Rev. John Vander Ploeg

It is a pleasure to write a few words concerning the tenure of John Vander Ploeg, my father-in-law, as editor of The Outlook. Rev. Vander Ploeg had served as editor of The Banner from 1956 until his retirement in 1970. After his retirement from The Banner, he served as editor of The Outlook for about 10 years.

One of the first things that he did as editor was to suggest a name change for the magazine. The magazine was called Torch and Trumpet from its inception. This name was based, of course, on the story of Gideon who blew the trumpet and used the torch to call Israel to battle. It was an apt description of the purpose of the magazine. But Rev. Vander Ploeg felt that it gave too negative a description of the emphasis that the magazine should have. He suggested that the magazine be called The Christian Reformed Outlook.

This suggestion was adopted by the Board of Reformed Fellowship. Almost immediately the Christian Reformed denominational headquarters objected to the use of the name of the denomination in the masthead of the magazine. The name suggested that the magazine was an official voice of the CRC. So the words “Christian Reformed” were dropped from the masthead leaving the name that the magazine still has today, The Outlook.

Rev. Vander Ploeg had as his aim and purpose in assuming the editorship of the magazine, a fervent desire to hold the Christian Reformed Church to a deep love for and return to the Reformed faith. He asked the board to give him permission to write an editorial for each of the issues of the magazine. Up to that time, the editorial board did not have an editorial voice in the sense that Vander Ploeg desired. The members of the editorial board were the voice of the magazine. But he felt that in order for the magazine to be more effective it was desirable that one person represent the editorial board and in so doing would also represent the Reformed faith. He enthusiastically set about this task, reminding the Reformed churches of the necessity of a return to the faith of our fathers where slippage had occurred, and emphasizing that the only way that the Christian Reformed Church would remain strong was to have a solid Reformed outlook for the future.

Rev. Vander Ploeg throughout his life sought to be, as he once described the Reformed person, a man who stood tall for the Reformed faith, and at the same time bowed low before the Lord of the Word. His tenure as editor was deeply appreciated by the readers of The Outlook and he, though no longer living, still speaks through the pages of the magazine.

Rev. Henry Vanden Heuvel is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church.

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