Book Reviews

Engelsma, David S. Reformed Education: the Christian School as Demand of the Covenant. Revised Edition. Grandville, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2000. V. 101 pp $8.00, paperback.

The title of this book may turn off some readers, thinking it is for teachers, or that it will take such an outdated view of education that it would not be relevant. First, it is for everyone: teachers (and they must read it), parents who seek to be faithful to their covenant responsibilities or who wonder what the purpose of Christian Education is, students old enough to think and discuss this time – honored part of covenant-life. Further, it is not old-fashioned in approach, it is a return to the teaching of Scripture. This is sorely, needed in an age where secularism has invaded even the Christian Schools. Also, anyone who knows Professor Engelsma’s writings, knows they are always relevant.

Originally given as lectures for the benefit of teachers in the Protestant Reformed Christian Schools, and published in 1977, they have been somewhat revised but not expanded. The concluding bibliography gives many suggestions for further reading.

Professor Engelsma begins by explaining the covenantal basis of Christian Education. The school, he states, arises from the demand of God’s Covenant. Perhaps homeschoolers will not like what he says about that practice, however, his concern about curriculum is a valid one. Instead of closing the book at that point they should read on. They will certainly learn something!

His chapter on the place of the Bible and Confessions in the school is important. He stays far from the Fundamentalism which is rampant in some schools called Christian.

Boldly he addresses Reformed Education in relation to culture as he writes about the dangerous temptation of world-flight and the nearly unknown concept of the antithesis in today’s church world.

The section on the place of the teacher must be read again by teacher and parent alike.

The final chapter on the goal of Reformed Education is a gem in many ways.

Not much has been published on this particular approach to Reformed Education. May this little volume fill the gap!

Alcock, Deborah. The Spanish Brothers: a tale of the sixteenth century. And W. Oak Rhind. Hubert Ellerdale: A Tale of the Days of Wycliffe. Neerlandia, AB / Pella, IA I Romsey, Rants, UK: Inheritance Publications, both 2001. 326pp. $12.90 US. $14.95 CN 221 pp, $10.90 US, $12.90 CN, respectively, paperback.

Both of these books for young people and adults are in The Reformation Trail Series. The value of these works is simply that they lay before the reader aspects of the Reformation that we either do not know or knew very little about. Besides, the information comes so pleasantly since it is in novel form.

Rhind’s book about the days of Wycliffe introduces us to fourteenth century England and the early reforming movements, especially that of Wycliffe. With so much emphasis on Luther and his providential place in the Reformation – and rightly so—we forget the early struggles toward reformation. The story is engaging and the disguised history is enlightening.

Alcock’s book is equally valuable in the light of what has already been written. Yet, it has another value: it informs us about the site and the struggles of God’s people in Spain following the Reformation. Most of us do not know about a Reformation Church in Spain. We can imagine that in a Roman Catholic country the price believers would pay would be high, but this book, though the story is fiction, gives “an accurate historical account of the rise, progress, and downfall of the Protestant Church in Spain.” The faithful believers who would hold to the truth of life in Christ by grace would see death as heretics at the hand of the Church, but Truth could not be killed!

The story is about two brothers, one brought up as a soldier, the other as a priest. Their quest was to find what happened to their father. It is a story which captures your interest and imagination. Even though the story itself is old – this is a republication – you will learn a lot by reading it, and you will be reminded of God’s strange and wonderful ways. Highly recommended!

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Kuyper, Abraham. Particular Grace: a Defense of God’s Sovereignty in Salvation. Translated from the Dutch by Marvin Kamps. Grandville, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2001. xx, 356 pp. $29.95 hardcover.

Most Reformed people know the fame of Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), the great Dutch church leader, preacher, statesman, and prolific writer. Many of his works remain locked in the Dutch language. This volume, until recently, was numbered with those. In 1879, Kuyper began writing a series of articles for the religious weekly De Heraut (The Herald) under the heading “Dat De Genade Particulier Is.” These articles, which continued until June 1880, were later published as a book. It took one hundred twenty years to get them in English. Marvin Kamps has performed a great service for English – speaking Calvinists. His preface gives a wonderful introduction to the volume. Also, he has included a short appendix which explains Kuyper’s distinction between grace and “gratie.”

The text is divided into four parts. The first section is entitled “No Christ for All.” It becomes very apparent that in “the good old days” the problem of universal or general grace and a “Christ – for – all” mentality was rampant in the Dutch churches. Kuyper comes down firmly for particular grace. He spends much time on the passages that are often used in opposition to particular grace; I John 2:2, I Timothy 2:4, and II Peter 3:9. Then he makes clear that man is totally depraved and unable to do anything toward his salvation. As he concludes this section he writes that we believe and teach on the basis of Scripture, “a particular grace by which Jesus directs life, blesses the Word, opens the ear and bends the will, but and everything is dependent upon this – as instrument, so that he remains the One who does it, and the one to Whom, therefore, is all the glory!” (p. 98).

The second section, “Tested by the Result”, begins by pointing out

“One cannot earnestly proceed with general grace without destroying the way of Salvation” (p. 103). In this section Kuyper takes the reader through the history of redemption in order to lay out the way of salvation. Then the author shows us the Messiah as the Son of Man and the Eternal Word and he makes it very clear: “particular grace is taught by Jesus in the clearest terms” (p. 165).

The third section is entitled “The Unfathomable Mercies” and focuses on God’s great love for His own and how Jesus endured God’s wrath “against the sin of the whole human race” (p. 208). In one chapter Kuyper addresses the “flow” and the “to whom” of preaching.

The fourth section considers the texts and the concepts in Scripture which all too often are used to attempt to disprove particular grace.

