“Imagine reading the Christmas story for the first time…” – W. Tyndale’s 1526 NT

tyndale-teems​”For the first time, England has a New Testament in its own English, translated from the original Greek. Into the stream of language and thought comes a fresh offering, wave after wave of new text, of stunning new shapes and linguistic forms. The great partition was brought down, and this new Bible would say different things to people about the God they only thought they knew.

“Imagine reading the Christmas story for the first time, or having it read to you in your own language, a story you vaguely knew something about, and now there are images and movement, and in a language you recognize as your own. The nuance, the subtle patterns and shifts, where it weeps, where it exults, where it groans, where it questions, where it commands.

“If the following text sounds familiar to our ears, it was startlingly new to theirs. The original spelling allows us a chance to read over someone’s shoulder, the way it came to them.

And Mary sayde. My soule magnifieth the Lorde. And my sprete [spirit] reioyseth in god my savioure For he hath loked on the povre [poor] degre of his honde mayde. Beholde now from hence forth shall all generacions call me blessed. For he that is myghty hath done to me greate thinges and holye is his name . . .

And she brought forth her fyrst begotten sonne and wrapped him in swadlynge cloothes and layed him in a manger because ther was no roume for them in the ynne. And ther were in the same region shepherdes abydinge in the felde and watching their flocke by nyght. And loo: the angell of ye [the] lorde stode harde by them and the brightnes of ye lorde shone rounde aboute them and they were soare afrayed. But the angell sayd vnto them: Be not afrayed. For beholde I bringe you tydinges of greate ioye yt shal come to all ye people: for vnto you is borne this daye in the cite [city] of David a saveoure which is Christ ye [the] lorde. And take this for a signe: ye shall fynde ye [the] chylde swadled and layed in a manger. (William Tyndale New Testament 1526, excerpt from Luke 2)

“Into the fluid rush and bubble of English life there is a new presence—fire-new phrases, easily accessible, memorable, buoyant, and more than anything, familiar. Each one seasoned with a folky Gloucestershire charm. Tyndale, for the first time in English history, gives God room to be God, and gives the Englishman room to imagine God in ways that have been denied him—and with a new English that fuses glory and simplicity.

Taken from David Teems’ Tyndale: the Man Who Gave God an English Voice (Thomas Nelson, 2012; Kindle ed., pp.59-60).

Published in: on December 9, 2017 at 9:21 PM  Leave a Comment  

Sem Scenes – November/December 2017

On this Friday, for fun, let’s take a look around and see what has been happening at the PRC Seminary of late (this Fall of 2017).

An early Fall picture of seminary front.

I have been taking a few pictures of people and things, so here you go!

Sunset on Wednesday night this week.

The next morning – this Thursday after first snowfall of the new season.

Mrs. Judi Doezema’s Christmas cactus (forefront) and Mandevilla plant (background) – taken this week.


One of our students (Jacob Maatman) playing the pump organ at seminary.
Note: He loves good Luther hymns and Genevan Psalms as well as classical pieces.


We enjoyed a special visitor from the Netherlands this week (Cees Van Steenselen), who sat in on classes at seminary, visited two of our Christian schools, and whom I took downtown Grand Rapids by the river for a short (cold!) stay by the fish ladder.

A certain new professor excited about his new office.
Don’t worry, we are teaching him how to use his furniture properly.


Sometimes we get “friendly” visitors outside the doors whom we don’t want to come inside (though they have in the past – just ask Rev. R. Barnhill, our former snake-lover!).

Finally, a book plate I recently came across in one of the Letis books. As we enter the winter season, one to make us long for Spring.

Published in: on December 8, 2017 at 2:17 PM  Leave a Comment  

New Reformation Books – Review – C. Castaldo

In today’s post we return to a Reformation 500 book theme – only a few weeks left in our year-long commemoration of the great Reformation of the 16th century!

In Christianity Today’s book review section pastor Chris Castaldo recently reviewed two new books that treat Catholic-Protestant relations in connection with the Reformation. About such a subject he has this to say by way of introduction:

During this 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses—the Reformation’s start by traditional reckoning—we see extremes. Some Christians are foaming at the mouth like pit bulls, going for the jugular of their Catholic or Protestant opponents. Others are so open-minded that their brains fall out of their heads. Such variety is reflected in books, conferences, and in general discussion of things Catholic and Protestant. Two books published this year offer bright shining examples of how the conversation should be engaged—with warm hearts, respectful attitudes, and seriousness about theological detail.

We will skip the first one (treating Peter Kreeft’s Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?), and look at the second one, since that is also one recently added to the seminary library (after a profitable trip to Baker Book House in Grand Rapids).

