Ground Zero Bible – 9/11 Artifact

Though this 9/11 artifact is only 15 years old, it is certainly historic. And I am glad this small remainder of that horrific event has been preserved in the 9/11 Memorial museum.

Keep in mind this is a photographer’s perspective on this Bible and on what page it was opened to when it was preserved. For all that, it is still a powerful testimony to the truth that God’s Word endures.

With Tim Challies I also say, Why did I not hear about this before?! And, along with that, wouldn’t you like to know what place this Bible had in someone’s life in that south tower? Was it the last thing he/she was reading when the building collapsed?

More significantly, what place does the Bible have in your daily reading and mine?

Mark Noll: The Dean of Christian Scholars | Books and Culture

MNoll-picBooks & Culture magazine (Sept./Oct. 2016) did an interview with noted Christian historian Mark Noll, which is available online this month. As we think about true Christian scholarship this week and the importance of history today (history/archives day), it is worth listening to what this Christian scholar and historian has to say.

Below is the opening paragraph introducing Noll and then follows a few paragraphs from the interview. To read the rest of this it, follow the link at the end of this post. And don’t forget to note the influence of the library and books and reading in his early life.🙂

Perhaps no living Christian intellectual defies the standard measures of one’s legacy more than Mark Noll, who retired last spring as Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Noll began his career at Trinity College (Deerfield, Illinois) in 1975, leaving three years later for his alma mater, Wheaton College, where he would spend the next 27 years. In 2006, Noll left Wheaton for Notre Dame.

At what point did you realize you possessed an abiding interest in history?

I read history from the time I started to read and then probably read as much history during my career as an English major in college as I did English. But I’m old enough now that when I studied English, the task of setting literary works in historical context was a central task—that was before the new historicism, and before deconstruction. My interest in literature, reading, and writing was both literary and historical. As long as I have been able to read I have been interested in what happened in the past.

Is there a particular figure (or event) from your childhood that you can remember reading about who you found more captivating than others?

I remember going to the library in probably the second, third, or fourth grade, and reading all the sports books I could find. But then reading about Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, or Ty Cobb seamlessly transitioned into reading about D-Day, Abraham Lincoln, the founding of the United States, World War I, and World War II. I really can’t remember a time when reading like that was not just something that I did.

At what point did you realize history was your life’s calling?

Certainly at some stage I knew I wanted to make my living dealing with words. Lecturing and writing articles and books thus came along pretty naturally. I applied to do literary studies in graduate school and was accepted at some graduate programs. I went on to study comparative literature at the University of Iowa, but it became clearer as my own sense of Christian faith developed that I was most interested in things that the Protestant Reformers did and most interested in the historical context of literary questions. When I finished the MA in comparative literature at Iowa, I thought I should study church history. I wanted to understand the faith, and it seemed like history was the obvious way to help me do that. And then you can get into graduate school and, lo and behold, you find out you can get paid for work on such material. I’m sure I could have changed at some point if doors had closed, but by following inertia I ended up being a historian.

Source: The Dean of Christian Scholars | Books and Culture

Turning-points-NollBy the way, one of Noll’s classic Christian history books is Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity (Baker, 2001).

Published in: on September 1, 2016 at 6:35 AM  Leave a Comment  

Holland, MI Suffers Great Fire! (in 1871)

Making mention of periodicals that we receive at the PRC Seminary library (cf. yesterday’s post), today on our history/archive day we can report on the latest publication from the Joint Archives of Holland and the History Research Center of Hope College and Western Seminary in Holland – the Summer 2016 edition of The Joint Archives Quarterly.


This fine little newsletter is always filled with fascinating stories on the history of Holland, MI and surrounding areas. And yes, the opening article in this summer issue is on the great Holland fire of Oct.8-9, 1871. But there is much more in it too, such as a major article on misconceptions of the religious life of Hope College in the late 20th century.

Did you know about this significant event in west Michigan history?! If you subscribed to the JA Quarterly you would! But you may also find some of the articles online free – follow the link. Or, you may stop in at our Seminary library and browse this issue and others like it.

It’s good to know your history, starting with that close to us.🙂

Review Books – Two New Crossway Titles

Recently I received two requested review books from Crossway publishers, and today I make them available to our readers who may be interested in writing a brief review for the Standard Bearer.

