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, 31 July 2012

Covolo on Eglinton in Themelios

Robert Covolo reviews James Eglinton's Trinity and Organism in the latest edition of Themelios here.

He concludes:

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Eglinton’s work for Bavinck studies. This volume convincingly overturns a paradigm that has stymied the field, and it does so in a way that elucidates one of the most creative theological minds in the modern period. What’s more, it does this while simultaneously offering an incisive overview of Bavinck’s theology. This accomplishment is all the more valuable given Eglinton’s rejection of a reading of Bavinck that ignores the problematic or unresolved issues in Bavinck’s thought. The result is one of the best companions to Bavinck’s theology in the English language. Eglinton’s work leads the way for a new generation of Bavinck scholarship keen to advance Bavinck’s vision for a capaciously Reformed, trinitarian orthodoxy capable of speaking with both integrity and relevance to our modern world.

My visual summaries of Eglinton's excellent book are here.

Monday, 30 July 2012

A book worth waiting for! Bratt on Kuyper

Eerdmans have just announced a forthcoming book by James Bratt on Abraham Kuyper.

Abraham Kuyper (LRB)
Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat
James D. Bratt
PAPERBACK; Coming Soon: 1/31/2013
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6906-7
464 pages

Details here.

In this first full-scale English biography of Abraham Kuyper, the highly influential religious and political leader of Dutch Calvinists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, historian James D. Bratt draws connections between the life and thought of Kuyper and current debates in America today. Bratt's study covers Kuyper's early years, his development as a person, his various leadership roles and spheres of influence, and the considerable ongoing impact of his ideas. A convinced Calvinist and a distinctly modern public figure, Kuyper held a wide variety of roles over the course of his life -- minister, newspaper editor, educational innovator, politician, religious reformer, and prime minister of the Netherlands (1901-1905). Kuyper's life demonstrates how devotees of any faith can carry on a responsible public life in contention -- and concert -- with people of other convictions.

Wordle on Kuyper's Lectures Ch 5

This is a 'wordle' of Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism Ch 5 "Calvinism and art". The size of the word is proportional to its use. 
As in Chapter 1 the words life and development are used often.

Wordles on

Friday, 27 July 2012

What is Reformational Philosophy? by Andree Troost

A new book from Paideia Press  
by Andree Troost

Wordle on Kuyper's Lectures Ch 4

This is a 'wordle' of Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism Ch 4 "Calvinism and science". The size of the word is proportional to its use. 

As would be expected the terms science, Calvinism and God appear most. Life also is predominantly used. The term cosmos has many mentions - again showing Kuyper's emphasis that the gospel of the kingdom is good news for the whole cosmos and not humans only.

Wordles on
Chapyer 6 'Calvinism and the future'

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Wordle on Kuyper's lectures Ch 3

This is a 'wordle' of Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism Ch 3 "Calvinism and Politics". The size of the word is proportional to its use. 

Again the usual and expected terms appear many times: God, government, church, state, authority, Calvinism; more unusually, for a late nineteenth-century Calvinist,  the words 'sphere' and 'sovereignty' appear in conjunction.

Wordles on

Mindmap of chapter 3

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Wordle of Kuyper's Lectures Ch 2

This is a 'wordle' of Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism Ch 2  "Calvinism as religion". The size of the word is proportional to its use.

The usual words are large: God, religion, church, human, Calvinism, Christ.
Interestingly, so too are: life, earth, world. This shows Kuyper's concern for a worldy (in the right sense) form of Christianity.   
One surprise is that the word 'must' gets a lot of mentions. This is perhaps indicative of Kuypers' rhetorical style. 

Wordles on

Mindmap of chapter 2

Monday, 23 July 2012

Graham Cray on church

Here he makes an interesting distinction between church scattered and church gathered:
Kuyper made a similar distinction between church as institution and church as organism.

"The primary purpose of church gathered is to equip us for church scattered."

Richard Mouw's Abraham Kuyper (Eerdmans, 2011) - a mindmap

This is a mindmap of the first section of Richard Mouw's Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction. Eerdmans, 2011.

