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.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Roots and Branches - Robert D. Knudsen

Robert Knudsen
Roots and Branches: The Quest For Meaning And Truth In Modern Thought.
Edited by Donald Knudsen.
380 pp. ISBN 978-0-88815-206-0.
Reformational Publishing Project/ Paiedia Press, 2009.

Reformational Publishing Project/ Paiedia Press are leading the way in getting reformational books into readers' hands at a great price. This is book comprises a series of articles by Robert Knudsen compiled by his son Donald. it also has an appreciative introduction from William Edgar.

The range and scope of the articles are testimony of Knudsen's wide areas of interest. Knudsen studied under Cornelius van Til and S. U. Zuidema. From 1958 he taught at Westminster theological Seminary where he taught apologetics and courses on Dooyeweerd's philosophy (for an outline of the syllabus see here), His main area of expertise was on existential theology (his Masters was on Tillich, Niehbuhr and Berdyaev). All three of these areas are reflected in this compilation.


Foreword by Donald Knudsen

Introduction by William Edgar


"Calvinism as a Cultural Force," in John Calvin: His Influence in the Western World. W. Stanford Reid, editor. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982, 13-29.

"Apologetics and History," in Life Is Religion. Henry Vander Groot, editor. St. Catherines: Paideia Press, 1981, 119-133.

"Roots of the New Theology," in Scripture and Confession. John Ski1ton, editor. Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1973, 247-273.


"Analysis of Theological Concepts: A Methodological Sketch," in Westminster Theological Journal. 40, Spring, 1978, 229-244.

"May We Use the Term Theonomy?" in Theonomy: A Reformed Critique. William S. Barker & W. Robert Godfrey, editors. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990, 15-37.

"The Transcendental Perspective of Westminster's Apologetic," in Westminster Theological Journal. 48, Fall, 1986, 223-239.

"Progressive and Regressive Tendencies in Christian Apologetics," in Jerusalem and Athens. Robert Geehan, editor. Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1971, 275-298.


"Crosscurrents," in Westminster Theological Journal. 35, Spring, 1973, 303-314.

"Symbol and Reality in Nicolas Berdyaev," in Westminster Theological Journal. 24, November, 1961, 38-47.

"The Ambiguity of Human Autonomy and Freedom in the Thought of Paul Tillich," 4-part series in Philosophia Reformata. 32 (1967) 55-67, 33 (1968) 32-44, 34 (1969) 38-51, 37 (1972) 3-25.

"Transcendental Motives in Karl Jaspers' Philosophy," in Philosophia Reformata. 34 (1969) 122-133.

"Rudolf Bultmann," in Creative Minds in Contemporary Theology. Philip E. Hughes, editor. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966, 131-162.


"Transcendental Method in Dooyeweerd," in Anakainosis. 1/3, April, 1979, 2-8.

"The Religious Foundation of Dooyeweerd's Transcendental Method," in Contemporary Reflections on the Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd. D.F.M. Strauss and Michelle Botting, editors. Lewiston, Queenston, Lampter: Edwin Mellen Press, 2000, 271-285.

"Dooyeweerd's Philosophical Method," mimeographed lecture delivered at Annual Philosophy Conference, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL, Oct. 13, 1962.

"Phiiosophia Reformanda: The Idea of Christian Scientific Endeavor in the Thought of Herman Dooyeweerd," in Reflections on the Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd. Mimeographed text, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1968.


Bibliography Of The Writings Of Robert D. Knudsen, in Westminster Theological Journal. 58, Spring, 1996, 111-121.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Walking in the Way of the Word - H. Evan Runner

Walking in the Way of the Word
The Collected Writings of H. Evan Runner Volume 2
Paidea Press, 2009
ISBN 0-88815-203-3
(Published by the Reformational Publishing Project)

This is volume 2 of the Collected works of H. Evan Runner; rather perversely it appears before volume 1! Runner was a professor of philosophy at Calvin College until his retirement in 1981. This collection comprises his two main books: The Relation of the Bible to Learning and Scriptural Religion and Political Task. Both have long been out of print, so it is great to see them available again.

