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.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Everything matters

Gordon Spykman: "Nothing matters but the kingdom, but because of the kingdom everything matters".

Monday, 27 February 2012

Kuyper on Science

In this way, then, we obtain three truths that fit together. First, the full and rich clarity of God’s thoughts existed in God from eternity. Second, in the creation God has revealed, embedded, and embodied a rich fullness of his thoughts. And third, God created in human beings, as his image-bearers, the capacity to understand, to grasp, to reflect, and to arrange within a totality these thoughts expressed in the creation.

The essence of human science rests on these three realities.

 Abraham Kuyper 2011. Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science & Art. Grand Rapids: Christian's Library Press (translated by Nelson Kloosterman)

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Journal of Markets & Morality Vol 14 (2) Fall 2011

This issue contains articles by and on Kuyper - as well as one on Bavinck and Dooyeweerd:
(For the full contents click on the image above):

Eduardo J. Echeverria "Review Essay: The Philosophical Foundations of Bavinck and Dooyeweerd"
David W. Hall "Review of "The Kuyper Center Review, Volume 1: Politics, Religion, and Sphere Sovereignty" edited by Gordan Graham"
John Halsey Wood Jr. "Review of "Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction" by Richard Mouw"
Harry Van Dyke  "Abraham Kuyper and the Continuing Social Question"
Abraham Kuyper "Christ and the Needy (1895)"

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Henriëtte Sophia Suzanna (Jetta) Kuyper (1870-1933)

Henriëtte Sophia Suzanna (Jetta) Kuyper (1 October 1870- 12 October 1933), was the eldest daughter of Abraham Kuyper. She  was born when Kuyper was minister of the Reformed church in Amsterdam.

She was the author of several travel books. She was partly raised in Nice, France and spoke fluent French. As well as attending school in France she attended a Swiss finishing school. She was raised with a great love for the Dutch language.

After the death of her mother in 1899 she took on the running of the Kuyper household. During this time she translated several works into Dutch including a biography of the poet and hymnwriter Frances Ridley Havergal (1900) and A Lily of France by Caroline Atwater Mason (1902).

She visited Russia and in 1905 America, this visit opened her eyes to the role of women in society. There she gave lectures and spoke at meetings. For her time she was an emancipated woman and a proto-feminist.

In 1908 she visited Italy and wrote ‘Letters from Italy’ which became a book.
In 1912 she travelled to Flanders.

She also had the opportunity to visit and write about England (Vacantie in Engeland [Holidays in England] 1911) and Hungary (Hongarije in oorlogstijd [Hungary in Wartime] 1918)
She was appointed a member of the Society of Dutch Literature in 1913.

During  World War I she nursed and worked in the emergency hospital in the Hague, and for the Dutch ambulance in Hungary. Here she founded orphanages. 

Before the war she had hoped to start a Christian women’s magazine.

After the war she became involved with the Reformed Youth movement and beame their president.
She became an advisor to the government on women’s issues and spoke on subject this at the First International Labour Conference in Washington.

She wrote many articles including those for the Antirevolutionarioe Staatkunde and De Standaard. In De Standaard she wrote a regular column. 

She died in 1933 from pneumonia and is buried in the Hague.

She also wrote:

Calvinism: and the Women's Question. London: Sovereign Grace Union, 1930.
Papers read to the S.G.U. Touring Party, at the Hague, Holland, 1929.

In Dutch
De Pilgrimfathers in Nederland, 1608-1620 Kampen, J.H. Kok, 1920.

On Abraham Kuyper (with With J. H. Kuyper):

De Levensavond van Dr. A. Kuyper Kampen : J.H. Kok, 1921
Herinneringen van de oude garde aan den persoon en den levensarbeid van Dr. A. Kuyper. Amsterdam, W. ten Have, 1922.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Herman Huber Kuyper (1864-1945)

Herman Huber [H. H.] Kuyper, Abraham Kuyper's eldest son,  was born in Beesd on 22 July 1864. He studied theology at the VU in 1863, and was later appointed professor of theology at the VU in 1899. He taught the ecclesiastical history of Holland and the encyclopedia of theology. When F. L. Rutgers retired he also taught church polity.

He wrote De post-acta of nahandelingen van de Nationale Synode von Dordrecht in 1618 en 1619 gehouden Amsterdam: Höveker & Wormser, 1899.

He was evacuated from Arnhem in 1945 and died at Groningen in 1945.

He wrote a number of articles in The Herald that were perceived to be ‘Nazi friendly’. (Ron Gleason, 2010, Herman Bavinck,  p 333). He thought that the German occupation forces represented the legitimate government.

His son Elisha William joined the Waffen SS as a journalist he went to the Eastern front and was killed in January 1944.

Picture taken at the celebration of 25 years at the VU of H. H. Kuyper (1925). The family are seated at the front.  Behind them are the celebration committee.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Abraham Kuyper's family tree

Very little is mentioned about Kuyper's family in the biographies that exist. This is what I've gleaned regarding Kuyper's family:

If you know more please let me know.
(Updated 18 Feb 2012)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

KLICE colloquium on Burnside's God, Justice and Society

News from KLICE:

A Colloquium on 'Biblical Law' will take place on 19-20 March 2012 at the Divinity Faculty, University of Cambridge, based around a new book by Jonathan Burnside entitled God, Justice and Society: Aspects of Law and Legality in the Bible (Oxford University Press, 2011). The Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme (CIP) and the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics (KLICE) are joining together to present this colloquium. The Colloquium will consist of five sessions. In the first three, plenary speakers from each of the three Abrahamic faiths will engage with themes raised in the book, followed by responses from Dr. Burnside and others. In the final two, panellists will address specific ethical issues raised by the book. For the programme of events please click here.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Calculus in the Bible

Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes begins with a poem, ‘For everything there is a season: a time to be born and a time to die;’ and concludes ‘a time of war and a time of peace’.

