Foundations: Sermons on Genesis 1-3, Peter H. Holtvlüwer, Tintern: Little Angels Press, 2010. Paperback, 163 pages, $15.00.
Attacks on the truths of God’s Word never stop. This is also obviously true for the first three chapters of the Bible. Outside the church there are voices that outrightly deny what the Bible says about our creation and fall. Sadly, even inside the church there are voices that undermine what Scripture says about these things. We can be thankful to God for faithful preachers of the Word like Peter Holtvlüwer, minister of the Spring Creek Canadian Reformed Church in Tintern, Ontario.
This book contains a series of sermons he preached to his previous congregation in Carman, Manitoba. There are 13 sermons and they cover almost every verse of Genesis 1-3. The sermons retain the style of sermons and they include the sort of references that one might expect from a pastor addressing a rural congregation.
There are three reasons why I’m going to recommend this book to you. First, the author takes the biblical text seriously as a record of historical events. There is no capitulation here to Darwinism, theistic evolution, or anything of the sort. Second, Holtvlüwer constantly brings everything to a focus on Jesus Christ. These sermons are Christ-centered and therefore edifying and God-glorifying. Third, Foundations features clearly written prose. The author explains Scripture in a direct and easy-to-understand fashion.
Preachers who review other preachers’ sermons are in an awkward position. We all have our own ideas of what should be left in a sermon and what should be left out. In this instance, too, there are some things that I would have liked to seen included. As an example, especially in the light of some current discussions with our URC brothers, it would be good to see a reason why Holtvlüwer regards the covenant in Genesis 3 as a renewal of the covenant from Genesis 2. He appears to assume that this is an obvious fact. Or in chapter 12, he writes that “we often must learn to forgive ourselves too.” Where does Scripture teach that? Again, this seems to be assumed rather than established.
Overall, this is a valuable contribution to our Reformed community. Holtvlüwer’s book could be used in public worship for reading sermons – song selections, etc. are included in an appendix. It could also be used with profit for personal devotional reading. Moreover, the author has generously decided to use all the proceeds for this book to support a worthy cause in Brazil. The Reformed Reading Room in Recife is part of Canadian Reformed mission efforts in north-eastern Brazil. God has used it in a fantastic way for the spread of the biblical gospel. Your purchase of this book will contribute to the ongoing dissemination of the good news of Jesus Christ.