"Free Grace" Theology

The first is “Free Grace” ‘Theology: 5 Ways It Diminishes the Gospel, written by Wayne Grudem (paper, 159 pp.). This book is a fresh look at an old error that often creeps into the church, that salvation by grace means salvation without a change of life (genuine repentance) and without demands on a person’s heart, mind, and walk (godly obedience).

In the more recent past, this error was known as the “lordship controversy,” but now it has a “new” name – “free grace theology.” It may be pointed out that this error also shows itself wherever antinomianism is promoted. As Grudem points out in his introduction, he wrote this to point out properly the nature of the gospel, true Christian assurance, and the nature of saving faith.

The publisher offers this description:

Must the gospel message include a call for people to repent of their sins? “No,” say Free Grace advocates. Is evidence of a changed life an important indication of whether a person is truly born again? “No, again,” these advocates say.

But in this book, Wayne Grudem shows how the Bible answers “Yes” to both of these questions, arguing that the Free Grace movement contradicts both historic Protestant teaching and the New Testament itself.

This important book explains the true nature of the Christian gospel and answers the question asked by so many people: “How can I know that I’m saved?”

If this book is of interest to you and you are willing to write a review on it, please contact me here or by email.

Eight Women of Faith

The second book is Eight Women of Faith, penned by Michael A. G. Haykin (paper, 160 pp.), and takes a look at eight significant women who played an important role in church history.

Crossway gives this summary:

With the majority of books about church history centering on the lives and accomplishments of men, it is easy for contemporary Christians to forget the vital role that women have played in the history of Christianity. Drawing from journal entries, personal letters, and other historical documents, historian Michael Haykin reminds Christians of women from previous generations who have helped shape the church. This book affords readers deep insights into how women such as Jane Austen, Sarah Edwards, and Anne Steele responded to challenges in society, came to embrace key doctrines, and made crucial contributions to the life of the church.

For obvious reasons, it would be nice to have a woman do the review on this book. Any interested ladies?

As always, the books are your to keep.


My Own Summer Reading List for 2016

My personal stack of books to read for this summer started growing this Spring, as did my reading of them (one can never start early enough!). After a winter of some heavier reading (those cold, dark nights stimulate the brain better!), I have added a collection of lighter books for my summer reading. But even these are stimulating my mind and soul well!

Here is my list in the order in which I obtained them, but not necessarily in which I am reading them (all are started now!):

Pope-Last-Crusade-EisnerHere is the publisher’s summary:

Drawing on untapped resources, exclusive interviews, and new archival research, The Pope’s Last Crusade by Peter Eisner is a thrilling narrative that sheds new light on Pope Pius XI’s valiant effort to condemn Nazism and the policies of the Third Reich—a crusade that might have changed the course of World War II.

A shocking tale of intrigue and suspense, illustrated with sixteen pages of archival photos, The Pope’s Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI’s Campaign to Stop Hitler illuminates this religious leader’s daring yet little-known campaign, a spiritual and political battle that would be derailed by Pius’s XIs death just a few months later. Peter Eisner reveals how Pius XI intended to unequivocally reject Nazism in one of the most unprecedented and progressive pronouncements ever issued by the Vatican, and how a group of conservative churchmen plotted to prevent it.

  • Honor: A History by James Bowman (Encounter Books, 2006; 381 pp.). This is our latest book club selection, and I am just getting started on it. This is not such light reading, but it will be profitable. Here’s the description in this one:

The importance of honor is present in the earliest records of civilization. Today, while it may still be an essential concept in Islamic cultures, in the West, honor has been disparaged and dismissed as obsolete. In this lively and authoritative book, James Bowman traces the curious and fascinating history of this ideal, from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment and to the killing fields of World War I and the despair of Vietnam. Bowman reminds us that the fate of honor and the fate of morality and even manners are deeply interrelated.

  • Conversations With a Barred Owl by Margaret Clarkson (Zondervan, 1975; 115 pp.). This thrift store find is a fascinating “nature” read – another type of book I like to read in the summertime. If you are familiar with Clarkson’s poetry and inspirational writings, you know that she is a fine Christian writer (Grace Grows Best in Winter).

Barred-Owl-ClarksonAs the title hints, this is a “confession of a new bird watcher,” and fellow bird watcher John R.W. Stott writes a complimentary foreword. Clarkson herself says in her Preface:

All of life is one, springing from the boundless, creative life of God. I venture to say that there is no natural phenomenon from which we may not learn something enriching about ourselves and our God and the Creature-creature relationship we share. Certainly there is much to be learned spiritually from a study of ornithology.

The few chapters I have read on the yellowthroat, vireo, and loon demonstrate the truth of what she says.

Republocrat-Trueman-2010I knew this book was out there, but it took processing Prof.D. Engelsma’s library to put it in my hands and dig into in. An election year and the prospect of reading Trueman on the Christian and politics added this title to my summer reading list. If you want to be challenged and perhaps become a little unnerved, read Trueman. But you will be led to think things through biblically and be a better believer because of it.

  • A False Spring by Pat Jordan ( Dodd, Mead & Co., 1973; 277 pp.). You knew there had to be a baseball book in here, didn’t you?! Well, this is it!

Another older work (like last summer’s) but it comes highly recommended. This is the true story of the author’s short-lived professional baseball career (the first chapter will already break your heart!), such that he went back to university and completed an English degree. After teaching for a few years, he became a free-lance writer, contributing to such magazines as Sports Illustrated. I just received my used in the mail yesterday, but the little I have read shows the writer has honed his skills well.

Here is a little about his story:

In A False Spring, Pat Jordan traces the falling star of his once-promising pitching career, illuminating along the way his equally difficult personal struggles and quest for maturity. When the reader meets Jordan, he is a hard-throwing pitcher with seemingly limitless potential, one of the first “bonus babies” for the Milwaukee Braves organization. Jordan’s sojourn through the lower levels of minor-league ball takes him through the small towns of America: McCook, Waycross, Davenport, Eau Claire, and Palatka. As the promised land of the majors recedes because of his inconsistency and lack of control, the young man who had previously known only glory and success is forced to face himself.

Now, what are YOU reading this summer? Do these lists give you some incentive and ideas? I hope so. Tolle lege!


Good Books for Warm Days – Dr.Al Mohler’s Summer Reading List for 2016

I nearly forgot to feature Dr. Al Mohler’s annual summer reading list! But then I was looking at my own summer reads and remembered. So today is the day to call attention to Mohler’s varied list of good reads for the sizzling season of summer.

Pick out a good one in your area of interest, grab a deck chair or the hammock,  and read on! There’s lots of summer left. And tomorrow I promise you my own list, so you will have some more ideas.🙂

Here is part of Mohler’s introduction to his list:

Different seasons seem to bring different ambitions and opportunities for reading. Summer offers an excuse to read books we set aside in colder months, in hope.

My summer reading stack has multiplied into stacks, but in this list I share ten that I have found particularly interesting, timely, and worth the investment of summer hours. As usual for this annual list, the books are non-fiction and tilted toward history. I read a lot of fiction, but I find novels more difficult to recommend in any concise form. I also admit that my most relaxing reading comes in the form of an historical work that helps make sense of the world.

And here is one that I noted for reading too, since I have read several of this author’s sailing/sea adventure books:

4. Nathaniel Philbrick, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (Viking).

philbrickNathaniel Philbrick is one of the best writers of history in this generation. In Valiant Ambition, Philbrick considers the complex relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. If Washington is the nation’s famed “indispensable man,” Benedict Arnold is America’s icon of villainy — the paradigmatic traitor. Valiant Ambition tells the story of that crucial period in the American Revolution when Washington did not yet have total control of his forces — much less the tides of history. He traces the relationship, deeply personal and often puzzling, between Washington and Arnold, and Philbrick makes clear that the Revolutionary War was anything but an inevitable American victory. This, too, is a story that needed telling, and the legacies of both George Washington and Benedict Arnold are filled with lessons as well as interest.

Source: Good Books for Warm Days – The Summer Reading List for 2016 –

Happy 240th Birthday, America!

As we U.S. citizens celebrate our country’s 240th birthday today, this little historical note on why July 4 became our “Independence Day” from “Today I Found Out” is instructive.

We should never forget the history behind our independence, nor how God has used this liberty to bless and preserve His church and people in this land. And may we as God’s people count it a blessing to belong to this great land, while also remembering that our true liberty is in Christ and His glorious kingdom of grace.

Have a wonderful 4th!

Why the 4th of July was Chosen as Independence Day in the United States

While it is often said that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, this isn’t actually correct. In fact, nobody signed it on the 4th. This is contradictory to Thomas Jefferson’s, John Adams’, and Benjamin Franklin’s account of events. On top of their accounts, the public congressional record of events back their story. So how do we know it didn’t happen this way?

