PRC Seminary Reformation 500 Conference This Weekend! Come and Join Us! *(Updated!)

ref-500-1The PRC Seminary, with help from Faith PRC’s Evangelism Committee, is holding a special two-day 500th anniversary Reformation conference for this weekend, October 27-28 at Faith PRC in Jenison, MI.

The details of the event may be found on the poster below. A special website has also been created for the conference, which you may find at www.500thReformation.com .

Here’s the latest bulletin announcement that was sent out:

HERE WE STAND, the seminary sponsored weekend conference celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is now at hand. The first speech is at 4:00 on Friday, October 27 with additional speeches at 7:00 and 8:15. The conference will continue on Saturday morning. The speeches will be delivered by our three professors [Profs. R. Cammenga, R. Dykstra, and B. Gritters] and Rev. M. McGeown [missionary-pastor of Limerick Reformed Fellowship, Ireland], Rev. David Torlach [pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Australia], and Rev. S. Key [PRC pastor in Loveland, CO].

Talk to your neighbors and friends and join us at Faith PRC for this important event. The conference will be live-streamed on the Internet for those who are not able to attend in person.

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At the conference there will also be books for sale by the Reformed Free Publishing Association and Gary Vander Schaaf (lots of great deals on books!) and special displays of Seminary library books – new and rare – on the Reformation (There may also be a special PRC archive item on display!). In addition, the Reformed Witness Hour will have a special table featuring its ministry.

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We hope you make plans to attend this significant event! Set aside time this weekend to join us as we celebrate God’s great work in the sixteenth century of reforming His church according to His Word.

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It’s been a great conference so far! Come out this Saturday morning for more edifying and inspiring messages, good books, and blessed fellowship!

Here We Stand – Resources for Reformation 500 Month

Some popular ministries are doing  some profitable things this month in connection with the 500th anniversary of the Great Reformation this year (1517-2017).

Desiring God, for example, is doing a daily podcast on various Reformers, calling it a “31-day journey with the heroes of the Reformation” (cf. link below after the quotation). Today’s was on “the Goosefather: Jan Hus.” Here’s an excerpt from the print edition:

Hus lived in a time when immorality infected the priesthood of the Catholic Church. He soon began preaching “violent sermons” against the rampant iniquity of the clergy until they reported him to the archbishop and had him banned from preaching. As Hus read Scripture and watched the popes of his day abuse their power, he concluded that papal authority was not ultimate. He needed a sturdier foundation than was built from the straw and sticks of men’s opinion — no matter how highly regarded those men were. He built his life and ministry on the word of God.

His views about Scripture’s ultimate authority were set ablaze as he began to read the condemned works of John Wycliffe. Wycliffe found a loyal disciple in Hus. Hus defended his works with such tenacity that one historian called Hus “Wycliffe’s bulldog” (The Unquenchable Flame, 30). He staunchly argued against indulgences, advocated for both the bread and the wine to be served in communion, and preached in the common language (as opposed to the untranslated Latin of the day).

Although still in agreement with the Catholic Church on matters such as the Mass, his allegiance to the teachings of Wycliffe got him excommunicated, tried for heresy, and burned alive.

Source: Here We Stand

Ligonier Ministries is also doing a series of podcasts, led by Dr. Steven Lawson, and called “31 Days with Luther.” Here’s a description of the series, as well as the 31 topics that are treated:

This Reformation month culminates in the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his Ninety-Five Theses at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. To celebrate the anniversary, 5 Minutes in Church History is releasing a new episode, recorded on location throughout Europe, every day in October. Over 31 episodes, Dr. Stephen Nichols will explore the life, thought, and legacy of Luther, and will conclude with an examination of the document that started it all, Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. Subscribe in iTunes, visit 5MinutesInChurchHistory.com, listen every day on RefNet at 10:55am, or search for “5 Minutes in Church History” wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Reformation Month Episodes
  • 31 Days with Luther
  • November 10, 1483
  • 5 Things at Erfurt
  • The Goose & the Swan
  • The Gates of Paradise
  • Luther & Bach
  • 2 Princes
  • A Tale of 2 Churches
  • Heidelberg
  • Worms
  • Junker Jorg
  • The Wittenberg 5
  • Melanchthon
  • Luther & Germany Today
  • 2 Kinds of Righteousness
  • 3 Treatises
  • Catechism
  • Hymns
  • Tabletalk
  • Bondage of the Will
  • Luther on Psalm 118
  • Luther & the Bible
  • Martin & Katie
  • January 1546
  • Last 4 Sermons
  • February 18, 1546
  • Legacy of Luther
  • R.C. Sproul & Luther
  • Repent
  • The 95 Theses (Part 1)
  • The 95 Theses (Part 2)

New Reformation Titles 2017 (1)

Protestants-Ryrie-2017During this year of noting and celebrating the 500th anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation (1517-2017), it is fitting to call attention to some of the new and newly reprinted books on the history and figures of that great event.