Roman-not-Catholic-2017This is how Castaldo starts his treatment of the second book:

The second book is Roman but Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years after the Reformation by Kenneth J. Collins and Jerry L. Walls, both evangelical Protestants. They share Kreeft’s gift for conveying theological substance with clarity, and their work is extraordinary for its far-ranging scope and depth of analysis. Focusing preeminently on Roman Catholicism, it is written to help Catholics become more informed and to encourage Protestants to more earnestly embrace their rich catholic heritage.

In another paragraph the reviewer summarizes the key points of the book:

Roman but Not Catholic addresses the most important questions in the opening chapters: What do Roman Catholics and Protestants share in common? How does Catholic tradition relate to the church’s various traditions? What is the role of Scripture? And is Rome necessary to enjoy the fullness of apostolic faith? Following from these important chapters are 16 more that probe the most significant topics, including church authority, revelation, sacraments, priesthood, papacy, popular Catholic apologetics, Mary, justification, and more. The conclusion, with the book’s title in mind, asserts that Rome’s exclusive claims inevitably lead to “sola Roma,” a self-referential position that detracts from the genuine catholicity of the church.

This looks to be a good read to me, but I am not sure when I will get at this book. But perhaps you will have time, and if this is the type of Reformation 500 book that interests you, Roman But Not Catholic may be the place to start. For the rest of the reviews of these books, use the link above.

I have read the reviewer’s own book on Protestant-Catholic relations (he is a convert from Roman Catholicism; cf. his Talking with Catholics about the Gospel), and found it profitable. If you are interested in more by him, He blogs at www.chriscastaldo.com.

Word Wednesday: “Aedes, EDIF”

Dictionary-latin-greek-originsThis past weekend in a local thrift store I discovered and picked up a new word book – Dictionary of Latin and Greek Origins: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classical Origins of English Words (Barnes & Noble, 2000), co-authored by Bob Moore and Maxine Moore.

Perhaps that title does not strike you as enticing and exciting, but let me tell you that it is a great book with marvelous content! As the title reveals, this special dictionary gives the user the Latin and Greek roots of many common English words. And once you get to that radical word (as in “root”), a whole world of vocabulary opens up to you.

The first listing in this dictionary is a case in point. I’ve given you the Latin root (“aedes”) and the common base form (“EDIF) in the heading to this past, just as the authors do with each listing. In addition, and in between those two words, they give the “core meaning,” in this case “a building, temple.” Now here is the rest of the information on this important Latin word:

The original meaning of aedes was ‘building a hearth,’ the fire in the hearth being the center of the home in early times, furnishing both heat and light. For centuries poets, among others, have spoken of the joys of family and hearth. Over time, its meaning expanded from the hearth itself to the home and building that enclosed it.

It is from this root that our EDIFice derives, usually used in reference to a large and imposing building, often a temple. [Then follows a sample sentence.] “The Greeks worshiped their gods in imposing edifices.”

Eventually EDIFy came to mean instruct, educate, and enlighten, especially morally or spiritually. [Another sample sentence follows.] “The sight of Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome edified all of us. We had never experienced such an edifying moment.” Thus EDIFication is enlightenment, education, instruction, guidance, improvement, and schooling. “For my edification, would you kindly tell me how this fender bender came about?” The apostle Paul wrote in Corinthians, ‘Knowledge puffeth up, but charity EDIFieth.” {Yes, the KJV is referenced!]

An “aedile” (also edile) in ancient Rome was an official in charge of buildings, sports, roads, sanitation services, and other public projects.

Now, you can’t tell me that that isn’t useful verbal information! Look how many words come from that one Latin root! See what knowing a little classical language will do for you? 🙂

Let’s do this again sometime, shall we? Have any common words you want to know the root to? I can guess it has a Latin or Greek origin!

Published in: on December 6, 2017 at 6:16 AM  Comments (2)  

Best Books (Non-fiction) for 2017 – T. Reinke

It is indeed that time of year when we see postings on websites and blogs for the best books of the year. Over the weekend Tony Reinke of Desiring God posted his, so we will start with that one this week. In the weeks to come we will post more.

We do this so that you may see what other Christians suggest for the benefit of your own reading and library-building, but also so that you may have some gift ideas for your holiday shopping.

Below is Reinke’s introduction to this list, followed by a paragraph I think our readers will find of interest (note the reference to Abraham Kuyper). By the way, Reinke himself has a good one published this year – 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You.

Once again, I’m honored to choose my favorite nonfiction Christian books published in the last calendar year, my twelfth consecutive list. 2017 proved to be the most difficult year yet (and I’m sure I said the same thing last year), all driven by aggressive publishing momentum.

This year about 120 new titles caught my attention, and I set out to read the best of them until I could whittle down a list of my 17 favorite reads from the year. But before getting to the list, a few overall comments.

