Blue Banner Faith and Life

The Magazine of J.G. Vos

A Very Vocal But Simple Publication

In 1979, Dr. J.G. Vos wrote: “When I returned from missionary service in the Far East in 1941, I found the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America at a low level of awareness of true biblical Christianity…. After conferring with a good many men and considering and praying about it a good many times, I decided there needed to be a very vocal but simple publication to set forth the true faith of the church.”

Dr. Vos decided to address the problems proactively. In 1946, he began Blue Banner Faith and Life, a magazine that provided a steady diet of biblical and theological instruction. The first issues were mimeographed on a hand-cranked machine.

Fifty people initially subscribed, but that number would increase to 1275 over the next 33 years.

The first issue stated the purpose of the magazine: “A Monthly Publication Devoted to Expounding, Defending and Applying the System of Doctrine set forth in the Standards of the Covenanter Church.” This purpose statement remained on Blue Banner Faith and Life’s cover from beginning to end.

What content was so compelling? The first issue opened with studies in the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Assembly. The studies were designed as a Sabbath school leader’s guide for adult classes. Each issue contained 13 lessons. Thus, Dr. Vos slowly but surely discipled the denomination in the Reformed and biblical theology summarized in its own confessional documents.

Within the first year and a half, the basic layout and content of the magazine was set. In addition to the doctrinal and biblical studies, the Blue Banner Question Box answered reader-submitted questions, Sketches from Our History expanded the church’s perspective on its heritage, and the Religious Terms Defined slowly built the spiritual vocabulary of the saints. Book reviews expanded richly over time, and a smattering of quotes and poetry added life to the publication.

When Dr. Vos ceased publication in old age, he wrote, “I want at this point to express my thanks to God for his faithfulness. He used me and my not-too-modern equipment and my not-too-great ability in bearing witness to the Reformed faith, and I think there has been a rebirth of the true confession in the Covenanter Church as in many others.”

—adapted from an article by James Faris, RP Witness May 2015, ‘A Very Vocal But Simple Publication.’

You can now search through every issue of the magazine online. Type in your keyword or search phrase and click the search button. The search will show the first hit in a pdf file, there may also be additional instances of your search term in the file which you can search for using your pdf reader.