A Look at Calvin College, Betsy DeVos’s Alma Mater – The Atlantic

As discerning readers, you know how much scrutiny our new United States Education Secretary, Mrs. Betsy DeVos, has generated (a West Michigan native). Not merely due to her wealthy background and associations, but also due to her strong Christian (and Reformed – Christian Reformed Church) background, Mrs. DeVos has come under the public’s critical eye, both during her confirmation hearings and now that she has begun her service as head of the Education Department.

That scrutiny now also includes her alma mater, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. In a major piece written by Emily DeRuy for The Atlantic on March 1, 2017, Calvin as both a Christian and Reformed college is closely reviewed. Her Kuyperian neo-Calvinistic philosophy is openly displayed, something our readers will also have a keen interest in.

Below is a portion of the article, available in full at The Atlantic link below.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—It would be easy enough to drive past Calvin College without giving Betsy DeVos’s alma mater a second thought. Six miles southeast of downtown, the school is a sprawling cluster of nondescript buildings and winding pathways in a quiet suburb. But to bypass Calvin would be to ignore an institution whose approach to education offers clues about how the recently appointed U.S. education secretary might pursue her new job, and about the tug religious institutions feel between maintaining tradition and remaining relevant in a rapidly diversifying world.

DeVos is now Calvin’s most famous alum, and in recent weeks, the school has been painted in some circles both online and in conversation as a conservative, insular institution that helped spawn a controversial presidential-cabinet member intent on using public dollars to further religious education. But that is a grossly simplified narrative, and one that obscures the nuances and very real tensions at the school.

And a bit further in her article DeRuy writes, referencing one of Calvin’s professors,

“Our faith commits us to engaging the world all around us,” said Kevin den Dulk, a political-science professor who graduated from Calvin in the 1990s, during an interview in the DeVos Communication Center, which sits across from the Prince Conference Center bearing the secretary’s maiden name. (Her mother, Elsa, is also an alum.)

Den Dulk’s words aren’t just PR fluff; it’s a concept borne out by the school’s 141-year history and the Dutch-influenced part of western Michigan it calls home. The Christian Reformed Church is a Protestant tradition that has its roots in the Netherlands and has been deeply influenced by the theologian Abraham Kuyper, a believer in intellectualism—specifically the idea that groups with different beliefs can operate in the same space according to their convictions while respecting and understanding others. “Fundamentalism is really anti-intellectual and Calvin is the exact opposite,” said Alan Wolfe, the author of a 2000 Atlantic piece about efforts to revitalize evangelical Christian colleges.

Source: A Look at Calvin College, Betsy DeVos’s Alma Mater – The Atlantic

New Books Alert! Corrupting the Word of God and Called to Watch for Christ’s Return (RFPA)

As 2016 comes to a close, the RFPA (Reformed Free Publishing Association) has just released two new books: Corrupting the Word of God: The History of the Well-Meant Offer, by Herman Hanko and Mark Hoeksema (hardcover, 272 pp., $24.95); and Called to Watch for Christ’s Return, by Rev. Martyn McGeown (paper, 304 pp. $14.95).

corrupting_word-hh-2016Concerning the first title, the publisher has this summary information:

Does the eternal, unchangeable, all-powerful, and sovereign God really have a temporal, changeable and weak desire to save those whom he has unconditionally reprobated (Rom. 9:22), for whom the Son did not die (John 12:31) and whom the Holy Spirit will not regenerate, sanctify or glorify (John 3:8)?

Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, Anabaptism, Arminianism, Amyraldism, and Marrowism say yes to the well-meant offer of the gospel. The biblical, Augustinian, Reformed, and creedal position is no!

Emeritus professor of church history, Herman Hanko, guides us through fascinating doctrinal controversies in the early, Reformation and modern eras of the church, taking us to North Africa, Switzerland, France, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, and America, and emphasizing the teaching of the great theologians, such as Augustine and John Calvin, on God’s particular grace, which is always irresistible and never fails or is frustrated.