For a list of reviews of Mouw's book see here.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

A Shot of Faith {To The Head} by Mitch Stokes

A Shot of Faith {to the Head}
Be Confident Believers in an Age of Cranky Atheists
Mitch Stokes
Thomas Nelson, 2012. Pbk, 251pp.
ISBN 978-1-5955-5434-5

Mitch Stokes has studied under some of the best Christian philosophers: Nicholas Wolterstorff for a Masters and Alvin Plantinga and Peter van Inwagen for his PhD. Here he draws upon, develops and distils their ideas in this introductory book.

Stokes starts by looking at the new atheists and shows that they adopt an evidentialist view (the view that all beliefs, if they are rational, must be supported by sufficient evidence) . He quickly shows that evidentialism is false but does so in a humorous and non-technical way. As he puts it:
We have a choice then: either evidentialism is true and we're all irrational, or else many of the beliefs we ordinarily accept as rational really are rational and evidentialism is false.
In parts two and three he looks at two old chestnuts: science shows God doesn't exist and suffering and evil show God doesn't exist.

In part two he makes some interesting remarks about mathematics; he believes it is central to the science-faith debate. He argues that the effectiveness of mathematics means that a naturalistic account of reality is unfounded. He uses Plantinga's idea that mathematics isn't created. However, this would mean that mathematics takes on divine attributes! For me that's a few steps too far! God is the only uncreated; mathematics is a creation.

The other 'defeater' he examines is the existence of evil and suffering. He takes the usual approach of distinguishing two types of problem (the logical and the probalistic arguments) before turning the tables and looking at the problem of evil for the atheist. If there is no divine lawgiver how can we have moral standards? If there are no moral standards how can we have evil?

Stokes has written this book not to defend Christianity against the (irrational) claims of the new atheists or to get atheists to believe in God, but essentially to equip Christians to expose the flaws in the new atheist approach. He is providing tools to do apologetics, in a non-apologetic way.

Abraham Lincoln is purported to have said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” This book will certainly help with the tool sharpening. It gives Christians the tools to cut down the rootless atheist tree.

Is there a place for God in Education?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Wordle of Kuyper's Lectures Ch 1

This is a 'wordle' of Abraham kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism Ch 1 "Calvinism as a lifesystem". The size of the word is proportional to its use. 

Hardly surprising is that words such as Calvinism, God, world, church, human/ man are used a lot. But what does stand out are the two concepts life and development.  These were important for Kuyper in a way that wasn't in so many other late nineteenth-century Calvinist works.

Wordles will follow on the other lectures in the nest few weeks/ days.

Wordles on

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Creation Regained

Anthony Smith has been blogging through Al Wolters' excellent Creation Regained. 

His posts provide an excellent summary of the book:
  An all-encompassing worldview
  God the law-giver and his creation
  The development of creation
  Creation distorted
  Creation regained
  Regaining creation
  Worldview, story and mission

Some years ago I posted some study questions to the first edition of the book. I thought it would be worth recycling them here.

Before starting to read Al Wolters' Creation Regained write down what you understand by the following terms: creation, fall, redemption, law, dualism, worldview.

CHAPTER 1 What is a worldview?

1. How does Wolters define worldview? What are the four main components of a worldview?
2. How do scripture and a worldview interrelate?
3. Describe the reformational worldview. How does it differ from other Christian worldviews?

CHAPTER 2 Creation

Pages 12-24
1. What are the two (double) aspects of creation?
2. What does Wolters mean by law?
3. In what ways does God impose his laws upon the cosmos?
4. What is the distinction between "norms" and "laws of nature"
5. What is the distinction between general and particular creation law?
6 What does Wolters mean by "word"?

Page 24-35
7. How can the law of creation impart knowledge?
8. What does Wolters mean by "wisdom"?

Page 35-43
9. What does it mean to develop creation?


