelligent reader’s list of reading for the summer season.

This list reflects the kind of reading choices I make for a season like summer, when I can devote some time to reading that is not dedicated to some larger writing or research project. There is also an unapologetic tilt toward a reading list for men in this list. These are books that are likely to keep a man reading, and with Father’s Day close at hand, perhaps some readers will decide to honor dad with a book or two.

One last note: Several of these books are thoughtful accounts of battle, military history, and modern espionage. They will be profitably read through the lens of an intelligent Christian worldview, though the books themselves are often not written from such a worldview. The world needs more careful Christian readers, who can read honestly, reflectively, thoughtfully, eagerly, and well.

And here I highlight one of his suggested books:

greatholywar-200x3006. Phillip Jenkins, The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade(HarperOne, 2014).

This year marks the century mark for the start of the great conflagration that reshaped the world as we know it today, World War I. The anniversary has unleashed a torrent of books, but this one stands out for the uniqueness of its approach. Phillip Jenkins, a well-established historian, puts the war into its religious context, demonstrating the fact that secular histories miss much of the story. Jenkins, who teaches at Baylor University, points to the profoundlyunsecular nature of the world in 1914. The European nations considered themselves Christian in identity and their cause to be the Christian cause. Add the various influences of national Protestant Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Muslim faith of the Ottoman Empire and you find a recipe for holy war — and this is precisely the story that Phillip Jenkins tells so well.

Great Books 101 – Hillsdale College Online Courses

Great Books 101 – Course Schedule – Hillsdale College Online Courses.

Iliad-HomerWant a convenient and inexpensive way to study the great books of history? Study them online free through Hillsdale College’s online courses – “Great Books 101″ is now available. You can hear scholarly lectures about and study works such as Homer’s The Iliad, Augustine’s Confessions, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – even books of the Bible such as Job.

At the links provided you can get the special readings from the course, use the study guide, participate in discussion groups, even take the quizzes.

Check it out today! Other courses are available too. My own father recently took a course on the U.S. Constitution through Hillsdale. A great way to grow your mind and feed your soul from home!

Mark Noll: My Top 5 Books to Spark Interest in History | Christianity Today

Mark Noll: My Top 5 Books to Spark Interest in History | Christianity Today.

Of all people, Christians should be interested in and students of history. And I might add, especially Christians who embrace the Reformed faith. Why? Because we confess the sovereignty of God and the perfection of His sovereign plan not only for our own lives (including salvation) but also for the whole world, as He gathers His church from all nations in Christ and makes all things that take place in time and history serve that purpose. We know that it is His hand which is at work in all that happens in this world.

And so we should be interested in reading good history books too. Which is why this little article that appeared on Christianity Today’s website recently (posted April 29, 2014) is significant. Noted historian Mark Noll reveals his top-rated books for stirring up interest in history. These may not be your first choices, but these are good places to start. Noll’s picks may plant some ideas that will lead you to other works. Start browsing the history section of Amazon once. Or the church history section of Westminster Bookstore. What part of God’s work in history are you reading about at present?

Here’s a snippet of the “CT” article; find out more at the link above.

In his more than 20 books (most notably The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind) and his university posts (first at Wheaton College, then at the University of Notre Dame), Mark Noll has played a pivotal role in reviving the serious study of history among evangelicals. Here, he chooses his top 5 books for inspiring a passion for history.

And here is one of his top ones:

WhatGodWrought-HoweWhat Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

Daniel Walker Howe (Oxford University Press)


Howe’s Pulitzer-Prize winning contribution to the Oxford History of the United States is a page-turner, not least for its full attention to the religious dynamics of this critical period. It is a “Whig history” because Howe admires John Quincy Adams (of the Whig Party) and shows so clearly how unconscionably Andrew Jackson carried out his public duties. Without hiding instances where religion exacerbated social strife, he also shows that Christian energy and Christian determination contributed at every stage to the startling rise of the American nation in this period of rapid change. The book is long, but very, very satisfying.

The History of Psalm-Singing in the Church (3) – Rev.B.Huizinga

SB-Psalm Issue-April 1-2014_Page_1As noted here previously, the April 1 issue of The Standard Bearer is a special issue devoted to the subject of psalm-singing. Included in this issue is an article on the history of psalm-singing in the church at large by Rev.Brian Huizinga, titled “Through Endless Ages Sound His Praise: The History of Psalm-Singing in the Church” (There is also a more narrow one on the history of psalm-singing in the PRC by Rev.K.Koole).

