Special May Visits to the PRC Seminary

During the month of May we have had a couple of special guests at the PRC Seminary – an individual and a group. So, on this Wednesday we feature their time with us.

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Mr. Start and Prof.R. Cammenga during set up of coin display tables.

The first visitor was Mr. Doug Start, a member of our Georgetown PRC, and otherwise known as the “coin guy” (check out his website or his Facebook page). Doug is a licensed coin collector and seller, and for some time we have wanted him come and show his coins from the biblical and early church history periods. On the last day of classes (May 5) a visit was finally arranged.

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Mr. Start gives his informative presentation to faculty, students, and wives.

What a fabulous collection Doug showed and what an informative talk he gave us! I can only give you a glimpse, but if schools are looking for an interesting and instructive presentation, contact Mr. Start! You will be impressed!

Part of an amazing collection of coins, oil lamps, etc.

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Roman coin with image of Janus, the two-faced god that Herman Hoeksema referenced in connection with the common grace controversy.

The second visitor was a group – the church history students of Mr. Dan Van Uffelen and Mr. Scott Van Uffelen from Covenant Christian High School in Walker, who came last Friday, May 20. This is an annual visit these students and teachers make to the Seminary, part of a church history tour guided by Prof. D. Engelsma (with morning visits to Eastern Ave. CRC and then the old First PRC in Grand Rapids).

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Gathering for devotions prior to pizza lunch together in the back of Seminary.

This too is a visit we look forward to each year, though with the group getting larger each year (near 100 this year!), we seem to be running out of space to put them all!

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Did someone say pizza?!

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It isn’t long and the pizza is gone! That’s part of the transportation committee in the background – Mr. Vern Haveman and Mr. Mike Engelsma

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Enjoying the beautiful day on the Seminary grounds after lunch

Personally, I enjoy this visit because I get to lead a “sectional” on the PRC archives. Explaining to the students how and why we preserve our part in the history of Christ’s universal church is thrilling to me; and when I get to show them some of the treasures in the archives room, their eyes light up – they actually seem to be interested and excited too! Of course, the two Van Uffelen teachers have already tipped them off and added to the anticipation!:)

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The Van Uffelen church history teachers with Prof. D. Engelsma

We thank our CCHS church history teachers and students to including us in their annual tour, and pray that their visit to us was inspirational as well as instructive. Don’t forget what was told you about preserving the history! We pray for you all. Do the same for us.

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Time for departure – thank you for your encouraging visit once again!

Five Things to Know About the Diamond Sutra, the World’s Oldest Dated Printed Book | Smart News | Smithsonian

diamond-sutraThis headline and story appeared on my Smithsonian news email last Wednesday, May 11. It is a fascinating look at what is considered to be the world’s oldest printed book.

The first part of the story may be found below; read more at the link provided at the end.

No one is sure who Wang Jie was or why he had The Diamond Sutra printed. But we do know that on this day in 868 A.D.—or the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong in Jie’s time—he commissioned a block printer to create a 17-and-a-half-foot-long scroll of the sacred Buddhist text, including an inscription on the lower right hand side reading, “Reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents.” Today, that scroll is housed at the British Library and is acknowledged as the oldest dated printed book in existence.

Chances are you know a little something about the Gutenberg Bible, the first book made with moveable type, which came along almost 600 years later. Bibliophiles might also have a working knowledge of other famous manuscripts like the Book of Kells, The Domesday Book, and Shakespeare’s First Folio. Well, The Diamond Sutra should be in that pantheon of revered books, as well. Here’s why:

Origins

The text was originally discovered in 1900 by a monk in Dunhuang, China, an old outpost of the Silk Road on the edge of the Gobi Desert. The Diamond Sutra, a Sanskrit text translated into Chinese, was one of 40,000 scrolls and documents hidden in “The Cave of a Thousand Buddhas,” a secret library sealed up around the year 1,000 when the area was threatened by a neighboring kingdom.

Source: Five Things to Know About the Diamond Sutra, the World’s Oldest Dated Printed Book | Smart News | Smithsonian

Published in: on May 19, 2016 at 6:13 AM  Leave a Comment  

Calvin College in 1927 – Students & Professors

Through a Glass Lightly-TimmermanLast year in connection with history and archives features on Thursdays we began quoting from John J. Timmerman’s book Through a Glass Lightly (Eerdmans, 1987), where he describes the early years of education at Calvin College.

