New & Noteworthy in the Seminary Library

Even though it is early in the new year, there are several new books in the PRC Seminary library that can be highlighted. As always, I could give a much longer and larger list, but I will limit us to some of the “top titles” that have been added in the last month.

My goal is to make this a more regular feature of my blog, not only to keep you informed as to what is new in the Seminary book stacks, but perhaps also to stimulate some reading ideas for you personally.

Here are a few books with a narrower interest (for preachers and pastors) and a broader interest (for the general reader). I include the publisher’s description and link for your benefit.

  •  Scholte-Heideman-2015Hendrik P. Scholte; His Legacy in the Netherlands and America, Eugene P. Heideman. Holland/Grand Rapids, MI: Van Raalte Press/Eerdmans, 2015.

      Series: The Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America (HSRCA)

      This book offers a careful contextual theological analysis of a nineteenth-century schismatic with twenty-first-century ecumenical intent.

      Hendrik P. Scholte (1803-1868) was the intellectual leader and catalyst of a separation from the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk. Leaving the state church meant being separated from its deacon’s funds, conflict with the laws of the state, and social ostracism. Due to poverty, Scholte emigrated with a group that settled Pella, Iowa. Schismatic tendencies continued in this and other nineteenth-century Dutch settlements with the most notable division being between those who joined the Reformed Church in America and those who became the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

      As Heideman says: “Although this book concentrates on what happened in the past, it is written with the hope that knowledge of the past will contribute to the faithfulness and unity of the church in the future.”


  • Theodore BezaTheodore Beza: The Man and the Myth, Shawn D. Wright. Fearn, GB: Christian Focus, 2015.
    • Description

      Theodore Beza? Who is he? Why should I care about him?

      Well, I’m glad you asked!
      Theodore Beza was a man who in his day was one of the luminaries of the Protestant world, who took the reins of the beleaguered Calvinistic movement after its namesake’s death, and who influenced English-speaking Protestantism more than you might imagine. Shawn D. Wright casts light on a figure often neglected and helps illustrate the significant impact of his faith and influence.


  • For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America, Sean Michael Lucas. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2015.
    • The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is the largest conservative, evangelical Presbyterian denomination in North America. And yet ministers, elders, and laypeople know only the barest facts concerning the denomination’s founding. For a Continuing Church is a fully researched, scholarly yet accessible account of the theological and social forces that brought about the PCA.

      Drawing on little used archival sources, as well as Presbyterian newspapers and magazines, Lucas charts the formation of conservative dissent in response to the young progressive leadership that emerged in the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) in the 1920s and 1930s. Their vision was to purify the PCUS from these progressive theological elements and return it to its spiritual heartland: evangelism and missions. Only as the church declared the gospel with confidence in the inspired Scriptures would America know social transformation.

      Forty years after its founding, the PCA has nearly 400,000 members and is still growing in the United States and internationally.


  • HBavinck2Essays-Bolt-2013A Theological Analysis of Herman Bavinck’s Two Essays on the Imitatio Christi: Between Pietism and Modernism, John Bolt. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2013.
    • Professor Bolt defended his original dissertation in 1982 at the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto, under the title, ”The Imitation of Christ Theme in the Cultural-Ethical Ideal of Herman Bavinck.” For the published edition he has updated the scholarship and added a concluding chapter on application and relevance. Also, he has included the first available English translations of Bavinck’s two imitation articles of 1885/86 and 1918.
    • Bolt’s investigation of Bavinck’s essays on the imitation of Christ . . . immerses us in some of the most important aspects of the Christianity and culture debate. What is the relationship of God’s work of creation to his work of redemption? What is the relationship of nature and grace? What is the significance of common grace and natural law? What is the relationship of the Old Testament law, as summarized in the Decalogue, to New Testament ethics, especially as set forth in the Sermon on the Mount? Can the Sermon on the Mount really direct our social-cultural life and, if so, how? These will undoubtedly remain central questions to discussions about Christian cultural activity, and Bolt reflects on all of them as he expounds Bavinck’s essays. I predict that his conclusions will surprise many readers, challenge simplistic assumptions about Bavinck’s view of culture, and inspire many people to read Bavinck anew. (David VanDrunen, “Forward,” v–vi)


  • The Pastor’s Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry, R.Kent Hughes; Douglas S. O’Donnell, Contributing ed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015.
    • Pastors are tasked with the incredibly demanding job of caring for the spiritual, emotional, and, at times‚ physical needs of their people. While seminary is helpful preparation for many of the challenges pastors face, there’s far more to pastoral ministry than what can be covered in the classroom. Designed as a reference guide for nearly every situation a pastor will face, this comprehensive book by seasoned pastors Kent Hughes and Doug O’Donnell is packed full of biblical wisdom and practical guidance related to the reality of pastoral ministry in the trenches. From officiating weddings to conducting funerals to visiting the sick, this book will equip pastors and church leaders with the knowledge they need to effectively minister to their flocks, both within the walls of the church and beyond.


