Book Reviews …just in time for Christmas

Alcock, Deborah. By Far Euphrates: a Tale on Armenia in the 19th Century. Neeriandia, AB, Pella, IA: Inheritance Publications, 2002. 274 pp. $14.95CN, $12.95 US, paperback. Reviewed by Rev. J. Julien.

Recently a copy of an essay by Rev. A. A. Kayayan came into this reviewer’s hands—an essay concerning the 87th anniversary of the Armenian genocide engineered by Ottoman Turkey. That story in itself is absolutely horrifying. Christian Armenians suffered in an unspeakable way. Long before this horror, Armenian Christians were suffering for their faith. This novel gives an account of the sufferings by means of massacres 1894–1896. The author writes in the preface: “Every instance of faith or heroism given in these pages is not only true in itself, but typical of a hundred others.” More than 309,000 died for their faith in the 19th century!

This story is developed around a young English boy, Jack Grayson, who traveled with his father to Armenia. Very soon both travelers are kept from moving on due to malaria, and, sadly, the father did not recover. From this point on the adventures of Jack develop. The struggles of faith experienced along with the believers, the struggles against the Muslims. The story line as a whole, all contribute to adventure and interest. Anyone who desires to know the struggles and the joys of Christ’s Church–and every Christian should—will find this a beneficial read.

Comrie, Margaret S. The Heroes of Castle Breton. Neerlandia, AB, Pella, IA: Inheritance Publications, 2003. 229 pp. $12.99 US paperback. Reviewed by Rev. J. Julien.

Here is just the book you have been looking for! Adventure, mystery, history (though it does not take over) are all part of this story. You want a book to read during Christmas vacation? Here it is! In fact, you may have a difficult time putting it down. Young people and even their grandparents will enjoy it.

Set in Europe in the century and a half following the Reformation, it lays out some of the intense family struggles that developed out of the Reformation. Sadly, family struggles and tensions often develop as a result of struggles for the faith.

In this story, Lady Eleonore, the Catholic Chatelaine mistress of the chateau, is cut off from her friends and supporters because of her nephew’s lies about her. A young Protestant comes to live at the castle and, together with several friends he makes there, comes to her aid. The story has other twists and turns, some of which will utterly amaze the reader.

This is one of many reprints of historical fiction books that Inheritance Publications is reissuing. The publisher is to be thanked for this gift to the churches.

Tucker, Charlotte Maria. Driven into Exile: a Story of the Huguenots. (Huguenot Inheritance Series #5) Neerlandia, AB, Pella, IA: Inheritance Publications, 2003. 141 pp., paperback. $8.90 US. Reviewed by Rev. Jerome Julien.

Even royalty experienced the pressure of persecution from the Romans Catholic Church in the late sixteen hundreds. If you were somehow part of the royal family in France, but a Huguenot, you knew the handwriting was on the wall. You and your family knew that you would have life and freedom only if you fled from France.

Even though the Marquis la Force was given time to recant his Protestant faith, the result would be banishment. But neither he, nor his family, could turn from the truth of God. Most of the family went into exile in England, but one member was not able to go with them. He was in the control of the church and he had to be educated in Roman Catholicism.

Three within the family made the trip to England, arriving there in poverty. Living in a strange land in poverty was very difficult for them. In addition, they were burdened by the fact that a son and nephew who remained in France were being oppressed. This was a constant burden to them. Will there ever be a reunion? This story opens up the trials believers have when they seek to be faithful to the Lord.

Fiction? Yes. History? Yes. But more! We can learn from these terrible times as we face an unknown future. At the same time, the story is delightful for it demonstrates God’s providence.

Cammenga, Ronald and Hanko, Ronald. Saved By Grace; a study of the Five Points of Calvinism. Second Edition. Grandville, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2002. xvii, 245 pp., including indices. $17.95, hardcover; $13.95, paper. [Also available: a study guide, $4.95] Reviewed by Rev. J. Julien.

In the introduction, it is said, “This is not your standard treatise on the ‘Five Points of Calvinism…” This is very true! Succinctly and pointedly the authors deal with each aspect. Beginning with the underlying or overarching truth of them all is a section on the sovereignty of God. Then comes a chapter on each of the well-known Five Points.