We have been drawing especially of late from chapter five, “Golden Branches Among the Shadows,” where Timmerman describes in detail his own experience of life at Calvin as a student. Today we pick up where we left last time, as he gives us a glimpse of the college as a whole.

In 1927 seventeen professors taught 320 students in a college almost wholly supported by the Christian Reformed Church. Tuition was $100 a year for students from Grand Rapids, $75 for those from Paterson [New Jersey], and even less for those from more distant places. There were no scholarships, and student aid came in the form of pay for serving in the kitchen, sweeping floors, and shoveling coal. There were a few names like Yared, Washington, and Uhl, but the student body was overwhelmingly Dutch.

Professors taught fifteen hours a week. There were two professional offices, usually unoccupied, and counseling was nonexistent except when asked for. Professors prepared their studies at home, filled their briefcases with the results, emptied the contents out in class, and hurried back. The only professor’s home I was ever in was President R.B. Kuiper’s. He had a sense of humor; he invited some students who had pilfered applies in the dormitory over on a Sunday evening and gave them apples. Professors were much more distant than they are now, and the only really approachable professors I had were Dr. W.H. Jellema and Prof. H.J. VanAndel. The rest were not unfriendly; they were just aloof. On the whole, they practiced what Prof. Johannes Broene preached when he said, ‘The faculty is the heart of the college.’ It did indeed move the institution, but it did not move about with its students (pp.32-33).

PRC Seminary Lectures on the French Reformed Tradition- Dr. T. Reid

Today and tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. (ET) the PRC Seminary will be hosting two special lectures by Dr. Tom Reid of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA.

While the Seminary is limited in seating and the event is especially for our faculty, students, area ministers, and special guests, the lectures are going to be live-streamed both days.

Below is the notice of the lectures from Prof.R. Cammenga and below that is the video link to the Seminary’s YouTube channel, from which you may watch the live-stream. We welcome you to join us in this way – at 1:00 p.m. TODAY and TOMORROW.

On Thursday and Friday, April 28 and 29, Mr. Tom Reid of the Reformed Presbyterian Seminary (Pittsburgh, PA) will be giving two addresses to our student body, faculty, and area ministers. Both speeches will begin at 1:00 PM. On Thursday, April 28, he will speak on “The Battles of the French Reformed Tradition,” and on Friday, April 29, he will speak on “A Recent French Reformed Theologian, Auguste Lecerf.”

This is the video link for Thursday’s lecture (full recording):

This is the live-stream video link for tomorrow’s (Friday) lecture:

Note:

Yesterday we experienced some initial difficulties with our first major live-stream effort of the first lecture of Mr. Reid – our apologies! Mid-way through his speech the stream worked fine and that portion of the video is available on our YouTube channel. But I have also posted above the full video recording of this first lecture above.

The second lecture will be held Friday at 1:00 p.m. I have the event scheduled at the link above. If this is not working, I will start a new live-stream event, which may be found at the link provided.

A History of Islam – Dr. Ryan Reeves

TT-April-2016With the arrival of April, it is time to introduce the latest issue of Tabletalk and its content.

This month’s issue is focused on the subject of Islam and the need Muslims have for the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ. This is a timely and bold subject to address, and this issue covers it well, with subjects on the history and teachings of Islam as well as on how to share the gospel with Muslims.

Editor Burk Parsons introduces this subject with an editorial titled “Muslims Need Christ.” In this post I point you to the first featured main article, “A History of Islam,” which provides us with a fascinating and informative overview of the clash between Islam and Christianity throughout history.

You would do well to read the entire article by Dr.Reeves, but here is a portion of it to get you started. Follow the link below to find the rest.