Both these works originated as lectures in 1959 and 1961 at Unionville. They are stimulating and inspiring reading.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Review of Biblical Prophets and Contemporary Environmental Ethics by Marlow

Biblical Prophets and Contemporary Environmental Ethics
Re-Reading Amos, Hosea, and First Isaiah
Hilary Marlow
Oxford University Press, 2009
338pp +xvi

Academic tomes have a tendency to be boring, inaccessible to non-specialists, without cultural relevance beyond the ivory tower and have unaesthetic covers. This book defies the stereotype in every way. Despite being the product of a Cambridge PhD, under Katherine Dell, it is readable, accessible, and will have an impact within and without the academia - and has a great cover to boot!

Hilary Marlow has been associated with most British evangelical organisations. She is a director of Director of the John Ray Initiative, has been involved with  A Rocha for over a decade, until recently she was a Research Associate in Theology and Science at the Faraday Institute, has written for the Jubilee Trust  and Grove Books and is at present involved in a project with the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics based at Tyndale House, Cambridge. She has also found time to complete her PhD and this book is the product of that.

The first chapter takes an overview of creation in church history, it is a broad brush view but is full of insight - I made a long list of further avenues to explore as a result of it. She starts - rather predictably - with Lynn White Jr's critique before looking at some theological perspectives on creation. This stems from the early church with its Greek influences to Calvin via the Cappodocians and Aquinas. She mentions that Irenaeus sees Adam typologically, but I'm not certain that this is a true picture.  Tony Lane argues that 'Irenaeus's theology is undermined more than most others by the suggestion of a non-historical Adam' (Darwin Creation and the Fall p. 141). This, of course is a minor quibble. 

She draws upon a number of important secondary sources including Glacken, Harrison, McGrath, Santmire.

Chapter 2 takes the historical perspective on from the sixteenth century. She looks at the divide between history and nature. Von Rad and Eichrodt are singled out for their Hegelian influences which allows them to set up a dualism of nature and history. Following Brueggeman, Marlow agrees that this led to an abandonment and marginalisation of serious thinking about the creation in biblical theology.

Two theologians helped to reverse this trend: Bernhard Anderson and Claus Westermann. As a result many others challenged the setting up of history over creation. Theodore Hiebert, Ronald Simkins and William Brown an three that Marlow briefly focuses on. She rightly notes that these three have helped towards a corrective reading of the Old Testament.

The developoment of an ecological hermeneutic is the subject of chapter 3. Here Norman Habel's Earth Bible Project (EBP) is examined. Taking a cue from feminist theologies the EBP stands with the oppressed Earth in dialogue with the text.

The emphasis on methodology and the methodoogy itself is criticised. As Marlow points out Bouma-Preideger comes up with a similar but more biblically robust set of guidelines. Following Christopher J. H.  Wright's hermeutical triangle God (Israel/humanity and Land/ earth) she forms an ecological triangle: God at the apex and a base of humanity and the non-human creation. It is the interrelationship between these three vertices that are examined in the next three chapters. Three important questions are also posed (p. 111):

1. What understanding of the non-human creation does the text present
2. What assumptions are made about YHWH's relationship to the created world and how he acts in it?
3. What effect do the actions  and choices of human beings have on the non-human creation and vice versa?

Chapters  4-6 look at Amos, Hosea and Is 1-39 in light of these questions and the ecological triangle.  She provides a detailed exegesis and analysis of key passages from these prophets. In Amos the non-human creation plays an important role, 'the natural world engages in a "dialogue" with its creator' (p 157). In Hosea it has less of a role and the emphasis is on God and humanity, but this relationship when broken does have a marked effect on the earth.  Finally, in Is 1-39 there is a link between humanity, God and the rest of creation in that 'natural' disaster is a consequence of disobedience to God and this broken relationship is shown in metaphors and parables of the natural world.

