An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Interview with Al Wolters

Al Wolters is interviewed after his lectures titled 'Worldviews in the Bible' at Vancouver Institute for Evangelical Worldview.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Kuyper's Common Grace Volume 1 now completed

The second and third parts of Kuyper's Common Grace have now been translated and published by Christian's Library Press:


Part 2 details here    Part 3 details here

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Alan Storkey War or Peace?: 1. The long failure of western arms

Alan Storkey has a new book he describes it thus:

War or Peace? It’s a Kindle E-book, looking at why we have generated two World Wars and become a militarised world in which 200 million people have been killed in war-related deaths. It takes the story to 1945. It contains a lot of important buried history and changes the view of how major world decisions have been made. It is 150,000 words, 24 chapters, £3.20 so most people can afford it and could help us see how a disarmed world makes sense. or depending on continent.

 See also and for other accessible stuff.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Kuyperania October 2014

Stephen N. Williams Reviews de Bruijn's Pictorial Biography of Kuyper at Reformation 21.

Andy Crouch Abraham Kuyper goes pop Christianity Today

  Reviews the DVD series Life of the World. He begins:
The statesman and theologian theologian Abraham Kuyper is all but forgotten in his native Netherlands, but his reputation continues to flourish in the United States among Christians looking for better ways to imagine their role in Western society. They often come to Kuyper for his account of the “cultural mandate”—the biblical theme of responsibility for the world so often neglected in narrower versions of conservative Christianity. But they stay for Kuyper’s most distinctive contribution, his carefully developed account of culture’s “spheres,” each with its own features, functions, and significance. The family, government, science, art, education, and more are each essential. None can be reduced to the other, and each requires particular virtues and bequeaths us particular forms of flourishing.

Vincent Bacote in an interview with Bart Noort discusses his kuyperian influences:

How has your work on Abraham Kuyper influenced your view on ethics? 
Many people are very surprised when they find out I’m studying him. I’m not from the traditional reformed background, and Kuyper was not a friendly man to non-European people like me. But my discovery of Kuyper, when I was in seminary, gave me a framework for engaging culture. His doctrine on common grace and the work of the Spirit sets a way for us to live our life inside and outside the church. The topic of my next book, eschatology and ethics, seems to be not neo-calvinistic, but in fact it is. You still have to think about God’s actions and purposes in the world from the beginning of time to the end of the age. How is God’s plan playing a role in how we see our lives? My approach is oriented towards giving people a framework for addressing important questions in areas such as business, the question of race or even our experience of public events. For example, someone can get pretty enthusiastic about a political rally, or about some entertainment event. It can give us a taste of the Kingdom, so to speak. But when we come home, it has given us no long-term vision. I want to consider how eschatology can inform these people in how to live their live in the face of God’s promises with the world. This fulfillment of God’s purposes still has a neo-calvinistic flavour to it.

What did studying Kuyper do for your own spirituality? 
I was shocked when I read racist comments by Kuyper. It didn't matter in what context he said some very racist things: he did say it. I couldn't erase it. I had to figure out what to do with this, because I was pretty excited about the rest of his work, especially regarding participating in society and culture. As a person, it raises the question of how you deal with the imperfection of people you have come to admire or you just started to admire. You can feel betrayed! Over the years I came to realize humans are very good at dissappointing each other. For me it raised the question: how do I have a proper mode where criticism needs to be, but also a merciful mode where I can still see someone as a human through the eyes of Jesus? Today, if I see something on Facebook which makes me distressed or angry, how do I keep generosity? With Kuyper I concluded that I needed a double view: I wanted to say something positive about common grace and public action, but I couldn't pretend and say those other things were not there. I have to tell the truth about both parts.

