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.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Recent Kuyperania (Summer 2013)

Trott Garrett 2013. A Review of “Abraham Kuyper: An Annotated Bibliography, 1857–2010” Journal of Religious & Theological Information 12(1-2):57-60.

Himes, Brant 2013. “The common good and just peacemaking: Abraham Kuyper’s and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s discipleship for a better worldliness.” Paper presented to the Twelfth Annual Conversation on the Liberal Arts: “War and Peace as Liberal Arts,” Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California, February 21-23, 2013.

Davey Henreckson 2013 “Can These Bones Live? Unexpected Lessons From the Life of Kuyper” Comment (July)

Simon P. Kennedy 2013. "Abraham Kuyper and his Political Thought: Calvinist and Pluralist." Reformed Theological Review 72 (2): 3-85.

Eric Miller 2013. “Father Abraham: Meet the Dutch neo-Calvinist who helped birth an enduring intellectual movement.” (Review of Bratt 2013) Christianity Today (April 2013).

Ronald A. Wells 2013 “Until the trumpet blows: getting personal with Kuyper under the cross.” (Review of Mouw) Books & Culture (March/April)

John Halsey Wood Jr 2013. “Going Dutch in the modern age: Abraham Kuyper's struggle for a free church in the nineteenth-century Netherlands.” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 64(3): 513-532.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Friday, 23 August 2013

Calvin's Preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan's French translation of the New Testament

Calvin's Preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan's French translation of the New Testament.
In prose here. Adapted by Justin Taylor here.

Without the gospel
everything is useless and vain;
without the gospel
we are not Christians;
without the gospel
 all riches is poverty,
 all wisdom folly before God;
 strength is weakness,
 and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.
But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made
children of God,
brothers of Jesus Christ,
fellow townsmen with the saints,
citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,
heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom
        the poor are made rich,
        the weak strong,
        the fools wise,
        the sinner justified,
        the desolate comforted,
        the doubting sure,
        and slaves free.
It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone.

For, he was
 sold, to buy us back;
 captive, to deliver us;
 condemned, to absolve us;
he was
made a curse for our blessing,
[a] sin offering for our righteousness;
marred that we may be made fair;
he died for our life; so that by him

fury is made gentle,
wrath appeased,
darkness turned into light,
fear reassured,
despisal despised,
debt canceled,
labor lightened,
sadness made merry,
misfortune made fortunate,
difficulty easy,
disorder ordered,
division united,
ignominy ennobled,
rebellion subjected,
intimidation intimidated,
ambush uncovered,
assaults assailed,
force forced back,
combat combated,
war warred against,
vengeance avenged,
torment tormented,
damnation damned,
the abyss sunk into the abyss,
hell transfixed,
death dead,
mortality made immortal.

In short,
mercy has swallowed up all misery,
and goodness all misfortune.
For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.

If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.

And we are
comforted in tribulation,
joyful in sorrow,
glorying under vituperation,
abounding in poverty,
warmed in our nakedness,
patient amongst evils,
living in death.
This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

Esther and Daniel by Wells and Sumner

Esther & Daniel
Brazos Theological Commentary on the BIble
Samuel Wells & George Sumner
Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2013.
ISBN 9781587433313
Hbk, £19.99/ $32.99, 256pp.

This volume is a welcome addition to the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series. This series lies somewhere between exegesis and exposition. As the title suggests the theological issues are to the fore and this provides a fresh approach.

Samuel Wells, rector of St Martins-in-the-Field, London, takes a narrative view of Esther. Some commentaries concentrate on the leaves of a tree, Wells focuses on the forest. This is no atomistic approach. In his opening chapter he uses the terms farce, burlesques-style, a study in improvisation to describe it. This is no dry and dusty tome. He brilliantly opens up Esther and shows the book to be both far fetched and existentially urgent.

Wells is author of Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics and he also sees elements of improvisation within Esther. Intriguingly, he sees the key question of Esther as "How to navigate the dangerous waters of exile, between the two extremes of spineless assimilation and fruitless resistance?"

George Sumner is professor of World Mission at Wycliffe College, Toronto, and so inevitably and intriguingly the missional elements of Daniel are highlighted. As he writes in the introduction: "There is no missiology without Christology (and vice versa), even as there is no Christology without staurology." He, as does Wells, provides a Christological perspective on the text. He sees Daniel as a single coherent work - despite its redactional history. He takes a "circulatory system" approach, where a major artery runs directly from Daniel to Revelation and he rightly interprets the two books in relation.