The final chapter looks at the implications of the foregoing for an environmental ethic. Here she starts by providing a broad overview on using the Bible in ethics. The issue of how we move from the scriptures to any ethic is problematic. I was suprised to read a criticism of  Walter Kaiser, she writes 'His study is based on a high view of biblical authority, and this theological perspective colours his selection and interpretation of texts' (p. 248).  All theological perspectives are coloured, theology is never neutral. It left me wondering what is Marlow's view of the authority of scripture and how has that has shaped her choice of passages?

She then turns to environmental ethics in particular. She looks at some key issues; including: what is the value ascribed to the non-human creation? Is it intrinsic or instrumental? Is nature a stable entiry or in flux? and the tension between nature and culture.  She concludes that the prophets recognise instrumental value but also give the non-human creation a value that is greater than any utilitarian one. She does not address the issue of how anything can have intrinsic value,  unless it is value given to it by God - and in which case it is not intrinsic. For the other issues she sees an ambiguity in the prophets.

Few other books have examined the Old Testament in the light of the current environemtal issues. Two other books are by Cyril Rodd Glimpses of a Strange Land  (T&T Clark, 2001) which deals with some individual texts and Chris Wright's Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (IVP, 2004) which takes a broad brush approach. Marlow's book is an example of how to interpret scripture in the light of contemporary issues and how to understand contemporary issues in the light of scripture. It shows that we have not exhausted the scriptures in what it can say to  environmental ethics. As Marlow concludes:

'it is vital that the church be better informed of the rich contribution of its own scriptures to a positive understanding of the creation as a basis for raising awareness of environmental issues and promoting good practice amiong its own members and the wider community'.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Foreword by John Barton
1: Creation in Church History
2: Nature Versus History: An Artificial Divide
3: Ecological Hermeneutics: Meaning and Method
4: Who Can But Prophesy? Creation Dialogue in the Book of Amos
5: The People do not Know: Covenantal Failure in the Book of Hosea
6: The Vineyard of the Lord of Hosts: YHWH, the People and the Land in Isaiah 1-39
7: The Old Testament Prophets and Environmental Ethics: A Dialogue

Publisher's website

Available in the UK from:
book depository

Friday, 12 February 2010

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Resources for a Christian approach to biology

Roy Clouser. 2001. Is Theism Compatible with Evolution?. In Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives, Ed. Rob Pennock. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001), 513-536.

J. J. Duyvene De Wit. 1962.  ‘Organic Life and the evolutionistic world and life view’ Christian Perspectives 1962. Guardian Publishing Company: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

J. J. Duyvene De Wit. 1965. 'The Impact of Herman Dooyeweerd’s Christian Philosophy upon Present Day Biological Thought'. In Philosophy and Christianity: Philosophical Essays Dedicated to Professor Dr. Herman Dooyeweerd. W F De Gaay Fortman et al. (eds),  Kampen: J.H. Kok. pp 405-433.

J. J. Duyvene De Wit. 1965. A New Critique of the Transformist Principle in Evolutionary Biology. Kampen: J.H. Kok.

Richard Gunton. 2006. 'Reformational Perspectives on the Evolution Controversy' ReformationalUK blog.

E. L. Hebden Taylor. 1967.  Evolution and the Reformation of Biology: A Study of the Biological Thought of Herman Dooyeweerd of Amsterdam and J. J. Duyvene de Wit. Craig Press.

Russell Maatman. 1993. The Impact of Evolutionary Theory: A Christian View. Dordt: Dordt College Press, 1993.

Arthur J. Jones. 2002. 'The Identity and Nature of the Created Kinds – Speciation among Cichlid Fish'. Leicester: Genesis Agendum.

Jacob Klapwijk. 2008.  Purpose in the Living World?: Creation and Emergent Evolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jan Lever. 1958. Creation and Evolution, Grand Rapids: International Publications. (Translation of Creatie en Evolutie, Wageningen, 1956)

M. D. Stafleu. 'The Idionomy of Natural Kinds and the Biological Concept of a Species' Philosophia Reformata, 65 (2), (2000): 154-169.

