PERSPECTIVES ON THE CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH, Peter De Klerk and Richard R. De Ridder, Editors; Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI; 404 pp., cloth. [Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema]

This book is in the nature of a Festschrift in honor of Dr. John H. Kromminga at the occasion of his retirement as President of Calvin Seminary. But it is not like the ordinary Festschrift. The information on the dust jacket offers a brief description of the book’s contents:

“. . . this volume of essays looks at the Christian Reformed Church in North America from various viewpoints. While most festschriften are of interest only to scholars in a particular discipline, the varied studies in this volume will appeal also to laypersons, especially those who are members of the Christian Reformed Church. Since the Christian Reformed Church has long exercised an influence within American evangelicalism disproportionate to its size, those outside the denomination will also be interested in the eighteen studies in this unique volume. 

“Part One consists of six studies in the history of the Christian Reformed Church, each of which reflects painstaking research. The early years of the denomination are probed in a fascinating way, revealing the development of the church from a tiny Dutch immigrant church to a healthy American denomination struggling to keep its heritage. Subjects in this section include immigration, architecture of early church buildings, the ‘Masonic Controversy,’ and a revealing sketch of Hendrik P. Scholte, immigrant leader in Pella, Iowa. 

“Part Two is largely theological in nature and includes articles on the lifetime tenure of ministers, missions, and theological doctrines such as the covenant, the kingdom of God, and the antithesis. 

“Part Three describes how the Christian Reformed Church faced the challenges of ecumenical involvement. It portrays a church striving to retain its heritage and theological distinctiveness as it becomes involved with other churches and ecumenical organizations.” 

The eighteen chapters of this volume are by as many different authors, not all of them Christian Reformed. It struck me that, as far as I could tell, there is no representative of the Canadian wing of the CRC among the writers. There are writers from the RCA, from the GKN, and from the CRC of the Netherlands. 

Naturally, a book of this kind varies greatly, from author to author, as far as interest and quality are concerned. 

Personally, I found the historical section to be the most interesting. The theological section, in my opinion, falls rather flat. I do not believe that Anthony Hoekema’s chapter on the doctrine of the covenant, for example, is accurate; I have reference especially to his description of W. Heyn’s covenant view. Nor do I find that Henry Stob’s presentation does justice to the concept of the antithesis, much less to the view of Herman Hoeksema. The section on ecumenical involvement is, if nothing else, informative. 

Interesting reading.