In dealing with the historical perspective of God’s absolutely sovereign grace versus the well-meant offer, this book fills a gap in the literature, and does so in a way that is warm and easily understood.

This title is a significant contribution to the study of the controversial subject of the free offer of the gospel. Often misunderstood (by unsuspecting novices in the faith) and frequently misrepresented (as being truly biblical and Reformed!), the free offer (or well-meant offer) has an infamous history in the church of Christ, carrying such theological “baggage” as a universal love of God, a general will of God for the salvation of all men, a universal atonement of Christ, and a grace for all in the preaching of the gospel – all of which stand opposed by the historic biblical and Reformed faith.

Hanko and Hoeksema demonstrate from the main periods of church history along with its controversies, as well as from the church fathers, that the common teaching of the free offer is unorthodox, to be rejected by all who love the doctrines of sovereign, particular, saving grace.

Theologian, pastor, and layman alike will benefit from this important historical study. The book is enhanced by the final chapter giving the reader closing “analysis and positive statement” on the nature of saving grace and the preaching of the gospel. And the reader is further benefited by the “select annotated bibliography” provided by Rev. Angus Stewart (pastor of Covenant PRC in Ballymena, N. Ireland).

called_to_watch-mm-2016Concerning the second title (Called to Watch), the RFPA has this description:

A few days before Jesus gave his life on the cross, his disciples asked, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3). Christ responded with the Olivet Discourse, a detailed teaching on the doctrine of the last things.

We need to understand the signs of Christ’s coming for our comfort as we look for “that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Christ had two concerns. First, his disciples must know the signs of his coming, which are footsteps of his approach. But Christ is not satisfied with mere “sign-gazing,” which can lead to speculation and idle, foolish living. He did not give signs to satisfy our curiosities, but so that we will be ready for him when he returns. Therefore, Christ’s second concern was the readiness of his disciples, which is expressed in his urgent and repeated warnings to watch for his coming in light of the signs.

Watch, pray, and serve the Lord with an eye to the signs of his return!

This book by a new author fills an important gap in the fields of biblical exposition and theology, especially from a solid Reformed, amillennial perspective. This book will properly explain our Lord’s instruction in Matthew 24, thus giving you right thinking about the end of the world and its signs, while also kindling a godly hope in your soul for the glorious return of our Savior.

Since this book is not a book club title, be sure to visit the RFPA’s website for ordering information. And, if you join the book club, you will receive the discount on this title and on all new titles. And while there ordering your copy, order one for that friend or family member too – just in time for the Christmas season!

Source: Reformed Free Publishing Association — Corrupting the Word of God

Don’t Read Only Christian Classics – L.Ryken

GuidetoClassics-LRykenAs we continue to make our way through Leland Ryken’s recent publication A Christian Guide to the Classics (Crossway, 2015), we have moved into chapter 5, where Ryken begins to answer the question, How should we read the classics of literature?

In this chapter, “How Not to Read a Classic”, you will see that he answers this negatively first of all. He makes his point under six (6) headings, which we listed a few weeks ago. Today, let’s see what Ryken as to say under Bad Practice #5: Read only Christian classics:

The Christian classics naturally hold a very special place in the hearts of Christians – such a special place that it is understandable why some Christians want to limit their sojourns through the realms of gold to Christian classics. The counterpart of this devotion to Christian literature is to be suspicious of non-Christian literature and avoid reading it. But to read only Christian classics results in an unnecessarily confined literary life.

First, God’s common grace… enables non-Christian writers to express the true, the good, and the beautiful also [cf. my note at the end on this]. Much of the world’s greatest literature has been produced by non-Christians, and by virtue of being great, these works have much that can enrich a Christian reader’s life. To be cut off from this tradition is to be unjustifiably impoverished.

…The point at which a writer’s worldview enters the enterprise [of writing great literature which, first, carries a literary form and style “for a reader’s enjoyment,” and second, presents “human experience for our contemplation”] is the interpretation that a writer imposes on the presented material. As a result of this third task, interpretation, we can deduce ideas and ultimately a worldview from works of literature. Even when the interpretive angle is wrong, we can benefit from encountering the ideas of works authored by non-Christians. We expand our knowledge of the world and culture within which we live. We come to understand the non-Christian mind and life. We sharpen our own understanding and worldview as we interact with alien viewpoints of literature generally and hold the line against them (pp.49-50).