  • LetEarthHearVoice-Scharf-2015Let the Earth Hear His Voice: Strategies for Overcoming Bottlenecks in Preaching God’s Word, Greg R. Scharf. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
    • Uniting theological encouragement with practical advice, Greg Scharf identifies eight common bottlenecks that can clog a sermon’s fruitfulness and faithfulness—humanly speaking—and gives diagnoses, strategies for addressing the problems, and exercises to overcome them. Seminary students, occasional preachers, and seasoned pastors will be given profound tools and insights for preaching faithfully, clearly, and applicably. A cross reference allows the book to be easily used alongside Bryan Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching.


  • 2Samuel-WoodhouseSeveral new volumes in the excellent “Preaching the Word” series published by Crossway. We have recently added volumes on 2 Samuel, Judges and Ruth, and I Corinthians.
    • For years, Crossway’s Preaching the Word commentary series has helped pastors, preachers, and anyone who teaches God’s Word to better interpret and apply the message of the Bible. Under the careful editorial oversight of experienced pastor and best-selling author R. Kent Hughes, this series is known for its commitment to biblical authority, its pastoral tone and focus, and its overall accessibility

British Library to put large Dutch atlas online

Here’s an interesting history/archive news item for you. We have noted before this digitalization project by the British Museum, but now they are about to digitize the second largest map in the world – from the collection of King George III!

Here’s a part of that story as taken from the source below. Visit the link to read more and visit the British Museum link to view the maps already available online.

The British Library in London is a quarter of the way through a major project to re-catalogue, digitise and conserve a 50,000-strong map collection assembled by Britain’s famous collector-king, George III (1738-1820). Among the objects to be digitally photographed is the world’s second largest atlas, which measures a huge 1.8m by 2.3m.

The Klencke Atlas, named after the Dutch sugar merchant Johannes Klencke, who presented it to Charles II in 1660, contains 41 large-scale maps made in the 1620s and 1630s, a period known as the Golden Age of Dutch cartography. The maps were intended to hang on the wall, but were bound into one giant book.

Source: British Library to put very big royal atlas online

Published in: on January 7, 2016 at 6:27 AM  Leave a Comment  

Digital Public Library of America

Source: Digital Public Library of America

A recent email from Publishers Weekly called attention to ongoing updates at the massive digital library known as the Digital Public Library of America (see link above), so on this history/archive day we remind you of this great resource. In its own words, “explore 11,474,555 items from libraries, archives, and museums.”

You will find something of interest to you there, no matter what your interests are, so check it out today if you haven’t for a while. And, of course, bookmark it so that it is a resource you use again and again.

And don’t forget the bookshelf portion of the site, where you will find nearly 2.5 million books and periodicals in digital storage.

Here’s a video that introduces you to the “wealth of knowledge” contained in this online library.


Now Available! New RFPA Book: Gottschalk: Servant of God

gottschalk-cmeyer-2015Now that the Reformed Free Publishing Association has released their latest title – and a very special one at that! – we can reference the post they made today on their blog.

Here is the first part of that post, along with an image of the cover; follow the link below to find out more and to order the book.

This looks to be one you will want to add to your personal or family library, or give as a gift this Christmas season.

For several years the RFPA has discussed publishing books for younger readers and Gottschalk: Servant of God represents our first effort. This book is intended for junior high and high school ages. Because the story is intriguing and the history of Gottschalk is not well-known, adults will also enjoy this book and find it profitable.

Source: Reformed Free Publishing Association — Now Available! New Book: Gottschalk

Why a book on this Medieval monk? In part, this is how the author answers that in her introduction:

God was protecting his church, preserving her, leading her, guiding her. No, she was not forgotten. God was leading her throughout all of history, sometimes at a crawl, sometimes at a trot, and sometimes at a grueling gallop – but he was with her all along. Such is the comfort we receive from the story of Gottschalk. God preserves his church. As Gottschalk would say in his characteristic way, ‘It is obviously seen brighter than the sun and is more clearly apparent than daylight’ (x).

The book is enhanced by the beautiful illustrations done by the author, Mrs. Connie Meyer (see the sample pages on the RFPA blog post). Throughout are drawings from the times (Middle Ages), maps, and other period pictures of places and people.

In addition, the author has included an appendix with a sample of Gottschalk’s writings. These include some of his poetry and his Shorter Confession. Here is a short excerpt from his “A Hymn to God the Life-Giver”, in which the truth of sovereign electing grace shines plainly:

Thou dost increase and infuse
The faith which Thou dost grant
To whomsoever Thou dost choose.
Still more, Thou cleanest lepers
Polluted in their shame,
Ungodly men are righteous,
Made clean in Thy pure name;
Together with the Father and His beloved Son,
Thou recreatest souls,
All those of Thine elect,
And when Thy work is done,
Thy glory lights each one.

Published in: on November 17, 2015 at 10:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

Great Reformation Resources Available Today!

What can we do for Friday (fun?!) with regard to Reformation Day? Lots of things, of course. But what better way than to highlight some great book deals.

KParrBookLigonier Ministries has some great deals on Reformation resources today for their weekly (Friday) $5 sale – fantastic books (hardcover and audio), DVDs, and CDs. Check out the link below and stock up! But you’d better hurry – I doubt these items will last long!

Source: Reformed Theology Resources: Browse $5 Friday Products | Ligonier Ministries Store

Also, do not forget Monergism’s great website, with many free resources, including a multitude of Reformation resources.

Another good place to check is Tim Challies blog – he is also putting together great book lists, specially the best Christian digital deals (Go back and review his “ala carte” posts).

Martin Luther: 7000 Sermons – Steven Lawson

Source: Martin Luther: 7000 Sermons by Steven Lawson | Ligonier Ministries Blog

As we reflect on the significance of the great Reformation of the 16th century this week, we turn today to this Ligonier post by Dr. Steve Lawson on the importance of preaching for the magisterial Reformer Martin Luther.

MLuther-SLawsonThis is an excerpt from Lawson’s book on Luther, The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther (Reformation Trust, 2013).

This is the opening paragraph of the post; find the rest at the Ligonier link above. Still better, obtain and read the book. :)

In the tempestuous days of the Reformation, the centerpiece of Luther’s ministry was his bold biblical preaching. Fred W. Meuser writes: “Martin Luther is famous as reformer, theologian, professor, translator, prodigious author, and polemicist. He is well known as hymn-writer, musician, friend of students, mentor of pastors, and pastor to countless clergy and laity. Yet he saw himself first of all as a preacher.” Luther gave himself tirelessly to this priority. E. Theodore Bachmann adds, “The church … is for Luther ‘not a pen-house, but a mouth-house,’ in which the living Word is proclaimed.” Indeed, Luther wrote voluminously, yet he never put his written works on the same level with his proclamation of God’s Word. He maintained, “Christ Himself wrote nothing, nor did He give command to write, but to preach orally.” By this stance, Luther strongly underscored the primacy of the pulpit.

Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found – The New York Times


This item was mentioned yesterday on and I find it worth mentioning here as well. An excellent archive find with significant historical significance, this little KJV draft notebook looks to be a real treasure.

Below is part of the news story as carried by the NY Times. Find the full story at the link below.

The King James Bible is the most widely read work in English literature, a masterpiece of translation whose stately cadences and transcendent phrases have long been seen, even by secular readers, as having emerged from a kind of collective divine inspiration.

But now, in an unassuming notebook held in an archive at the University of Cambridge, an American scholar has found what he says is an important new clue to the earthly processes behind that masterpiece: the earliest known draft, and the only one definitively written in the hand of one of the roughly four dozen translators who worked on it.

A bit further in the article these two KJV scholars are referenced:

David Norton, an emeritus professor at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and the author of several books about the King James Bible, called it “a major discovery” — if not quite equal to finding a draft of one of Shakespeare’s plays, “getting on up there.”

Gordon Campbell, a fellow in Renaissance studies at the University of Leicester and a consultant for the planned Museum of the Bible in Washington, said the new manuscript shed fresh light on how the King James translators actually did their work, as opposed to how they had been told to do it.

Studying the creation of the King James Bible “is like working with a jigsaw puzzle where 90 percent of the pieces are missing,” Mr. Campbell said. “You can arrange the surviving pieces as you wish, but then you find something new and you realize you put it together the wrong way.”

Source: Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found, Scholar Says – The New York Times

Reformation Reading 2015 (1)

Luther's-Fortress-Reston-2015The end of this month will mark the 498th anniversary of the great 16th century Reformation, usually marked by Martin Luther’s nailing of his Ninety-five theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.

During this Reformation month I want to call attention to some new books related to the history of the Reformation that have recently been added to the PRC Seminary library. Today I mention two of them.

The first is Luther’s Fortress: Martin Luther and His Reformation Under Siege, written by James Reston, Jr. and published this year by Basic Books (Hardcover, 272 pgs.). Here is the description provided by the publisher:

In 1521, the Catholic Church declared war on Martin Luther. The German monk had already been excommunicated the year before, after nailing his Ninety-Five Theses—which accused the Church of rampant corruption—to the door of a Saxon church. Now, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V called for Luther “to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic.” The edict was akin to a death sentence: If Luther was caught, he would almost inevitably be burned at the stake, his fragile movement crushed, and the nascent Protestant Reformation strangled in its cradle.