Can we say Kuyper made you a more merciful man?
(big laugh) He was the beginning of my path toward more mercy! He made me a more critical thinker. Think of it this way: Some people adore Schilder, and tell you not to read Kuyper, other people tell you to read Kuyper and certainly not Schilder. But a critical thinker wants to learn from everyone. One should admit for example that someone like Bultmann had excellent exegetical skills but that his interpretations are most of the time not helpful or orthodox. Let me tell you an example from a book that I am reading: the author is stating that euro-centric ethics is not good for latinos. In my opinion, he's indirectly saying we should take attention to African people as well. While I'm not following his methodology, I'm inspired by his attempt to give attention to the ethical questions of minority groups. Part of the critical thinking is also learning to deal with the downsides of someone; critical thinking is about telling the truth about someone. It is not helpful to hide the truth about the positives and negatives of someone, whether we like them or not. I think you can say a critical thinker is generous and merciful to others as a way of obeying the second one of the two Big Commandments. Obviously, mercy will not always look the same way, there's also the need for a prophetic voice. This voice is identifying things which need to be corrected in a merciful way. Don't lie about people. Don't disrespect people. They may even hate or disrespect you or your views, but loving them instead of hating them is part of the calling of a christian.

Imagine you were a critical thinker on your work on Abraham Kuyper.
What would your comments be? Maybe I should elaborated more the Spirit's work on re-creation and not just creation. Also, I would have had more explicitly original Dutch sources in there, as critics were rightly saying. Those are things that would made my work better, though there were no negative reviews of my book, which amazed me. I might have written more about the specific possibilities for people to participate in the public, a broader range of examples of how that may look like. It wouldn't hurt to have done more of that. That will be more in my book on eschatology though, so I learned from that. But I think I made a positive contribution by the notion on the Spirit's presence and ongoing work in creation, something people don't really often think about from what I have seen. A focus on the Spirit helps us to have a more truly trinitarian theology, not just a trinitarian confession. In my current project, something that's positive is the question of how to expand the topics in ethics, not by replacing things but by adding things to whats already there. I think thats a more generous way of dealing with ethics. I am not writing to fight others but to make a contribution to our life together.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Evangelicalism & Fundamentalism by Bebbington and Jones

Evangelicalism & Fundamentalism
in the United Kingdom during the Twentieth Century
Edited by David Bebbington and David Ceri Jones
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013
ISBN 979-0-19-966483-2
Hbk, xiii+409pp, £72.01

It has been the received wisdom that fundamentalism is largely an American phenomenon that has had little impact on British evangelicalism. Here David Bebbington and David Ceri Jones have complied a volume looking at the relationship of evangelicalism and fundamentalism in Britain.

Bebbington is well know for his seminal Evangelicalism in Modern Britain and Jones is co-author of The Elect Methodists and is working on a history of evangelicalism in Wales, so both are well equipped to edit this volume.

Fundamentalism has been described as ‘the crypto-zooology of the theological world. It need not be argued against. It can be dismissed.’[1] Fortunately, in this volume it is not dismissed but examined in the light of the evangelical movement in Britain. Both fundamentalism and evangelicalism are notoriously difficult to define. The most oft-quoted definition in this book is Marsden’s tongue in cheek definition of fundamentalists as ‘evangelicals who are angry about something’ (cited in, for example, pages 116, 148, 231, 255, 339, 351, 363). Perhaps evangelicalism is then fundamentalism made more socially acceptable. Or as John Mark Reynolds, cited by Holmes, puts it an evangelical is ‘a fundamentalist who watches The Office.’ Or Marsden's (1980) ‘a mosaic of divergent and sometimes contradictory traditions and tendencies that could never be totally integrated’. Like the soap in a bath it is difficult to get a hold of - and very slippery.

Nevertheless, these authors all make an excellent attempt to examine British evangelicalism to see if there are any fundamentalist tendencies in it. Most think not. Though, of course it depends how each is defined. Some see the relationship as intersecting sets (e.g. Holmes), for some the intersection is an empty set, others as a spectrum of views (eg Warner).

The majority of the book is devoted to historical case studies. Warner and Holmes take a broader look and examine statements of faith and theological perspectives.