Sumner does not suffer from chronological snobbery and he freely uses Calvin, Jerome, Melanchthon and others to help make sense of the text.

There is a subject index and a useful scripture index.

Of the making of commentaries there seems so end. So what fresh insights does this volume offer? The strength is that Wells provides a drama-tic setting to Esther and Sumner brings missional insights to the understanding of dabble. Both authors take seriously the Christological and canonical settings of the books. The weakness is that there is no common format. But then, perhaps that is a strength - each author is free to do what they would like and thus play to their strengths.

This series is certainly one worth considering when buying a new commentary.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Going Dutch in the Modern Age by John Halsey Wood Jr - Ch 7 a scapple

Click on the image for a large version

Christian Philosophy by Bartholomew and Goheen

Craig Bartholomew and Mike Goheen's new book has been announced. Full details are here.

After exploring the interaction among Scripture, worldview, theology, and philosophy, the authors tell the story of philosophy from ancient Greece through postmodern times, positioning the philosophers in their historical contexts and providing Christian critique along the way. The authors emphasize the Reformed philosophical tradition without neglecting other historical trajectories and show how philosophical thought relates to contemporary life.

Table of Contents


Part 1: Approaching Christian Philosophy

1. Why Philosophy?
2. Faith and Philosophy

Part 2: The Story of Western Philosophy

3. Ancient Pagan Philosophy: The Pre-Socratics to Socrates
4. The High Point of Greek Philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, and Their Legacy
5. Medieval Synthesis Philosophy: Augustine to Abelard
6. The Middle Ages: Aristotle Rediscovered
7. The Renaissance and Reformation
8. Early Modern Philosophy: Bacon to Leibniz
9. Modern Philosophy: Hume to Schleiermacher
10. Modern Philosophy: Romanticism to Gadamer
11. Postmodernism and Philosophy Today

Part 3: Christian Philosophy Today

12. Christian Philosophy Today
13. Reformed Epistemology
14. Reformed Epistemology Applied
15. Reformational Philosophy


Annotated Further Reading List


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Good News to the Poor by Tim Chester

Good News to the Poor
Social Involvement and the Gospel

Wheaton: Crossway books, 2013
ISBN 978-1-4335-3703-5
Pbk, 244pp.

Publishers website here.

To rephrase Bishop Tutu "When people say that the Bible and social action don't mix, I ask them which Bible they are reading." Yet it seems that many evangelicals are reading different Bibles. Evangelical attitudes to social action have always been mixed. Some see it as a capitulation to the social gospel others as an integral part of the gospel. Chester in this introductory book helpfully examines this relationship.

The book begins by outlining four ways in which evangelicals in general have responded to the relationship and poses a number of key questions:
Is social involvement something we do as well as evangelism? Is there another way of doing evangelism? Is it a distraction or the real job of proclaiming the gospel?
Is social involvement a legitimate activity of Christians? Does it have biblical support?
The book attempts to explore these important issues. He provides a good case for evangelical social action but has some pertinent criticism too and he wants to see social action that is truly evangelical. He sees proclamation of the gospel message as being central to Christian social action and the need for social action to be shaped by the gospel. He argues that evangelism and social action are distinct but inseparable activities.

In the first chapter he looks at three biblical reasons for involvement: the character of God, the reign of God and the grace of God. He maintains that social involvement is rooted in the character of God and that "Our understanding of poverty is fundamentally related to our understanding of God". This focus on the centrality of God is to be welcomed.

One of the reasons for the lack of involvement is that Christianity is too often considered to be a private with no public ramifications. This misconception is investigated in Chapter 2. Calvin, Kuyper, Elizabeth Fry, Wilberforce, William Booth are all cited of examples of Christians whose faith has made a public difference. The privatising effect of human reason on through the Enlightenment and human experience on faith through Romanticism are briefly - albeit oversimplified - examined.

Chester focuses on poverty as a key social issue, but he sees it including social marginalization and powerlessness. He advocates a relational approach to poverty. Tackling poverty is much more than feeding the hungry, poverty is more than a lack of income. The root of poverty is alienation from God, poverty is economic and social: it is "about marginalization, vulnerability, isolation and exclusion." This is obviously an area in which Christianity can help.

Chester makes a good case for social action that precedes, accompanies and follows evangelism. What he doesn't do is to show how social action and social reform relate. Does social reform need to follow social action?

Chester provides good reasons for the need for evangelicals to be involved in social action. He also provides some useful suggestions and ideas for involvement and includes some pertinent warnings: social action doesn't mean doing something for the poor, it is more than providing solutions. More effective ways include helping people to help themselves: "Good social involvement is helping people o find their own solutions." Participation is key.

