Reminiscences on the Early SB

Rev. Hanko is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.

“Rev. Hoeksema, if only you had never published that Standard Bearer!”

The remark was made on Classis Grand Rapids East by Rev. Veldkamp. This was approximately two months after The Standard Bearer had made its first appearance. The classis was about to suspend Rev. Herman Hoeksema and his consistory from office in the Christian Reformed Church because of his refusal to sign the three points of common grace adopted by the synod of 1924.

The impression was left that publishing The Standard Bearer was an act of rebellion, which deserved being put out of office in the church. The facts were quite different. Although the synod of 1924 had adopted the three points of common grace, they did not require that all the office bearers in the church express their agreement by signing them. On the contrary, the synod had clearly stated that the last word was by no means spoken in regard to this matter, but the office bearers should make a thorough study of the matter and express themselves in writing.

Yet what had happened was that Rev. H. Hoeksema and others were no longer allowed to write in The Banner, the church periodical of the Christian Reformed Church. This meant that those in agreement with the three points could express themselves freely, but those most intimately involved could not defend themselves by instructing the church in regard to the Scriptural teachings on this subject.

It was for that reason that the “Reformed Free Publishing Association” was organized and began to publish The Standard Bearer, the first issue of which appeared in October of 1924. Had Rev. Hoeksema and the others not sought a means to express themselves they wou1.d have allowed themselves to be condemned without being able publicly to defend themselves.

That is when and how The Standard Bearer came into existence.

Since I was only seventeen years old at the time, I was nothing more than an observer, be it an interested observer.

Not long after this the Reformed Free Publishing Association met regularly once a year to decide on whatever matters might be brought to them from the editors of The Standard Bearer. I can well remember that the large classroom, which held more than a hundred people, was packed to capacity at every meeting. There was a great enthusiasm for the cause. All the churches strove to have all their families receive this periodical. Although our churches in the vicinity of Grand Rapids were much smaller than they are today, the attendance at the annual meeting of The Standard Bearer was much better.

A little personal note. When I was minister in Oaklawn the finances did not allow me to make a trip to Grand Rapids for The Standard Bearermeeting, as much as I would have liked to have gone. But someone on The Standard Bearerboard must have thought that I attended these meetings on a regular basis. One morning at two o’clock the police siren sent forth a shrill blast in front of my house. Aroused from a deep sleep I dashed to the front door to hear a voice calling, “Rev. Hanko, the police!” Wide awake and my curiosity fully aroused, along with fears and trembling, I answered the call, only to find out that a telegraph boy was delivering a telegram, which read: “The Standard Bearer meeting for tonight has been called off. Do not come.” In that suburb of Chicago no one delivered a message at night unless accompanied by the police.