Book Reviews

Treasures New and Old: Exploring the Riches of Scripture

by Dr. Jack De Jong, Premier Publishing—Winnipeg (2004). 274 pages.

Reviewed by Rev. Wybren Oord.

This book of meditations written by Dr. Jack De Jong was compiled by Cornelis Van Dam with the assistance of Kristen Kottelenberg Alkema. For those in the Canadian Reformed Church, the name of Dr. De Jong is very familiar.

He taught in the Theological College for more than a dozen years. This compilation of meditations is a tribute to the man who dedicated his life to the service of his Lord. They were first published in the Clarion in the 1970s and 1980s.

Delegates to the URCNA Synod in Escondido (2001) were privileged to meet Dr. De Jong when he addressed the synod as a fraternal delegate. His address was published in the July/August 2001 issue of The Outlook. In that address it was clear that Dr. De Jong had a vision not only for the CanRC and the URCNA, but more, for the Church of Jesus Christ. That vision is made all the clearer in Treasures New and Old.

The editor of Treasures New and Old did not merely gather a collection of De Jong’s meditations from the Clarion and toss them together in chronological order of their publication. Instead, they have been divided into themes that focus upon the great work that God has done for His people. Beginning with the theme of God’s faithfulness, the editor compiles the meditations from the whole of Scripture into sections that lead us through the anticipation of Christ, His coming, His work from birth to ascension, on to the Holy Spirit, the Christian life, and the return of our Savior.

These meditations are a pleasure to read. They clearly come from the pen of a man who loved the Lord and His Church. Dr. De Jong was a man of his times and saw well the difficulty of being steadfast in the Christian life in a world that is no friend to grace. Each meditation focuses not only upon the greatness of our God and the work of His Son, but also brings proper application to the reader’s personal life.

We thank Dr. Van Dam for compiling these meditations and pray that they may be a blessing to the people of God and His Church everywhere.

What Angels Wish They Knew

by Rev. Alistair Begg, Moody Press—Chicago (1998). 207 pages.

Reviewed by Rev. Wybren Oord.

I have always enjoyed listening to the radio program, “Truth For Life.”  I have to admit that I listened to the program for a long time before I realized the speaker was not Alex Trebek. Rev. Alistair Begg, pastor of Parkside Church

in suburban Cleveland, is a very fluid preacher and has a voice that is very easy to listen to. His writing style is equally easy to read. In his book, What Angels Wish They Knew, Begg makes the fundamental teachings of the Christian faith very easy and logical to follow and understand. In many ways this book is similar to Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Both books present a line of reasoning as to who we are before God, who Jesus is and what He has done, and the necessity of placing our faith in Him. They both supply evidence for the deity of Jesus, His death, and resurrection. Both insist that man is accountable before God.

The difference in the two books is that, whereas McDowell presents charts and data in a very matter-of- fact way, Begg presents them in his own delightful and pithy style. Each chapter has wonderful illustrations that draw the reader in and help develop the point he is trying to make. Why, one would hardly know that he was teaching doctrine.

Those who know Reformed doctrine may find the book somewhat shallow. There are no new teachings, no great discoveries, no great hermeneutical insights. That is not the purpose of this book. It is purposely shallow so that the reader can understand the deep truths of the Christian faith. Because of that, What Angels Wish They Knew can be used as a wonderful tool for evangelism. After you are done reading this book, pass it on to a friend who doesn’t know the Lord. It is written in a way that will keep his interest and, by the grace of God, lead him to understand the truth of Scripture.

Christianity and Its Competitors: The New Faces of Old Heresy

by Dr. James McGoldrick, Christian Focus—Scotland (2006). 206 pages. Reviewed by Rev. Wybren Oord.

The author of Ecclesiastes once wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. The same can be said for false teachings that enter into the church. Professor James McGoldrick of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has written a book that takes the old heresies that infiltrated the early years New Testament church and applies them to the heresies that are entering into the modern New Testament Church. Beginning with the early Judaizers who infiltrated the church in Galatia, and moving on to Montanism, Arianism, and Pelagianism, McGoldrick shows how contemporary errors that haunt the church today were fought against by the church fathers years ago.

Too often within conservative churches we draw the lines of battle in peculiar places. We debate over how often we should celebrate the Lord’s Supper but have nothing to say to the Jehovah’s Witness that comes to our door. We carry a list of concerns we have with the local Reformed school, but instead of beginning a school that is Reformed, we send our children to an Arminian school. As Allen Harman writes in his endorsement of this book, “this book is a wake-up call to modern Christians, who have lost the concern for doctrinal accuracy.”

McGoldrick, who teaches Church History, has done the research and tries to make readers aware of some of the teachings to which we have become complacent. Examples of false leaders in the early church are given, and parallels are drawn to our own day. The author traces the teachings of Jim Jones, David Koresh, Pat Robertson, and others to the false teachings that plagued the early church. He very boldly points out how the condemned teachings of the past have been resurrected in Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Arminianism, fundamentalism, Pentecostalism, and more. McGoldrick clearly explains how following the false teachings of the past to their end has devastating results for the church today.

Although well researched, Christianity and Its Competitors is not at all difficult to read and should instill in every Christian the need to test the spirits to see if they are from God.

Crisis in the Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Great Synod of Dort (1618-1619)

Dr. Peter Y. De Jong, editor, Reformed Fellowship—Grand Rapids (2008). Second Printing 335 pages.

Reviewed by Rev. Wybren Oord.

Over forty years ago the Board of Reformed Fellowship commissioned nine men, who today would be considered a “Who’s Who” in Reformed theology, to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Synod of Dort.

Under the leadership of the editor, Dr. P. Y. De Jong, these giants of the faith wrote on a variety of topics regarding this great event in Reformed history. Their contributions brought to the Christian community a greater understanding of the history and the necessity of the Synod of Dort, the key figures involved in the synod, and the application and decisions made at the synod to the tumultuous times within the church during the 1960s when first published. Each article reflected not only the expertise of the writer, but also his love for the Reformed faith.

In the ensuing years, serious discussion of the Synod of Dort always included references to Crisis in the Reformed Churches. Historians, theologians, seminary students, and ministers alike, shared an appreciation for the work accomplished by the remarkable defenders of the faith that made their case at the Synod of Dort, and also, for the faithful servants of God who diligently defended the Reformed faith as it was challenged through the centuries.

Four decades after its original publication, the Board of Reformed Fellowship has reprinted Crisis in the Reformed Churches. As the church enters a new millennium, those who hold to the Reformed faith see that the crisis within the church is not limited to the seventeenth century nor the twentieth century. The church militant must always be ready to give an account of what she believes, defending her faith rooted in the Word of God. Crisis in the Reformed Churches offers great insight and wisdom to those seeking to defend and define the Reformed faith. By understanding our history, the church may move forward until the sovereign God who rules over the church brings us to the church victorious through His Son, Jesus Christ.