A Rare Book on the Synod of Dordt, 1621

Last month we began to highlight the 400th anniversary of the “great” Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), which begins this year and will extend into next year. In our initial post we simply called attention to some general things.

In this post I want to begin to call attention to some of the special books we have in the PRC Seminary library on the Synod and its work, including, of course, books on the Canons of Dordt, which set forth the distinctive doctrines of the Reformed faith over against the Arminianism that the Synod was called to contend against (This latter type books we will feature at a later time.).


One of those special books is found in our rare book case and is a 1621 edition of the Acts of the Synod of Dordt (cf. outside binding above and title page with familiar drawing of the delegates below).


Yes, you read that correctly – a 1621 edition – printed only two years after the Synod had ended. As you may guess, this work is in Dutch and in old script, which can make it difficult to read.


But, you can certainly make out some of the words, especially on those pages where the various delegates are mentioned from the states and provinces in the Netherlands (cf. pages above and below). Those of us in West Michigan will recognize these provinces because they also are towns found nearby – Drenthe, Overisel, Zeeland, Holland (north and south), Graafschap, Zutphen.

You may notice that the names and the descriptions of the men are Latinized (that is, stated in Latin), which was the language of the church at that time yet.


The page below shows some familiar names at the end of a section of addressing the articles of the Remonstrants (Arminians).


That’s it for now – although I might add that a “new” article on the Synod of Dordt has been added to the PRC website“Our Debt to Dordt” – by one of our current professors, Ronald L. Cammenga. Be sure to read that for more information and inspiration on how Dordt impacts us today.

Tackling More Tricky Word Choices: Issue vs. Problem

To start this new year, GrammarBook.com has been focusing on proper use of words that are close in meaning but often confused. The differences between them can be subtle yet significant, as we saw last time with the conjunctions “as”, “since,” and “because.”

In today’s grammar lesson they focus on “another pair of tricky, freely swapped words” : “issue and problem”. What follows is the important distinction between these two, plus a little quiz to help keep us on the “straight and narrow.”

The primary meaning of issue is “a point or matter of discussion, debate, or dispute between two or more parties.” Other relevant definitions include “a matter of public concern” and “a misgiving, objection, or complaint.” 

Problem, on the other hand, communicates “a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution,” “an intricate unsettled question,” “a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation,” and “difficulty in understanding or accepting.” 

Some dictionaries have helped blur the distinction by allowing the concept of problem to trickle into definitions of issue. Within dictionary entries, appearances of problem under meanings of issue range from near the top to much farther down. 

For example, the online American Heritage Dictionary introduces problem in its second definition of issue, immediately following the first and more weighted one. Conversely, the online Oxford English Dictionary does not mention problem as related with issue until the sixteenth definition. Merriam-Webster alludes to problem in definition six. Dictionary.com does not introduce the idea of problem at all. 

So what, then, do careful writers do when common usage and even dictionaries muddy our mission for precision? We recommend an even greater focus on using issue and problem as we’ve distinguished them here. This will help reinforce the exactness English offers us.

We acknowledge that issue and problem will still be exchanged in spoken communication. At the same time, now that we better understand the difference, we can lead more-accurate usage by keeping their intended primary meanings within our own speech.

And now here is your “pop quiz” to test what you’ve just learned:

Choose either issue or problem as it fits by its main definition in each sentence.

1) I think we have a serious (issue / problem) with the balance sheet. The numbers are way off.

2) Do you think he has (an issue / a problem) with his focus during meetings?

3) The main (issue / problem) here is whether we should allow the empty twenty acres west of Route 45 to be rezoned for commercial use.

4) The council will soon discuss the (issue / problem) of a proposed hike in water rates.

So, how did you do? If not so well, are you facing an issue or a problem? 🙂

Source: Tackling More Tricky Word Choices: Issue vs. Problem – Grammar and Punctuation

Published in: on March 21, 2018 at 10:22 PM  Leave a Comment  

Theologians Who Love the Scriptures – K. Kapic

little-book-theologians-kapicIn the final chapter of his edifying little book, A Little Book for New Theologians (and those not so new), Kelly Kapic ends his study of theology and worship with a wonderful chapter titled “Love of Scripture.”

