4949 Ivanrest Avenue
Grandville, Michigan 49418
February 25, 2002
To: The Protestant Reformed Churches and friends and supporters of the
Protestant Reformed Seminary
Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus,
Greetings in the love of Christ!
Under the indispensable blessing of God, the seminary is enjoying a good and profitable year. We reported last fall that we have seven full-time students in school this year. The two senior students, Mr. Rodney Kleyn and Mr. David Overway, completed their internships in Faith PRC and Hull PRC, respectively. Both men were enthusiastic about their internships, affirming that they enjoyed and profited greatly from the work. The congregations likewise (through the reports of the consistories and pastors) expressed appreciation for the young men and their labors. The faculty takes the opportunity to express hearty thanks to the congregations (Hull and Faith) for welcoming the student interns into their midst, and to their consistories and pastors for the fine work performed with the students.
From our perspective, the return of the two last-year students to school is welcome, be it for but one semester. The Lord willing, these two men will complete their requirements and be recommended by the faculty for an examination by the synod at the end of this school year. The synod, to be held in Southwest Protestant Reformed Church, is set to convene on Tuesday, June 11. Synods ordinarily adopt an examination schedule that requires the students to preach a sermon on Tuesday, and sit for oral examinations on Wednesday and Thursday. Visitors are most welcome to attend all these sessions.
Our third-year students have great changes in store for them as well. Both Mr. Paul Goh and Mr. Bill Langerak have been licensed by the faculty to speak in the churches a word of edification. They have had numerous opportunities to fill the pulpits in the churches. The major change in their lives will be their internships, set for July-December of 2002. The Lord willing, Mr. Goh will be in Bethel Protestant Reformed Church under the direction of Rev. Haak, and Mr. Langerak will be under Rev. Dale Kuiper in Southeast Protestant Reformed Church.
In the ranks of the instructors, this school year has also seen some major changes, due to the partial sabbatical of Prof. Decker. This is called a partial sabbatical because Prof. Decker taught one course each semester (as did Prof. Engelsma in his partial sabbatical of 2000-2001). Prof. Decker’s courses were picked up by emeritus Prof. Hanko, as well as Revs. R. Cammenga and K. Koole.
Prof. Decker, who teaches missions (among other subjects), took on a gigantic project for his sabbatical, namely, a critical study of the main world religions. The study includes four different Chinese religions (Chinese Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism), in addition to Islam and Buddhism. When you realize that these world religions have many sects and movements within each (something like the many denominations in the Reformed or Presbyterian camps), you get some idea of the magnitude of the project. Prof. Decker is committed to producing a syllabus for the seminary (and available to others) on these various religions which will include the founder and a brief history, the beliefs and practices of each, as well as a critique of each from a Reformed/biblical perspective. Additional chapters in the syllabus will be provided by Rev. T. Miersma (on Hinduism) and Rev. R. Cammenga (on Judaism). Prof. Decker intends to finish the project this spring, D.V.—just in time to prepare for the conference in Australia with the EPC of Australia and the ERC of Singapore. Prof. Decker and Rev. Cammenga have been commissioned by the Committee for Contact of the PRC to speak at that conference. We suspect that Prof. Decker’s summer vacation will be short indeed.
Every year the seminary has an interim course between the semesters, in which the students and one professor concentrate for eight days on one subject. The topic of this year’s interim was “The Reformation of 1953 and the Covenant.” Prof. Dykstra led this class, which was attended by the regular students and a few auditors. The course examined the history of the “split of 1953” in the Protestant Reformed Churches, some of the church polity issues, the place of the “Declaration of Principles,” as well as the various covenant views being taught in the first half of the twentieth century. One major goal of the class was to observe how this controversy sharpened the doctrine of the covenant. The controversy made clear that notwithstanding all the variations in the doctrine of the covenant, the great dividing line is this—whether the covenant is conditional or unconditional. The Protestant Reformed Churches and Seminary continue to preach and teach that the unconditional covenant is the only biblical and confessional view of God’s everlasting covenant of grace. We remain profoundly thankful to God that He has maintained that truth in our churches and seminary.
There is one item for note to those seeking to fulfill the pre-seminary requirements. The Protestant Reformed Seminary teaches a few pre-seminary courses, among which is Greek grammar and Greek reading. However, these grammar and reading courses are taught in alternate years. The Lord willing, Greek grammar will be taught in the 2002-2003 school year. Anyone interested in taking that course for preparation for seminary should contact the registrar, Mr. D. Doezema, very soon.
The seminary continues to enjoy the support of the churches which it serves, for which we are deeply grateful. May God continue to bond the churches and seminary in the one task of spreading His truth far and wide, gathering His church and building up Zion, through faithful preaching. We covet your prayers on behalf of the seminary.
Yours in Christ,
Prof. Russell J. Dykstra, Rector