Thank you so much for your continued excellent witness, exposition, and defense of historic, unadulterated Calvinism in the pages of the Standard Bearer. Speaking as an orthodox Calvinist (but still in the PCUSA), the SB is the only witness that I know of today that examines with clear, biblical exegesis, and discerns the precise issues of, the doctrinally muddy thinking in today’s ecclesiastical-theological events.
Would you please send me a copy of the issue of the SB dealing with the prediction by Harold Camping of Christ’s coming in 1994, referred to in the September 1, 1994 issue of the SB?
Also, send me all pamphlets, sermons, and other materials on eschatology, particularly the subjects of the second coming and of the tribulation/rapture, published by the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Keep up your splendid work and witness.
Gaylord M. Sheets
Materials that you request are in the mail.
Comments on a Book Review
Although I appreciate the Rev. David Engelsma’s reviewing the book The Inquisitor’s Secretary by W. J.D. vanDijck (which I translated from the original Dutch into English) in the July, 1994 issue of theStandard Bearer, I was rather taken aback by his remark, “At points, the book is, as the Dutch would say, ‘een beetje overvroom‘ (‘a little too pious’). Characters converse by quoting Bible texts to each other.”
I hope that he will take it in good grace that I make a few comments on this judgment. First, a more correct translation of the Dutch phrase he uses would be, “a little overly pious.” I am sure that is what he means. This statement by itself is mild enough not to find fault with it. Still, it bothers me, especially when he corroborates it by saying, “Characters converse by quoting Bible texts to each other.” I am sure that what he means is that when people converse with each other, they frequently quote Bible texts. I grant that at times this can be overdone, but are these characters guilty of that?
Now words can be used carelessly, and I think the Rev. Engelsma has unwittingly done so. The word “overly” has always a negative connotation: overly strict, overly protective, overly defensive, overly religious, overly critical, hence too much of a (possibly) good thing, and on that account obnoxious, even when we preface it with the minimizing words “een beetje” (a little bit). But can this truly be said of these characters?
It seems to me that the good reverend is not able to place himself sufficiently in the life-or-death situation of these dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus who recently had all come out of the powerful and cruel stranglehold of the Roman church and its corrupt teachings and had begun to taste the liberating power of the Word of God and of the Holy Spirit. Hearing people expound the Word of God, reading it oneself, and especially possessing a copy of it was enough to be caught and eventually martyred for it. I believe it was the world-renowned Dutch historian Johan Huizinga who estimates that between seven and seventy thousand people in the Lowlands had to seal their faith with a cruel death by the sword or at the stake. No wonder they always met in secrecy, where they encouraged and comforted each other by, as the reverend calls it, “quoting Bible texts to each other.” To me, however, that was truly testifying to what was their “only comfort in life and death.” Let us never forget that every square foot of the land of our forebears was bought with the blood of these first “Reformed” people.
In our present affluent society, where things of time and sense occupy so much of our energy and attention—also in our own circles—”quoting Bible texts in our conversations” is almost considered an anomaly. The question is if that is still adhering to our much-flaunted slogan, Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda est. I think not. I share this in fraternal love.
Determined to Worship in the Reformed Manner
Don’t you just shake your head and wonder why some CRC members, in my case since birth (and I am now 59), are packing up and leaving what I have always thought to be a part of the pillar and ground of truth, the mother of believers, and joining Protestant Reformed congregations or, in my family’s spiritual life, traveling200 miles round trip to southern Ontario to worship in a Reformed manner in either an Independent or Orthodox Reformed church?
My great-grandfather in Friesland, Feike Ajen Steensma, back in 1880 walked fifteen miles every Sunday as a charter member of the Gereformeerde Kerk in St. Jacobi Parochie, and I do not consider driving 200 miles round-trip to hear Reformed preaching and to rejoice and commune with saints of that most precious, like-minded faith to be that much of a burden.
Fred C. Steensma