I agree with Ryken’s main point here, and find his comments about interacting with worldly worldviews in the last paragraph quite helpful.

But, we need not ground this justification for reading non-Christian classics (or secular literature generally) in a “common” grace of God. There is only one kind of grace according to the Bible – God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ (and that is not a minor, “picky” point).

What Ryken refers to in that second paragraph above is God’s providential gifts – gifts given to the unbelieving as well as to the believing; gifts to write and write well; gifts to understand and portray the creation and human life; even gifts to interpret life properly (to a limited degree, because natural man’s interpretation of life will always be marred by his depravity).

Knowing that the biblical writers read and interacted with the secular writers of their day (cf. Paul in Acts 17:16ff.) also helps us justify reading non-Christian literature.

Of course, we must be careful in this regard. The Reformed teaching on the antithesis (spiritual separation between the mind and things of the world and the mind and things of God) means the Christian does not fill his eyes and soul with the filth of the ungodly (and there is plenty of this available today that is “off limits” to the believer). But he certainly ought to be familiar with the classics produced by worldly men too.

There is plenty more that can be said on this subject, and perhaps we will have opportunity to say more as well. In the meantime, I welcome your input on these points as well.

Book Alert! Christianizing the World – David J. Engelsma

christianizing-world-DJE-2016Time for another book alert, this time relating to a new publication from the Reformed Free Publishing Association. The book is titled Christianizing the World: Reformed Calling or Ecclesiastical Suicide?, and is the substance of a speech given by emeritus professor David J. Engelsma (PRC Seminary) in 2014 in the Grand Rapids, MI area.

The book is occasioned by the recent translation and publication of Abraham Kuyper’s major Dutch work on common grace and  addresses the contemporary theological and ecclesiastical fascination with this doctrine, especially as it relates to Christianity’s calling in regards to culture – summarized by the author as “Christianizing the World.”

This is how he describes it in his preface:

For many years, it has been widely accepted in Reformed circles worldwide that the theory of common grace developed by the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper and the project of Christianizing the world by this common grace, which Kuyper exhorted, are Reformed orthodoxy. Of late, this thinking spreads among evangelicals both in North America and across the world.

…Few, if any, question this quixotic (ad)venture with regard to its biblical and Reformed bases. Conservative and liberal Reformed theologians, scholars, churches, and seminaries alike enthusiastically endorse and promote the project and its theological foundation and source in a common grace of God.

This book examines the theory of common grace and its cultural ambitions in light of the Reformed creeds and holy scripture, particularly the passages of scripture to which Kuyper and his disciples mainly appeal. The book also calls attention to the deleterious effects of the theory of common grace upon the churches and schools that have adopted it and put it into practice (p.9).

Below is the publisher’s description of the new book:

This book is a critique of Abraham Kuyper’s cultural theory of a common grace of God and of the grandiose mission of this grace, and of those who confess the theory and evidently intend to promote it so that it accomplishes the end Kuyper claimed. The book exposes Kuyper’s biblical basis for his theory and its practical mission.

The first and main part of the book is a much-expanded version of the public lecture given in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2014 under the auspices of the evangelism society of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Wyoming, Michigan. The second part of the book consists of questions raised by the audience at the conclusion of the lecture and of the answers by the speaker at the lecture.

  • 192 pages
  • hardcover
  • ISBN 978-1-944555-02-3

As you can judge, the book is a significant work in light of the contemporary Reformed-Christian scene. This is a work you will want to read carefully and reference repeatedly if you are interested in the Reformed doctrine of grace and in the calling of the Christian in this world.

Visit the RFPA website for information on ordering this new title.

