Rev.H.Hoeksema’s 30th Birthday Noted in “The Banner”

Today I stumbled on a great archive item while browsing through a bound volume of 1916 “Banners” (The Banner was then and still is today the official publication of the Christian Reformed Church) found in Prof. (emeritus) D.Engelsma’s library, which I have started to process.

Knowing that Rev.Herman Hoeksema (one of the founders of the PRC in 1925) was a newly-ordained CRC minister in 1916 (he was ordained on Sept.16, 1915 in the 14th St. CRC in Holland, MI), I looked at some early issues of this collection of 1916 Banners.

It wasn’t long before I discovered two references in the “Church News” section of the March 23, 1916 issue (The Banner was a weekly magazine at the time, published every Thursday!) to his Holland congregation celebrating his thirtieth (30th) birthday.

March23-1916 Banner cover_Page_1

 

I scanned the front cover of this issue, so that you can see what The Banner looked like in those days (not the best scan due to the size but still readable). And then I also scanned the page of “Church News” (under “Holland Notes”) where the two references to the 14 St. CRC marking Hoeksema’s birthday may be found (click on the images to enlarge).

I think you will rather enjoy these little historical notices. I also type them out there for ease of reading.

March23-1916 Banner inside pg re HH_Page_1

Middle column notice:

Surprises will play an important part among the news items this week.

The first one was by the Ladies’ Aid Society of the 14th St. church on their pastor, Rev.H.Hoeksema. It being the thirtieth anniversary of his birth last week Monday, the ladies came en masse and brought, as a token of esteem, thirty silver dollars. The presentation speech was made by Mrs.M. Van Putten and a very enjoyable time spent.

Third column notice:

March 13, was Rev.H.Hoeksema’s birthday, the 30th. In the evening the Ladies’ Aid surprised him and presented him with as many dollars as he had seen summers. Tuesday evening, March 14th, a catechism class brought a fine rocker to the parsonage and spent the evening with the domine’ and his wife. Such an expression of appreciation will do the heart of the pastor good and urge him on to greater effort in the work of the Lord.

Early CRC Life in Orange City, IA – John J. Timmerman

Through a Glass Lightly-TimmermanIn his “semi-autobiographical story” titled Through a Glass Lightly (Eerdmans, 1987), John J.Timmerman, long-time professor in the English Department at Calvin College (my alma mater), reflects on his early years in Orange City, IA, where he grew up as an adopted son of a CRC minister (Jan Timmerman).

I found his thoughts on his family and church life in NW Iowa in the early twentieth century to be a fascinating look at the nature of Reformed church life in our “mother church”, so on this archive/history day this is part of our history lesson.

Orange City, Iowa, in 1909 was a little town almost lost in the endless prairies. Most of the members of my father’s church were survivers, sturdy people of great faith and superior intelligence who had refused to be conquered by successive waves of crop-devouring grasshoppers.

…The city, as it called itself, was to a large extent a Dutch town. Dutch was spoken in the stores, on the porches, in sermons and catechism classes; even the horses understood some of it. The city paper, ‘Volksvriend’, was a Dutch paper. It was a very civilized city: I don’t remember if it even had a jail; and I never saw a drunk. The congregation was, as my father often said, well above average in intelligence and reading habits, and some of them read Kuyper and Bavinck instead of merely displaying their works. Religion was at the core.

As a little boy, I has no awareness that our church was a citadel of conservative and exclusivistic religion. From the perspective of a boy, we were, as a church and individuals, in the infallible hands of the Lord, God’s eye was upon us, especially during the three Sunday services, devotions at every meal, and evening prayers – but everywhere else also. I remember my mother saying, when some children were missing in a storm, ‘De Heere Jesus zal de kinderen wel bewaren’ (‘the Lord Jesus will surely care for the children’). Life in those days was often harsh: childhood diseases were less curable; pitiful accidents occurred on the farms; great storms ravaged the land; hail wiped out crops. Tornadoes were eerie and devastating. However, nothing – nothing at all – was outside the pattern of the Lord. Religion was a comfort in life and death, and the grave a resting place before glory (7-8).

