Book Review: Portraits of Faithful Saints

Title: Portraits of Faithful Saints Author: Herman Hanko
Reformed Free Publishing Association, Michigan, USA, 1999
Hardback, 450pp

As we all know, the Reformation Day Conference 2010 has just happened recently to celebrate the Great 16th Century Reformation. Thus, tying in with this joyous occasion, it is fitting that this book is highlighted in this issue of Salt Shakers.

Portraits of Faithful Saints, as the title suggests, tells of faithful saints of God who stood for the Truth in spite of heavy opposition. The author of this book writes about 55 persons. Though some of them did not stand for the exact doctrines we hold today, still they played major roles in developing the Reformed doctrine we know today. All of this rich history is summarized into ve parts and fty-two chapters. This book covers extensively the history after Christ’s birth; from the death of the Apostle John to the controversy of common grace in the PRCA.

The book has its limits; the author is not able to go into every bit of detail in each individual’s life. Thus, the author gives some suggested readings rather than a bibliography, as he had consulted so many books that he couldn’t possibly list them all for us. But still, the author is able to explain to us the major events of the individual’s life, ending off each summary with a conclusion that may be applicable to us. This trait makes the book very useful to the reader.

Another unique trait of this book is that it brings out men who worked ‘behind the scenes’ during the Reformation. When we think of the Great Reformation, many of us tend to link it with Martin Luther and John Calvin. But what about people like William Farel and Ulrich Zwingli? The many men who helped in the Reformation are names we never heard of before. It is wrong to ‘conclude that they are of little or no importance in the understanding of the Reformation.’ The author states this conclusion as ‘a sad mistake.’ (Page 168) And it truly is, for without knowing these men, we will not be able to fully see how the Reformation slowly spread throughout the world.

This book is very important, due to the fact that its rich history concerns us as the descendants of our Reformed forefathers. How are we to truly understand the Reformed doctrines unless we know of the history behind it, with all the blood, sweat, and tears these faithful men have shed for us? God has so graciously preserved the in uential works of His saints for His own. And thus it is a great gift to receive (and be) the fruit of the Reformation. May we be able to realize this great truth that lies beneath CERC and not be ignorant of this rich history and God’s wondrous Works; like the Israelites were in Judges (2:10) which the author speaks of in the ending of the last chapter of the book.

Ending off, I would like to quote from the book. It asks, ‘shall another generation arise which knows not the Lord? May God forbid it. (Page 420)’ I truly hope that we will not be a generation which knows not the Lord.

Written by: Lim Yang Zhi | Issue 5