Unmoved by the setback in France, the early Islamic kingdoms worked double time to conquer Christian lands under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. Westerners should remember that the lands of Asia Minor, Egypt, and North Africa at this time were majority Christian, with a lineage of Christian theology and church life that extended centuries into the past. (Augustine was from North Africa, and the great ecumenical creeds were written mostly in Asia Minor.) The situation was bleak for Christians in these lands, due in large part to the rise of perhaps the most influential and important kingdom in the history of Islam: the Abbasid caliphate. The Abbasid house assumed control early in Islamic history and then established the city of Baghdad as its capital. From 750 to 1517—the year Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses—Islamic culture experienced a golden age under the Abbasid dynasty. Many of the stories of advanced Islamic civilization, philosophy, architecture, and the sciences originate from this period under Abbasid rule.

The earliest history of Islam, therefore, was marked both by its conquest by the sword and the thickening of its cultural heritage that would shape the religion until today. Many of the lands Islam conquered remained religiously the same for centuries—though Christians, Jews, or pagans in these cities immediately found their world awash in Arabic names, while mosques quickly began to dot the cityscape. However, during the medieval period, the non-Islamic faiths in the conquered lands, especially Christianity, eventually became the minority.

Christians who witnessed the fall of these lands to Islam longed for an eventual response by Christian armies to retake these lands and free their brethren. In the end, the Crusades were launched.

Source: A History of Islam by Ryan Reeves | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org

PRC Archives Day – Reformed Witness Hour’s 100th Program

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For our PRC history/archives focus today we feature the program for the 100th broadcast of the Reformed Witness Hour, a radio ministry of First PRC (Grand Rapids, MI) supported by all of our PRCs. This program was brought in yesterday (along with the program for the 200th broadcast) by Don Faber, and we thank him for this.

This program is particularly significant and satisfying because this year marks the 75th anniversary of the RWH. It was on Oct.12, 1941 that the “Protestant Reformed Hour” was first heard live from the sanctuary of First PRC, with Rev. Herman Hoeksema (her pastor and first voice for many years) delivering the noteworthy message, “God is God.”

According to the program (which has no date), Rev. Hoeksema had been the radio speaker for four years, so this 100th broadcast must have taken place in 1945, meaning  that in its early history the RWH program was not broadcast every Sunday as it now is. The program states as much too in its note on the history on the back.

Later this year (August 2016) the RWH along with other PRC mission endeavors will be featured at a Mission Awareness Day being planned. Look for details on that to be advertised soon. And, in that connection, let me say we will be on the lookout for items on the RWH, especially programs like this, and pictures. So, start looking in those closets and drawers for RWH items!

For now, you may enjoy the program itself along with its informative content and pictures.

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And by the way, yesterday Mr. Marv Lubbers brought in a photocopy of the picture from last Thursday (Hudsonville YP’s Society) with all the people identified. I will try to get those names up at some point today too. Thank you, Marv!

Erasmus and the 500th Anniversary of His Greek NT

ErasmusAs you probably are aware by now, the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation of the 16th century will be celebrated next year, with many events and publications already marking the event.

A lesser-known but still highly significant anniversary this year is the 500th anniversary of Erasmus’ Greek NT, which edition of the Bible may in some respects be said to have fueled the fire of the Reformation. Yes, Erasmus’ views on free will also fueled the fire in Luther’s soul to defend salvation by sovereign grace (cf. his Bondage of the Will); but there is no question God in His great and good providence used the Greek NT Erasmus pieced together to kindle the renewed interest in His Word, which in turn led to the spread of that Word throughout Europe – and indeed the world – in manifold new translations – the language of the people.

Below is the beginning of and a link to a recent article that appeared on the Reformation21 website detailing some history of Erasmus’ Greek NT – and dispelling some myths about it. I believe you will find it informative and interesting.

And if you want to want another source, look up the Dunham Bible Museum website at Houston Baptist University. They recently did a feature on Erasmus’ Greek NT also, which you may find here in their newsletter.

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament. It was a landmark publication for biblical studies, though we may tend to forget its role in the Reformation. 2016 will not receive as much attention as 2017, which may as well be dubbed Luther-palooza for all the books, seminars, and conferences that will cover the 95 Theses. But to those who have struggled with their aorist declensions, this is the root of your frustration. Tyrant, thy name is Erasmus.
The mythology of Erasmus’ New Testament is another story–one repeated by well-intentioned Greek professors hoping to inspire students. In my life, it was during an exegesis course that I first heard of Erasmus’ slapdash efforts to bring the Greek text to print. For all the grandeur I expected in the story, I was unprepared for how Erasmus stepped into a quagmire of textual criticism that even his mind could not fathom.
Still the story made sense in seminary. If Greek was good enough for Luther, then it is good enough for us–and we later heard stories of Luther translating in the Wartburg with Erasmus’ text resting under his elbow. The story is only compounded by the fact that Erasmus’ third edition New Testament was used to produce the translations of William Tyndale, the Geneva Bible and the KJV.
But the tale is embellished to the point of being an overfed caricature of Reformation hagiography.