We began referencing this article back on April 7 and then did so again on April 28. “Through Endless Ages Sound His Praise” is not only informative but also inspiring. And I hope by quoting from it, it will also be the same for you. We continue with the next part of the article today.

The Age of Early Church

            Psalm-singing did not die with the apostles.  We have books and books containing the writings of the early church fathers who lived in the centuries immediately after the apostles.  Where are all the man-made hymns they composed and sang?  One looks in vain.  In fact, where hymns were to be found in the church they were composed by and worked their way in through Gnostic, Manichean, Apollinarian, Donatist, and Arian heretics as a vehicle for introducing heresy.  For example, Bardesanes, a Gnostic of the second century, and his son Harmonius composed a songbook of 150 hymns to rival the Psalter of the 150 Psalms.[1]

For private personal edification at home, at sea, and in the field, and especially for corporate worship, Christians sang psalms.  Men like Tertullian (d. 230), Eusebius (d. 340), Athanasius (d. 373), Basil (d. 379), Ambrose (d. 397), Chrysostom (d. 407), Jerome (d. 420), and Augustine (d. 430) spoke of the church’s love for and universal use of the psalms.  For example, Eusebius noted, “the command to sing Psalms in the name of the Lord was obeyed by everyone in every place; for the command to sing is in force in all churches which exist among nations, not only the Greeks but also throughout the whole world, and in towns, villages and in the fields.”[1]   Chrysostom famously stated:

All Christians employ themselves in David’s Psalms more frequently than in any other part of the Old or New Testament.  The grace of the Holy Ghost hath so ordered it that they should be recited and sung every night and day.  In the Church’s vigils, the first, the midst, and the last are David’s Psalms.  In the morning David’s Psalms are sought for; and David is the first, the midst, and the last.  At funeral solemnities, the first, the midst, and the last is David.  Many who know not a letter can say David’s Psalms by heart.  In private houses where virgins spin—in the monasteries—in the deserts, where men converse with God—the first, the midst, and the last is David.  In the night, when men are asleep, he wakes them up to sing; and collecting the servants of God into angelic troops, turns earth into heaven, and of men makes angels, chanting David’s Psalms.[2]

    Surely it was love for the psalms and a conviction to maintain their unrivaled place in worship that led the Council of Laodicea (360) to forbid the introduction of hymns into the church.  The great ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451) confirmed this ruling.  The early church was determined to sound Jehovah’s praise in psalms.

[1]               Michael Bushell, Songs of Zion:  The Biblical Basis for Exclusive Psalmody, 4th Edition (Norfolk, VA:  Norfolk Press, 2011), p. 251.

[2]               Cited in Terry Johnson, “The History of Psalm Singing in the Christian Church” in Joel R. Beeke and Anthony T. Selvaggio, eds., Sing a New Song:  Recovering Psalm Singing for the Twenty-First Century (Grand Rapids, MI:  Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), p. 45.

[3]               Cited in Bushell, Songs of Zion, pp. 32-33.



British Pathe’ Digital Archives

British Pathe filmsOn this archive Thursday I give you notice of a recent digital collection that has been added to the world’s Internet archives. A British news agency, Pathe’ News, formerly quite popular, has posted all 85,000 of its videos online on YouTube. They even have a special WordPress blog devoted to this collection. We will find some very worthwhile historical news items here.

Below is a summary of this fascinating collection from the “BP’ blog:

Newsreel archive British Pathé has uploaded its entire collection of 85,000 historic films, in high resolution, to its YouTube channel. This unprecedented release of vintage news reports and cinemagazines is part of a drive to make the archive more accessible to viewers all over the world.

“Our hope is that everyone, everywhere who has a computer will see these films and enjoy them,” says Alastair White, General Manager of British Pathé. “This archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten. Uploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that.”

British Pathé was once a dominant feature of the British cinema experience, renowned for first-class reporting and an informative yet uniquely entertaining style. It is now considered to be the finest newsreel archive in existence. Spanning the years from 1896 to 1976, the collection includes footage – not only from Britain, but from around the globe – ofmajor events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, sport and culture. The archive is particularly strong in its coverage of the First and Second World Wars.


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