Each chapter includes sections in which the subject is defined. Scriptural proofs are given and discussed. Even the difficult passages are discussed. Objections to and denials of the points are dealt with, as well. The practical importance of each point is explained, and how the point is related to the others in the series.

The writers have done a marvelous job of compiling and explaining the information. This is one of those home reference books that will be used often as we seek to be faithful to our Sovereign God.

Vos, Johannes G. Genesis. Published by Crown & Covenant Publications, Pittsburgh, PA., 2006. Originally published by the Blue Banner of Faith and Life in 1954–1957. 544 pp. $20.00 pb/$32.00h/c. Reviewed by Rev. W. H. Oord.

For the last four years, I have been leading our Tuesday Night Bible Study in a study of the Book of Genesis. This year we began with Chapter 17. Needless to say, it has been a very comprehensive study. In preparing for each lesson, I read as many commentaries as possible—both good and bad. Throughout the centuries, some theologians have dissected Genesis into parts that have become unrecognizable as the Word of God. I recall one commentary that actually blamed God for Cain’s anger. After all, the writer argued, if God had accepted the sacrifice of Cain, he would not have lost his temper and killed his brother. And, yes, I did throw that commentary away.

Other writers uphold the glorious truths contained in this Book of Beginnings and offer gems of wisdom to readers seeking to understand the awesomeness of our great God. One such writer is J. G. Vos! J. G. Vos taught at Geneva College from 1954 to 1973, where for many years he served as the chairman of the Bible Department. Recently, I received a copy of his commentary with the very simple title: Genesis. J. G. Vos is the son of Dr. Geerhardus Vos of Princeton Seminary. Unlike his father, J. G. Vos writes in very simple, easy to understand language. He takes the book of Genesis and opens up one pearl after another.

J. G. Vos divides the Book of Genesis into three parts, each part containing several chapters, and each chapter containing three to four page lessons. At the end of each lesson there are questions offered to remind the reader of what he has just read. Most of the answers to the questions are found right in the lesson and do not lend themselves to discussion and therefore are not very helpful.

What is extremely helpful, however, is the succinct way in which Vos explains each passage. He often reviews what others have written in light of the Reformed faith. He interprets Scripture according to Scripture, making very certain that he does not read into the text something that it does not say. This aspect of Vos’ writing is a great asset to the serious student of God’s Word, especially after reading other commentaries who love to interject their “great findings” in the clear Word.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has a love for the Word of God and the Reformed faith. I have no doubt that it will be a great asset to any Bible Study.

Hyde, Daniel. Jesus Loves the Little Children. Grand Rapids, MI. Reformed Fellowship, 2006. 96 pp. $9.50 paperback. Reviewed by Rev. W. Oord

If you enjoyed Rev. Hyde’s thorough study of the Belgic Confession that appeared in The Outlook over the last three years, you will truly enjoy his new book, Jesus Loves the Little Children.

Rev. Hyde, who comes out of the Pentecostal movement, became convinced of infant baptism as he became more and more convinced of the truth of the Reformed faith. His book is divided into eight easy to read and understandable chapters in which he looks at circumcision and baptism; the covenant and baptism; dedication or baptism, and other related issues.

This concise and powerful book is to be recommended to parents who are struggling with the idea of infant baptism as well as those in Reformed circles who do not have a clear understanding of what the Reformed faith teaches concerning this sacrament. It would make a great gift from consistories to new parents as it deals with the promises of God to their children and also the responsibilities that parents take upon themselves as they present their children to the Lord.

Parsons, Burk. Assured By God. Phillipsburg, NJ, P&R Publishing Company, 2006. 200 pp. $18.00 hardcover. Reviewed by Rev. W. Oord. During my years in the ministry, I have met people who lack assurance of their salvation and also people who have an overconfidence in presuming their salvation. I vividly recall trying to comfort a family who had lost a daughter, acknowledging her Christian testimony in word and deed, and speaking of the joy that was hers because she was now in glory. The eighty year old mother could only respond with the words, “We hope so.” What grief must fill a home where there is no comfort in Christ nor assurance of His saving grace.

