PIONEER PREACHER, by Gordon J. Spykman; Heritage Hall Publications, Calvin College and Seminary Library, Grand Rapids, Mich. 49506; Paperback, no price listed. (Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema)
This little book is about the Rev. A. C. Van Raalte, the leader of the Dutch colonists at Holland, Michigan. Specifically, it is about Van Raalte as a preacher. There are several chapters of background and evaluation by Dr. Spykman; and these are followed by a lengthy appendix containing samples of Van Raalte’s sermon notes. Almost all of the latter were in the Dutch language, of course; but they appear in translation in this book.
To those who have an interest in church history, specifically the history of the Dutch Reformed movement in this country, and more specifically the history of the Christian Reformed Church, this book will prove interesting. It is no great contribution in the area of church history, even as Van Raalte, though an influential leader in the establishment of the Holland Colony, was never a great light in the Reformed firmament. But the book furnishes an insight into Van Raalte as preacher, and by the same token it furnishes an insight into the history of the Holland Colony, of the Christian Reformed Church, and into the life and times of the colonists who were in part our spiritual ancestors. While this is no earthshaking publication, therefore, it is nevertheless an interesting little book.
Judging from the samples of sermon notes, Van Raalte was “no great shakes” as a homiletician, exegete, or preacher.
One negative comment: the book is marred by several obvious spelling errors, something which careful editing should avoid.