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The Peniel Bible Conference and the OPC

Caroline Weerstra speaks with Christ the Center about the Peniel Bible Conference, based on her article “The Early History of Peniel Bible Conference, Part 1: Zeal Without Knowledge (1933–1938).” The camp was associated with Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Schenectady, New York, Mrs. Weerstra’s home church. Though associated with a reformed church, the camp was very similar to the Wesleyan and holiness movements in theology and practice. Listen to understand how this camp became associated with the OPC and how Calvary Church finally remained in the OPC.

Mrs. Weerstra is a mother of three, a blogger, and the author of several catechism workbooks for children. Her article “The Early History of Peniel Bible Conference, Part 1: Zeal Without Knowledge (1933–1938)” appeared in Vol. 75 No. 2 of the Westminster Theological Journal.

Participants: , , ,


Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Mark G

6 years ago

I really enjoyed this program. I grew up in the holiness movement and didn’t become familiar with reformed churches (mostly PCA and OPC) and theology until I was about age 30. Much of what was described is very similar to my personal experience, subjective approach to finding the will of God, bible camps and conferences, etc. etc. The first number of years I was in reformed churches I read popular histories concerning the holiness movement & evangelicalism in America (Wells, Knoll, Marsden, etc.). I also became very interested in the Princeton Theology, Machen, etc. Thus, I found this discussion especially fascinating.

Heidi Z

6 years ago

It’s more than fascinating — very edifying — to think of Caroline’s statement that Calvary OPC exists because the building they so extravagantly purchased in a fit of misdirection burned down. It’s a little funny that Mr. Muether would mention that ‘henceforth in fields of conquest’ seems to him like the anthem of the OPC — when that song (if I’m remembering the article correctly) became so important to them at that point. They were looking for physical tents; but God really did join them to His pilgrim people. You might almost imagine heavenly laughter as He draws them along by their superstitions to a better place. It’s reassuring considering all the mistakes in my own life.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

6 years ago

This is one of the weirdest and yet fascinating stories I’ve ever heard.

This lady is very capable and engaging btw. Good episode.

Ben Palmer, Melbounre, Australia

6 years ago

Fascinating episode – thank you!

Greg - AKA Tiribulus

5 years ago

Where’s part 2 guys? 🙂 Seriously.

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4 years ago

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Babs Quincy

12 months ago

I survived Peniel

Babs Quincy

12 months ago

It was a cult

Ginny Quincy

12 months ago

Omg omg that was my church growing up. I spent so many summers there growing up. I still l have ptsd.

Joanna quincy duda

12 months ago

I was fascinated, and thanks to Caroline! Wonderful synopsis and validation for some significant PTSD I have suffered at the hands of these self righteous, cultish, devaluing, punishing, and punitive human beings. They were not followers of Jesus in any manner of what Jesus teaches. Christians are so off the mark.

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