Ash Wednesday: Picking and Choosing our Piety – Reformation21

Ash Wednesday: Picking and Choosing our Piety – Reformation21.

Ash WednesdayToday is Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent on the church’s calendar – at least if you are Roman Catholic (preceded by “Fat Tuesday” and Mardi Gras, those paragons of piety!), Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican (especially later).

But of late it has also become fashionable for Protestant groups (“evangelicals”) and even Reformed folk to get excited about Lent and start practicing its customs, from fasting and fish-feasting to having ashes put on one’s forehead.

That’s why I appreciated Carl Trueman’s forthrightness in addressing this evangelical trendiness in this online article posted at Reformation21. He makes some excellent points about why Reformed Christians do not need Lent – with or without its ashes.

I give a few paragraphs here, encouraging you to read the full article at the “Ref21″ link above.

It’s that time of year again: the ancient tradition of Lent, kick-started by Ash Wednesday. It is also the time of year when us confessional types brace ourselves for the annual onslaught of a more recent tradition: that of evangelical pundits, with no affiliation to such branches of the church, writing articles extolling Lent’s virtues to their own eclectic constituency.

… The imposition of ashes is intended as a means of reminding us that we are dust and forms part of a liturgical moment when sins are ‘shriven’ or forgiven. In fact, a well-constructed worship service should do that anyway. Precisely the same thing can be conveyed by the reading of God’s Word, particularly the Law, followed by a corporate prayer of confession and then some words of gospel forgiveness drawn from an appropriate passage and read out loud to the congregation by the minister.

An appropriately rich Reformed sacramentalism also renders Ash Wednesday irrelevant. Infant baptism emphasizes better than anything else outside of the preached Word the priority of God’s grace and the helplessness of sinless humanity in the face of God. The Lord’s Supper, both in its symbolism (humble elements of bread and wine) and its meaning (the feeding on Christ by faith) indicates our continuing weakness, fragility and utter dependence upon Christ.

…Finally, it also puzzles me that time and energy is spent each year on extolling the virtues of Lent when comparatively little is spent on extolling the virtues of the Lord’s Day. Presbyterianism has its liturgical calendar, its way of marking time: Six days of earthly pursuits and one day of rest and gathered worship. Of course, that is rather boring. Boring, that is, unless you understand the rich theology which underlies the Lord’s Day and gathered worship, and realize that every week one meets together with fellow believers to taste a little bit of heaven on earth.

PRC Archives – The Reformed Witness of NW Iowa & MN

The Protestant Reformed Churches in America have a long history of local evangelism and “church extension” work performed by the congregations (besides her denominational mission work), much of it involving the use of printed materials – sermons, radio messages, pamphlets, and brochures.

The PRC also love the name “Reformed Witness”, with at least four ministries bearing this name, including our well-known radio program, The Reformed Witness Hour.

RefdWitness-1960s Ed-HHanko-1

Yesterday, while processing a few items that had come in from Harold Schipper (through his son-in-law Bob Ensink), archive assistant Bob Drnek discovered a few old pamphlets (1960s) produced by “The Reformed Witness” of NW Iowa (with “committee” added to that name to give you the group responsible for the evangelism work) – a cooperative effort of the NW Iowa PRCs and Edgerton, MN PRC – and still active in that ministry, I might add.

Refd Witness Bible Quiz-1_Page_1

I scanned two of these older issues, so that you can see the progression in style (click on them to enlarge). Both contain articles written by Rev.Herman Hanko (You will see the titles from the covers). Yes, I said, REV. H.Hanko, not Professor, for Rev.H.Hanko was minister of Doon PRC at the time of their writing. Which places the pamphlets between 1963 and 1965, the years he was Doon’s pastor. It was in 1965 that he accepted the call to serve as professor in our Seminary, a position he held until his retirement in 2001.

But then, much to my surprise, when I opened up the one edition (the one on “Evolutionism”), there was a Bible Quiz inside! So, there we have a “Friday Fun” item too – a day early!