Here he fittingly shows us the place the inscripturated Word of God must have in our lives as the people of God, whether we are trained theologians or amateur ones. One of his closing points is this:

We must never forget that the purpose of the words is to draw us to the Word and thus into the embrace of the triune God. As people who grow to cherish and delight in the sacred writings, we must never forget their fundamental purpose: that we might know the true God and respond to him in repentance and faith, being drawn into communion with him. Strangely – but not surprisingly to any of us who end up professionally handling the Scriptures on a daily basis – there is always the danger to make the Scriptures an end in and of themselves.

And then the author relates the story of Jesus’ “heated discussion” with the Jews over his authority in connection with his practices on the sabbath day (John 5). He ends up admonishing them concerning the truth that the Scriptures (Moses and the entire OT) pointed to Him and, therefore, they ought to have believed on Him (cf. Jn.5:39-40). Whereupon Kapic concludes with application to ourselves:

Jesus here reminds us that the words of Scripture are alive, not because they are intrinsically magical but because by God’s Spirit they reveal the living Word and draw us to the triune God. To study the words but never encounter the Word is not to miss something. It is to miss everything! Studying the Bible alone, therefore, does not make one a good theologian.

What then? This:

The sacred Scriptures are sacred because, by God’s Spirit, these chosen means reveal God to us and draw us to himself. Here our idols are smashed and our worship is directed to the Creator Lord whose beauty and love is always worthy of our praise. If the Scriptures do not take us to a fuller and richer worship of the triune God, then we have missed the purpose of the written Word. But empowered by God’s Spirit and with a genuine thirst to receive his grace and know his mind, we can search the Scriptures like the Bereans, confident that here the Word is revealed once for all; here is the means by which we can know and live to God, and by this source we can test the claims made about him (Acts 17:11). [pp.117-119]

Shall we make that our deliberate and distinctive purpose as we study theology in the light of God’s holy Word?

“This, then, is the Christ that Jesus would have us know…: One who came to die.” – W. Wangerin, Jr.

Christian, come and look closely: it is when Jesus is humiliated, most seeming weak, bound and despised and alone and defeated that he finally answers the question, ‘Are you the Christ?’

Now, for the record, yes: I am.

It is only in incontrovertible powerlessness that he finally links himself with power: ‘And you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of power.’ Because any display of messianic power is far, far in the future – in his and in ours together, on the last day. The last day of the world, not today!

This, then, is the Christ that Jesus would have us know and accept [receive] and (O Christian!) reflect:

One who came to die.

One who, in the assessment of this age, failed – an embarrassment, a folly, a stumbling block. An offense!

One crucified.

Here in the world, the Christ and his followers hang ever on a cross. The cross is foremost, because a faithless world cannot see past it to the Resurrection.

And even for the faithful the cross must always be first, because the Resurrection is only as real (both in history and in our hearts) as the death is real.

What then of our big churches, Christian? What of our bigger parking lots, our rich coffers, our present power to change laws in the land, our political clout, our glory for Christ, our triumphant and thundering glory for Christ?It is excluded! All of it. It befits no Christian, for it was rejected by Jesus.

If ever we persuade the world (or ourselves) that we have a hero in our Christ, then we have lied. Or else we are deceived, having accepted the standards of this world.

He came to die beneath the world’s iniquity. The world, therefore, can only look down on him whom it defeated – down in hatred until it repents; then it is the world no more.

Likewise, the world will look down on us – down in contempt until it elevates the Christ it sees in us; but then it won’t be our enemy any more, will it?

Reliving-passion-Wangerin-1992Drawn from Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s Reliving the Passion; Meditations on the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus as Recorded in Mark (Zondervan, 1992). This is found in his meditation on Mark 14:61-62, pp.82-83.

The Best Things Found Between the Pages of Old Books – Atlas Obscura

Time for our “Friday Fun” item for this week, and for that we turn once more to Atlas Obscura, that global geographical gem that often features things library and bookish.

Back on February 19 of this year they listed the above-titled item. Having asked their readers to share their best stories about things they had found between the pages of books, hundreds responded with tales of their odd, strange, and amazing findings. What followed was an entertaining list of their “surprising discoveries.”

