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.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Galatians by Peter Oakes

Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament 
Peter Oakes
Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015
ISBN 978-1-4412-4651-6

There are three important things that one needs to keep in mind when interpreting scripture: context, context and context. That of the writer’s, the audience and the present reader's as well as the social, political and cultural milieu. The Paideia series of commentaries focus on context: 
Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament is a series set out to comment on the final form of the New testament Text in a way that pays due attention both to the cultural, literary, and theological settings in which the text took form and to the interests of the contemporary readers to whom the commentary is addressed.  
Peter Oakes, the author, is New Testament lecturer at Manchester University, he begins by ‘taking an initial look at Galatians, together with relevant external evidence such as the use of Galatians, to gather with relevant external evidence such as the early use of Galatians, to give us a provisional idea of the nature of the text.’  He arrives at fairly conservative and largely uncontroversial positions: Paul is the author writing between AD 46-61 - up to his imprisonment in Rome. He divides the main structure of Galatians into three parts: the narrative (1:11-2:21), argument (3:1-4:11) and instruction with argument (4:12-6:10). 

After each section of the commentary is a ‘Theological issues’. However, these read more like a devotional section for daily reading notes particularly when questions such as ‘What would it mean for present day Christians..?’

The strength of this commentary is its use of external evidence and the stress on the context. The text is helpfully supplemented by ‘side bars’, photographs and maps. He interacts well with more recent work on Galatians in an easy accessible style. The book will be particularly useful for undergraduates.

The most quoted authors are in order: Martinus Boer, Hans Dieter Betz, Richard Longnecker, Louis Martyn, James Dunn, Richard Hays, F.F. Bruce and Tom Wright.

We are well served with excellent commentaries on Galatians, not least Dunn, Bruce, Longnecker, Schreiner and Moo - and now to that list we could add Oakes. 

Friday, 15 May 2015

WYSOCS: Faith & Wisdom in Science with Tom McLeish 5-6 June 2015

Full details and an online booking form here.

In these three talks Tom will:

  • Ÿ outline the current ‘science and religion’ debate and its false assumptions
  • Ÿ present the Hebrew tradition of Wisdom as a resource for insights about the sciences
  • Ÿoffer a biblically-inspired framework for fruitful living, thinking and communicating in our changing world

The talks will prove invaluable for those interested in approaching the sciences from new, fresh and Christian perspectives.

Faith and Wisdom in Science, Professor Tom McLeish
Leeds City Academy, Woodhouse Cliff, Leeds. LS6 2LG

Doug Blomberg's Inaugural Presidential Address at ICS, Toronto

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Renato Coletto: Kuyper’s razor?

Kuyper’s razor? Rethinking science and religion, trinitarian scholarship and God’s eternity
Renato Coletto
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi 49(1) (2015).
doi: 10.4102/ids.v49i1.1891

"This article explores three research fields in contemporary Christian scholarship and argues that the way they are approached is often questionable due to the basic assumptions, the methods or the implications. The following allegations are proposed. Research on the relationship between religion and science is based on a framework of assumptions which does not reflect the biblical standpoint properly. Trinitarian scholarship expects too much from the presumed correspondence between Trinity and created reality, whilst it tends to neglect other resources available to Christian scholarship. Scientific reflection on God’s eternity is speculative in as much as it tries to transcend the modal horizon of knowledge. In these three cases (other cases are also briefly mentioned) it is argued that ‘Kuyper’s razor’ (an approach promoted in the Kuyperian reformational tradition) would help rethinking research in these areas."

Kuyper's Om de Oude Wereldzee on Dutch TV

(Re)Discovering an Evangelical Heritage

Rediscovering an Evangelical Heritage
A Tradition and Trajectory of Integrating Piety and Justice
Donald W. Payton with Douglas M. Strong
Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014 
ISBN: 978-1-4412-4643-1

