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Bouma, Clarence (1891-1962) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Bouma, Clarence (1891-1962)

Historical Note:

In a letter written in 1924 to a minister, Dr. Clarence Bouma explained his position with regard to the Janssen Case.  After enumerating points of appreciation as well as criticism and even condemnation, he concluded his letter with a prayer:  “May it please the Father of all wisdom to give our church many wise and consecrated builders, men of unqualified scholarship and no less of that sterling piety which trembles at the Word of God . . .”  In the course of the succeeding years of service in the Seminary, Clarence Bouma proved to be such a “wise and consecrated builder.”  He was a builder not only in the denomination he loved but also in the wider Reformed and evangelical church world.  He was defender as well as a propagator of the faith.  He did so as a teacher, a speaker, and a writer.  His keen mind and his ready pen were in evidence in his classroom in the Seminary and in the classrooms of the ecclesiastical world.

Going over the Bouma collection received from the family, we found it was necessary to arrange the material so that Bouma could be readily seen functioning in a variety of positions.  In every capacity he served, we find a man of rich gifts, serving diligently, readily, energetically, wisely, and in love.  He could speak sharply but doing so one could smell the rose of loving intent.  He could forgive and be forgiven in an atmosphere of seeking the truth in love.  As students we found him readily accessible, generous with encouragement, and deeply desirous that we would do our best for Christ’s sake.

Clarence Bouma was born in Harlingen, the Netherlands, 30 November 1891.  The family moved to the United Sates when Clarence was thirteen.  After graduating from Calvin Theological Seminary he continued studies at Princeton, the University of Princeton, Harvard, and Berlin scholarship.  After serving the Summer Street Christian Reformed Church he received the appointment to the Chair of Dogmatic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary; later he taught ethics and apologetics.

Clarence Bouma passed away in 1962 after suffering with an incapacitating illness for ten years. He left behind his wife, Tessie; and two daughters Mrs. Dick L. (Thea) Van Halsema and Mrs. John J. (June) Bangma; 8 grandchildren.

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