Christianity Today’s 2016 Book Awards | Christianity Today


Recognition for the best books of 2015 is coming in from all quarters, including from the Christian realm. Christianity Today, representing broad Evangelicalism in the U.S. and abroad, has published its list of significant titles in various categories.

There are notable picks and some surprising ones (which may also mean disappointing), but all worth knowing about in terms of recently published books in the world of Christian literature.

Below is their brief introduction and the first title in the Apologetics/Evangelism category. Browse and be aware!

Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.

Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion

Os Guinness (InterVarsity Press)

“Unlike many apologetics books, Fool’s Talk is not a series of quick-fix answers to questions most folks are no longer asking or one-size-fits-all ‘McTheories’ (Guinness’s term) to be applied to any situation. Rather, Guinness draws upon a lifetime of diverse experience to explore and invite us into the art of ‘creative persuasion.’ ” —Joshua Ryan Butler, pastor, author of The Skeletons in God’s Closet

Source: Christianity Today’s 2016 Book Awards | Christianity Today

Published in: on December 18, 2015 at 4:49 PM  Leave a Comment  

An Intern Saved a Museum by Finding This Revolutionary War Treasure in the Attic – Smithsonian


I intended to post this yesterday on archive/history Thursday, but didn’t get to it. So it is our first post this Friday.

I love these kinds of stories, not only because of the history involved in the find, but also because of the thrill of the find itself.

Yes, indeed, their opening summary line is so important when it comes to archiving history; never throw anything away. :)

RevWar-treasureThe obvious lesson: never throw anything away

Once in a very long while, a rare book or manuscript discovery is so remarkable that it makes national headlines.  In 1988, for instance, an anonymous Massachusetts collector recovered an 1827 first edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane from a roadside barn. Many will also recall the 1989 story of the man who found an original broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden inside a picture frame that he bought at a Pennsylvania flea market for $4 (and later sold at Sotheby’s for $2.4 million). Or the discovery of the manuscript of Lincoln’s last address found in a secret compartment of an antique table in 1984 (and later purchased by Malcolm Forbes for $231,000). Yet another “believe it or not” tale is that of the Nashville man who paid $2.50 at a thrift store in 2006 for what he thought was a worthless facsimile of the Declaration of Independence that turned out to be a rare, unrecorded copy of an 1820 print. He sold it for nearly $500,000.

The news of an important 18th-century manuscript found in a New York City house museum’s attic in the summer of 2013 was another such story: a discovery in an unlikely place, a document of monumental historic value, and a small museum in strained circumstances that was about to gain lots of positive media attention—and a bundle of cash. It even had a celebrity auctioneer at the helm.

Source: An Intern Saved a Museum by Finding This Revolutionary War Treasure in the Attic | History | Smithsonian

Published in: on December 18, 2015 at 6:38 AM  Comments (1)  

PRC Seminary Makes Top Ten Seminaries of 2015! Reformation21 Blog


Perhaps you sense the above headline is a bit tongue-in-cheek. And you know it is Friday, which means a “Friday Fun” item is on the agenda.

But, the fact is, the PRC Seminary did make Reformation21’s “Top Ten Seminaries” list for 2015. #7 – not bad at all.

Yet there is a bit of a caveat. The list – while recognizing the top Reformed/Calvinistic seminaries in the U.S. (a fact we humbly and gratefully acknowledge) – is designed to be in jest. And, even more, to give a poke at each of these good seminaries.

So, in the spirit of full disclosure, here is the list and the poke at the PRC Seminary. I trust the friendly jab will not cause you consternation, but instead a good laugh. At least they know what we stand for!

Here at Reformation21 we skip the best books of the year and instead give you the “Top Ten Seminaries of 2015.” All of these seminaries provide a good theological education, especially when compared to what one finds in the rest of the world. America is spoiled for riches.
Honorable Mention: MARS: Alan Strange managed to argue from the OPC Form of Government that this list was unconstitutional, so MARS was not considered.
10. WSCAL: They merited 10th place even after admitting it was an imperfect year for them. Students are currently arguing over whether this list is law or gospel.
9. Covenant: “3 Points” off last year’s 6th place finish; one of the judges named Adam abstained.
8. Puritan: The men in black (suits) were helped by a late vote from a judge named Adam.
7. Protestant Reformed Seminary: They literally do nothing and remain 7th, having always been seventh, even in eternity.
6. Greenville: 6 days means 6th place; up from 24th place. 6-24 in one year…hmmm
5. SBTS: Their impending decision to allow students to drink wine for communion – albeit in tiny communion cups – brought them to #5.
4. RPTS: The imprecatory Psalm-singing was obviously effective against most of the seminaries.
3. Whitefield Seminary: Up into the top ten after thinking about getting accreditation.
2. RTS: Talk of ten new campuses for 2016 was enough to convince judges they should be second.
1. WTS: Van Til says we must presuppose WTS as number one and then we can make sense of the rest of the list.

Source: Top Ten Seminaries of 2015 – Reformation21 Blog


Published in: on December 4, 2015 at 9:20 AM  Leave a Comment  

November 2015 PR Seminary Journal Is Out!

The latest PRC Seminary Journal – Vol.49, #1, Nov. 2015 – is back from the printer and was mailed out last Friday. But the current issue is also available on the Seminary’s Journal page in pdf form (the other digital forms will be available soon).


This issue is an interesting and informative combination of articles and book reviews. Prof.R. Cammenga, editor of the Journal, gives this summary description of its contents:

  Welcome to the pages of the frst issue of volume 49 of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal.  The frst article in this issue is the transcript of the speech that Dr. John Bolt gave to the student body and faculty of the Protestant Reformed Seminary, as well as area ministers this past Spring.  Dr. Bolt is familiar to the constituency of the Protestant Reformed Churches as an outspoken critic of the treatment of Herman Hoeksema by the 1924 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church.  Besides critical of the treatment of Hoeksema, he also fnds fault with the doctrinal formulations of the 1924 Synod defining and defending common grace.  In his article, Dr. Bolt points out what he believes to be the inadequacies of the “Three Points” and offers alternative formulations.  Even though the very worthwhile question-and-answer session that followed Dr. Bolt’s speech cannot be reproduced here, we trust our readers will proft from the transcription of the speech.

Our readers are once again favored with an article by a familiar contributor to PRTJ, Dr. Jürgen Burkhard Klautke, professor in the Academy for Reformed Theology in Marburg, Germany.  This article is the transcription of a speech by Dr. Klautke at a conference sponsored by the PRCA denominational Committee for Contact with Other [Foreign] Churches. The speech is a stirring defense of the truth of God’s covenant of grace, according to which elect believers are “in Christ,” as is the language of our Lord in His High Priestly prayer. Along the way, Dr. Klautke engages in necessary polemic against those who have perverted the truth of God’s Word that believers are “in Christ.

This issue contains the frst three parts of an eighteen part “John Calvin Research Bibliography” by the undersigned.  This bibliography was constructed over the course of a number of years and copies of it were distributed to students who took a newly developed interim course on “The Theology of John Calvin.”  It was thought that publishing this bibliography would make available a valuable resource for any who are interested in doing research on the great Reformer John Calvin.  Each section of the bibliography corresponds to a class session devoted to that main topic, with the related sub-topics that were covered in the class listed beneath each main topic.

Prof. David Engelsma, emeritus Professor of Dogmatics and Old Testament in the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary, contributes a review article of Reformed Thought on Freedom: The Concept of Free Choice in Early Modern Reformed Thought, edited by Willem J. van Asselt, J. Martin Bac, and Roelf T. te Velde.  The book examines the teaching of leading Reformed theologians of the sixteenth through the early eighteenth centuries on the freedom of the will.  It demonstrates that the Reformed tradition has consistently rejected the
error of “free will,” while at the same time upholding genuine human freedom.  Be sure to read this very worthwhile extended review—and then perhaps get the book and read it for yourself.

      As always, this issue of PRTJ contains a number of excellent book reviews.  This is a much appreciated feature of any theological journal, and that certainly is the case with our journal.  We take this opportunity to express our thanks to the men who regularly contribute book reviews.  Hopefully they know how much our readers anticipate their regular contributions in each new issue and beneft from them.

We remind our readers that our journal is made available free of charge.  The cost of its production and mailing are covered by the seminary.  Your gifts, therefore, are appreciated.  And many of you do send gifts periodically.  We are grateful for your support.

Now read and enjoy. Soli Deo Gloria!

If you wish to receive this issue or become a PRTJ subscriber, you may either stop by the Seminary, or contact the Seminary at the information given on its homepage.

Reflections on the New Spurgeon Library – D.Whitney

Do you want to guess where the new Charles H. Spurgeon Library is located? London, England? Logically that would be a good guess. But would you believe Kansas City, Missouri here in the great Midwestern U.S.? Yes, the new Spurgeon Library is located on the campus of Midwestern Baptist Seminary in that city.


And it is a beauty (cf. photo above), filled with a large portion of Spurgeon’s personal library – some 6,000 volumes.  Dr. Donald Whitney gave his personal thoughts on the dedication of this library in this post (Oct.22, 2015), and I believe this news is worth sharing with those who appreciate this great preacher’s love of the sovereignty of God and His sovereign grace to sinners in Jesus Christ. I have no doubt his library reflected that passion, and I personally would love to visit it someday.

What follows here are Whitney’s “reflections,”, at least the opening ones. For the rest, click on the link provided here.