To begin with, the Secret Journals of Congress that were eventually made public in 1821 paint a different story. They contain an entry stating, on August 2nd: “The declaration of independence being engrossed & compared at the table was signed by the Members.”

Now if this was the only evidence, one might lean towards a typo in the journal and believing the aforementioned three individuals and public congressional record. However, one of the other signers of the declaration, Thomas McKean, denied the July 4th signing date and backed it up by illustrating a glaring flaw in Jefferson’s, Adams’, and Franklin’s argument- namely, that most of the signers were not members of congress on July 4th and thus wouldn’t have been there to sign it. As McKean said in 1796: “No person signed it on that day nor for many days after.”

Further evidence comes from the interesting fact that the parchment version of the Declaration of Independence that is on display and kept in the United States National Archives wasn’t actually written until July 19th; this being a copy of the approved text that was announced to the world on July 4th, with about 150-200 copies being made on paper and distributed on that date (26 of which are still around today, thus pre-dating what is now generally thought of by most as the “original”).

This little tidbit also came from the Secret Journals of Congress which has an entry on July 19th stating: “Resolved that the Declaration passed on the 4th be fairly engrossed on parchment with the title and stile of ‘The unanimous declaration of the thirteen united states of America’ & that the same when engrossed be signed by every member of Congress.”

So, in the end, this signed document probably would have been copied by Timothy Matlack, Jefferson’s clerk, rather than penned by Jefferson himself, and certainly couldn’t have been signed on July 4th.

It’s also interesting to note that John Adams thought that July 2nd, not July 4th, would be celebrated in the future in the United States.  On July 3, 1776, in a letter to his wife, Abigail, Adams noted:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

So why did he think July 2nd would be Independence Day and how did July 4th end up getting the nod instead?  Because July 2nd is when the Second Continental Congress voted to approved a resolution of independence. Although nobody voted on or signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th,  that was the date the Declaration was announced to the world, and why it was ultimately chosen as Independence Day.

William Tyndale and His Significance – Dr.S. Lawson

As we prepare to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation next year, it is good to recall the variety of men whom God used to restore His Word to the church and the church to His Word. One such man was William Tyndale (c.1494-1536) through whom God gave us the Bible in English.

In this brief video, Dr. Steve Lawson stops to visit Tyndale’s statue in London and points to its significance for Reformation history and for subsequent history.

The Evolution of the Book – Julie Dreyfuss

This is another informative video on the history of book-making, from its earliest days up to the present digital age (a TED-Ed presentation posted June 13, 2016).

On this Friday, it’s a fine way to be reminded of how important the book is and how it has changed over the years.

Here’s the introduction to the YouTube video:

What makes a book a book? Is it just anything that stores and communicates information? Or does it have to do with paper, binding, font, ink, its weight in your hands, the smell of the pages? To answer these questions, Julie Dreyfuss goes back to the start of the book as we know it to show how these elements came together to make something more than the sum of their parts.


Published in: on June 24, 2016 at 9:46 AM  Leave a Comment  

X-Rays Reveal “Hidden Library” on the Spines of Early Books | Smithsonian

medieval-spine-hiddenResearchers are uncovering fragments of medieval texts used in early book binding.

This exciting news item appeared on Smithsonian on June 6, 2016 and gives a fascinating look at the early history of book binding and what historians are discovering on the spines.

Below is part of the story; find the rest at the link provided at the end.

When the printing press made its debut in Europe in the 15th century, hand-written manuscripts went the way of eight track tapes and CD players—becoming unfashionable in the face of new technology. So early book binders cut up some of these older texts and used the paper to reinforce the spines and covers of the newfangled printed books.

That practice has put researchers in another type of bind: To get to the valuable fragments built into these early modern books, they have to tear them apart. But according to Dalya Alberge at The Guardian a new technology is giving researchers a peek at the manuscript fragments without damaging the printed books.

Using macro X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (MA-XRF), Dutch researchers are able to scan the bindings to image the manuscripts hiding underneath. Erik Kwakkel, a book historian at Leiden University in the Netherlands tells Alberge that one in five early modern books contain the fragments. “It’s really like a treasure trove,” he tells Alberge. “It’s extremely exciting.”

Source: X-Rays Reveal “Hidden Library” on the Spines of Early Books | Smart News | Smithsonian