1. What are the effects of the fall on society, culture, humanity ,...
2. What does Wolters mean when he says "Sin is alien in creation"?
3. Explain the meaning of structure and direction (cf also p 9)
4. What three meanings are given to the word "world" in the scriptures?

CHAPTER 4 Redemption

1. What synonyms are there for the word "redemption"; how do these crystallise its meaning?
2. Why is it that nothing in creation is neutral?
3. What is meant by the kingdom of God?
4 What are the misconceptions associated with the kingdom?

CHAPTER 5 Discerning structure and direction
(cf also pp 9, 49 ff)

1. How do the terms structure and direction summarise the biblical themes of creation, fall and redemption?
2. What two connotations of "reform" are present in the term reformational?
3. What is a "dualistic worldview"?
4. What does Wolters mean by "We are always in danger of rejecting the creational in the name of the fall, and of accepting the fallen in the name of creation".

Look back at the meanings you gave to the terms creation, fall, redemption, law, dualism, worldview. How has reading Creation Regained helped you to clarify/ change the meaning you gave to them? In what ways has your thinking changed (or remained unchanged)?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Resources for a Christian approach to music


Jeremy Begbie

1989. Music in God's Purposes, Continuum.
1991. Voicing Creation's Praise: Towards A Theology of the Arts, T&T Clark.
2000. Beholding the Glory: Incarnation Through the Arts (ed.), DLT/Baker Books.
2000. Theology, Music, and Time, Cambridge University Press.
2002. Sounding the Depths: Theology Through the Arts (ed.), SCM Press.
2007. Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music (ed. with (Engaging Culture Series), Baker Academic.
2011. Resonant Witness: Conversations between Music and Theology (ed. with Steven R. Guthrie) Eerdmans. 

Harold Best 1993. Music Through the Eyes of Faith. Harper

Karen A. De Mol. 1999.  Sound Stewardship: How Shall Christians Think About Music? Dordt College Press.

William Edgar 1986. Taking Note of Music. ThirdWay/ SPCK.

Hans Rookmaaker 2002. New Orleans Jazz, Mahalia Jackson and the Philosophy of Art: The Complete Works Vol 2. Piquant.

Quentin Schultze et al. 1991. Dancing in the Dark: Youth, Popular Culture and the Electronic Media. Eerdmans.  

Online resources
Arts Reformation

Monday, 16 July 2012

International Reformed Bulletin issues 1-4

The International Reformed Bulletin was published by the International Association for Reformed Faith and Action (IARAFA).
It was first published in April 1958 under the editorship of Philip Edgecumbe Hughes.
Thnaks to WYSOCS' David Hanson who later took up the editorship the Bulletin will be made available online at

The fist four issues are up and the contents are shown below:

EditorialDr P E Hughes2
International Congress, Strasbourg 22-30/7 19585
The International Association: its Foundation and GrowthDr Jan D Dengerink7
International News
France: the Story of the French Calvinist SocietyRev Pierre Ch Marcel11
JapanDr Shinya Ito14
The United States: Calvinistic Action CommitteeRev Jacob Hoogstra15
The Christian and the StateDr P E Hughes17
Voice from the Past: Three Fears to be OvercomeJohn Hus24
EditorialDr P E Hughes2
Confessors of the Reformed FaithProf Jean Cadier4
The Evangelical LibraryGeoffrey Williams13
International News
CanadaProf W Stanford Reid17
IndonesiaProf Raden Soedarmo21
BelgiumRev Walter Marichal25
Secretarial Notes28
Voice from the Past: The Most Diligent Preacher and Prelate in all EnglandHugh Latimer31
EditorialDr P E Hughes2
The Reformed Faith and the Modern Concept of MasnProf GC Berkouwer
International News
BrazilProf Gerson A Meyer13
LebanonHenry Madany16
Great BritainDr P E Hughes19
Congress Sermon: On the Reform of a ScepticDr P E Hughes24
Secretarial Notes
Voice from the Past: The New Birth and Good WorksMartin Luther32
EditorialDr P E Hughes2
The Church in the Holy LandRev Jacob Blum4
The Reformed Position in AustraliaRev DWB Robinson11
Calvin the TheologianRev Dr James I Packer15
Witness In and Through the FamilyProf Gwyn Walters25
Voice from the Past: Joy in the Midst of AfflictionJohn Chrysostom36