I cut and pasted the quiz so that it would be on one page. You and/or your family can be challenged by that this weekend. I would be interested in your “score” (“excellent, good, or fair”?!). Click on the image to open it separately, and then right click on it to print it. Enjoy!

Refd Witness Bible Quiz-2_Page_1

Respecting and Learning from the Aged Members of Christ’s Flock – Mrs.M.Laning

The February 1, 2015 issue of the Standard Bearer has been published and is arriving in the mail. Ours came this past Saturday, and today I would like to begin this month by highlighting a few articles in this issue.

SB-Feb1-2015-cover

I might start by saying that there is a fine variety of edifying content in this “SB” – see the image of the front cover here for details (click to enlarge); but one article that I call your special attention to in this post is that penned by Mrs. Margaret Laning (wife of Rev.James Laning, Hull IA PRC). She is a contributor to the rubric “When Thou Sittest in Thine House”, and this time she has written a wonderful piece about the value of the elderly saints in the church, and how the younger members – especially teenagers – would benefit from paying attention to them.

Here is one such paragraph of sound advice from her article “Renewed in Old Age”:

The younger will greatly benefit from the older saints’ wisdom. Many years have they prayerfully studied God’s Word and applied its principles to everyday life. The older saints have experience. By God’s grace they have learned from toil and sweat, from relationships, from good decisions and bad, from the grief of sin and the ‘hard knocks’ that follow, and from the liberating path of repentance. They are skilled problem-solvers and graced with contentment with the unsolvable, trusting in the Lord’s perfect will. It is good to bring this out to our children: listen to the older saints and learn. Put away your texting and entertainment, and fellowship with them. Show them your love, respect, and express why they are valuable to you (209).

I believe there’s wisdom in that advice, don’t you, young people? When was the last time you stopped to greet and talk with an older member of your congregation after the service? Did you ever go with your friends to a nursing home and visit with a widow or widower? Have you made an effort to spend time with your own grandparents lately?

These are things for all of us in the church to think about. I know Mrs. Laning’s article made me think about my own attention to the aged saints in my church. Do we really count them valuable? Then let’s show them.

Preaching Without Fear or Favor – B.Gritters

SB - Jan15-2015As a good complement to today’s earlier post about the importance of preaching to ourselves, Prof.B.Gritters (PRC Seminary) writes about the importance of faithful ministers of the Word preaching “without fear or favor” (of man) in their congregations.

This is the title of his editorial in the latest issue (Jan.15, 2015) of The Standard Bearer, the Reformed semi-monthly magazine unofficially tied to the PRC. Prof.Gritters uses the Latin expression for his title: “Sine Timore Aut Favore (that is, “without fear or favor”): A Motto for Preachers.”

In this editorial he points out that it is not only true that the pulpit impacts the pew (“preaching changes lives”) but also that the pew can impact the pulpit – and not always for good. The temptation is great for the preacher to cater to the sinful weaknesses of his congregation – out of “fear or favor” of certain members, so that the pew silences the pulpit from addressing the very sins the members needs to repent of.

This is how he addresses this great danger at the end of the article:

The longer there is silence, or a muted sound, on a particular weakness in the congregation, the more difficult it will become ever to speak about it again. The easier it will be simply to abandon this particular aspect of the Christian faith or life.

All the parties involved must pull together to keep the church from this sad end. Ministers must be bold. Indeed wise, careful, and patient, but also bold. Let the fear and favor of God, not man, govern what and how he speaks. And the favor of God upon the congregation that is sanctified by bold preaching will be all the reward any faithful minister needs, even if he loses favor of some men.

Elders will help the ministers to be fearless. They can begin by praying for their ministers to be bold… and wise. To preach without fear or favor.

And we who sit in the pew will take heed to the words spoken, object to them if they are applications improperly made, and follow them if they are truth.

For more on this issue of the “SB”, visit this news item on the PRC website.

PRC Archives Mystery Photo – A Historic Group

Today for our PRC archives feature we post another picture, since we all love visual objects. And old photos are something special because of the people, places and events they memorialize.

We are going to make this a mystery photo post, though some of you will no doubt nail this down quickly (click on the image to enlarge it).

PRC Archives Pic - 19

This picture was recently given to the archives, and we did discover that we already had it on file. But that doesn’t mean it is not of value to us. Duplicates in some cases are good to have. Sometimes the second copy is better than the first, and so we can replace it with the better one. And sometimes the picture is of special value to someone here, which was the case with this one. Don Doezema’s father is on this picture, and so we were able to give him this extra copy – after scanning and copying it, of course!

But I digress. This is a very significant picture in our PRC history. You need to tell me why. What is this group? And why is it historic? And where is this picture taken? And along with that, you may certainly tell me what men you identify. The photo may go back to the 19?s, but there are still plenty of familiar faces and ties here.

So, go ahead, start browsing and guessing. And next week, D.V. we will provide the answers if you have not gotten them by then.

H.Bullinger and the Second Helvetic Confession – R.Cammenga

SB-Jan1 2015Writing in the January 1, 2015 issue of The Standard Bearer, Prof.R.Cammenga begins a new series on the historic Reformed creed, the Second Helvetic Confession (1566).

At the outset Cammenga explains his intent with this series:

Beginning with this issue of the Standard Bearer, the undersigned has agreed to write a series of articles explaining the Second Helvetic Confession.  These articles will regularly appear in the rubric “Believing and Confessing.”  This first article and the one that is to follow will serve as a general introduction to this new series.  In this article we will focus on the author of the Second Helvetic Confession, Heinrich Bullinger.  In the next article we will take an overview of the confession that he penned.

A bit further on he makes the connection between the Swiss Reformed H.Bullinger and the Second Helvetic Confession, before going into a more detailed description of this godly man and his reforming work in the church of the 16th century:

The Second Helvetic Confession was exclusively the work of Heinrich Bullinger.  It was not commissioned by any particular church or group of churches.  Originally Bullinger intended it to be included with his last will and testament as an abiding testimony to his faith.  However, unforeseen circumstances led Bullinger to share the confession of faith that he had composed.  Those who first examined it immediately saw its value as a Reformed confession, among whom was Frederick III, the pious prince behind the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) and Elector of the Palatinate.  What was intended to be a private confession of faith, therefore, turned out to be one of the most widely adopted confessions of the Reformation era.  Rather than to go into Bullinger’s grave with his remains, the Second Helvetic Confession was disseminated by Reformed believers around the world.

If you are interested in learning more about this significant Reformed confession, you are encouraged to subscribe to the “SB” and follow this interesting and informative series.

Favorite Books of 2014 | Books and Culture

Favorite Books of 2014 | Books and Culture.

From the book review magazine “Books and Culture: A Christian Review” (to which I subscribe and which we have in our Seminary library should you ever wish to peruse it) comes another annual list – this one from a Christian publisher (Christianity Today) and with a Christian perspective (broadly Evangelical).

Here’s John Wilson’s introduction to and explanation of the list; follow the link above to browse the list. Once again, there are some good reads here.

As usual, this list makes no pretensions to identify the “best” books, nor even to include all of those that dazzled me in the course of a year of reading. But these ARE the ones that came most readily to mind when I entered the requisite trance and began writing semi-automatically on the back of an envelope—in this case, one I’ve not opened, from the Social Security Adminstration (#theagingbrain).

I should add that—also as usual—it was a good year forBooks & Culturewriters. It seems churlish to mention only a handful of their books here, but let these stand for a much larger number: David Skeel’sTrue Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World; Karen Swallow Prior’sFierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Like of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist; David Martin’sReligion and Power: No Logos Without Mythos(excellent to read alongside Andy Crouch’s 2013 bookPlaying God: Redeeming the Gift of Power); Tiffany Kriner’sThe Future of the Word: An Eschatology of Reading; Daniel Taylor’s novelDeath Comes for the Deconstructionist; Scott Cairns’Idiot Psalms; andGlitter Bombby Aaron Belz.

