Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

Ministers Training Ministers

Written by Rev. Jack Schoeman
Since sending our students to Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, several of our ministers have been directly involved in the training of our students. These include: Rev. C. A. Schouls, Rev. P. VanderMeyden, Rev. G. Procee, Dr. L.W Bilkes, Rev. C. Pronk, and Rev. K. Herfst. I have asked Rev. Pronk (CP) and Rev. Herfst (KH) to tell us a bit about the courses they have taught - JS

Q. Rev. Pronk, you have taught several courses at the seminary. Can you mention which ones?

CP: In 2000 I taught a course on the Secession of 1834. After that I taught a course on the Second Reformation (2001); a course on St. Augustine (2002) and finally, a course on Anthropology (2003).

Q. If I am not mistaken, the course on anthropology (the doctrine of man) was the most involved. Please tell us what this course is all about and why it is important.

CP: They are all important courses, but perhaps the one on anthropology, or the doctrine of man, is the most important, as it deals with such subjects as the creation of man, the image of God in man, the covenant of works, fall into sin, the effects of the fall on the human race, the imputation of Adam's guilt, total depravity, the bondage of the will, the Adam-Christ parallel in Romans 5:12-25, Christ taking over the requirements of the covenant of works, etc., etc. As all of these doctrines are subject to various interpretations, our students need to know the biblical-Reformed view on them because if we do not have the right understanding of man's state before and after the fall we will inevitably end up with a wrong understanding of the way of salvation.

Q. Rev. Herfst, You taught a course on Missions last semester. Tell us a bit about that.

KH: The course dealt with was an introduction to International Missions. We examined the Biblical Mandate (both Old and New Testaments), history of Missions, current trends and challenges. I attempted to blend the theoretical with the practical experience gained on the mission field.

Q. What did you want the students to learn from this course? What was your objective?

KH: I was under no illusions regarding the prospects of the students going to the Mission field--although at least two of the Heritage students are interested in going--but I wanted to at least give them a wider perspective. At the same time, I tried to give them some principles that could apply in a North American context as well. I believe it is essential to see the Church as GodÕs missionary people in the world. The whole shift in population structure and migration as we are witnessing it in North America today has brought the Mission field to us and presents us with some amazing opportunities.

In trying to map out the challenges of mission work, I was able to draw from our experiences in Guatemala. One afternoon, we watched a documentary-drama recounting the years of armed conflict in Guatemala. Violence and poverty are daily realities in much of the Third World and one simply cannot preach the whole counsel of God effectively unless one understands that context. The students who attended this session were shocked to realize how sheltered our lives are in North America.

It is always difficult to gauge the ÒsuccessÓ of a course. From my perspective, a course is successful when the students continue to wrestle with the issues and then seek to apply the principles learned in their prospective ministries.

Q. How did you enjoy teaching? How does it compare with the teaching you did in Guatemala?

KH: Teaching in Guatemala was at an entirely different academic level. Most of the Guatemalan students I taught simply didnÕt have the educational background to process some of the material without simplifying it. Others, however, with whom I have worked, have had university education and can interact very well with the material. I counted it a privilege to open up the world of Scripture and the Reformed faith to men who were very anxious to learn in Guatemala. At PRTS, one of my concerns was simply trying to estimate how much material I would need to prepare. My other concern was deciding what to include and what to leave out. I mean, how does one teach an introductory course on such a broad topic in such a brief time frame? Thankfully, it went very well. Mission is very much a part of who I have become and as far as that goes, I was glad for the opportunity to teach the course. The interaction with the students was also enjoyable.

Q. I understand you are scheduled to teach another course on missions sometime in the future. What is this course all about? How are you preparing for this?

KH: I have been asked to teach a course on Church Planting in North America. The course will look at the biblical principles, particular challenges we face in our North American context, the role of the local church, and models of Reformed Church Planting. In preparing for this course, IÕve been reading material from men involved in this kind of work. The ÒGospel and our Culture NetworkÓ has done a lot of the spadework for thinking through the issues, and even where we might occasionally come to different conclusions, we are being challenged to deal with the issues biblically and honestly.

I believe this course will be a challenging one. Most of our people understand the need to present the gospel in a way that reaches people in their own context in the Third World. What needs to be recognized is that North America is an increasingly pagan place that needs the same kinds of missiological principles as the foreign field. This reality forces us to discern between what is essential to the gospel and what is simply our preference. This is nothing unusual, as the Book of Acts makes abundantly clear. It was a tremendous challenge for Jewish Christians to welcome Gentile converts into the Church. Whether or not we are prepared to seriously deal with the issues and make the necessary changes for the cause of Christ and the greater good of the Church remains to be seen.

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