Female authors continue publishing new books at a swift pace, strong in 2014 and a little less prominent in 2015, but with more steam in 2016 and 2017. Women are now a mainstay and growing proportion of Christian publishing.

Christian publishing continues to deliver on aesthetics across the board, both on cover design and interior design, illustrated by projects like the ESV Illuminated Bible from Crossway and the beautiful Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon series (volume 1 and volume 2) from B&H.

Once again, 2017 did not quite deliver biblical theology or commentaries like we saw in 2015, although we do continue to see solid contributions in two premier series: New Studies in Biblical Theology (IVP) and Short Studies in Biblical Theology (Crossway).

And here is the paragraph about some titles that will grab our readers’ attention:

Several significant books in 2017 again attempted to unknot the questions over how Christians best relate to politics and society (no small task). The most talked about book of the year was Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option, a strategy of withdrawal from culture in order to better engage with it. Also noteworthy was James K.A. Smith’s Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology, a call to return to a robust Augustinian and Kuyperian model in all its glory. Speaking of Abraham Kuyper, Craig Bartholomew wrote a captivating book, Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition: A Systematic Introduction (a book I reviewed for The Gospel Coalition). And 2017 marked the midpoint in Logos/Lexham Press’s ambitious English-translation work of the 12-volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology.

Published in: on December 5, 2017 at 6:49 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Promised Christ: The Desire of All Nations – Rev. R. Hanko

That he [Jesus Christ in Haggai 2:7] is called the Desire of all nations is a reference to his being lovely to the people of God in his saving grace and power. They say of him; ‘He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem’ (Song of Sol. 5:16). They say this only by grace, for without grace he is not lovely but despised and rejected. He is called the Desire of all nations especially, however, because he is the fulfillment of everything the temple represented: the covenant and fellowship with God as members of his family under one roof.

He is the ‘desires’ (plural) of the nations because all pleasant and desirable riches are found in him.

…He is, as David says, ‘all my salvation, and all my desire’ (2 Sam.23:5). He is the ‘chiefest among ten thousand’ (Song of Sol. 5:10), the Wisdom of God who is more to be desired than rubies (Prov.8:11).

Christ is desirable as the one described in Psalm 45:2: ‘Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee forever.’ He is desirable as the one in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col.2:3), as the one who is the only begotten Son of God come in the flesh, as the savior of sinners whose blood is more precious than gold or silver. He is desirable in his person, in his works, and in his gifts – as the one in whom we are chosen of God, as redeemer, deliverer, intercessor, and judge. There is nothing undesirable about him, and the unbelief of many who do not desire him is not a reflection on his glory but a testimony to their blindness.

Coming_of_Zion_s_Redeemer -LgFrom Rev. Ronald Hanko’s commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer, RFPA, 2014), where he is explaining the prophecy of Haggai 2:6,7 (pp.58-59):

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;

And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.

Published in: on December 3, 2017 at 9:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

“How was church today?” Ordinary is “quite extraordinary indeed.” – M. Horton

ordinary-MHorton-2014I continue to read Michael Horton’s Or-di-nary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014), taking in chapter 4 today – “The Next  Big Thing.” In this chapter Horton takes on the contemporary church’s craving for the new and novel, while ignoring and shunning God’s ordinary means of grace for His church and people.

Toward the end of the chapter the author has a section headed by those words “How was church today?” Here’s what he has to say in response to that common question raised in our day:

…In most times and places of the church, this would have been an unlikely question. In fact, the hearer might have been confused. Why? Because it’s like asking how the meals at home have been this week or asking a farmer how the crops did this week. ‘How was the sermon” ‘Was it a good service?’ Same blank stare from the ancestors. In those days, churches didn’t have to be rockin’ it, nobody expected the preacher to hit it out of the park, and the service was, well, a service.

Now, that doesn’t mean that what happens at church through these ordinary means in ordinary services of ordinary churches on ordinary weeks is itself ordinary. What happens is quite extraordinary indeed. First and foremost, God shows up. He judges and justifies, draws sinners and gathers his sheep to his Son by his Word and Spirit. He unites them to Christ, bathes them and feeds them, teaches and tends them along their pilgrim way. He expands his empire even as he deepens it. It is through this divinely ordained event that ‘the powers of the age to come’ penetrate into the darkest crevices of this passing evil age (Heb 6:3-6).

Which leads Horton to add these thoughts:

So one way people might have responded in times past, at least in churches of the Reformation, would have been something like these expressions: ‘Well, it was one more nail in the coffin of the old Adam’ or ‘God absolved me’ or maybe something as simple as, ‘It’s been good to understand the Gospel of John a little better over these past few months.’ [p.83]

How will we answer that question after we have been to our “ordinary” houses of worship and prayer tomorrow? May we realize again how “quite extraordinary” God’s good way of feeding us and caring for us in His church is.