The original book, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage, of which this is a revised and updated diversion had its origins in a series of articles in Post American, now Sojourners (June-July 1974 to may 1975). This version adds 'Re' to the title as well as five chapter postscripts and a new introduction and conclusion. The heritage discovered was that evangelicalism had a strong commitment to social justice; personal piety didn't mean a neglect social reform and justice. He discovered a tradition of evangelical social activism that had been 'buried and largely forgotten'. Contemporary American evangelicalism is often portrayed as right wing and socially conservative, Payton through a series of case studies shows that this was not always the case. As Strong notes in his helpful and insightful introduction:
'Dayton's narrative of socially active Christians contradicted the negative reputation of revivalism as an other worldly enterprise concerned only with saving souls.' 
What is surprising in this book is the evangelicals Dayton examines. They include: Jonathan Blanchard, Charles Finney, Theodore Weld, Arthur and Lewis Taipan, Orange Scott and Luther Lee. They are all from the Arminian end of the evangelical spectrum. If Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney can both be regarded as evangelicals - it raise the question as to how effective and/ or appropriate is the evangelical label? Is it too elastic a term to be useful? 

In his final chapter Dayton examine some of the reasons why this social active heritage has been lost among North American evangelicals. He identifies a number of issues that prompted what elsewhere Moberg terms the 'great reversal’; including: 
an institutionalisation of the movements diluted the reform impulse
complex social realities posed too much of a problem
a fatalistic, and often pessimistic, pre-millennialism replaced the optimistic post-millennialism
the growth in impact among evangelicals of the "Old School" of Presbyterianism, especially as it found expression in the "Princeton Theology" with its incarnation of conservative views. 

Not all evangelicals accept Dayton's thesis - and not just those of a right wing fundamentalist persuasion, e.g. George Marsden. Nevertheless it provides a useful insight into American evangelicalism.  Particularly helpful is the commentary by Strong - this helps place the book within its original context as well as updating the discussion.  

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Glenn Friesen's Neo-Calvinism and Christian Theosophy: Franz von Baader, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd

Glenn Friesen has a new book published:

Neo-Calvinism and Christian Theosophy: Franz von Baader, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd
Aevum Books, 2015.
ISBN 978-0994775108

The blurb for the book states:

The key ideas of Abraham Kuyper’s Neo-Calvinism do not come from Calvin or from Reformed sources. Their source is the Christian theosophy of Franz von Baader (1765-1841). Among the many ideas derived from Baader are the ideas of a Christian worldview, a Christian philosophy, the idea of sphere sovereignty, opposition to the autonomy of thought, a Free University, the importance of an embodied spirituality, and the idea of our supratemporal heart, the center of our existence. Seeing these ideas in their historical context of Christian theosophy will challenge many of the current assumptions of evangelicals and reformational philosophers who claim to base their worldview and philosophy on Kuyper’s ideas or on the development of these ideas in the Christian philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977).

Part 1 of this book traces the reception of Baader's ideas by Daniël Chantepie de la Saussaye and J.H. Gunning Jr., who then introduced Baader’s Christian theosophy ideas to Dutch Reformed theology. Chantepie de la Saussaye and Gunning transmitted these ideas to Kuyper, who acknowledges their influence. Kuyper refers to Baader’s writings with approval, and incorporates many of his ideas.
Part 2 is a history of the development of Dooyeweerd’s Christian philosophy, and of the very different philosophy of his brother-in-law Dirk Vollenhoven. Whereas Dooyeweerd chose to incorporate the ideas of Christian theosophy, Vollenhoven did not. They disagreed with respect to almost every idea in their philosophies.
Part 3 is a detailed examination of Dooyeweerd’s Christian philosophy. Although Dooyeweerd was not at all forthcoming about his sources, it is clear that there is a deep historical connection of his philosophy to Baader’s Christian theosophy, as well as to other mystical and non-Reformed sources. This insight allows us to understand many previously obscure parts of his philosophy and to correct previous misinterpretations of his work. It also opens the way for ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Kuyperania April 2015

Cory Brock has reviewed Bratt's Abraham Kuyper in Journal of Theological Studies April 2015.  66 (1): 496-499.
doi: 10.1093/jts/flu202

He begins:

James Bratt's Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat offers to the Anglophone world an outstanding and long-desired portrait of the nineteenth-century founder of neo-Calvinism. Bratt is a fair, balanced, and careful historian who makes much of Kuyper’s profound contextual insight, unique application of Calvinist theology, and lasting theological and political legacy without hiding Kuyper’s tendency towards sweeping generalization, blind hubris, and glaring defects. Bratt narrates the central tension in Kuyper between ‘the lust for labor and influence, the regimented discipline that made it good, the passion to make his voice heard [and] the insistence on doing things his way and on his schedule’. Kuyper was, perhaps, the most accomplished man in the modern era, who lived a life of endeavours equalling or exceeding those of the most ambitious.