The book includes some thought provoking poems by Stuart Henderson, a number of vignettes that help focus the issues on real situations, a useful list of further reading and a bibliography.


1. The Case for Social Involvement
2. More Than a Private Faith
3. The Case for Evangelizing the Poor
4. Social Involvement and Proclamation
5. Social Involvement and the Kingdom of God
6. Good News to the Poor
"Land of Milk and Honey" Stewart Henderson
7. Good News to the Rich
8. Welcoming the Excluded
9. Strengthening the Powerless
10. Following the Crucified Lord
11. Can We Make a Difference?
"Jesus, Jewel of the Poor" Stewart Henderson

Going Dutch by John Halsey Wood Jr - Chapter 6 a scapple

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Comparison of Philosophical Theories in the Late 20th Century

Capitalism - He who dies with the most toys, wins
Hare Krishna - He who plays with the most toys, wins
Catholicism - He who denies himself the most toys, wins
Anglican - They were our toys first
Greek Orthodox - No, they were OURS first
Atheism - There is no toy maker
Polytheism - There are many toy makers
Evolutionism - The toys made themselves
Church of Christ Science - We are the toys
Communism - Everyone gets the same number of toys, and you are in big trouble if we catch you selling toys
Ba'Hai - All toys are just fine with us
Amish - Toys with batteries are surely a sin
Taoism - The doll is as important as the dumptruck
Mormonism - Every boy can have as many toys as he wants
Voodoo - Let me borrow that doll for a second
Hinduism - He who plays with bags of plastic farm animals, loses
7th Day Adventist - He who plays with his toys on Saturday, loses
Jehovah's Witness - He who sells the most toys door-to-door, wins
Pentecostalism - He whose toys can talk, wins
Existentialism - Toys are a figment of your imagination
Confucianism - Once a toy is dipped in water, it is no longer dry
Non-denominationalism - We don't care where the toys came from, let's just play with them
Agnosticism - It is not possible to know whether the toys make a bit of difference
Unitarian Universalism - We still haven't decided if the toys exist

From Kerux

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Whole Earth shall cry “Glory!”

The Whole Earth shall cry “Glory!”
Almighty God, Creator:
The morning is Yours, rising into fullness.
The summer is Yours, dipping into autumn.
Eternity is Yours, dipping into time.
The vibrant grasses, the scent of flowers,
the lichen on the rocks, the tang of seaweed,
All are yours.
Gladly we live in this garden of Your creating.

But creation is not enough.
Always in the beauty, the foreshadowing of decay.
The lambs frolicking careless:
so soon to be led off to slaughter.
Nature red and scarred as well as lush and green.
In the garden also: Always the thorn.
Creation is not enough.

Almighty God, Redeemer:
The sap of life in our bones and being is Yours, lifting us to ecstasy.
But always in the beauty:
the tang of sin, in our consciences.
The dry lichen of sins long dead,
but seared upon our minds.
In the garden that is each of us, always the thorn.

Yet all are Yours as we yield them again to You.
Not only our lives that You have given are Yours:
but also our sins that You have taken.
Even our livid rebellions and putrid sins:
You have taken them all away
and nailed them to the Cross!
Our redemption is enough: and we are free.

Holy Spirit, Enlivener:
Breathe on us, fill us with life anew.
In Your new creation, already upon us,
breaking through, groaning and travailing,
but already breaking through, breathe on us.

Till that day when night and autumn vanish:
and lambs grown sheep are no more slaughtered: and even the
thorn shall fade
and the whole earth shall cry “Glory!” at the marriage feast of the

In this new creation, already upon us,
fill us with life anew.
You are admitting us now
into a wonderful communion,
The foretaste of that final feast.
Help us to put on the wedding garment of rejoicing
which is none of our fashioning
but Your gift to us alone.
By the glories of Your creation,
which we did not devise:
by the assurance of Your freeing us,
which we could not accomplish:
by the wind of Your Spirit, eddying down the centuries through
these walls renewed:
whispering through our recaptured oneness, fanning our faith to
help us to put on the wedding garment.
So shall we go out into the world, new created, new redeemed,
and new enchained together:
to fight for Your Kingdom in our fallen world.

Very Revd. Lord George Macleod of Fuinary, Founder of the Iona community, 
From “The whole earth shall cry glory”, Wild Goose Publications, 1985 
© Iona Community
[HT Richard Russell]