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De Koster, Lester (1915-2009) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: De Koster, Lester (1915-2009)


Historical Note:

Lester De Koster constantly emphasized that the strength of the Christian Reformed Church lay in the faithful preaching of the Word. In fact, he firmly believed that all evangelism should be done by, or closely associated to, the Church rather than by separate groups. He explained his position on “witnessing” and the meaning of “salvation.”

He decried the “new theology” associated with Dr. Kuitert in the Netherlands. He also spoke out freely in matters pertaining to Communism and national defense, the welfare program, and the church’s responsibility to the poor. He expressed his views on the Middle East. He explained his position on and joined others in the defense of anti-abortion.

He received the greatest criticism in connection with the movie review column in The Banner but continued to defend it on the grounds that our youth needed expert guidance in their television viewing and movie attendance. Even though it offended many, he felt it also aided others.

He cherished the Confessions to which the Christian Reformed Church is dedicated and pointed out that respect for them and the Church Order would restrain experimentation in doctrine and practice. He expressed the fear that fundamentalism was actually a threat to our denomination but defended “cooperation” with the Roman Catholics as members of the body of Christ, citing both Luther and Calvin to substantiate this view. He questioned the late Dr. E. H. Palmer’s statement that “the infallible Word no longer exists.”

Lester De Koster spoke with restraint about “counseling” techniques and philosophies underlying them. He commended a housewife for her perceptiveness in the meaning of practicing the Christian life.

He encouraged the formation and growth of church libraries. The former editor answered questions on Christian membership in a political party, our duty to government, and the endowment by God of the authority of a political office. He did not favor a “Christian Political Party.” He defended the city as it appears in Scripture. Lester De Koster revealed his views on women in church office, as well as on the Equal Rights Amendment. Repeatedly, he maintained that “theology is not the first order of business for the Church.” Preaching the Word is the primary key to a well-ordered Church.” The Great Commission, Lester De Koster said, was addressed to the Church and not to individuals.

Surprisingly, Lester De Koster saw no profit for the Christian Reformed Church to draw closer to the Reformed Church of America.

On October 4, 1976, Lester De Koster listed the following fundamental goals for a Banner reader:

1    To get the Bible more and more soundly preached

2    To ward off the growing intrusion of “fundamentalism” in the Christian Reformed Church

3    To ward off the equal deviation of the Cosmonomians

4    To stress the “works” aspect of Christianity

On August 13, 1979, Lester De Koster listed three purposes that guided him while editor:

1    To make The Banner a bulletin board for the denomination

2    To inspire, to stimulate, to alert the denomination to trends in the church and the world

3    To build up the spiritual life of believers and their families

Two over-all observations may be made at this point. First, the remarkable restraint that Dr. De Koster evidenced in the face of criticism that was, at times, cruel. Throughout the decade he practiced “a soft answer turneth away wrath” in both correspondence and editorials.

Secondly, even though Lester De Koster was often accused of being “liberal” in his thinking, prior to his editorship, as well as during his term of office, he consistently maintained his position to be that of a conservative.

On a personal level, De Koster was married to his wife, Ruth, just shy of 68 years. Together they had a daughter, Leslie Dennis, and three sons, Paul, Mark, and Stephen. His family remained at his side throughout his controversies as well as his numerous accomplishments. De Koster began as a public school teacher but made his way to becoming Calvin College’s Library Director and speech professor. As the Library Director, he oversaw the conversion to the Library of Congress classification system as well as greatly expanding the library’s holdings. Another major accomplishment was assembling a comprehensive collection of John Calvin and Calvinism material for the college. For 10 years, De Koster served as the editor for The Banner. De Koster was also a prolific writer as well, best known for his book, Communism and Christian Faith.

De Koster passed away on April 19, 2009.






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