Book Reviews

Herman Hoeksema, Whosoever Will Grandville, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2002. xi, 111 pp., including Scriptural index.

The content of this volume is no less important today than when it was first published in 1945. Originally given as radio messages on the Reformed Witness Hour, their sound words would have been long lost had they not been published. Now, thanks to RFPA and Rev. Hoeksema’s daughter, Lois, they have been completely gone over for use today. It is interesting to know that this book has been translated into Spanish and is distributed by the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Seville, Spain. This is a testimony to the great worth of this volume.

Hoeksema used the words of Revelation 22:1 and 17 as a basis for this series which points to the error of Arminianism. But do not think of this series of messages as a dry polemic against Arminianism. Rather, see it as a warm expression of the Biblical truth of calling and coming unto salvation. Hoeksema points out that the popular Gospel song, “Whosoever Will,” when understood in the Biblical context, is very true. Many of the texts in the series include the word “come,” as do most of the titles: “Coming to Find Rest,” “Coming to Drink,” “Coming to the God of Our Salvation,” “Coming Ever Nearer.”

Anyone who might be tempted to say carelessly that Hoeksema did not preach a warm Gospel will find this book makes clear that he did!

In this day of Arminianism’s great acceptability by ever so many sincere but misunderstanding believers, this book will help firm up their necessary understanding of the faith.

van Bruggen, Jan, The Church Says Amen: an Exposition of the Belgic Confession. Neerlandia, AB, Pella, IA: Inheritance Publications, 2003. 230pp, including index. $13.90 US, paperback. Reviewed by Rev. Jerome Julien.

“Getting doctrine right is the first step to getting life right.” So writes C. Bouwman in the preface of this newly translated exposition of the Belgic Confession. Then he adds, “The truth of that reality may not be widely accepted today, but it remains reality nevertheless.” The Church Says Amen: an Exposition of the Belgic Confession was originally written by Rev. Jan Van Bruggen in Dutch and published in the Netherlands in 1964. The author lived only a year beyond its publication. Now it has become available in English, thanks to Inheritance Publications.

The volume begins with a short and general chapter on the creeds and confessions of the Dutch Reformed Churches. That is followed by a short but very informative chapter on Guido De Bres and the Belgic, or Netherlands, Confession. From that point on there is an explanation or commentary of over two hundred pages on this monumental statement of faith.

The author has compressed many ideas into this volume. Sometimes the reader must lay it down and take a little time to meditate on what he has read. Some chapters are longer; some are shorter. Always, however, there is food for thought. Often, historical background is given by the author. Sometimes the translator gives helpful information in a footnote. This is all valuable to the reader since an understanding of the Dutch history is somewhat remote for many American readers, and ecclesiastical circumstances are different.

Many fine explanations could be mentioned. For example, the significance of believing in creation (p. 70); the explanation of the three marks of the true church (p. 167–168); how office-bearers are to rule (p. 173); how discipline is to be exercised (pp. 178ff.); why we must have a clear understanding of the sacraments (p. 184); the general significance of the sacraments (pp. 186ff.); the explanation of the word “into” in the baptismal formula (pp. 193ff.); and the reason for including the thirty-seventh article: “The Civil Government” (pp. 215ff.).

This volume is a must for those who study and teach the Belgic Confession. It is provocative and informative. As a tool for study, it will take its place alongside Lepusculus Vallensis’ The Belgic Confession and Its Biblical Basis and J. van Bruggen’s Annotations to the Heidelberg Catechism by the same publisher.

Engelsma, David J., Unfolding Covenant History, An Exposition of the Old Testament, Volume 5, Judges and Ruth Grandville, Michigan: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2005. xxvi, 213 pp. $24.95 hardcover.

As promised, the fifth volume in this fine series is now available. Each additional volume increases the value of this series. The first four were the work of the late Professor Homer Hoeksema, and covered the first six books of the Bible. This volume, dealing with the Books of Judges and Ruth, is the product of the pen of Professor David Engelsma, professor of both dogmatics and Old Testament at the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches in Grandville, Michigan. He is also the author of many books, pamphlets, and articles. The style of his writing has changed with this new volume, but the content is of the highest quality, keeping with the character of the series.

While there are some very fine conservative studies available on this part of the Old Testament, few of them emphasize the covenant, which is essential to the understanding of God’s Word. The covenant promise is at the heart of God’s message of redemption, and at the heart of how God deals with His own. God not only blesses His people, He also chastens them. Judges makes this clear. The period of time covered is about three hundred fifty years.

The author wisely deals with Judges in a way a commentary would not. He begins by looking at the setting of the book in Chapters 1–3:6. Then he goes to Judges 17–21 where the depth of Israel’s departure from God is laid before us. Next, he turns to the accounts of the individual judges.

In spite of the spiritual darkness and carelessness seen in the days of the judges, there is always a ray of hope and light. “God will not turn back on His word of promise, nor give up on His chosen people. In the Messiah He will bring them to repentance and forgive them. There will be the atoning sacrifice” (p. 30).

Some fifty pages are devoted to Ruth. Valuable insights and good exegesis characterizes this part of the book, as is true of the entire volume. Throughout this volume, Professor Engelsma shows his pastoral touch by making practical applications of the various events.

Since it is true that there is such a shortage of material on the Old Testament from a Biblical and Reformed perspective, this book supplies a great need and fills a large void. A Bible student reading casually and a minister who digs deeply for the golden truths of Scripture will both find Professor Engelsma’s new book of great and abiding value.