In Luther’s Fortress, acclaimed historian James Reston, Jr. describes this crucial but little-known episode in Luther’s life and reveals its pivotal role in Christian history. Realizing the danger to their leader, Luther’s followers spirited him away to Wartburg Castle, deep in central Germany. There he hid for the next ten months, as his fate—and that of the Reformation—hung in the balance. Yet instead of cowering in fear, Luther spent his time at Wartburg strengthening his movement and refining his theology in ways that would guarantee the survival of Protestantism. He devoted himself to biblical study and spiritual contemplation; he fought both his papist critics and his own inner demons (and, legend has it, the devil himself); and he held together his fractious and increasingly radicalized reform movement from afar. During this time Luther also crystallized some of his most significant ideas about Christianity and translated the New Testament into German—an accomplishment that, perhaps more than any other, solidified his legacy and spread his bold new religious philosophy across Europe.

Drawing on Luther’s correspondence, notes, and other writings, Luther’s Fortress presents an earthy, gripping portrait of the Reformation’s architect at this transformational moment, revealing him at his most productive, courageous, and profound.

Fred-Wise-Wellman-2015The second book is a new one on Frederick the Wise, carrying that very title (Concordia, 2015; paperback, 352 pgs.). Below is the overview the publisher gives on this book:

Frederick the Wise  unlocks German research to make available in English, for the first time, a full-length story of Frederick III of Saxony.  The fascinating biographical journey reveals why this noteworthy elector risked his realm of Saxony to protect the fiery monk Martin Luther and the developing reforms of the Church.   As one of the most powerful territorial princes of the Holy Roman Empire of his time, Frederick’s “humanity and integrity were rare for someone of his elite status”, notes Dr. Paul M. Bacon.  “Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony was much more than simply Martin Luther’s noble protector.”

If you are looking for some new titles to tackle for your 2015 Reformation reading, these two would be a good place to start!

Western Michigan and the Dutch Immigrants (2)

ACVanRaalte-1Picking up the thread from our last post on the Dutch in West Michigan, we find this next from chapter two of Herbert J. Brinks’ book Write Back Soon: Letters from Immigrants in America (CRC Publications, 1986), about the Dutch immigrants who settled in West Michigan:

     The Netherlanders who settled in western Michigan were, of course, not the first Europeans to investigate that corner of the North American wilderness. As early as 1620 the French had used this area to trade with Indian tribes. And in 1688 Father Jacques Marquette, a missionary-explorer, founded a permanent village at Saulte Sainte Marie. Since other French missionaries organized mission stations all long the coast of Lake Michigan, it’s not surprising that in 1847 Van Raalte [image to left] and his followers met a tribe of Christian Indians on the future sight of Holland, Michigan.

Michigan afforded Van Raalte a better opportunity to isolate his colony than did the neighboring states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, all of which had been settled and organized earlier than the Wolverine State. Since Michigan did not gain independent statehood until 1837, Van Raalte was able to acquire large tracts of unsettled land for his group.

…Van Raalte’s efforts in Holland, Michigan, paralleled similar efforts among his American neighbors. The towns and villages in the colony’s immediate vicinity were all youthful and crude, having origins as trading posts or Indian settlements. Port Sheldon, the colony’s nearest neighbor, had been developed in 1837 for reasons much like those which Van Raalte cherished in selecting Holland. Like Holland, Port Sheldon had access to Lake Michigan through an adjoining inland lake that provided a potential harbor. But Port Sheldon had been organized by speculators who hoped to lure purchasers with the promise of spiraling land values. The founders constructed a huge hotel on the site and had already sold some of the town lots when the economic crisis of 1837 pulled land values down and forced the town’s developers into bankruptcy. Van Raalte proceeded more wisely. His colony consisted of settlers, not empty projections of speculative wealth.

write-back-soon-hbrinks-1986Chapter Two is titled “Michigan: A Model for Ethnic Solidarity” (pp.26-27)

Two Interesting Title Pages from the D.Engelsma Library

As we continue to sort through and process the library of emeritus professor David Engelsma (PRC Seminary), we keep finding large and small treasures, including interesting notes on title pages in the books. Such notes always tell a story, or at least part of a story.

There is rich history recorded not only on the pages of books, but also in the personal notes – or stamps – the book’s owner(s) left behind on the opening pages.

Below are two such “small” treasures discovered recently. Let’s see if you can make the connection. If not, I will do so for you.



Published in: on September 3, 2015 at 9:54 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 563 other followers