My Interview with Rev. Bill BoekesteinPosted: January 11, 2011
A month ago I was able to interview one of my co-seminarians from Puritan Reformed. William Boekestein (M.Div., Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) is Pastor of Covenant Reformed Church in Carbondale, Pennsylvania. He previously taught in a Christian School for several years. He and his wife have three children. He blogs regularly at Life Reformation.
When did you decide that you wanted to write a children’s biography? And then, with all the more notable options, why did you choose someone such as Guido de Bres?
The short answer to this is, I have young children, I love church history and our denomination (the URCNA) uses Guido de Bres’ Belgic Confession as a secondary standard of doctrine. From my vantage point the choice made a lot of sense. On the other hand, De Bres’ lived such a fascinating life that even without those three criterion he’d be worth writing about. In addition to this, it can be rewarding to “unearth,” so to speak, the history of an obscure personality from the past.
How has the story of Guido de Bres influenced your own life? What in particular stood out to you about his life that brought to light something, that maybe you did not see as importance in the Christian walk before?
I have been convicted and encouraged by de Bres’ bold commitment to Christ in the face of persecution. I am often easily intimidated by conflict. De Bres consistently preached the gospel knowing that a hangman’s noose was waiting for him if he was caught (and he eventually was). That has been a powerful testimony for me.
Can you give me a few reasons why you think children, of all people, need to know and read the story of Guido de Bres?
That’s a great question since de Bres’ story is a bit graphic. We geared the language toward young children and modified some of the images so they wouldn’t be too scary. That said, some of the themes of the book might seem to be too mature for young children. I address that concern in a note to parents on the last page:
The life of Guido De Bres is not exactly a pleasant read. The story is sad, and, in our age of tolerance, at times it is uncomfortable. Yet we believe his story is important because it really happened. In fact, it happened a lot! In other words, De Bres was not all that extraordinary. He was one of countless Christians who spent their lives in devotion to the Lord and in commitment to His Word.
We should say a few things about the graphic details and references to historical religious conflict in this book. First, the reader should know that every reasonable attempt has been made to avoid gratuitous, unsavory detail. It would be impossible, however, to tell the story of De Bres apart from the theme of suffering. We have also tried carefully to avoid unnecessarily inflammatory religious rhetoric. However, the fact remains that right up to the present, strongly held convictions will produce conflict. Even young children experience this.
Second, we don’t believe it is necessary to shield even young children from the ugliness of life as long as we also provide a context in which this life can be lived victoriously. Guido de Bres thrived in tragedy because he was hoping in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel (or good news) of Jesus is this: because of His perfect life and sacrificial death, those who repent of their sins and trust in Him have God’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life (John 3:16). As this promise is realized in our lives, we too will approach life with the same hope that De Bres had. We will be equipped and motivated to spend our lives for God’s glory as we look to an eternal reward of grace.
This is the value we see in teaching our children about Guido de Bres—not to glorify him, but to be drawn by his example to live to the glory of God.