Source: Reflections on the New Spurgeon Library

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is still widely considered “the Prince of Preachers.” He pastored in London at what became the largest evangelical church in the world for 38 years until his death in 1892. During his lifetime his was acknowledged as the best-known name in Christendom. Through his monumental, 64-volume Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit sermon collection and more than 120 other books, he remains one of the most influential Christians of all time.

A voracious reader, Spurgeon amassed an enormous, 12,000 volume library. After his death in 1892, Spurgeon’s twin boys—both of whom were preachers—made personal selections from their father’s books. Through an interesting set of circumstances, the remainder of the library was sold in 1906 to the Missouri Baptist Convention and housed in the library of William Jewell College in Liberty (suburban Kansas City), Missouri. There sat Spurgeon’s books, largely ignored, for an entire century.

In 2006, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, under then-president Phil Roberts, purchased the library for $400,000. When Jason Allen was elected in October, 2012, he made a priority of giving greater visibility to this unique resource. Sharing this vision with Allen were Bill and Connie Jenkins of Indiana who provided the significant financial resources necessary to fulfill the master plan for the library.

Published in: on October 27, 2015 at 10:03 PM  Comments (1)  

The Puritan influence on the press – Marvin Olasky

MEDIA | Christian belief and the 325th anniversary of American newspapers

Source: WORLD | The Puritan influence on the press | Marvin Olasky | Sept. 26, 2015

Public-Occurences-1690I found this brief online article at World magazine (posted Sept.26, 2015) to be interesting not only because of its historical significance but also because of its spiritual significance.The Puritans understood the true nature of news reporting, and America’s first public newspaper showed that.

There are few newspapers and magazines that still understand that, but World is one of them.

Here is what Marvin Olasky wrote about this special 325th newspaper anniversary:

Several publications yesterday noted that Sept. 25 was the 325th anniversary of the publication in 1690 Boston of America’s first newspaper, Publick Occurrences: Both Forreign and Domestick. None of the reports I saw gave the theological context, though. Publications in the 17th century usually put out only news that would make the king or his officials look good, but New England Puritans encouraged the reporting of bad news because they saw everything, good and bad, as a message from God.

Find the rest of Olasky’s commentary at the World link above.

15 Religion Treasures at Yale | Tom Krattenmaker referenced this in a post today but the original post was back in February of this year. It is still worth looking up to see the treasures found at Yale University.

Below is the brief introduction to the post at the Huff Post “Religion” section; follow the link to see all fifteen of the religious treasures Krattenmaker highlights.

Yale, a place that started out as a training ground for Congregationalist ministers (whose students included none other than Jonathan Edwards) retains to this day a dazzling array of religious treasures and relics, all publicly available.

Source: 15 Religion Treasures at Yale | Tom Krattenmaker

Here are a few of my own personal highlights:

gutenberg bible

Johann Gutenberg; “Biblia latina” (Gutenberg Bible); 1454; paper and 18th-century calf.

Gutenberg Bible – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Five-hundred years ago, the Reformation transformed Christianity and the Western world. What made it possible was the dissemination of the Bible into many people’s hands. And what made that possible was the printing press, which allowed, for the first time, mass production of Bibles. Printed in Latin and known for its high aesthetic quality, the Gutenberg Bible was the first book ever printed by movable type. The 22 complete copies that exist today are among the most valuable books in the world. By appointment, Yale classes get to take this priceless piece of history out of the case and page though it, like the first Protestants half a millennium ago.

jonathan edwards

Jonathan Edwards; Deut. 32:35(c): “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at each moment out of hell but the meer pleasure of God,” from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”; June 1941; paper; Jonathan Edwards Collection.

Original text of Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” – Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Rarely has a single piece of sermonizing conjured fear of hell like Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” As the story goes, this Yale alum didn’t stir much of a reaction when he first delivered the sermon (a milder, more pastoral version than what was to come) to his own congregation in Northampton, Mass., in 1741. Edwards amped up the scary parts as he began to give the sermon at other churches. “There was a great moaning – & crying out throughout ye whole House”–that’s how one witness described the effect after hearing Edwards give the sermon. The outline from which Edwards preached it out on the circuit, like the original “Sinners” sermon, resides in the Beinecke collections. (They say cursive writing is a dying art these days. Judging from Edwards’ penmanship, not everyone was great at it in the 1700s either.)

National Library Week – Join in the Celebration!


This week is the annual observance of National Library Week (April 12-18), sponsored by the American Library Association, but marked by many library associations, including the Association of Christian Librarians of which I am a part.

You will find this brief description of the event on the ALA website:

National Library Week (April 12 – 18, 2015) is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and library workers and to promote library use and support. From free access to books and online resources for families to library business centers that help support entrepreneurship and retraining, libraries offer opportunity to all. The theme for 2015 National Library Week is “Unlimited Possibilities @ your library.”