I have picked out a few of them to highlight, but be sure to visit the link at the end and find out many more. Here are a few to get you started:

Not just money … really old money

An old family Bible contained an envelope with a note on the outside saying, “Grandfather’s revolutionary war pay.” Inside was a colonial currency bill and a signed receipt for its payment for service in the Connecticut 2nd Continental line. —W. Kevin Dougherty, Brackney, Pennsylvania

Forgotten tickets

A 1967 Red Sox World Series Ticket, unused in mint condition. —Robert Bolduc, Boston, Massachusetts

Lost pets

I was about eight years old and had a small goldfish bowl with one goldfish in it on top of a small bookcase in my room. One day he just disappeared and we couldn’t figure out where he went, until the day I was reading one of those books and found a petrified goldfish between the pages. —Rebecca MacLeod

Secret devices

A World War II hidden radio —Ron G. Woering


Found in an old hardcover book about the siege of Fort Sumter, on the discount rack outside of Second Story Books in Dupont Circle. A faded tan piece of construction paper, torn along the bottom edge, as if hastily ripped out of a notebook. Yet the text is carefully typed and dripping with the hope and excitement you’d expect from the title at the top: “MY TRIP AROUND THE WORLD.” It spans from 1970 to 1982, and has our unknown adventurer deep-sea fishing, hunting tigers, sailing distant seas, touring Europe and Asia, and ultimately arriving in San Francisco, where the plan is to, “Sell boat buy land and start cattle ranch.” —Bruce Falconer, Washington, D.C.

So what have you found inside (used) books you had purchased? I can report that what I have mostly found is bookmarks and newspaper clippings. But I am always on the lookout for those truly unusual and special items!

If you have a story to tell, please do!

Source: The Best Things Found Between the Pages of Old Books – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on March 16, 2018 at 9:35 PM  Leave a Comment  

“Open Book” – Hear R.C. Sproul Talk about His Books and Their Impact

How about sitting in on a “chat” with the late R.C. Sproul and listening to him talk about significant books from his personal library that have impacted him and his work?

A dream? No, a dream come true! Thanks to Ligonier Ministries and Steven Nichols, you can now hear such “library chats” through a new weekly podcast called “Open Book.” What a fabulous idea!

The first one was introduced yesterday (Of course, I listened right away – and the first featured book will surprise you!), and it is a eight-and-a-half minute treasure.

Below you will find the link to the podcast. Here is how it is introduced in the email I received:

Which books influenced R.C. Sproul’s life and ministry? Open Book is a new weekly podcast about the power of books and the people they’ve shaped. In season one, host Stephen Nichols shares never-before-heard moments with R.C. Sproul in his home library. Episode one is now available.

We hope you’ll join us each Thursday as we hear amazing stories and insights that R.C. Sproul gleaned from the books on his shelf. Listen on iTunes, Google Play, RefNet, Spotify, TuneIn, Stitcher, RSS, or by visiting OpenBookPodcast.com.

Source: Open Book with Stephen Nichols

How to Read More Books | The Art of Manliness

It has been some time since I posted something from “The Art of Manliness,” but this end-of-February post on AOM was saved for a day such as this.

So, on this Wednesday, you men and I are especially addressed with regard to increasing our reading. “And, how do I do that?”, you ask. Take more time to read! Wasn’t that easy?

One of the founders of AOM states this at the outset:

Last year I read over 120 books. When I posted a collage of my favorite of those 120 reads on Instagram, a lot of guys asked me what my secret was for digesting that many tomes in 12 months.

I’ve developed some tactics during my years of reading for both work and pleasure, and I share them below. If you’re looking to increase your physical and mental library and read more books this year, maybe they’ll work for you too.

If you are like me (and you know I am an avid reader), you respond to that by saying, “Wow! That’s impressive! And, there is no way I can read that much in a year.” And that is probably quite true. Reality is, we will not match that. More than likely, not even come close.

But what if we could start by reading 12 books a year – one a month? That’s doable. But HOW?, you say. Listen to Brett’s simple answer and secret:

When people ask me how I read so many books, they’re usually fishing for a speed reading technique that will allow their brains to swallow books whole.

Speed reading certainly plays a role in my reading technique (more on that later), but it’s not my killer secret.

Lean in. I’m going to whisper the secret to reading a lot of books.

Are you ready?

You need to spend more time reading.