So far this year we have had opportunity to point to a few, but today I give you part of my seminary library list of new Reformation books acquired and processed in the first two quarters of this year. The list is not exhaustive but selective of the more noteworthy ones we have obtained.

I hope this also gives you some ideas for your own reading profit this year, as well as for building your own library. I plan to do the same for future

*Note: The format reflects that found in the library cataloging program I use, not that ordinarily used in bibliographies.

  • Ulrich Zwingli : Shepherd Warrior / William Boekestein. — 1st-pb. — Fearne, Ross-shire, GB : CF4Kids, 2016.
  • Being Protestant in Reformation Britain / Alec. Ryrie. — 1st-pb. — Oxford, United Kingdom : Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Beyond the Ninety-Five Theses : Martin Luther’s Life, Thought, And Lasting Legacy / Stephen J. Nichols. — 1st-pb. — Phillipsburg, NJ : P&R Pub., 2016.
  • The Life and Times of Martin Luther : Selections From D’Aubigne’s Famed History Of The Reformation Of The Sixteenth Century / J. H. (Jean Henri) Merle d’Aubigne, 1794-1872. ; H. White. — 1st-hc. —  Chicago : Moody Press, 1950.
  • Protestantism After 500 Years / Thomas Albert Howard, editor. ; Mark A. Noll, 1946- , editor. ; Jr. Witte, John. — 1st-pb. — New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • John Knox / William M. Taylor. — reprint-pb. — Lexington, KY : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.
  • Luther : Belofte en Ervaring / W. van ‘t. Spijker. — 1st-hc. — Goes : Oosterbaan & Le Cointre, 1983.

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  • Katharina and Martin Luther : The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk / Michelle Derusha. ; Karen S. Prior. — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids : Baker Books, 2017.
  • Luther In Love / Douglas Bond. — 1st-pb. — Inkblots Press, 2017.
  • Reformation Marriage : The Husband and Wife Relationship in the Theology of Luther And Calvin / Michael Parsons, 1949-. — reprint-pb. — Eugene, OR : Wipf & Stock, c2005 / 2011.
  • Meet Martin Luther : A Sketch of the Reformer’s Life / Anthony T. Selvaggio. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, Michigan : Reformation Heritage Books, 2017.

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  • Reformation Women : Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth / Rebecca VanDoodewaard. — 1st-pb. — Grand Rapids, Michigan : Reformation Heritage Books, 2017.
  • The Reformation : What You Need to Know and Why / Michael Reeves. ; John Stott. ; Lindsay Brown. ; Julia E. M. Cameron. — 1st-pb. — Peabody, MA : Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2017.
  • Four Hundred Years : Commemorative Essays on the Reformation of Dr. Martin Luther and Its Blessed Results, In The Year of the Four-Hundredth Anniversary of the Reformation. / W. H. T. (William Herman Theodore) Dau, 1864-1944. ; C. Abbetmeyer. ; Arthur H. C. Both. — reprint-pb. —  Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing / Forgotten Books, c1916.
  • Protestants : The Faith That Made the Modern World / Alec. Ryrie. — 1st-hc. — New York : Viking, 2017.
  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse : Religion, War, Famine, and Death in Reformation Europe / Andrew Cunningham, Dr. ; Ole Peter Grell. — 1st-hc. — Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c2000.

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Allow me also to put in a plug for the seminary bookstore, where we have a goodly number of new and used books, including a significant Reformation section. Prices are the best we could find, especially on the used books, where many are only $1 and $2.

Feel free to visit us this summer! We are here every day!

The Price of Knowledge – Refo Thursday – Christian History Insititute

Yesterday’s “Refo Thursday” post from the Church History Institute (focusing on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation) looks at the significance of the development of the printing press on the Reformation.

