I had the privilege of working
a number of years with a fine Christian businessman by the name of Bob Kregel.
He was in the business of publishing and retailing Christian books. That is
not an easy business. There is such a fine line between necessary profit and
greed, between advertising and Madison Avenue hype, between ministry and business,
that each decision presents a real challenge. Each owner must make these decisions
before the Lord and his own conscience, but in many of these businesses I am
afraid that ministry is superseded by the "bigger is better" syndrome we have
in America. But Bob was a man who, in my judgment, made good business decisions
while at the same time never losing sight of his goals for the business.
His father started out selling
used religious and theological books in the Dutch language. Since most of the
people here in the Grand Rapids area were immigrants from the Netherlands, he
found a ready market. But over the years the books in Dutch faded out, being
replaced by English language works. After World War II, Bob (who had taken over
the business from his dad) started reprinting books that had gone out of print
but needed to be reintroduced to this present generation of readers.
These books, of course,
had enduring value. They were not the "fad" books, or the books that were of
the "predigested" variety that appealed only to those unwilling to dig into
scripture themselves. Those books flood the market today and become the "best
sellers" on the charts kept by various organizations in business to "hype" the
latest in Christian fadism. Those books come and go in a few years, their purpose
being served--assuming they had a purpose in the first place.
But the books Bob Kregel
chose to reprint were of substance. Books that elevated the person of Christ
and had thoughtful presentations of solid Christian doctrine and exposition.
Careful exposition of scripture and the solid declaration of the doctrines of
the Bible are never out of date. The market share of these books is small, for
out of the vast number of people who profess to be Christians, only a small
percentage of them really have an interest in serious Bible study.
I for one, am glad Bob made
that hard decision, because many of the works he has made available for us would
have been lost to us if he had chosen to be popular and big instead of small
and relatively unknown.
Kregel Publishers has just
reprinted another classic that I am glad is available again. It is Lewis Sperry
Chafer's "Systematic Theology." Dr. Chafer came into close association with
D. L. Moody and Dr. C. I. Scofield early in life. In 1922, he moved to Dallas,
Texas, to establish a theological seminary along with H. A. Ironside and others
who wished to have a conservative alternative to many of the schools that had
drifted from a high view of the Bible. In 1924, Dallas Theological Seminary
was founded and Dr. Chafer was its president from then until his death in 1952.
He taught systematic theology at Dallas for many years, and using his teaching
experience and diligent study of the doctrines of scripture, he developed and
wrote this extensive eight-volume work. It was then the foremost--and still
remains--the standard of systematic theologies written from a dispensational,
premillennial viewpoint. Kregel's has reprinted it in four volumes, but it is
unabridged and complete. The type size is good and easy to read. This is an
extensive work and expensive-- $150--but if you are serious about the study
of the Word of God, it is a set that somewhere along the line you should own.