But then, we may respond, “Easy to say; a lot harder to practice.” And that too is true. But here are a couple of practical points about finding more time to read:

Schedule time for reading. You can’t in fact find time for reading; you’ve got to make time for it. And the best way to make time for something is to put it on your daily schedule. You don’t need to set aside an hour straight for reading. If you’re just starting off with making reading a priority, you probably don’t yet have the attention span for it, and trying to read that long in one sitting will likely set you up for frustration. Instead, block off 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night for reading. …make those 20-minute blocks if a half hour still seems too long. Instead of doing your typical time-wasting smartphone scan at those times, you’ll read. You’ll be amazed how many books you can knock off in a month by reading an hour a day.

Use spare moments for reading. Even though your daily schedule may seem packed, there are invariably small pockets of time hidden in its interstices that you typically waste. A few minutes of downtime between activities or appointments may seem trivial, but they soon add up to hours, and to entire books read; there’s great possibilities in spare moments!

Standing in line at the post office? Read a book. Cooling your heels at the dentist? Read a book. Pooping? Read a book. Waiting to pick up your kid from school? Read.

Pardon the crassness there, but you get the point, I hope. There is time in every day for reading. More time than we realize. We just need to take advantage of it. And, yes, that means leaving the phone and tablet aside so that we are focused on reading. That is harder. That takes discipline. But you and I can do it.

Will we commit to it? Find a book at home and start reading it. Of course, now. You won’t believe how relaxing it is. 🙂

Or you can finish reading this good, motivational article. Here’s the link to the rest of it.

Source: How to Read More Books | The Art of Manliness

What the Church Loses as She Abandons the KJV – “Authorized” by M. Ward

authorized-ward-2018We are beginning to look at a new book that examines Christians’ use and misuse of the King James Version of the Bible. The book is Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible, written by Mark Ward and published by Lexham Press (2018).

In our first post we introduced the book and gave a glimpse of its contents, leaving a quotation from the author’s introduction. Today let’s look at chapter 1, which Ward titles, “What We Lose as the Church Stops Using the KJV.”

Ward makes this comment to start the chapter:

Much of English-speaking Christianity has sent the King James Version, too, to that part of the forest where trees fall with no one there to hear them. That’s what we do with old Bible translations.

But I don’t think many people have carefully considered what will happen if we all decide to let the KJV die and another take its office.

There are at least five valuable things we lose – things that in many places we are losing and have already lost – if we give up the KJV… [p.7]

Those five things are these (first I will quote them, then I will reference one further):

  1. We lose intergenerational ties in the body of Christ.
  2. We lose Scripture memory by osmosis.
  3. We lose a cultural touchstone.
  4. We lose some of the implicit trust Christians have in the Bibles in their laps.
  5. We lose some of the implicit trust non-Christians have in Scripture.

Ward makes good points in connection with each of these, but we will focus on what he has to say about #2 – and his point ought to be well taken:

When an entire church, or group of churches, or even an entire nations of Christians, uses basically one Bible translation, genuinely wonderful things happen. An individual Christian’s knowledge of the Bible increases almost by accident, because certain phrases become woven into the language of the community.

…Christians in my growing-up years were constantly reinforcing each other’s knowledge of the KJV every time they mentioned it in conversation. We were teaching each other Bible phrases when we read Scripture out loud together in church. (Corporate reading from five different translations just doesn’t work. I’ve heard it done – no, attempted.)

People can memorize any Bible translation on their own, but the community value of learning by osmosis is eroded when people aren’t reinforcing precisely the same wording. It helps to have a common standard. That standard doesn’t have to be the KJV, of course. [This is going to be the author’s thesis throughout, in spite of what he says positively and powerfully here and elsewhere about the Bible with which he grew up.] But no other translation seems likely to serve in the role. If indeed the King is dying, it is just as sure that none of his sons or cousins have managed to become the heir apparent.[pp.8-9]

That last point is, indeed, putting it mildly. As the modern versions have proliferated, Christians have been tossed hither and yon on the sea of Bible versions – to their spiritual detriment, we believe. And yet we recognize that the KJV has issues with modern Christians – even our own children and young people. Why? And what can be done about it?

Next time we will consider more of what Ward has to say about this matter.