M. D. Stafleu 'Evolution, History, and the Individual Character of a Person', Philosophia Reformata, 67 (1), 2002: 3-18

Danie F.M. Strauss. 2003.The “Copernican turn” of biology in the 20th Century. Acta Academica 35(3):49-76.

Danie F.M. Strauss. 200.  Did Darwin initially develop a theory of evolution in the biological sense of the word? South African Journal of Philosophy 26(2): 190-203

Danie F.M. Strauss. 200. Biotic analogies – a threat to scholarly reflection? Acta Academica 28(3): 29-5

Danie F.M. Strauss. 2001. The Effect of Ultimate Commitments on the Content of the Natural Sciences – with special Reference to Biology as a Discipline. Journal for Christian Scholarship 37 :89-105.

Danie F.M. Strauss. 2009. Did Darwin get over the First Hurdle? (lacking evidence for the assumed origination of “life”) Journal for Christian Scholarship 45 (3): 1-32.

Danie F.M. Strauss. 2009. Did Darwin get over the Second Hurdle? (the problem of constancy amidst change), 2009  Journal for Christian Scholarship 45 (3): 77-95
Sytse Strijbos. 1996. 'The Concept of the ‘Open System’ – Another Machine Metaphor for the Organism?'. In Facets of Faith and Science. Vol. 3, The Role of Beliefs in the Natural Sciences Ed. J. Van der Meer. Lanham: University Press of America , Ch 10.

Sytse Strijbos. 1996. 'The Concept of Hierarchy in Contemporary Systems Thinking – a Key to Overcoming Reductionism?'. In Facets of Faith and Science. Vol. 3, The Role of Beliefs in the Natural Sciences. J. Van der Meer (ed.), Lanham: University Press of America, Ch 14.

Magnus Verbrugge. 1984. Alive: An Enquiry into The Origin and Meaning of Life, Vallecito, California: Ross House Books, 1984, pages xviii, 139

Magnus Verbrugge. 1979.  Evolution and the biotic aspect of reality Anakainosis 2 (1) September: 2-7

Uko Zylstra. 1981. ‘Dooyeweerd’s concept of classification in biology’. In Life is Religion: Essays in Honor of H. Evan Runner. Paideia: St Catherine’s.

Uko Zylstra. 1992. Living Things as Hierarchically Organised Structures. Synthese 99:  111-13

Uko Zylstra. 1996. The Influence of Evolutionary Biology on Hierarchical Theory in Biology, with Special Reference to the Problem of Individuality, in Facets of Faith and Science,vol. 2, The Role of Beliefs in Mathematics and the Natural Sciences: An Augustinian Perspective Ed. J. Van der Meer, Lanham: University Press of America. Ch 13,

Uko Zylstra. 2004. Intelligent-Design Theory: An Argument for Biotic Laws. Zygon, 39 (1); 175-191

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

New on my Google Reader RSS feed

These are blogs I've recenlty subscribed to using  Google reader.

+ Science and values
A newish blog by "A group of Christian theologians and scientists concerned about truth and values in science and society."

Old Testament ethics
This is the webpage for the “Old Testament Ethics:  Principles of Living for the People of God” adult learning community at Cornerstone Christian Church.

Sandhedsvidne: 'witness to the truth'
Blog by Angelo Shoun Franklin for Prague

Jazz Notes by Doug Groothius
A reflection on jazz, the universe and life

Teaching Redemptively
A reflection on grace-based education

Crime genre by J Mark Bertrand
Meditations on a life of crime by Rethinking Worldview and Back on Murder author

Monday, 1 February 2010

Odds and sods

Mike Wittmer on evangelical philosophers
Calvinism for the 21st century a Conference at Dordt College (8-10 April 2010)
A list of CPYU Bookshelf interviews including J Mark Bertrand and Jim Belcher
Gabe Lyons via Bob Robinson on Influencing culture
Reviews and interviews: DTK [Desiring the Kingdom by Jamie Smith] around the web