Book Alert! Restored & Revived PRC Documents

Rock-Hewn-HH-HD-2015On this PRC archive/history day, we can bring to your attention a significant new publication from the RFPA (Reformed Free Publishing Association) – a personal copy of which I received Sunday in my church mailbox as a book club member and two copies of which I received for the Seminary library (and cataloged yesterday).

The 530 page book is titled The Rock Whence We Are Hewn: God, Grace, and Covenant, authored by early PRC fathers Henry Danhof and Herman Hoeksema and edited by David J. Engelsma. The work consists of nine pamphlets published early in the history of the PRC and her controversy with the CRC over the doctrine of common grace (as well as over covenant theology), and has important historical significance therefore. While all of these pamphlets were previously published, some were not readily or widely available in English, and some not in English at all until now.

In his foreword, Engelsma writes:

     The various writings included in The Rock Whence We Are Hewn are all pamphlets or booklets written very early in the history of the Protestant Reformed Churches – between 1919 and 1940. The authors are two men whom God used in forming these churches – Herman Hoeksema and Henry Danhof. All the writings explain and defend the great doctrines of the Reformed faith that were fundamental to the founding of the Protestant Reformed Churches – covenant, predestination, particular grace, and antithesis. These writings therefore were used to establish these churches in the very beginning of their history. The contents of the book are their foundational writings.

He also explains the title and the purpose of the book in these words:

     The title of the book is taken from Isaiah 51:1: ‘Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.’ In this figurative way the prophet called the people of Israel to look to their origins. This title calls the members of the Protestant Reformed Churches, including the ministers and officebearers, and especially the younger generation, to find in the book the doctrinal truths that are of fundamental importance to the Protestant Reformed Churches still today. By the work of the Spirit these doctrines, confessed, defended, and explained in the writings in this book, are the source of the churches – the rock whence they were hewn.

Below are the contents of The Rock:
1. “The Idea of the Covenant of Grace” – H.Danhof, Transl. from the Dutch by D.Engelsma
2. “On the Theory of Common Grace” – H.Hoeksema
3. “Not Anabaptist but Reformed” – H.Danhof & H.Hoeksema, Transl. from the Dutch by D.Holstege
4. “Along Pure Paths” – H.Danhof & H.Hoeksema, Transl. from the Dutch by M.Kamps
5. “For the Sake of Justice and Truth” – H.Danhof & H.Hoeksema, Transl. from the Dutch by M.Kamps
6. “Calvin, Berkhof, and H.J. Kuiper: A Comparison” – H.Hoeksema
7. “A Triple Breach in the Foundation of the Reformed Truth: A Critical Treatise on the Three Points Adopted by the Christian Reformed Church in 1924”
8. “The Reunion of the Christian Reformed Church and Protestant Reformed Churches: Is It Demanded, Possible, Desirable?” – H.Hoeksema, Transl. by H.Veldman
9. “The Place of Reprobation in the Preaching of the Gospel” – H.Hoeksema, Transl. by C.Hanko

The book is enhanced by the editor’s historical introductions for each document, to his applicatory “afterword,” and to a helpful “appendix of names” giving “biographical sketches of the main combatants in the common grace controversy.”

The Rock reveals significant history and vital Reformed/biblical doctrines, but also something else – heroism. Engelsma explains in his “Afterword”:

Finally, The Rock bespeaks heroism – the most courageous doctrinal and churchly bravery. To be willing to give up everything that is dear to a minister of the gospel – name, position, and office – and to be willing to suffer reproach, shame, and even church discipline for the sake of the purity of the gospel and the glory of the name of God, this is heroism at the highest level. And this leaves out of sight, as Danhof and Hoeksema did, financial support for one’s family. This is heroism in the cause of God in the world. This is heroism in the most important and hottest warfare, the warfare of Jesus Christ on earth (p.498).

For information on ordering the book – or becoming a book club member – visit the RFPA website.

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).

PRTJ-Nov-2015-cover

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.