The Fundamentals the 12 volumes that were largely responsible for the fundamentalist movement so it is fitting that the first chapter takes a look at the British contributions to it. Treloar notes that there were 17 British contributors (out of the 90)who contributed about 400 of the 1400 pages. This alone shows that fundamentalism isn’t just an American phenomenon. He proceeds to provide brief biographies of the contributors.

One of the contributors was Thomas Whitelaw of Kilmarnock and he is the subject of the next chapter. One interesting chapter is that on Methodism. Its inclusion is intriguing as the Methodists are hardly renowned for their evangelicalism let alone fundamentalism, but Wellings identifies one small group that did have fundamentalist tendencies. One of the editors of the Fundamentals was A.C. Dixon - at one point he moved to England to Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle. It is surprising then that he didn’t play a greater role among the British Baptists. Bebbington provides a helpful look at the Baptists and Andrew Atherstone at the Anglicans - both of them deal with the inter-war years.

One key characteristic of the fundamentalists is their anti-Catholicism stance this is taken up by John Maiden. Surprisingly is the inclusion of a chapter on women. Surprising as women were often overlooked by the predominantly male leadership. Wilson provides an excellent analysis of female involvement in fundamentalism, in particular Mrs Horrocks and Elizabeth Morton.

The section on the later twentieth century includes chapters on John Stott and Billy Graham. A sociological exploration of new churches in York brings the narrative up to date. A surprising omission is a chapter on D.M. Lloyd Jones, particularly as Jones is the editor of a volume on him. But then the omission may be overlooked in that there is book on him! The National variations section deals with the Ulsterman W.P. Nicholson, Scotland and post-War Wales. The final section on theological reflection looks at Pentecostalism, evangelical bases of faith, and theology.

For those with an interest in twentieth-century evangelicalism this book is a treasure trove. The book is replete with sources and avenues for further research. The book deserves a wider reading than the price tag would permit.

The majority of the chapters appear in this volume for the first time, those by Bebbington, Randall and Tidball are reprints of articles published first elsewhere. Each chapter has its own footnotes and there is a useful 17-page bibliography and an even more helpful 15-page index.

[1] Bauder, K.T. 2011. In Four Views of the Spectrum of Evangelicalism ed. A. D. Naselli and C. Hansen. Zondervan.

The Drama of Scripture by Bartholomew and Goheen (2nd edn)

The Drama of Scripture
Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story
Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen
Grand Rapids: Baker Academic
ISBN 978-0-8010-4956-9
Pbk, 272 pp, £11.05.

The Drama of Scripture is the first book in the trilogy that also includes Living at the Crossroads and Christian Philosophy. First published in 2004, now a decade later we have the updated second edition.

The success of the first edition has been justly deserved. It has been translated into Russian, Korean, Chinese, Czech and Spanish. There were UK and US version and an abridged version with a study guide published as The True Story of the Whole World and now this second edition.

The second edition hasn’t changed the narrative structure; the biblical story of creation, fall and redemption still remains, as do the chapter titles. The main additions are not major but include mainly updated references and a few literary tweaks, its length has been increased by almost ten per cent.

The book was written for first-year undergraduates but the appeal will be wider. In an age when biblical literacy is waning, even in the church, this book will provide a welcome tool in the pastor’s, and was as educator’s, arsenal. Few books do a similar job of retelling the biblical narrative as a coherent, unified, integrated story of redemption. Even fewer do it with the grace, humour and accessibility of Bartholomew and Goheen. The book will help makes sense of the storied scriptures and of our storied world. Finding our place in the scriptures will help us to find our place and role in the world. This second edition is to be warmly welcomed.