Burk Parsons has edited a wonderfully pastoral book that ministers to the hearts of those who question their salvation. He has compiled the writings of great, lucid writers such as Sinclair Furguson who writes on the topic “Assurance Justified,” Joel Beeke who writes on “The Fullness of Grace,” John MacArthur who writes on “The Glory of True Repentance,” R. C. Sproul who writes on “The Anatomy of Doubt and Assurance,” and a host of others.

The ten essays contained in this book are easy to read and understand. They weave a wonderfully fine line between bringing assurance to the believer and keeping a person from having a sense of false security. The end result is the humble Christian seeking to live in the fullness of God’s grace.

Sproul, R. C.. Truths We Confess Vl. 1. Phillipsburg, N.J, P&R Publications, 2006. $22.00 hardcover. Reviewed by Rev. W. Oord.

Those brought up on the three forms of unity are often not very familiar with the Westminster Confession of Faith. If you fit into this category, or if you love the Westminster Confession of Faith, I would encourage you to grab hold of a book written by one of my favorite authors, R. C. Sproul. In what will become a three volume exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Dr. Sproul has set out to write a lasting commentary on the eternal truths of the Holy Scriptures.

In Volume One, Dr. Sproul explains the first eight chapters of the Westminster Confession of Faith dealing with the Holy Scripture, the Trinity, the decrees of God, creation, providence, the fall of the human race, God’s covenant, and Christ our Mediator. Each chapter brings insights to many current issues, describes different controversies, and explains why Sproul holds the view that he does. For example, in the chapter dealing with creation, Sproul explains the gap theory, macroevolution, the Framework hypothesis, and the literal six day creation. He goes on to explain that, although he once held the Framework hypothesis as a viable theory, he does so no longer.

Throughout the volume, Sproul ties in the significance of each event and how it ties in with God’s redemptive plan. He brings in many personal examples as well as examples from Scripture, general revelation, history, and the scientific world. All in all, the reader will find this book a pleasure to read and extremely helpful in the study of our great and awesome God.

Vander Kam, Henry. Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI., Reformed Fellowship. Reprinted 2006. 127 pp. $8.00 soft cover. Reviewed by Rev. W. Oord

One of the most popular Bible studies by Rev. Vander Kam is back in print. And it looks better than ever! Originally published in The Outlook decades ago, this Bible Study is still relevant, and many of the issues it deals with are still current within the church.

The sixteen chapters in the book begin with the topic, “Our Glorious Redemption” and work their way through the Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus to the topic of “The Whole Armor of God.” Other topics deal with salvation, redemption, the role of Jews and Gentiles in the church, unity within the church, and the pattern set by Paul for husbands, wives, and children, to name a few. Each lesson begins with an explanation of the passage and ends with questions that help bring about discussion within a group Bible study.

Ephesians is the first of several Bible Studies published by Reformed Fellowship that will take on the new look while still bringing forth the old truths of God’s Word. Other studies that have been in popular demand by Rev. Vander Kam, Amos and the long out of print II Timothy and Titus, should be available in the autumn of 2007. In addition, Reformed Fellowship is reprinting Rev. Piersma’s Bible Study on the book of Daniel, also available next Fall. For more information, contact the business office at (616) 532-8510 or visit

Freswick, Casey. Postmodern Liberalism: Repainting a Non-Christian Faith (An Evangelical Critique of Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis. Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reformed Fellowship, 2006. 19 pp. $2.50 each; 10 for $1.25 each; 50 for $0.80 each. Reviewed by Rev. W. Oord. First published in The Outlook in the January and February 2006 issues, Rev. Freswick’s booklet sheds the light of the Reformed faith upon the Emergent Church movement. While this pamphlet is a review of Rev. Rob Bell’s book, Velvet Elvis, it is in reality a critique of a movement that seems to be sweeping the country — especially the youth of the Reformed churches.

While many seem to be impressed by the music, style, and format of the worship, this new movement is exposed for its lack of sound teaching. Rev. Freswick writes about Rev. Bell’s approach to the truth, the virgin birth, and the Trinity, as just a few examples of the grievous errors that have come out of this church movement.

I would strongly encourage church leaders to pick up a copy of this pamphlet. In fact, it would be wise for youth leaders to pick up several copies for their youth group to use as a study guide, leading the youth of our church to an understanding that not everything that labels itself as “church” is necessarily true to the Word of God.