December 24: J. Marcellus Kik

The Quiet Influence of a Canadian Presbyterian

kikJM

Quiet workers, in God’s kingdom, are often found to have an abiding influence.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” – (Col. 3:23, NASB)

In 1965, the following obituary (slightly edited here) appeared on the pages of Christianity Today, observing the passing of one of the founding editors of that magazine:

The Reverend J. Marcellus Kik was one of the first three members of the editorial staff of Christianity Today, from its inception in 1955. When the magazine was initially planned, advice was sought from hundreds of men in this country and abroad. None of the replies showed more depth of understanding and vision for this Christian witness than Mr. Kik’s. His long experience as a pastor and as editor of a church paper in Canada enabled him to make a significant and lasting contribution to this maga­zine, which he served as associate editor.

About 1960, Mr. Kik assumed the post of research editor. In that capacity he spent many months in Europe, particularly in Switzerland and Holland.  In Geneva he received permis­sion to study all minutes’ of the consistory for the period of Calvin’s great ministry in that city, and also the min­utes of the city council dur­ing the same years.  Mr. Kik had these minutes micro­filmed and then translated from seventeenth-century French into English.  These indefatigable efforts brought to light the clear distinction Calvin made between his duties as a Christian citizen and the spiritual role of the corporate church in society.

During 1927 and 1928 Mr. Kik attended Princeton Theological Seminary, and he was part of the first class graduated from Westmin­ster Theological Seminary in the Spring of 1930. For the next twenty­-two years he held pastorates in Canada, where he also conducted a weekly radio program for thirteen years.  He wrote a number of religious books and served on the Board of Trustees of both Westminster Seminary and Gordon College and Divinity School.

Mr. Kik continued his Calvin research up to the week of his death.  In 1964, he underwent radical surgery from which he never fully recovered but which never daunted him in his work and witness for his Lord. He died in Philadelphia on October 22, in 1965.

Funeral services were held in the Second Reformed Church of Little Falls, New Jersey, of which he had been pastor for eleven years before joining the staff of Christianity Today. A testimony to his life echoed through the hymns sung at the service: “O, for a Thousand Tongues,” “Hallelujah! ‘What a Saviour!,” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Jacob Marcellus Kik was born in Phillipsland, Netherlands on 24 December 1903.  He attended Hope College, graduating in 1927 and then went on to Princeton Seminary, attending there from the Fall semester in 1927 through the Spring semester of 1929. He then transferred to the newly founded Westminster Theological Seminary in the Fall of 1929 along with other Biblical conservatives.  He graduated from Westminster in May of 1930, was ordained by Miramichi Presbytery on 29 October 1930 and pastored the Bass River and West Branch churches in New Brunswick, Canada from 1930 to 1933.

Rev. Kik’s influential role began early on, as noted in this article, speaking of the situation in Canada in the 1930’s and following:

“A pattern had been established. Independent Presbyterian journals presented an opportunity for minorities to present their views and gain an audience. Only a decade after church union, a new independent journal would appear. Bible Christianity owed much to the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the 1920s and 1930s from which Canada was largely spared. The magazine, supported by W. D. Reid, minister of the well-heeled Stanley Church, Westmount, Montreal, became known for its outspoken opposition to what it perceived as liberalism in the continuing church. Bible Christianity was edited by J. Marcellus Kik, a Presbyterian minister who was among the first graduates of Westminster Seminary after it split from Princeton in 1929. Kik had been minister in New Brunswick but came to Montreal in 1936 and served there in various capacities (for a time as full-time editor and religious broadcaster) from 1936 to 1952.  [The later Bible Presbyterian, which was published out of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, by dissident Presbyterian minister Malcolm MacKay.]” — Note: Vol. 1, no. 1 of Bible Christianity is now posted in PDF format.

Another article, on the early history of the Banner of Truth Trust, notes the influence of Rev. Kik:

“Among Professor Murray’s chief concerns was the restoration of true preaching.  One who shared this view was the Rev J Marcellus Kik, a trustee of Westminster Seminary. This subject was discussed with Mr. Kik when he was present in London in 1961.  As a result he carried back to Professor Murray in Philadelphia a proposal that a conference should be held for ministers the following year in the UK, concentrating specifically on the need for a renewal of preaching.” [Thus the beginnings of the annual Banner of Truth Pastors’ Conferences.]