The Antithesis and the Theater – John J. Timmerman

Through a Glass Lightly-TimmermanIn the last few months we have been quoting from the fifth chapter of John J. Timmerman’s book Through a Glass Lightly (Eerdmans, 1987), where he describes the early years of education at Calvin College. We called special attention to his emphasis on the antithesis as it was taught and manifested at this Reformed institution.

Today I continue quoting from this section, as Timmerman relates the antithesis to movies and theater attendance on the part of the students at Calvin. He has some very frank and revealing comments about the breakdown of the antithesis at this point – and this is in the 1920s.

The antithesis failed in the matter of amusements. Many leaders of the church demanded abstinence from movies, card-playing, and dancing. These are dead chestnuts today; but in the 1920s these prohibitions, questionable in theory and unenforceable in practice, were on the books. I never saw either card-playing or dancing at Calvin, though I heard about the latter. Movie attendance was another matter. Often somebody in the dormitory would holler, ‘Who’s going to Wealthy [theater]?’ and a group would gather. The fact is that many Christian students saw no evil in attending a good motion picture. In 1928 there were movies you could take your mother to. The students broke the rule as a silly one; some faculty members felt the same way but observed it. This rule triggered more dissimulation than did anything else at Calvin.

The first movie I ever saw was Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1928. I went to see it on the invitation of a preseminary student, a gentleman who has since served our church with devotion for a lifetime. The theater was a place some went to nonchalantly and some with guilt attenuating or intensifying their enjoyment; some sneaked in, and some bough their tickets defiantly. For some time, students had to sign pledges not to attend. Were it not for the profound convictions of the church leaders, rooted in their idea of loyalty to the Lord, the insistence on the rule would now seem to have been much ado about nothing. In the 1920s, the defense of movie attendance cost Prof. B. K. Kuiper his seminary post (p.30)

Common Grace and the Gospel (and H.Hoeksema) – C.Van Til

CommonGrace&Gospel-CVanTilDid you know that P&R Publishing recently republished Cornelius Van Til’s book Common Grace and the Gospel? First published in 1972, this second edition contains the full text of the first edition but with added foreword and annotations by K.Scott Oliphint. This too is a “new” title in the PRC Seminary library (We also have the first edition – and with good reason – keep reading!).

Van Tils’ book is a significant work on common grace and was widely recognized as such when it was first published. And we suspect that with the recent rise in interest in the doctrine because of the renewed interest in Abraham Kuyper (especially by the neo-Calvinists and “new Calvinists” – the “young, restless, and Reformed” crowd), the publisher saw the need for this new edition. And we may guess that it will have a wide reception.

If you are unfamiliar with the author, you will find this information about him on the P&R website:

Cornelius Van Til (1895–1987) was born in Grootegast, the Netherlands, and immigrated with his family to America in 1905. He attended Calvin College and Calvin Seminary before completing his studies at Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University with the ThM and PhD degrees. Drawn to the pastorate, Van Til spent one year in the ministry before taking a leave of absence to teach apologetics at Princeton Seminary. When the seminary reorganized, he was persuaded to join the faculty of the newly founded Westminster Theological Seminary. He remained there as professor of apologetics until his retirement in 1975. Van Til wrote more than twenty books, in addition to more than thirty syllabi. Among his best-known titles are The Defense of the Faith, A Christian Theory of Knowledge, and An Introduction to Systematic Theology.

In this work Van Til does indeed interact with A.Kuyper’s view of common grace as set forth in his De Gemeene Gratie (3 vols, 1902 – a work now being translated and published in English for the first time.). But, of special interest to our PRC readers, Van Til also interacts with Herman Hoeksema and the PRC. In fact, in the initial chapter on Kuyper’s view of common grace, Van Til brings up the Three Points of Common Grace adopted in 1924 by the Christian Reformed Church and mentions Hoeksema’s opposition to this Kuyperian form of the doctrine:

Kuyper’s statement of the doctrine of common grace has not gone unchallenged. In a number of pamphlets and books, as well as in a monthly magazine, The Standard Bearer, the Rev. Herman Hoeksema, the Rev. Henry Danhof and others have vigorously denied the existence of any form of common grace.

Hoeksema and Danhof argue that it is inconceivable that God should be in any sense, and at any point, graciously inclined to those who are not His elect. The wicked do, to be sure, receive gifts from God. But rain and sunshine are not, as such, evidences of God’s favor (p.25).

And Van Til continues to treat Hoeksema’s views on this doctrine throughout the book (a quick glance at the index will tell you he does so in over twenty places).

But Van Til also has a special chapter (8) on Hoeksema and his Reformed Dogmatics, which makes for good reading. While acknowledging the power of Hoeksema’s preaching and agreeing with some of his theology, Van Til is critical of “HH’s” defense of particular grace over against common grace. This is how chapter 8 ends:

There is, of course, much else in Hoeksema’s work that could be discussed with profit. There is, indeed, much very valuable material in his work. We have, however, used our space to deal with what was most important to him.

With all our great admiration for Hoeksema as a preacher and as a teacher of theology, we must, nonetheless, maintain that however true he was to the idea of the sovereignty of the grace of God, he did not advance its proper form of expression in his works on theology (p.252).

As you can see, you would do well to read Van Til on this significant doctrine, especially as he deals with Kuyper and Hoeksema. And now, you have a new edition with which to do that.

PRC Archives – H.C. Hoeksema’s 1985 “Banner” Interview

While perhaps our PRC archives post today does not refer to something all that far back in our history (29 years), it is something of which perhaps an entire generation of PRC members is not aware. That is an interview the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), The Banner, did with our own Prof.Homer C. Hoeksema, publishing it in the Feb.4, 1985 issue.

HCH Banner Interview-Feb 1985_Page_1

 

Prof. “HCH” was interviewed by Banner editor Rev.Andrew Kuyvenhoevn and reporter Robert Rozema, who wrote the summary of the interview for that issue. There are other intriguing articles in the issue relating to the relationship between the CRC and PRC: one written by Editor “AK” (“Reformed Relatives”); another by Dr.John Kromminga, former president of Calvin Seminary (“Is Reunion Possible?”); and a third by Rev.Arthur Hoogstrate, who reflected on his personal memories of Rev.Herman Hoeksema (his preaching) and the common grace debates as a Calvin student (“I Remember”). The interested reader may look these up if he chooses.

But for our purposes today, we want to highlight the interviewand the cover that graced the cover of that issue. Because the CRC herself put us “front and center” and seemed to treat us as familiar Reformed family relative, which, of course, we were – and are. I think you will find both questions and answers in the interview to be interesting and enlightening, looking back to our origin and to where we were at as denominations in 1985.

I give you all three pages of the interview here in image form. Click on them to enlarge. And then feel free to share your perspectives. How do you “read” this today?

HCH Banner Interview-Feb 1985_Page_2
HCH Banner Interview-Feb 1985_Page_3
HCH Banner Interview-Feb 1985_Page_4

Two “New” and Noteworthy Books: “Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel” and “Believing Bible Study”

In this post I wish to highlight a couple of “new” books that have come into our Seminary library and which are of interest to our audience. I put “new” in italics because both of these titles are reprints of previous editions, with one being updated and revised once again.

PrintThat title is David J. Engelsma’s Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel: An Examination of the Well-Meant Offer of the Gospel (Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1980, 1994, 2014; 224 pgs.). As you will note, this is the third edition, and this edition contains further additions and enhancements (such as pictures and descriptions of those whose positions are stated in the book). In his preface to this edition Engelsma sets forth the continued need for this book after thirty years:

Does it still address a significant, lively issue in the Reformed and Presbyterian churches and among theologians who regard and present themselves as Calvinists?

The truth defended in the book is sovereign, particular grace in the preaching of the gospel. The book contends that this truth is fundamental to the theology of the Reformed faith in its entirety, that is, to scripture’s gospel of salvation by grace alone and to the authoritative confession of the gospel by the Reformed creed, the Canons of Dordt.

The charge against the truth, by nominally Reformed theologians and churches, that the book refutes is hyper-Calvinism. This is the charge that the doctrine of particular grace in the preaching of the gospel is, or necessarily leads to, the error of preaching only to the elect, including calling only the elect to repent and believe.