All in all, these forty short chapters—none is longer than ten pages, most are shorter—should help clear our minds again so that we return to a Biblical view of grace. This is as sorely needed today as it was in Kuyper’s day. Will the reader agree with every idea Kuyper writes? Probably not. Only God’s Word is to be agreed with in toto. However, Kuyper is attempting here to open up for his readers the wonderful truth of Scripture.

A word must be said about the appearance of the volume. It is clearly printed on nice stock. The binding is handsome.

Take it up and read it, and your heart will be blessed.

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Van Rijswijk, Cor. Abraham’s Sacrifice (The Word Of the King Series). Neerlandia, AS / Pella, IA / Romsey, Hants, UK; Inheritance Publications, 2001. 43pp. $7.90 U.S., $8.93 CN. hardcover.

This little book telling the famous Biblical story of Abraham taking Isaac up the mountain is beautifully illustrated in black and white by Rino Visser. It is well written and even a child who has learned to read can read it to himself. However, parental involvement would make the story even more memorable. Like many of the children’s books from Inheritance, this one is highly recommended.

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Hoeksema, Homer C. Unfolding Covenant History; An Exposition of the Old Testament. Volume 1 – From Creation to the Flood. Volume 2 – From the Flood to Isaac. Series editor; Mark H. Hoeksema. Grandville, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association. 2000,2001. xxxviii, 327 pp.; xvi. 3ll pp. $27.95 each, hardcover.

These volumes have been available for many years in a different format: mimeographed and spiral-bound. Most students and readers were unaware of their existence. Some have had them in their libraries, however, and they can testify to the value of these books. Now many more, through this new and attractive publication, can benefit from their insights.

Homer C. Hoeksema, an ordained minister in the Protestant Reformed Churches, began preparing these books in 1959 when he became a professor in his church’s seminary. He held the post of professor until his death in 1989. He was able to work through the period of the Old Testament judges in these syllabi for his classes. Professor David Engelsma, Hoeksema’s successor, will complete the series, the Lord willing. The plan is to cover all of the Old Testament historical material. The editor expresses the purpose of these volumes in these Words: “The increase of the faith of the people of God … becomes the purpose of this work. When, through a fuller and clearer understanding of the scriptures, faith is enriched, truly the ultimate end of the glory of Our covenant God is achieved.” (p xvi, V. 1). Professor Hoeksema’s son, Mark, has done a very commendable job of editing his father’s work.

Volume One contains a new introduction – one for the whole series by the editor. He deals with the nature and reality of history, the view of the Covenant underlying the approach of these volumes, and the divisions of Old Testament history.

The meat of the first volume covers some 1650 years of biblical history. A lion’s share of the pages covers the subject of creation and the Fall.

It understandably begins with God (where else can we begin?) and then moves on to the work of His hands. Much space is given to the activities of the first week in history. Biblical exposition and theological discussion are wedded together in an admirable way. The last third of the book takes the reader from the years of Cain and Abel through the catastrophic flood in the days of Noah which demonstrated God’s judgment on sin, and His grace and covenant friendship to Noah. Several helpful diagrams appear which aid in understanding the chronology of these events.

Volume Two takes the reader from the days following the receding of the waters to the blessing of Jacob by Isaac. The Biblical teaching of the sword-power of the state receives lengthy treatment. The covenant with Noah, Nimrod, Babel, Shem’s generations, the place of Abraham, the place of Isaac, the conflict of Jacob and Esau, and Isaac’s blessing of Esau are all included. In fact, this volume covers the material in Genesis from chapter 8:20 through chapter 28.

Congratulations go to RFPA for making this series available to a broader readership. There is so little material on the Old Testament from the Reformed perspective in English. These volumes will certainly have a place. Has the author said everything on these texts? No. Will everyone agree? Probably not. However, his writings will provoke discussion and further study. How soon before the next volume will be ready? Readers eagerly await that day.

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Hoeksema, Herman. Behold, He Cometh! An Exposition of the Book of Revelation. Second Edition with addition of Scripture and subject indexes. Grandville, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2000. xvii, 772 pp., $32.00. hardcover.

When this book first appeared in 1969 Dr. William Hendriksen, renowned amillennial expositor of the Book of Revelation and minister in the Christian Reformed Church wrote in a review that appeared in The Banner: “The treatment of the text is definitely Reformed in character in that it always ascribes all the glory to God and traces his way in history… I warmly recommend the book.”

With its republication, the text has not changed. It is the same book we have been using through the last thirty-three years. What makes it different – and more usable – is the addition of forty-four pages of indices: Scripture and subjects.

  • First, for those not acquainted with this fine volume, here is a bit of background. Rev. Hoeksema preached through the Book of Revelation twice in his ministry, once soon after World War I and the second time during World War II, the latter time to very large crowds of hearers. The series of messages in this volume – fifty-three in number -thoroughly expounds the comforting truth in this last book of the Bible, At one time, these appeared as articles in The Standard Bearer. The approach to the Bible text is clearly amillennial. A student of the Book of Revelation can hardly do better than this! The new feature of the book – new in this edition, is the index. This is a very fine and valuable addition, one that will be of great help to anyone who studies this last book of Scripture. Actually, there are two indices, one of Scripture texts referred to in the exposition, and one listing the many subjects discussed. Such a large and complete volume is not useful without this kind of index. Numerology is central in the symbolism found in Revelation. The index shows clearly where there are discussions of the numbers used by inspiration. Other very important imagery used, and the continual references to the Old Testament, are listed in the indices. If you have an interest in studying this comforting and timely book (and every believer should), by all means get a copy of it. It’s more than worth the trip to the bookstore! The words of Hendriksen still ring from this reviewer: “I warmly recommend the book.” Rev. Jerome Julien is the Stated Clerk of the United Reformed Churches in North America.