Lastly, Rev. Kik’s published works were another avenue of his influence:

A Partial Bibliography for Rev. J. Marcellus Kik—
1934
The Narrow and The Broad Way, and other sermons of salvation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1934. 4 p. l., iii, [13]-106 p.

1935-1951
Editor, Bible Christianity (Dalhousie, New Brunwick, Canada) — [Note: The PCA Historical Center has preserved a nearly complete run of this title. Vol. 1, no. 1 of this title may be viewed here, in PDF format.]

1955ff.
Associate editor of Christianity Today (Washington, D.C.) — [photo of the founding editors, here.]

1956
Voices from Heaven and Hell. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1956. 192 p.

Foreword to Calvin and Augustine, by B.B. Warfield. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1980, 1971, ©1956. pp. i-viii of 507p.

1958
Ecumenism and the Evangelical. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1958, ©1957.  v, 152 p.

1960
Matthew Twenty-Four : An Exposition. Philadelphia, PA: The Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1960 [2nd ed.]. xii, 115 p.

1961
Historic Reformed Eschatology [S.l. : s.n., 1961), 35 leaves.

1962
Church and State in the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1962. 46 p.; 23 cm.

Introduction to Limited Inspiration, by B. B. Warfield. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1962. 32 pp.

1963
The Supreme Court and Prayer in the Public School. Philadelphia, Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1963. 40 p.

1966
Kik, J. Marcellus, Mariano Di Gangi and J. Clyde Henry, Two Confessions: The Westminster Confession of Faith and the proposed Confession of 1967, compared and contrasted. Philadelphia, PA: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1966. 56pp.

1958-1968?
Reviewing religious books. S.l.: s.n., 1958-1968? 10 p.

1971
The Eschatology of Victory. Phillipsbugh, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1978, 1971. ix, 268 p.

Tags:

  1. Edward Suffern’s avatar

    Thank you for posting this biographical sketch of J. Marcellus Kik. An outstanding servant of the Lord! I had heard of him through my father, and have a couple of used books of his in my library, but I did not know how influential he was in wider evangelicalism. He is emblematic, alongside of Rev. Charles Krahe, Rev. Dr. John Richard deWitt, and Rev. Dr. Richard M. Suffern, of a strong academic and pastoral Dutch Calvinist heritage in the mainline reformed denomination, the Reformed Church in America on the east coast of the United States, particularly within what used to be the Classis of Passaic and which now continues as the Classis of Passaic Valley. The church where J. Marcellus Kik pastored for eleven years, and from which he was buried, the Second Reformed Church of Little Falls, N.J., was a member congregation of that classis, and alongside the Sixth Reformed Church of Paterson (now the Living Word Reformed Church) of North Haledon and Hope Reformed Church of Clifton and the Center Street Reformed Church (now the Faith Reformed Church) of Midland Park have been pastored by stalwart men like Adrian DeYoung (6th), Clarence Werkema (Hope), John Nyitray, Jr. (Hope), Ron Sanford (6th), Joe C. Gardner (6th) and John Nyitray, Sr. (2nd, Little Falls) some of whom were Westminster or RTS graduates. (Faith Reformed Church was originally part of the Paramus Classis, now redundant, and became part of the Classis of Passaic Valley in the late 1980’s) These congregations and others continued to hold forth the inerrant Word of God in times of transition, and with the leadership of deWitt, Krahe and Rev. Dr. Jack Ludlum of Englewood, N.J., opposed the drift into modernism, on such issues as creation and the ordination of women to ordained offices. The opposition to modernism’s acceptance of a non-literal Adam in the history of humanity laid out in Genesis 1-11, was contended for in the “Coventry case”, the Passaic Classis’s denial of ordination to a Mr. William Coventry in the early 1960’s (which was overturned by higher RCA courts upon appeal) on the basis of Mr. Coventry denying a literal Adam.

  2. archivist’s avatar

    Thank you, Edward, for a very informative reply. I’ve not managed to study the Continental Reformed denominations in America, like the CRC and RCA, and have only passing knowledge of them. I do appreciate your insights.

  3. Alexander Sutherland’s avatar

    I am the current minister of J. Marcellus Kik’s first pastoral charge in New Brunswick Canada. It is wonderful to read this article and appreciate the history that this makes us a part of. I look forward to sharing it with the congregations.

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

79,831 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress

%d bloggers like this: