The Christian Observer in 1987-1989

I recently acquired a set of issues of The Christian Observer running from 1987-1989. This paper has a long history reaching back over 200 years and has at times been a prominent publication.

I skimmed through these issues and thought it might be interesting to note some of what I found. At this period of time The Christian Observer was a weekly paper. There were a number of editors including Gordon Reed, D. James Kennedy, and Edwin Elliott. To my surprise the paper did not place much limitation on what denominations were to be included in their news section. Not only the Confessional Presbyterian churches like the PCA, OPC, and RPCNA were included, but also Dutch Reformed churches like the CRC and PRC; even the PCUSA was included. Most surprising is the inclusion of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which might be Presbyterian in polity, but not Calvinistic in soteriological beliefs.

In the first issue of 1987 the reader learns that The Christian Observer is returning to print after a twelve-year hiatus. The issues typically include a short simple Bible lesson, some books reviews, and brief pieces on Reformed missionaries in various places in the world. In this period of the paper’s history there are really no confrontational or controversial articles. In fact, as Homer C. Hoeksema writes in a letter to the editor, the issues lack much of substance. Probably the difficulty of publishing weekly contributed to this lack. But also, it wasn’t designed to be a scholarly journal, but a “weekly family magazine.”

I was glad to find a number of my friends mentioned in the issues including Ralph Rebandt, Judy Rogers, David Engelsma, and Paddy Cook.