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Legacy, #4, Young Calvinist

By June 21, 2015 7 Comments

By Helen Luhrs

When my mom died this winter, I realized the generation of my parents was gone. What I learned from them about faith and life was now mine to practice and pass on. To help me remember what I learned and treasure what nuggets of truth I want to share, these Summer Sundays are dedicated to Henry and Edith Blankespoor, my parents.

“Ears that hear and eyes that see–
the LORD has made them both.”   Proverbs 20:12

I was a young Calvinist long before I knew about the Young Calvinist Federation or Young Calvinist Convention. My parents knew their theology and made sure their children did too. Mom only wanted to sing or even listen to songs with lyrics that met her theological criteria. If a song implied that men or women did the choosing before God did, she quickly labeled it Arminian and we really weren’t supposed to like that song. I was a bit disappointed a few times. I Have Decided to Follow Jesus has a nice ring to it and who doesn’t like the metaphor of In the Garden and its poignant line, “I come to the garden alone when the dew is still on the roses.”

My dad made sure we knew that comics portrayed families in a less than God-glorifying way since his dad had actually canceled the newspaper because Dagwood was a bit of a dufus who slept on the couch and certainly wasn’t as responsible as Blondie.

Do I want to be a hyper-Calvinist? No, I don’t. I am not going to analyze every song I sing or listen to, cancel any newspapers, or stop watching television shows that distort family values. In fact, I may have a few Arminian leanings. I want a God that loves people and encourages them to be freethinking, intelligent beings. Christian writer Rachel Held Evans blogs on the Arminianism vs. Calvinism topic by saying, “ I believe that God can be in control without controlling and that he desires a relationship with his creation that involves some degree of freedom.” I can relate to that idea.

But my legacy from my parents isn’t about Calvinism or Arminianism. What I am thankful for is the awareness I learned. I am thankful I was taught that words, images, and stories are not neutral. Has that awareness made me miserable at times? Yes. It would be much easier to “go with the flow,” but I can’t and I hope that makes me a better parent, teacher, and friend.

God, help me to enjoy your world and all it offers through the lens of faith. Give me the freedom to enjoy words, images, art, and stories that your creative people have fashioned. Help me be discerning without judging. Thank you for ears that hear and eyes that see.

An Iowa woman to the core, Helen Luhrs is a high school teacher who lives out in the country near Knoxville, Iowa. Helen and Lee have four married daughters, five grandchildren, a graceful prairie, and a square foot garden.

(Evans, Rachel Held). Blog. 4 November 2010. Web. 3 June 2015.)

Helen Luhrs

An Iowa woman to the core, Helen Luhrs is a retired high school teacher who lives in the country near Knoxville, Iowa. Helen and Lee have four married daughters, eight grandchildren, a graceful prairie, and a square foot garden.


  • ptnitter says:

    Helen, I loved this reminiscence and comment! I hadn’t thought of that phrase, Young Calvinist for ever so long. But I went to that yearly convention when I was ‘of that age’ and it certainly pleased my parents that I did. Thank you for this reflection.
    Kathy Davelaar

  • Jan de Vries says:

    OK Helen,
    Here is a question for someone who admits to having attended the YCF conventions:
    How does the club song go?
    It begins like this:
    Calvinists are we
    let our banner be
    over land and sea
    high unfurled!

    da da dadada
    da da dadada
    we’ve a heritage
    to show the world

    This is followed by a refrain, which I have also forgotten.

    Can you help?
    I only attended one convention, in Bellflower, California in 1961.
    It was memorable for many reasons. The biggest shock, perhaps, was that
    in California is was OK to be CRC and also have air conditioning and a swimming pool.
    Best regards,

    • Archie Duiker says:

      I also have been trying to find the correct lyrics. Here’s what I remember:

      Calvinists are we
      Let our banner be
      Over land and sea
      High unfurled
      From God’s holy page
      We of youthful age
      Have a heritage
      To show the world

      Delve then, search then
      With united talents
      Prayerful, careful
      Under heaven’s light
      Lead us, feed us
      Source of truth eternal
      Gird our federation with your might

      I forget most of the second verse.

  • elaine klein says:

    I have the Young Calvinist Federation song book from the ’60’s and will share the words with you.
    1) Calvinists are we; Let our colors be Over land and sea, High unfurled, From God’s Holy page,
    We, of youthful age, Have a heritage To show the world.
    CHORUS; Delve then, search then, with united talents, Prayerful, careful, under Heaven’s light.
    Lead us, feed us, Source of Truth Eternal; Gird our Federation with Thy might.
    2) Holy love and zeal For the treasures real We’ve begun to feel In our search.
    More we strive to find For the heart and mind In a course designed To build the church.
    3) Soon we’ll need the might For our faith to fight, We must seek the light In our youth.
    Soon we must repel Craft and force of hell; But in Christ, we shall Defend the truth.

    • Nick Loenen says:

      Thank you, Elaine.

      My wife and I met at the 1961 YCF convention held at Bellflower, California and remember singing this with gusto to the marching tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. We were enlisted in a battle of the spirits. The spiritual battle seems to have faded and was certainly different from today’s culture wars. The weapon of spiritual warfare is love, turning the other cheek and sacrificial living.

  • Peter Van Duyvenvoorde says:

    This weekend we were listening to U Tube and heard the group from B.C. sing a song to the tune of the Young Calvinist theme song – but I could not remember all the words – Thanks Elaine – I copied them over into my computer library – nice to remember.
    In 1965 we had the Convention in Niagara Falls Ontario “We are Alive in 65” and I was the chair of the lodging committee – a lot of work but lots of rewarding memories!
    Peter Van Duyvenvoorde

    • John Kraay says:

      Hello, all of you who read this. My name is John Kraay, a Canadian living in The Netherlands since 1967, because after my study at the Free University, Amsterdam (cum laude) I was offered a position with its Philosopohy Department. I believe it was 1959 or 1960 when I won the auditorial contest at the convention in Los
      Angeles, which made it possible for me to go to Calvin College, Grand Raplids, Michigan. I met Prof.Dr. H. Evan Runner there, who became my spiritual father. For some 15 years I was a dedicated Calvinist adherent of the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea (Herman Dooyeweerd). I found Elaine’s text of the Young Calvinist song today (11-30-2023), which I remembered in part only. Thank you Elaine! In the course of the ’70s my dear wife Denise Tigchelaar became incurably ill. Partly because of this I am a Ca;vinist no more. I wonder if Peter van Duyvenvoorde’s father is John, a person who was a good friend of mine for many years. Maybe Peter would like to contact me. I would appreciate that very much.
      Bless you all, John Kraay

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