John Halsey Wood Jr, also has a review of Bratt's Abraham Kuyper  in Journal of Ecclesiatical History 66(02) (April 2015): 454.

The April 2015 issue of Themelios 40(1) has two relevant reviews:

Christopher G. Woznicki on Kuyper Center Review 4.
Robert Covolo on Kuyper's Scholarship

Saturday, 18 April 2015

An interview with Willem J. Ouweneel.

The latest addition to the All of life redeemed pages is Willem Ouweneel. The author of several books recently published by Paideia Press.

He kindly agreed to be interviewed.

Could you please tell us something about yourself?

Apart from my biography on AoLR: I am married to Gerdien. We have four children and eleven grandchildren. My great passions are preaching, teaching and writing (and music - see below). My religious background is Plymouth Brethren. Officially I still belong to them, although I preach most of the time in a great variety of denominations.

You work have recently had four books and two more on the way published by Paidiea Press. Could you tell us something about the background to the books - how did they come about? And when are the rest of the series to be published?

My Canadian publisher, John Hultink of Paideia Press, invited me to write several books on several subjects, and then soon one book followed the other... Ten manuscripts are almost finished by now.

You are obviously very prolific in your writings over 160 books published. How do you manage dot produce so much - what's the secret?

(a) I started early, (b) I write fast, and (c) I spend most of my time writing.

You books are written from a dooyeweerdian perspective - where did you first come across this philosophy and why do you find it so helpful?

In many theological books, such as Bible commentaries, there is no "Dooyeweerdian perspective" at all. - In the seventies, I began studying philosophy, and through friends came across writings by Dooyeweerd and his associates, and was fascinated by them.

You differ from Dooyeweerd in that you split his psychic mode into the sensitive and the perceptive - why do feel this is necessary? How have other other dooyeweerdians reacted to this?

I believe the perceptive and the sensitive cannot be reduced to each other, or to a common denominator. Moreover, the sensitive seems to presuppose the perceptive, not the other way round. - I have to admit that I know of no philosophers or psychologists who have adopted my point of view.

You have three earned degrees - why did you choose to do that? Most people find that one is onerous enough, let alone three in three different countries! 

I began with biology, but discovered that I became more and more interested in the great philosophical questions preceding it. So I studied philosophy too. In theology I had been interested all my life. I am the opposite of a specialist (someone who knows virtually everything of virtually nothing): as a generalist, I strive to know virtually nothing about virtually everything. I would have loved to study psychology, musicology and linguistics as well... Please notice that in all three fields in which I obtained degrees, I have done academic work.

Who are the people that have most influenced you and in what ways?

To begin with, the great writers among the Plymouth Brethren (Darby, Kelly, Mackintosh, Grant, etc.). Later also theologians from all the great denominational strands, mostly Evangelical (such as C.S. Lewis) and Reformed (Bavinck, Berkouwer etc.). In philosophy, Dooyeweerd and the great dooyeweerdians.

I notice in the Dutch wikipedia entry on you it notes that you have moved from a creationist to a more guided/ theistic evolution position. Is that right? If so what prompted the shift?

That is not entirely correct. I got disappointed in many "results" of creationist research, but keep an open mind when it comes to the exegesis of Genesis 1-3.

What do you do for fun?

Genealogy (I know about 5000 ancestors of my children) and classical music (I love listening to it, but also singing in all the great classical religious choral works, from Bach to Jenkins; I take part in about ten concerts a year).

What music do you enjoy listening to?

All classical music (from, say, Monteverdi to present), with a preference for late Romanticism and impressionism (Bruckner, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Janacek etc.).

What books are you reading at the moment?

I have to admit that I like writers such as John Grisham to 'distract' myself.

If you were on a desert island what two luxuries would you take with you?

A computer with internet (so that, e.g., I could listen to music via, e.g., YouTube, and could keep writing books).

Many thanks. 

Willem has a Dutch website here and tweets at @wjouweneel.