“The Glory of Reformed Theology” -- By: Jonathan Armstrong

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 13:1 (Winter 2004)
Article: “The Glory of Reformed Theology”
Author: Jonathan Armstrong

“The Glory of Reformed Theology”

John H. Armstrong


After I called on Dr. Osterhaven last Thursday (January 22) at the Inn of Freedom Village, his son, David, and David’s wife, Jean, drew me aside and said that their father and mother had already worked out the liturgy for the memorial service and that I was to have a role in it. Then David said, “I don’t recall exactly what the subject was to be, but Dad wants you to say something about theology.” I couldn’t help but smile, for I thought, how curious to have someone speak about theology at a funeral service! And yet, how typically Eugene Osterhaven, for what could be more appropriate than to reflect on the significance of theology at a service honoring “the” theologian of our church of the past sixty years. The next day I received the liturgy with the precise assignment, viz., that Dr. Osterhaven wanted me to speak on “The Glory of Reformed Theology.”

Eugene Osterhaven was many things: a devoted and loving husband, father and grandfather, an active and faithful churchman, a lover of nature, a skilled canoeist and bold and fearless voyageur (the French term, now English, for “an expert guide in remote regions of Canada), an enthusiastic and generous supporter of all kinds of good causes, particularly missions and the academy in Sarospatak, Hungary, a supportive friend and colleague—the list could go on and on—but he was above all a theologian. That was his calling and he lived it out with distinction and grace. He was blessed

with a brilliant intellect and a fabulous knowledge of languages. An illustration of the latter, well-known to his close friends, was his love of doing his devotions by reading the Scriptures in Hebrew or Greek, and then Latin, Dutch, German or Hungarian. When I called on him in the hospital shortly after his prostate surgery when he was aware of the fact that there was a tumor on his bladder, he said to me, “Do not be anxious” (Luke 12:22), and he then proceeded to recite it in Greek!

Eugene Osterhaven was a great scholar and teacher, but what made him so distinctive and so lovable was the joy and the passion with which he did everything. He had firm convictions and was not hesitant about making them known, but he was also gracious and irenic when involved in theological debate. He was no armchair theologian. His classroom lectures were punctuated with stories from personal experience, but in all his activities his concern was to glorify Christ and be a faithful witness to him.

The Glory of Reformed Theology

So much could be said, but my assignment was not to glorify Eugene Osterh...

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