So, here’s the list. The titles are mostly in alphabetical order (and the logic of departures from that will be clear), followed at the end by the Book of the Year. For additional thoughts on the Books of 2014, keep an eye out for a piece I’m doing forFirst Things(assuming it passes muster there).

From Every Tribe - MNollThis one in particular caught my eye, since I happen to like noted historian Mark Noll’s writings:

From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story. Mark Noll. + A Patterned Life: Faith, History, and David Bebbington. Eileen Bebbington. Mark Noll and David Bebbington are two of the finest living historians. Almost exact contemporaries, they are both deeply evangelical (they’ve done more than their share to form the evangelical mind), and they are good friends as well. It’s a treat to have these two books appearing in the same year: an unusually personal narrative by Mark, and a witty and affectionate account of David’s life and work by his wife, Eileen.

What is the Gospel? God’s Good News – January 2015 “Tabletalk”

What is the Gospel? by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Jan-2015The January 2015 issue of Tabletalk is now out and in use! And you may also obtain this entire issue FREE at the Ligonier site!

This issue carries the theme “The Good News”, featuring nine articles answering the question “What is the Gospel?”

Editor Burk Parsons introduces this issue with the article linked above. These are some of his points about the gospel:

In our day, there are countless counterfeit gospels, both inside and outside the church. Much of what is on Christian television and on the shelves of Christian bookstores completely obscures the gospel, thereby making it another gospel, which is no gospel whatsoever. English pastor J.C. Ryle wrote, “Since Satan cannot destroy the gospel, he has too often neutralized its usefulness by addition, subtraction, or substitution.” It is vital we understand that just because a preacher talks about Jesus, the cross, and heaven, does not mean he is preaching the gospel. And just because there is a church on every corner does not mean the gospel is preached on every corner.

Fundamentally, the gospel is news. It’s good news—the good news about what our triune God has accomplished for His people: the Father’s sending His Son, the incarnate Jesus Christ, to live perfectly, fulfill the law, and die sacrificially, satisfying God’s wrath against us that we might not face hell, thereby atoning for our sins; and raising Him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the victorious announcement that God saves sinners. And even though the call of Jesus to “take up your cross and follow me,” “repent and believe,” “deny yourself,” and “keep my commandments” are necessary commands that directly follow the proclamation of the gospel, they are not in themselves the good news of what Jesus has accomplished. The gospel is not a summons to work harder to reach God; it’s the grand message of how God worked all things together for good to reach us. The gospel is good news, not good advice or good instructions, just as J. Gresham Machen wrote: “What I need first of all is not exhortation, but a gospel, not directions for saving myself but knowledge of how God has saved me. Have you any good news? That is the question that I ask of you.”

R.C.Sproul, Sr. also has a fine article on the importance of “preaching and teaching” in the church. Here is a portion of what he has to say:

God’s people need both preaching and teaching, and they need more than twenty minutes of instruction and exhortation a week. A good shepherd would never feed the sheep only once a week, and that’s why Luther was teaching the people of Wittenberg almost on a daily basis, and Calvin was doing the same thing in Geneva. I’m not necessarily calling for the exact practices in our day, but I’m convinced that the church needs to recapture something of the regular teaching ministry evident in the work of our forefathers in the faith. As they are able, churches should be creating many opportunities to hear God’s Word preached and taught. Things such as Sunday evening worship, midweek services and Bible classes, Sunday school, home Bible studies, and so on give laypeople the chance to feed on the Word of God several times each week. As they are able, laypeople should take advantage of what is available to them by way of instruction in the deep truths of Scripture.

I say this not to encourage the creation of programs for the sake of programs, and I don’t want to put an unmanageable burden on church members or church staff‹s. But history shows us that the greatest periods of revival and reformation the church has ever seen occur in conjunction with the frequent, consistent, and clear preaching of God’s Word. If we would see the Holy Spirit bring renewal to our churches and our lands, it will require preachers who are committed to the exposition of Scripture, and laypeople who will look for shepherds to feed them the Word of God and take full advantage of the opportunities for biblical instruction that are available.

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