Antithetical Living in Benzonia, Michigan – B. Catton

…To meet the nagging problems of this world while you are thinking about the requirements of the next does not always come easily; nor does constant preoccupation with such matters make you popular with your neighbors [Catton is referring especially to the effort of his town’s fathers to establish a Christian community through Christian education.]. Benzonia was not well liked by the rest of the county. We were suspected of thinking ourselves better than the other folk, and of having standards that were too high for any earthly use, and probably there was something in the charge.

I remember one time a baseball team from a nearby town came over to play our team. Our team was badly beaten, and afterward I watched a wagonload of out-of-town fans start off on the homeward trip. These people were jubilant, and a woman sitting beside the driver called out gaily: ‘We came here to see Benzony get trimmed, and by Jolly they did get trimmed.’

This was bad to hear. There was malice in it; furthermore, the woman had said ‘by Jolly,’ which was simply a thin disguise for ‘by Golly.’ No one knew just what ‘Golly’ was a euphemism for, but it clearly was some sort of profanity, and no woman in Benzonia would have used the word. It appeared that the children of darkness had triumphed over the sons of light. [p.24]

waiting-train-catton-1987Taken from Bruce Catton’s second essay “Our Town” in the book Waiting for the Morning Train: An American Boyhood (Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1987). This is the author who is a noted Civil War scholar, author of A Stillness at Appomattox and This Hallowed Ground, and who at age 70 wrote this book (Waiting for the Morning Train) on his childhood life in Benzie County, Michigan, specifically the little town of Benzonia. I recently came on this book in a local thrift store and am finding it a good read on life in the northern part of our great state!

As you can tell from this quote, Catton is reflecting on the Christian environment in which he grew up in Benzonia, “our town.” We might even say he had a sense of the antithesis.

Rev. G. Vos 25th Anniversary Ministry Album: The Redlands PRC Years, 1932-43

In the last few months we have made several posts concerning the recent treasure-gift for the PRC archives – a beautiful leather volume commemorating the 25-year ministry anniversary of Rev. G. Vos (1894-1968).


The book (which must date from 1952 and probably at least a year before that) is filled with pictures and congratulatory notes from the four PRC congregations Rev. Vos had served up to that point – Sioux Center, IA, 1927-29; Hudsonville, 1929-1932; Hope, Redlands CA, 1932-1943; Edgerton, MN, 1943-1948; and then Hudsonville again, 1948-1966, which is where he was when his 25th anniversary in the ministry was celebrated.

In our previous post we featured those years of Vos’ second charge, when he was in Hudsonville PRC for the first time, from 1929 to 1932. Today let’s look at the time of his third charge, which was Hope, Redlands CA, from 1932 to 1943.

We are able to post all nine (9) of the scanned pages from the album. Those of you with Redlands’ roots will recognize these people and places – enjoy!

Scan_20170912 (11) Scan_20170912 (12) Scan_20170912 (13) Scan_20170912 (14) Scan_20170912 (15) Scan_20170912 (16) Scan_20170912 (17) Scan_20170912 (18) Scan_20170912 (19)

Published in: on November 30, 2017 at 2:22 PM  Leave a Comment  

Refresh – “Reset” for Women

Refresh-Murray-2017You may recall my posts on David Murray’s profitable book for men, Reset (Crossway, 2017). Now, he and his wife Shona have collaborated on a version for women – Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in  a World of Demands (Crossway, 2017).

While Dr. David Murray is a pastor (Free Reformed Church) and professor (Puritan Reformed Seminary), his wife is a medical doctor. Being married with busy careers and raising five children together means they know the stresses and strains of life in our do-it-all, burn-out society. But as Reformed Christians, they also know the refreshing, resetting character of God’s sovereign grace in Jesus Christ. And it is about that that they write in this book, this time specifically with our overwhelmed women, wives, mothers, and daughters in view.

Crossway gives this brief introduction to the book on its website:

“I feel so overwhelmed.”

Do you race from one thing to the next, unable to keep up with all the demands of your ever-growing to-do list? Are you overcommitted and overstretched, but don’t know how to slow down when the world just says to speed up? Is there any hope for rest in a world of never-ending demands?

Many women don’t realize they’re running at an unsustainable pace until it hurts them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Drawing on many years of counseling and their own experiences of burnout, wife and husband team Shona and David Murray want to help you slow down to a more grace-paced life—enabling you to avoid the pitfall of burnout, cultivate sustainable habits for the future, and experience the rest of body and soul that God intends for you.

I have received a review copy and would love to see one of our ladies take it and do a short review of it. If you are interested, please contact me here or at my email address.

Perhaps before the book gets taken we can take a further look at it and pull a few choice quotes from it.