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

So what can you do during this National Library Week? I can think of a number of things:

  • Make a special effort to visit your local public library this week and appreciate the resources it makes available to you.
  • Take your children or grandchildren to a public library and expose them to the value of its place in the community and in their education.
  • Visit a “new” library in your area and discover its special resources. Have you ever been to the large and rich Grand Rapids Public Library downtown? Or how about the State of Michigan Library in Lansing? Why not make this the week you take one of these in?
  • On a smaller scale, but no less important, help support your local Christian school library. Make sure your children make use of it. Thank the librarians who serve in them. Offer your help, including donating good books.
  • Build your own library at home, making good books available for yourself, for your friends, and for your children and grandchildren.
  • Give thanks to God for our PRC Seminary library and the role it plays in the preparation of men for the ministry of the Word. And continue to support it – especially with your prayers! Thank you!


April 3, 1956 – The Great Hudsonville/Standale Tornado

April 3, 1956 – Hudsonville/Standale Tornado | Blogs.

Today marks the 59th anniversary of the deadly F5 tornado that struck West Michigan – especially Hudsonville and Standale – killing 17 people and leaving widespread damage.

Local Wood-TV Meteriologist Bill Steffen referenced this historic event on his weather blog today (linked above), providing a brief summary of it and posting some links of interest. I include his opening sentences and then give you two videos available on this tornado.

Today, April 3rd, 2014, is the anniversary of the strongest tornado ever to hit the state of Michigan. The strongest wind on the surface of Earth in 1956 was on Van Buren Street in Hudsonville, Michigan on April 3, 1956. There were 17 fatalities (13 in Hudsonville) and 340 were injured.

I recall being told about this terrible storm as a youngster (I was born two years after it). The lake across from which we lived for a time (Fennessy) was virtually filled with dirt and debris (still great for bass fishing though!); and the home my parents live in now, which was being framed at the time, was twisted on its foundation.

I also remember hearing about the sermon Rev.Gerrit Vos preached in Hudsonville PRC after the event, which became a meditation on Psalm 46, later published in the Standard Bearer (April 15, 1956). If you have wondered about the context of this unique meditation, now you know.

Here is the opening text of that message – powerful exposition of God’s Word and well worth your reading in its entirely (just follow the above link).

“Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”

Ps. 46:8, 10, 11

Our village received a very special visit by the Lord Christ.

It was a visit of the majesty on high.

What we really received is a little foretaste of the end of the world.

Some of us went to heaven in the process of that visit. Others are in the hospital because of that visit. Some of us had a brush with death. All of us were deeply impressed by that visit.

God came to us, and He roared: I have never yet heard a voice such as we heard around supper time, Tuesday evening, April 3, 1956. It sounded as though a thousand express trains were traversing the sky.

His footsteps were seen; He walked from the southwest to the northeast, skirting our village: everyone was aware of His august presence.

And we were afraid: many cowered in the basement of their homes, while God ravaged their properties (?). He flung houses and barns far and wide. Such debris was mixed with black muck and the dust of the earth. He snuffed out the lives of some of us, broke the bones and the flesh of others: they were left moaning in His wake.

Oh yes, no one can dispute it: God walked among us; His Christ paid us a special visit; He left desolation, death, pain and misery.

But also awe, the awe of the childlike fear of Jehovah.

One man said: My Jehovah was beautiful in His raging! And that man lost half of his worldly goods, and his life was in jeopardy.

Yes, I have seen Him too.

His pathway through Hudsonville was about 3 or 4 city blocks from my dwelling.


PCUSA Makes Marriage a ‘Unique Commitment’ –

PCUSA Makes Marriage a ‘Unique Commitment’ | Gleanings |

marriagepic-1Christianity Today’s latest “Gleanings” feature (March 18, 2015) carried this note of further apostasy from the teaching of God’s Word about marriage on the part of the mainline Presbyterian church in this country.

Below is the first part of that story; for the full news item, visit the “CT” link above. The report includes a map showing how the various states have voted to this point (Michigan has not yet decided.)

May the Lord call out of this apostate denomination those who are truly His and who desire to be faithful to His Word and the true Presbyterian heritage (Rev.18:4).

The Presbyterian Church (USA) will now define marriage as a “unique commitment between two people,” rather than a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman as an act of Christian discipleship.

Last June, the PC(USA) general assembly voted to change the language in its Book of Order, the denomination’s governing constitution. Following the vote, a majority of the PC(USA)’s 171 presbyteries also had to approve the measure for it to go into effect. On Tuesday, this number (86) was reached.

The conservative Presbyterian Lay Committee (PLC) criticized the denomination’s shift.

“In terms of the PCUSA’s witness to the world, this vote demonstrates a complete accommodation to the prevailing winds of our culture,” said Carmen Fowler LaBerge, PLC president, in a statement. “Any prophetic voice that the denomination may have once had to speak truth and call people to repentance is now lost.”


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