Roy Clouser video recordings

Here are more recordings of Roy Clouser's presentation to the Wrestlers class:

Presenter Name(s)TitleCourse DateClick for recordings
Roy ClouserReformed Theology and the Myth of Religious Neutrality (2 of 2) 4/25/2010 Link
Roy ClouserCan we Know that God is True? 5/15/2011 Link
Roy ClouserThe Idea of a Christian Philosophy 3/11/2012 Link
Roy ClouserThe Dutch Philosopher Dooyeweerd's Theory of Reality 3/18/2012 Link
Roy ClouserUnderstanding Early Genesis 12/8/2013 Link
Roy ClouserWhat is Faith? 9/28/2014 Link

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tom Wright on Dooyeweerd and Kuyper

In a recent piece in Dutch Tom Wright spoke about his regard for Herman Dooyeweerd and Abraham Kuyper (translation based on google translate):

Tom Wright 2

Wright emphasizes often that his theological insights are innovative, or at least surprising. Still, he has his sources such great thinkers to whom he is indebted. In an interview with the Dutch magazine Wapenveld Wright  named  the Calvinist philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977), who conceived a comprehensive philosophical worldview  - the Philosophy of the Law Idea - in which he took the whole of reality into consideration, from school and hospital to economy and sacrament. Wright is impressed by that great Dooyeweerdian grip. "Herman Dooyweerd was important for me," he says, "although I haven't made a careful study of his work ​​myself. His ideas reached me through a good friend, Brian Walsh, who was very influenced by Dooyeweerd. In the early nineties we taught together in Oxford a series of lectures in which the different elements of the theology of the New Testament ethics, had to come together. I was then very much in the preparatory phase of the thick academic books on the New Testament, The New Testament and the People of God (1992). First It is without doubt the result that I then realized that the sense of God's comprehensive Kingdom is associated with the Messiah expectation in the Old Testament, and of course with the way this all came to light in Jesus through my conversations with Brian Walsh."

Brian Walsh challenged Wright to learn to think differently from what he was used to. "Not in the spirit of 'give to God what is God's and to Caesar what is Caesar's' - that would be tantamount to separate compartments - but deliberately going for a deep connection between church and world. Dooyeweerd wanted to integrate all aspects of life from the point of Christ's victory. He was convinced, like C.S. Lewis way that every square inch and every second is claimed by God - and return claimed by Satan. This insight was also not completely foreign to me, it was latent, I had never thought to the bottom . Now I just had to do, thanks to the critical questions of my friend who was so fascinated by Dooyeweerd. And I must say that I am the intellectual rigour of the Dutch Christian thinkers - Kuyper should also mention here of course! - I admire. It made a real difference to what I was used to finicky and sometimes sweet-voiced English way of thinking. Not that I did not know any serious and profound thinkers in England, but the perseverance of the Dutch thinkers have converted a change in me."

Wright is speaking at a conference in Theological University Kampen on 31 October - details here.

Sustainable Development, Architecture and Modernism: Aspects of an Ongoing Controversy

In their paper 'Sustainable Development, Architecture and Modernism: Aspects of an Ongoing Controversy' Arts 2014, 3, 350-366; doi:10.3390/arts3040350 Han Vandevyvere and Hilde Heynen use Dooyeweerd's ideas to critique sustainable development.

Here's the abstract:

Abstract: In some discourses on sustainability, modernism in architecture is blamed for its technocratic beliefs that supposedly generated a lot of the social and environmental problems the world is facing today. At the same time, many architectural critics seem to be convinced that the present call for sustainability with its “green buildings”, is but another screen behind which well-known old power structures hide. In this paper, we react to these viewpoints in different ways. First we clarify the issues that are haunting current architectural discourses by unraveling the logics behind the viewpoints of the critics of the “environmental doctrine” on the one hand and the technical environmentalists on the other hand. We will offer, secondly, a new framing to these debates by relying upon the modal sphere theory of the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd. This new framing will allow us to reconnect, thirdly, with the discourse of modernism, which, we will argue, is all too often conflated with a technocratic paradigm—a partial, incomplete and even misleading representation. In conclusion, we present a different framing of modernism, which allows understanding of it as a multilayered and multifaceted response to the challenges of modernity, a response that formulated a series of ideals that are not so far removed from the ideals formulated today by many advocates of sustainability. We are, thus, suggesting that the sustainability discourse should be conceived as a more mature and revised version of the paradigm of modernism, rather than its absolute counterpoint.