I Believe … Living the Apostles Creed, by Lester De Koster. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian’s Library Press, Inc., 1996. 174 pp. $14.95 (cloth). [Reviewed by the editor.]
Reformed thinker, teacher, and author Lester De Koster has written a brief, popular explanation of the twelve articles of the Apostles’ Creed. His addressing the work to his grandchildren lends simplicity, clarity, and urgency to the exposition of this summary of the Christian faith.
Much of the doctrinal instruction is sound, and much of the practical application (with which the book abounds) is godly. Defending the reality of the virgin birth as a miraculous conception and birth against the denial of it by modernism, De Koster writes:
Jesus Christ had to be conceived by the Holy Spirit because human generation, since the Fall, is not fitted to produce anyone who can be true Savior and Lord. And the Savior must be born of a virgin to escape inheriting the depravity which natural descent imposes upon all mankind. Those who dispute or decry these miracles only demonstrate just how necessary they were. It is to cure just such blindness that Jesus came the way God miraculously provided (p. 95).
The mode of Jesus’ incarnation illumines the mode of our own re-birth into the kingdom of God. Just as a virgin cannot naturally bring forth new life, so we by nature cannot regenerate ourselves (p. 96).
Into the explanation, De Koster weaves many apt quotations from Scripture. His grandchildren must learn that the faith of the church is biblical.
Erudite scholar that he is, the author also makes judicious references to extra-biblical literature and to secular philosophies. This enhances the work. Every Christian should be reminded, in connection with God’s miraculous gift of the Savior in a virgin conception, that
ideologies like Marxism, Fascism, Nazism and assorted lesser delusions all have one notion in common, namely that the human being can redeem, can reform, can refashion himself. The goal of ideologies is creation of a “new man” (p. 94).
There is sharp attack also on some of the errors that undermine the faith within evangelical and Reformed churches today: theistic evolution; the feminism “which degrades home-building as ‘kitchen slavery'”; the charismatic movement; and others.
The book, however, is seriously flawed. Works and working are made the main theme of an exposition of the church’s faith. Then the relationship between faith and works is misconceived. The Reformed confessions view the good works of believers as arising out of faith (Heid. Cat., Q. 91). The motive of their performance is faith’s thankfulness for gracious redemption (Heid. Cat., Q. 86).
At best, De Koster fears that faith may cripple a life of good works; at worst, he views good works as an aspect of salvation alongside faith. Twice, he questions whether salvation is by faith alone. Both times, he erroneously accuses Luther of mistranslating Romans 5:1 as “by faith alone” (the text in question is, in reality, Rom. 3:28; the translation of this text with “allein” was correct, demanded by the contrast in the text itself). When De Koster comes to explain the necessity of good works in the light of gracious salvation, he makes salvation conditional upon our working. He asserts that we must “qualify” for salvation by working, as though this conception differs from the notion of merit (see pp. 17-21).
Having affirmed eternal predestination, De Koster immediately affirms the opposite, stating that God wishes “that all turn to Him and be saved” (p. 52). De Koster may opt for a contradictory Bible and, thus, a God of pure contradiction, but let him know that this makes all knowledge of God impossible and opens the door to every heresy. De Koster’s Christian Reformed adversaries did this very thing with the Bible’s teaching on women in office: yes and no. Stripping logical harmony and consistency from the Word of God is not piety. Nor is it an incidental fault. It is fatal to faith and faith’s obedience. I marvel at the refusal of those who have left the Christian Reformed Church to see this, even though the very evil that drove them out of the Church—women in office—established itself by asserting the contradictory nature of the biblical testimony.
In addition, it is not true that God “makes us free to choose or reject His way for living” (p. 7). The will of the unbeliever is enslaved to sin: he cannot choose God’s way for living. The liberating work of the gospel consists of enabling and empowering the elect believer to choose God’s way for living, although because of his depraved nature (which remains his life long) he does sometime choose the way of sin. Gospel freedom is the ability and power exclusively to choose God’s way.
A New Hearing for the Authorized Version, by Theodore P. Letis. Philadelphia, PA: The Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, 2nd ed., 1997. 34 pages. $3 (paper). [Reviewed by the editor.]
Contrary to the prevailing opinion, there are solid, significant reasons why the English-speaking church and Christian ought to use the King James Version (KJV) of Holy Scripture. Use of the KJV is not due to hide-bound traditionalism.
Theodore P. Letis demonstrates that the KJV is superior to the modern versions as regards its Greek text, its translation, and its English usage. In addition, “it is a link with our past as well as a unifying factor for the present.” Letis conducts a “new hearing” for the KJV in language that the layman can understand.
The booklet points out some of the serious weaknesses of the modern versions. Especially dangerous is the theory of translation that controls the making of the modern versions: “dynamic-equivalence.” Letis charges that this theory “allows the content and the form of Scripture to capitulate to the language, forms, and culture of the given receptor peoples, even at the loss of Biblical teaching itself” (p. 22). Where this theory of translation leads becomes clear in the recent admission by those in charge of the New International Version (NIV) that they are in the process of translating the NIV according to the dictates of the feminism of the West.
Ted Letis is qualified to help the believers and the churches that are concerned to have the full, uncorrupted Word of God in their English translation. An outstanding scholar in the field, with a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, he has devoted his life to work on behalf of the original text and faithful translation of the Bible.
The booklet can be ordered from The Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, 6417 N. Fairhill, Philadelphia, PA 19126.