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In Memoriam – Herman C. Hanko (1930–2024)

In Memoriam – Herman C. Hanko (1930–2024)

Rarely does God give to his church a ministry of one of his servants like that of Herman C. Hanko. This includes the length of a ministry. Ordained into the gospel ministry in the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC) in 1955, Hanko was declared emeritus (retired) in 2001. God gave him 46 years of official, active labor in his church.

God made this ministry extraordinarily fruitful on behalf of the kingdom of Christ. The bulk of Hanko’s service was the training of young men for the ministry, in the PR Seminary. After two pastorates, first in Hope PRC in Walker, MI and then in Doon (IA) PRC, Hanko accepted the appointment of the PRC to their seminary in 1965. There, he worked until his retirement in 2001, some 36 years.  In this small seminary, with only a few professors, his duties were wide-ranging.  But his major field was Church History. One of the benefits of this work in the seminary is the ongoing publication of his fresh, thorough, and insightful notes on the subject by the publishing arm of the PRC—the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

Hanko authored many other books during his years at the seminary. All are substantial and soundly Reformed. He was a truly Reformed scholar. 

As ought to be the case with every Reformed professor of theology, and as is the need of the church of Christ in all her theologians, Hanko’s first love was preaching. Himself a powerful, at times mesmerizing, preacher, he devoted his instruction in the seminary to the end of giving especially the PRC capable preachers of the gospel.

Although Hanko gladly and zealously worked on behalf of the small Protestant Reformed denomination of churches, God gave him also a wider ministry. In the course of his active ministry, Hanko had the opportunity to preach and teach in Northern Ireland, in the Philippines, in Singapore, and in other foreign fields. His death is mourned by many in many parts of the world, if not because of the bonds established by personal ministry, then because of his influence by his writings. 

A virtue of this servant of God, exactly because he was a servant of God, of benefit to the cause of the gospel, that should not go unobserved, was Hanko’s vigorous defense of the truth against errors that threatened the church’s confession of the gospel of grace and the holy life that the gospel calls for. In the classic, Christian sense of the phrase, he was a “polemical theologian.” Having set forth the truth, he defended it against error.

In the end, Herman C. Hanko was God’s gift to the church of a “man of God,” upright in personal and family life and faithful and zealous in the office of the ministry.

For him and his work, I personally and the PRC are grateful. 

At God’s taking of him from us, we exclaim with Elisha over the departure of Elijah: “the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” (2 Kings 2:12).

Written by Prof. David J. Engelsma

__________

 

The May 2024 monthly sale book, Portraits of Faithful Saints, was selected to honor the life and legacy of its author, Prof. Herman Hanko (19302024), a modern-day "faithful saint." Hanko, who gained his victor's crown on April 2, 2024, authored over a dozen RFPA books, many of which are still in print. He also wrote many hundreds of Standard Bearer articles, and dozens of pamphlets. 






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