– See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/articles/church-historys-greatest-myths.php#sthash.adpzOiee.dpuf

Source: Church History’s Greatest Myths – Reformation21

Martin Luther’s Death and Legacy – Stephen Nichols

mluther.jpegToday marks the 470th anniversary of the death of the Reformer, Martin Luther (1483-1546). Dr. Stephen Nichols did a brief but informative post on this yesterday under the above title. I give you a snippet of it here today, encouraging you to read the rest at the Ligonier link below.

As we near the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, it is good for us to keep before us God’s great work of reforming His church through men such as Luther. Look for more of such posts in the year to come.

Luther and his enlarged traveling party made a triumphal entry in to Eisleben. The hometown hero was welcomed with cheering crowds and escorted by a cavalcade. He preached that Sunday, January 31.

But the journey had taken its toll. Luther wrote to his beloved Katie of bitter winds and freezing rains, not to mention all those threatening chunks of ice. Luther was severely ill. An out of control fire, right outside of Luther’s room, also threatened his life. His room itself was precarious. Plaster fell from the walls, which loosened a few of the stones from the wall. One stone, reported to be the size of a pillow, came rather close to crashing down upon the head of Luther. These misadventures gave reason for Katie to grow anxious back at home. She fired off a letter full of anxiety and worry. So Luther wrote back that he missed her, adding, “I have a caretaker who is better than you and all the angels; he lies in a manger and nurses at his mother’s breast, yet he sits at the right hand of God, the Almighty Father.”

Luther wrote that letter on February 7. Eleven days later he died. Eisleben, the town of his birth, would also now be known as the town of his death. Luther’s three sons would accompany their father’s body back to Wittenberg, where crowds would gather to pay final respects.

Just before he died, Luther preached what would be his last sermon from his deathbed in Eisleben. The “sermon” consisted of simply quoting two texts, one from the Psalms and one from the Gospels. Luther cited Psalm 68:19, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.” Then he cited John 3:16. Our God is indeed a God of salvation, and that salvation comes through the work of His Son.

Source: Martin Luther’s Death and Legacy by Stephen Nichols | Ligonier Ministries Blog

Happy Birthday Holland | Michigan in Pictures

This past Tuesday Holland, MI marked the 169th anniversary of its founding. “Michigan in Pictures” featured its story along with this marvelous aerial view of Holland harbor during this winter season.

Because Holland was founded by Dutch immigrants and still maintains its strong Dutch history and heritage, we point you to it today. “MIP” has a link to the history of Holland in its story, part of which I include here.

Join me in saying “happy birthday” to the historic city of Holland!

February 9th is the 169th anniversary of the founding of Holland, Michigan. The History of Holland has some background about one of the prime factors for the city’s success, the Holland Channel:

From its very beginnings, Holland provided a refuge for those seeking freedom of expression and a more vibrant economy. Persuaded by religious oppression and economic depression, a group of 60 men, women, and children, led by Albertus C. VanRaalte, prepared for their 47-day trip from Rotterdam to New York. VanRaalte intended to purchase land in Wisconsin, but travel delays and an early winter caused the group to layover in Detroit. After hearing about available lands in west Michigan, VanRaalte decided to scout the territory. They reached their destination on February 9, 1847 on the banks of Black Lake—today’s Lake Macatawa.

The hundreds of Dutch immigrants that followed expected to find their promised land, but instead found a swamp and insect-infested forest. Although food was scarce, and the log sheds they built were unable to hold everyone, the settlers persevered. VanRaalte realized the practical and economic potential of the dense forest: trees could be felled to build homes and businesses, while the excess lumber could be sold to purchase farming supplies.

Source: Happy Birthday Holland: Looking back on the Holland Channel | Michigan in Pictures

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.

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