This is very thought-provoking and clear, but verse 5 is not; ‘A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them’.

After puzzling over this I saw that ‘calculus’ is Latin for stones and things became clear. The second half of the verse must mean the collecting of small stones into a heap. Since integration is the summation of many small elements, the second half can be translated ‘there is a time for integral calculus’, so the first half must mean ‘there is a time for differential calculus’.

Ecclesiastes was a teacher of mathematics!

Seen in The Mathematical Gazette November 1998 Volume 82 Number 495

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Saturday, 4 February 2012

God, Justice, and Society by Burnside

God, Justice, and Society
Aspects of Law and Legality in the Bible

Jonathan Burnside
ISBN: 978-0-19-975921-7
Oxford: Oxford University Press, December 2010
£60.00,  Hardback, xl +542pp.

Burnside, professor of Law at Bristol University, takes a legal approach to biblical law in this magisterial work. He adopts a canonical, 'final form' view of the scriptural texts.

English law draws extensively upon biblical law and Burnisde is able to draw out the resonances and parallels. He sees Torah as 'an expanding horizon' - it has a wide range of meanings (p. xxxii)

He characterises biblical law:
as an integration of different instructional genres of the Bible which together express a vision of society ultimately answerable to God. (p. xxxii)

Biblical law is 'a journey into wisdom' (p xxxix), this theme is picked up in Chapter 1, where he looks at 'ten top laws' and uses them to draw out the similarities and differences between biblical law, ancient near eastern law and contemporary law. Biblical law is bound up with God's involvement with Israel, it is integral to Israel's vocation it is didactic, relies upon rhetoric and literary art, it is dynamic, relational and an expression of wisdom.

He begins his analysis of biblical law with the concept of covenant, which he describes as the DNA of biblical law. Chapter 2, 'A deal with God', then looks at how covenants were used in the Bible, it takes a synoptic overview. The Sinai event comes under close scrutiny - rightly so. I found the distinction between the old and new covenants illuminating. God does not change , it is the same Torah, the content is the same but what is different is its acceptance and realisation. God's presence is now also extended to all nations and not restricted to Israel.

Chapter 3 looks 'Beyond Sinai'. Here the concept of natural law is examined. He makes a case for natural law in the bible. I have some minor quibbles with this, my concerns may be more than a neo-Calvinst reaction to the term 'natural law'. The term 'natural' raises several questions:

  • What is meant by it?
  • Is everything 'natural'? Isn't all created by God?
  • How has the fall affected what is perceived of as 'natural'? Could the fall has distorted what we mean by 'natural'? Does sin has no noetic effect?
  • Is something that is all-embracing 'natural'?
  • What is the relation of 'natural' to revelation? Isn't all (biblical) law revelation?
  • Isn't the use of the term 'natural' setting up a dualism of 'natural' and revealed? And yet Burnside claims that he is not (cf p. 79).

He agrees that natural law means many things to different lawyers/ theologians - a useful table on p. 93 provides examples of its diverse meanings.  This prompts the question why use the term? Isn't common grace or creational law better categories and terms to work with?

The book is low on application - how do we apply the laws to today? But perhaps that's another book. It is high on comparison of OT with contemporary law - each time it seems that the OT law is better! Time and again the idea that biblical law emphasises the relational order comes across.  For example, in the chapter on Sexual offences, he writes:

'Biblical law makes a helpful contribution because it illustrates an alternative developed, integrated model that is based on relational order. This holds the modern, consent-based approach up to the light and poses questions and challenges' p. 376.
As such there is an apologetic strand to the book.

There is a 16-page index; 21-page biblical index and a 25-page bibliography - though surprisingly Christopher J H Wright's work is absent.

One oddity is the use of capitals to denote book and journal titles in the footnotes - journal article title are italicised; this took some adjusting to.

This is a book to savour, to return to again and again. There is much rich insight and wisdom. Law has often been neglected, but hopefully this tome will help rectify that situation.Anyone studying OT law will neglect this book at their peril!

A website provides excellent resources to support the book - including a study guide and podcasts.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Augustine on mathematics?

"The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell" (St. Augustine, De Genesi ad Litteram, Book II, xviii, 37).

This quote made 'famous' by Morris Kline - it's on the back of the Pelican version of his Mathematics and Western Culture - should read 'astrologers' rather than mathematicians.

A better translation by J. H. Taylor SJ  is:

37. Hence, we must admit that when astrologers speak the truth, they are
speaking by a mysterious instinct that moves a man's mind without his
knowing it. When this happens for the purpose of deceiving men, it is the
work of evil spirits. To these spirits some knowledge of the truth about
the temporal order has been granted, partly by reason of their keen and
subtle senses, since they possess bodies of a much more subtle nature than
ours, partly because of their shrewdness due to the experience they have had
over the long ages they have lived, partly because the good angels reveal to
them what they themselves have learnt from Almighty God, at the command of
Him who distributes man's merits by the right principles of His hidden
justice. But sometimes these wicked spirits also feign the power of
divination and foretell what they themselves intend to do. Hence, a devout
Christian must avoid astrologers and all impious soothsayers, especially
when they tell the truth, for fear of leading his soul into error by
consorting with demons and entangling himself with the bonds of such