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1936 - 2009 Johan D. Tangelder

Amsterdam, NL London Ontario


Christian Renewal lost a friend, a colleague and a brother in Christ with the passing away of Rev. Johan D. Tangelder on July 24, 2009. His by-line has graced these pages almost from the inception of Christian Renewal in 1982. During that time he generously gave of his time, his energy and his intellect to writing articles on a variety of topics from church history to current events. His respect for the Bible as God's infallible rule of all of life was evident in everything he wrote.

For years he served as a minister of the Christian Reformed Church serving in British Columbia, in the Philippines and in Ontario. In 1995, due to a weak heart, he retired from the ministry and poured his energy into reading and writing. He had finished a series of articles on the Church Fathers for this publication and was beginning work on a series of articles on the church family tree since the Reformation - the various branches of denominations that have formed during that time. His final article in the series, included these paragraphs, which sum up his love for God, for the Church and for the truth. "The greatest challenge for serious Christians today,' notes Charles Colson 'is not reinventing Christianity, but discovering its core teachings. " 

Individual opinion has become an arbiter of truth rather than the Scriptures. But the linking of the Bible with private judgment deemphasizes the authority of Scripture and the role of tradition. And the 'No creed but the Bible,' has become a distinctive feature with disastrous consequences for the Church. The 19th century German Reformed theologian Philip observed, "The deceived multitude, having no power to discern the spirits, is converted not to Christ and his truth, but to arbitrary fancies and baseless opinion of an individual, who is only of yesterday."

Christianity is not new on the scene. The Christian faith is rooted in the soil of history. On the one hand, when we stop taking seriously the historical truths of the church, we undermine our witness. On the other hand, the reading of church history is inspiring for the present. The more we know about it, the better we can think through the issues we face today.

I hope that the series, Learning from the Church Fathers, which only scratched the surface of this treasure trove of their theological thought, helped the readers understand the struggles faced by the early church. These men were not "armchair" theologians. Some paid for their convictions with their lives.

Today, more than ever; Christians need to know the Scriptures and the creeds. How can the Church effectively approach Islam, for example, if it has no memory of scholars who confronted this vast growing, intolerant, fiercely anti-Christian religion? 

Our condolences to Johan's wife Helen, his children: Alice Ann and Vandergeest, Bernard and Sharon, Johan and Carol, and Mary; and his grandchildren Christian, Brendan, Caleb, Rachel, Laura, Anna, Luke, Ethan, Cayla, and Julia.  

Some of Rev. Tangelder's  writings on file will continue to appear over the next few issues.


Christian Renewal August 12/19, 2009