Bill Edgar 'Heaven in a nightclub"

Friday, 6 July 2012

Contours of a Missional Neo-Calvinism by Mike Goheen and Craig Bartholomew

Here is an updated version of Contours of a Neo-Calvinist Position from April 2011.
Contours of a Missional Neo-Calvinism
Mike Goheen and Craig Bartholomew
1. We begin with Jesus the Lord Christ and this focus opens up into a full Trinitarian faith.
2. Christ is rendered to us truly in Scripture, which is fully trustworthy as God’s Word.
3. Christ stands at the centre of the biblical story and the good news he proclaims is about the kingdom as the goal of history—God is restoring his rule over the whole of human life and all of creation.
4. Since Christ has revealed and accomplished the end of history the Scriptures have a storied shape, and as such tell the true story of the whole world.
5. A central theme in the biblical story is God’s election of a people to embody the kingdom, to be a preview of the goal of history, and thus to bear witness to Christ’s rule over all of life in life, deed, and word – this constitutes mission.
6. The comprehensive gospel of the kingdom has been narrowed and consigned to a very minor, private place within the dominant Western humanist worldview, and this calls for a conscious articulation of a biblical worldview in relation to the cultural worldview to enable the church to recover the public truth and all-embracing scope of the good news.
7. The good news is a message concerning the restoration of the creation including human life from sin, and thus a biblical worldview insists on a comprehensive and integrated understanding of creation, fall and restoration as the most basic categories of the biblical story.
8. The fundamental backdrop of God’s drama of restoration is creation and thus we embrace a rich doctrine of creation including its good and dynamic creation order and humanity’s place within it.
9. God’s order for creation unfolds in history and thus we affirm the historical development or differentiation of creation.
10. The implication of the fall is that the power of sin and evil now radically twists every part of creation, individual and communal human life, and cultural development. While the structures of society remain good the distorting power of sin means they have been radically misdirected.
11. The Bible tells the story of restoration centred and accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ which is the recovery of God’s originally good purposes for the whole of his creation and all of human life.
12. The outpouring of the Spirit brings a foretaste of God’s renewing power into history.
13. The church is the community that is gathered to Christ in repentance and faith for the forgiveness of sins, based on the substitutionary work of Jesus on the cross, and so have begun to taste that comprehensive salvation with the call to make known Christ’s forgiveness and renewing power in life, word, and deed across the whole spectrum of human life.
14. The local congregation plays a central role in God’s story as that place where God’s renewing power is at work to form and nurture a faithful kingdom community.
15. Since God’s restorative power is at work in the creation by the Spirit, and since the forces of evil remain powerfully at work in the creation, we recognize an ultimate religious conflict for the whole of human life that will often lead to suffering. The church is called to side with the kingdom of God and participate in God’s redemptive mission—the missio Dei—as witnesses to his victory. But since we await the final victory, there is no room for triumphalism.
16. The mission of God’s people must be rooted in a communal life centred in the gospel, and also in a vibrant spirituality of worship, prayer, and thanksgiving.
17. God is at work leading his creation to its destiny of a new heavens and a new earth, and only then will the kingdom finally come. Then the whole of human life and the creation will be restored and renewed from sin and its consequences.

Thanks to Mike Goheen for permission to publish it here and to Mike Wagenman for facilitating it.

History of art

HT refwrite

Monday, 2 July 2012

Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism Ch 3 mindmap

Mindmap of Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism Ch 3 "Calvinism and politics".
Here Kuyper shows that Calvinism is not merely an ecclesiastical concept. Neo-Calvinism stresses the sovereignty of God over every area and aspect of life. Here Kuyper articulates and fleshes out how State, church and society relate using the idea of sphere sovereignty