Ordinary Callings: Cultural Transformation or Loving Service ? M. Horton

ordinary-MHorton-2014The above is the heading of a section of Michael Horton’s book Or-di-nary (see details below), in which he contrasts the gospel’s call to “ordinary” Christian service in the church and in the world, based on Christ’s saving work for believers and the Holy Spirit’s work in them, with the popular idea of transforming society or culture.

Here are a few of his significant thoughts (He makes five of them):

First, the call to radical transformation of society can easily distract faith’s gaze from Christ and focus it on ourselves. Such people hold that the gospel has to be something more than the good news concerning Christ’s victory. It has to expand to include our good works rather than to create the faith that bears the fruit of good works. The church has to be something more than the place where God humbles himself, serving sinners with his redeeming grace. It has to be the home base for our activism, more than being the site of God’s activity from which we are sent and scattered like salt into the world.

…Far too many people hold that it’s not who we are that determines what we do, but what we do that determines who we are. Community service becomes something more than believers simply loving their neighbors through their ordinary callings in the world. It becomes part of the church’s missionary task. It’s not what we hear and receive, but what we are and do that gives us a sense of identity and purpose. We need something more than the gospel to trust in – or at least the gospel has to be something more than the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for sinners Apparently, Jesus got the ball rolling, but we are his partners in redeeming the world.

Instead of following the example of John the Baptist, who pointed away from himself to ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29), we offer our own lives and transformations as the good news. But this is to deny the gospel and therefore to cut off the power of true godliness and neighbor love at its root.

And in his next point he makes this solid point:

Second, radical views of cultural transformation actually harm our callings in this world. The most basic problem is that it reverses the direction of God’s gift giving.  According to Scripture, God gives us life, redeems us, justifies us, and renews us. He does this by his Spirit, through the gospel – not just in the beginning, but throughout our lives. Hearing this gospel, from Genesis to Revelation, is the means by which the Spirit creates faith in our hearts. United to Christ, our faith immediately begins to bear the fruit of evangelical repentance and good works. We offer these not to God for reimbursement, but to our neighbors for their good. If we reverse this flow of gifts, nobody wins. God is offended by our presumption that we could add something more to the perfect salvation he has won for us in his Son. We are therefore on the losing side of the bargain, and our neighbors are too, since our works are directed to God on our behalf rather than to our neighbor on God’s behalf.

Taken from chapter 8 of Michael Horton’s Or-di-nary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014), which I am currently making my way through. The chapter is strikingly titled “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” The paragraphs I have quoted are found on pp.155-57.

” In the night of gravest human treachery he gave the gift of himself. …This is grace.” – W. Wangerin, Jr.

…The love of Jesus is utterly unaccountable – except that he is God and God is love. It has no cause in us. It reacts to, or repays, or rewards just nothing in us. It is beyond human measure, beyond human comprehension. It takes my breath away.

For when did Jesus choose to give us the supernal, enduring gift of his presence, …his dear communing with us [he is referring to the Lord’s Supper]? When we were worthy of the gift, good people indeed? Hardly. It was precisely when we were most unworthy. When our wickedness was directed particularly at him.

Listen, children: it was to the insolent and the hateful that he gave his gift of personal love.

…With the apostle Paul the pastor repeats: ‘The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread.’ Oh, let that pastor murmur those words, ‘the same night,’ with awe. For who among us can hear them just before receiving the gift of Christ’s intimacy and not be overcome with wonder, stunned at such astonishing love? The context qualifies that love. The time defines it. And ever and ever again, these words remind us of the times: ‘The same night in which he was betrayed’

…Then! That same night! When absolutely nothing recommended us. When ‘we were enemies.’ Enemies! In the night when his people betrayed him – the night of intensest enmity – the dear Lord Jesus said, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many.’ Then! Can we comprehend the joining of two such extremes, the good and the evil together? In the night of gravest human treachery he gave the gift of himself. And the giving has never ceased.

…But in that same night he remembered our need. In that same night he provided the sacrament which would forever contain his grace and touch his comfort into us.

Oh, this is a love past human expectation. This is beyond all human deserving. This, therefore, is a love so celestial that it shall endure long and longer than we do.

This is grace.

Reliving-passion-Wangerin-1992Drawn from Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s Reliving the Passion; Meditations on the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus as Recorded in Mark (Zondervan, 1992). This is found in his meditation on Mark 14:22-25, pp.54-55.