In his post Dan Graves references Erasmus and his use of this means for the promotion of his Greek NT, among other things. He says in part (read the rest at the link below the quotation),

Thanks to the development of the printing press, books were coming down in price during Erasmus’s years (c. 1466–1536), but he was preparing scholarly versions of hitherto unprinted manuscripts for the press, and that was not an inexpensive task. He had to correspond with scholars across Europe, visit libraries, and pay for hand-copying. It’s a cinch he wasn’t picking up ten books for four bucks. In fifteenth-century England, one could still rent a cottage for a year for six shillings—the price of a moderately-priced book. In fact, his work was so expensive he had to beg large sums from patrons all over Europe. He remarked that it cost him and his co-workers more in time and money to restore the works of Jerome than it cost the saint to write them.

Of course, we also know how much the press was used by Luther and the other Reformers to advance the cause of the Protestant Reformation. The Word of God in print and the doctrines rediscovered by the Reformers in that Word could not have spread among the common people without the printing press.

In the video below Dr. Karin Maag (Director of the Meeter Center for Calvin Studies at Calvin College) gives a short talk about the impact the printing press had on the Reformation – and vice versa.

Source: Blog: The price of knowledge | Christian History Insititute

A London Library of Books and Bombs

This is a well written story of the origin of an amazing library and of its survival in the heart of London during WWII. And with that, a lesson in the important and surprising roles that libraries play in the history of a nation and city.

The article appeared in The Paris Review last week (May 18, 2017) and was penned by Though lengthier than other articles, it is worth your reading on this Friday.

This quotation begins about halfway through the article.

For a few years, the Bethnal Green Library seemed to be safe, but in 1938 an ominous note entered the library report. George Vale, borough librarian, wrote, “The estimated daily average attendance in the Newsroom was 554 and this department undoubtedly fills an urgent need in these troublesome times.” By 1939, Vale explicitly included solace in the library’s remit: “If amidst the threats and rumours of war and universal destruction we can bring, in some small measure, a sense of beauty and a general desire for truth into the homes of the people of Bethnal Green, the work of our public libraries will not be in vain.” The 1940 report reflected country’s move to war. Gone were the thick white sheets, replaced by translucent brown onionskin. Our librarian reported on his fractured clientele, “Some were exhilarated, but not a few suffered from depression, ‘nerves,’ bewilderment, restlessness, or ill health.”Then on September 7, 1940, the library was bombed. Vale described it like this:

The enemy raiders had fired on the Docks, and as darkness approached the night became an inferno. It was on that day at 5.55pm that our Central Public Library received a direct hit … The bomb went clean through the Adult Lending Library.

That year, Vale’s annual reports to the borough council stopped altogether. As London was battered and blitzed, librarians were trying to keep books safe. Bethnal Green asked for one hundred pounds to construct shelves inside the local bomb shelter. Though the London Civil Defense Region did not think this was the most pressing issue in time of war, they agreed that fifty pounds could be put toward the provisions of bookcases or cupboards, and the librarians carried four thousand books down into the tube.

This was how, during the Blitz, the Bethnal Green library became the first, and possibly only, bomb-shelter library in all of Britain. As bombs and fires cratered the city, Londoners hunkered underground, and librarians handed out poetry, plays, novels, nonfiction, and children’s books. Presumably, the readers discovered the library’s new location as they clattered down the steps away from air sirens, caught their breath, and looked around. It was open from 5:30 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. every weekday.

What courage all this must have taken. When he resumed his borough report, Vale wrote that “there were no Press photographs showing library assistants working on the edge of a crater and certainly no films or gay posters advertising the attraction of the library service.” And yet throughout the war, this little library offered a respite from fear, an education, and beauty.

Can you imagine celebrating our libraries as we do our battalions? What if world leaders put their egos in the number of libraries their countries boasted? Perhaps we should start by being grateful for those libraries we do have. There was almost no bomb-shelter library. If the war government had decided that books were too frivolous, if Carnegie had not found the money, if the residents of Tower Hamlets had refused to pay their taxes, if a few Victorians hadn’t wanted to shunt the poor from the pubs, then the residents of Bethnal Green would’ve had no books to unfold as they crouched underground.

Source: How a London Borough Turned an Asylum into a Library

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Published in: on May 26, 2017 at 8:24 AM  Leave a Comment  

Let Hardship Grow Us – Martin Luther | Christian History Insititute

We have referenced these “Refo Thursday” posts from the Christian History Institute before here, and this is another one (dated March 16, 2017)as we consider the life and work of Martin Luther during this year of marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

 

This post focuses on a more personal and practical side to Luther’s life – and that of every believer: suffering and affliction. Below are some thoughts on this from Andrew Garnett and from Luther himself. Find the full post at the link below.

On November 3, 1515, Martin Luther began to lecture on Romans at the University of Wittenberg. Luther had been a professor at the university for just over three years, but the posting of his famous Ninety-five Theses was still two years in the future. After several weeks of lecturing, he reached Romans 5:3-4: “…we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (NRSV).

As he prepared his lecture notes, Luther could see the positive impact of hardship which Paul had described; Luther saw how suffering could develop virtues in an individual’s life. However, Luther realized that the converse was also true: hardship could also have a corrupting effect on an individual. Perhaps he was thinking of his own life as an Augustinian friar. Luther was very unhappy while living the cloistered life of a friar, but his hardship did not lead to spiritual growth; on the contrary, Luther found that the more he fasted and prayed, the more miserable he became.

Source: Blog: Let Hardship Grow Us | Christian History Insititute

In connection with this post, the CHI also featured a video providing a tour of the Wartburg Castle where Luther was hid following the Diet of Worms in 1521.

And, on this PRC archives day, we may also add this cover image of Luther on an early issue of the Beacon Lights. Unfortunately, there were no articles on him or the Reformation in that issue, other than the words to his famous hymn (see cover below). But they made up for this in future issues. 🙂

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Biblioteca Ets Haim – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Atlas Obscura

This fascinating little Jewish sect library in Amsterdam and its history was featured yesterday in the daily “Atlas Obscura” email. I think you will find it’s story unique and interesting.

Below is the brief summary and opening paragraph. Find the rest of the story at the link below. And be sure to take in the pictures!

In the late 1500s and early 1600s, as Sephardic Jews were establishing a community in Amsterdam, they founded a school for themselves that would become the oldest continuously operating Jewish library in the world.

Having been forced to live as Christians in their home countries, Spain and Portugal, Sephardic Jews arrived in Amsterdam with the promise of religious freedom. The school/library, Ets Haim (Hebrew for “Tree of Life”), was founded in 1616 to help the newcomers start living publicly as Jews again. Many had continued to practice their true religion in secret while living outwardly as Christians. Amassing the library allowed them to debate among themselves, after so long, what being Jewish meant.

Source: Biblioteca Ets Haim – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on April 6, 2017 at 6:36 AM  Leave a Comment  

Who Was Saint Patrick and Should Christians Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? – Stephen Nichols

On this St. Patrick’s Day 2017 it would be easy to think (judging from the secular celebration of the day) that this holiday is about green Irish stew and brew.

But, in fact, this holiday is about a Christian missionary to Ireland, indeed, the “Apostle of Ireland,” as he would come to be called. Yesterday on Ligonier’s blog Stephen Nichols posted a short article on this Christian man and his significance for Christians. Here is a portion of it:

Before he was a prisoner, Patrick’s Christian faith meant little to him. That changed during his captivity. His previously ambivalent faith galvanized and served to buoy him through those long, dark days. Now that he was back in his homeland he committed to his faith in earnest. He became a priest and soon felt a tremendous burden for the people that had kidnapped him. So he returned to Ireland with a mission.

Patrick had no less of a goal than seeing pagan Ireland converted. These efforts did not set well with Loegaire (or Leoghaire), the pagan king of pagan Ireland. Patrick faced danger and even threats on his life. He took to carrying a dagger. Yet, despite these setbacks, Patrick persisted. Eventually the king converted and was baptized by Patrick and much of the people of Ireland followed suit. A later legend would have it that Patrick rid all of Ireland of snakes. Snakes were not native to Ireland at the time. Instead, Patrick rid Ireland of marauding ways and a cultural and civil barbarianism by bringing not only Christianity to Ireland, but by bringing a whole new ethic. It was not too long ago that a New York Times’ bestselling book argued that St. Patrick and his Ireland saved civilization

To finish reading the article, including why you might consider wearing orange instead of green today, visit the Ligonier link below.

For another perspective on St. Patrick, visit my 2015 post.

Source: Who Was Saint Patrick and Should Christians Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

It Happened Today – SPCK, March 8, 1698

One of my daily emails is “It Happened Today,” a summary of notable events in church history for each day produced by the Christian History Institute (which also produces Christian History Magazine). Each post contains a featured event followed by other significant events for that date.

Yesterday’s (March 8) featured SPCK – an acronym for an important publisher of Christian literature that goes back to the 17th century. In the Seminary library we have a number of books published by this society. I did not fully know its origin and background until yesterday. As an aside but related, if you want a list of SPCK books available online (free), check out this Internet Archive section.

For our history post on this Thursday, this will be our focus – SPCK – the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, a company still in the Christian publishing business. Here is the information the CHI posted:

Wednesday, March 8 – Daily Story

The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge

Thomas Bray

THE SOCIETY for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) is the third oldest publishing house in England. Only the universities of Oxford and Cambridge have published longer. It came into existence on this day, 8 March 1698.

The bishop of London had chosen Thomas Bray, an Anglican priest with a reputation for character and drive, to investigate religious conditions in the American colony of Maryland. Unable to sail for America at once, Bray used the delay to recruit young clergymen to travel with him as missionaries. Because these young men tended to be very poor, they could not afford the libraries they would need to continue their studies and meet the needs of their people with sound knowledge. Books were needed.

The founders of the SPCK believed their primary purpose was to “counteract the growth of vice and immorality,” which they ascribed to “gross ignorance of the principles of the Christian religion.” With the help of many contributors, and the donation of £500 of his own money, Thomas Bray led the SPCK in acquiring books, and was able to donate small libraries of sixty titles for the use of churchmen.

Bray sailed to Maryland, establishing thirty-nine libraries there and in other colonies. The library he established at Annapolis was the largest collection of books at the time in Britain’s American holdings, and was the first lending library in its colonies. Bray quickly realized, however, that he was more useful in England than in America. He sailed back after only ten weeks in the New World.

From that small beginning, the SPCK provided the first printing presses for India, published religious books, pamphlets, and tracts for farmers, sailors, prisoners, military men and other groups, and continued its work of establishing Christian libraries both at home and abroad.

The society also backed schools for the poor in Britain, sent the first printed books to Australia, helped produce the first New Testament in the Tamil language of India, and engaged in many other projects, almost all involving literature or literacy in some form.

To sign up to receive these daily posts along with a list of important church history events, visit the link below.

Source: It Happened Today | Christian History Institute

Published in: on March 9, 2017 at 10:42 PM  Leave a Comment  

Bibliomania: the strange history of compulsive book buying

bibliomaniaBeing one given to this “disorder,” I found this history of “bibliomania” quite interesting. Perhaps you will too, whether prone to it or not. Regardless of whether you reach this stage of book craving, I hope you at least have some bibliophilia in your soul.

Enjoy the good read below; here is a start:

Posted Jan.26, 2017 at The Guardian

In the 19th century, book collecting became common among gentlemen, mostly in Britain, and grew into an obsession that one of its participants called “bibliomania”. Thomas Frognall Dibdin, an English cleric and bibliographer, wrote Bibliomania, or Book Madness: A Bibliographical Romance, which was a gentle satire of those he saw as afflicted with this “neurosis”. Dibdin medicalised the condition, going so far as to provide a list of symptoms manifested in the particular types of books that they obsessively sought: “First editions, true editions, black letter-printed books, large paper copies; uncut books with edges that are not sheared by binder’s tools; illustrated copies; unique copies with morocco binding or silk lining; and copies printed on vellum.”

But Dibdin himself was obsessed with the physical aspects of books, and in his descriptions paid an intense attention to the details of their bindings and printings (rather than the content) that betrayed his own love. In a letter published in an 1815 journal, he beseeched subscribers to bulk up their subscriptions to help complete a set of volumes called The Bibliographical Decameron – more beautiful than they could imagine. “I should be loth to promise what is not likely to be performed, or to incur the censure of vanity or presumption in asserting that the materials already collected, in this department of the work, are more numerous, more beautiful, and more faithful, than any which, to my knowledge, have come under the eye of the publick.”

Source: Bibliomania: the strange history of compulsive book buying | Books | The Guardian

Published in: on February 23, 2017 at 6:37 AM  Leave a Comment