The heresy that the book exposes and condemns is the teaching that the promiscuous preaching of the gospel with its unrestricted call to all hearers to repent and believe is, in fact, the saving grace of God to all who hear the preaching, reprobate ungodly as well as elect. It is the false doctrine of universal, impotent, saving grace with its concomitant error that the efficacy of the saving grace of God in the preaching, and therefore the salvation of sinners, depend not on the grace of God made effectual by the Holy Spirit, but on the acceptance of an offered salvation by the sinner himself.

The heresy that the book exposes  parades shamelessly in the Reformed community of churches, seminaries, and book stores, like a brazen whore in the seductive ‘come hither’ scanty garb of the well-meant offer of salvation.

It is my conviction, as evidently that also of the publisher, that the truth defended by the book continues to call for defense in 2013 (xv-xvi).

This edition also contains the Foreword of Dr.John H. Gernstner found in the previous edition. You are encouraged to obtain this new edition and to read and study carefully its apologetic. Not only if you are a PRC member who needs to be informed again of this essential element of our Reformed faith, but also if you are a Reformed Christian who needs better to understand the nature of the preaching of the gospel, especially because of the rampant error of the free offer and its counterpart, hyper-Calvinism.

BelievingBible Study-EFHills-2014-front_Page_1The second book of note in this post is one we received as a gift from Russell H. Spees, friend of the PRC Seminary and of the late Dr.Ted Letis, and President/Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies. The book is titled Believing Bible Study (3rd ed., Christian Research Press, 2014) by Dr. Edward F. Hills (1912-1981), who served as a mentor to Dr.Letis and from whom Letis grew in his passion for and defense of the Traditional text (textus receptus, or “received text”) in the church. Hill was also an ardent defender of the King James Version (Authorized version) of the Bible as the best English translation for the church today (See his The King James Version Defended: A Christian View of the New Testament Manuscripts, 1956).

In his cover letter with the book, Spees states:

IBTS was pleased to work with the Hills family (Christian Research Press) to provide a digital reprint of Dr. Hills’ sequel to his “King James Version Defended.”

We thank the Hills family for faithfulness in keeping Dr.Hills in print. We acknowledge Mr.Paul Watson for his design of the book cover. We thank our supporters for prayer support and certainty of God’s hand in the project. We thank our Sovereign God for preserving his Holy Word to and for us.

To get a taste of Hills’ starting point in this work I quote his opening paragraphs in chapter 1, Believing Bible Study, Old Testament”:

The man who is well pleased with himself, with his prospects, and his whole manner of life will never read the Bible believingly. His entire outlook must be changed before believing Bible study becomes possible. For this reason God often uses the hard experiences of life to prepare His children for believing Bible study. Bereavement, childlessness, loneliness, longings that have never been satisfied, ambitions that have never been fulfilled, vain regrets over lost opportunities, the severe limitations of poverty, the pain and weakness of sickness, and the approach of death – these are the things that bring men low. These are the harrows which God uses to soften hardened hearts. These are the hammers with which He is wont to bend proud necks and make men willing to read His holy Book believingly.

Reader, if you are perishing in the furnace of affliction, or if you are walking in darkness with no light, or if your heart i s fretted with anxieties and corroding cares, or if your will is bound under wretched slavery to sinful lusts, or if your soul is chilled with the fear of death and the unknown, then the Bible is the Book, the only Book for you. For the Bible will show you how your sins may be overcome by the power of Christ and how you may enter into everlasting life through the door of hope and obtain your inheritance in the everlasting glory. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgives us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

I include here the cover (front and back) because of the information about the book and its author which may be found there. A search revealed that the book is not yet available on the IBTS website or Amazon. But it may be ordered  through this address (Christian Research Press, P.O. Box13023, Des Moines, IA 50310-0023; phone: 515-249-4304) or by emailing: email@kjv-ibts.org or Christianresearchpress@yahoo.com.

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