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.

Monday, 31 March 2014

British Calvinists: Thomas Gataker (1574-1654)

Thomas Gataker (1574-1654) was born in London and graduated from St John's College, Cambridge in 1590. He was preacher to the society of Lincoln's Inn from 1601-1611. 

He was a member of the Westminster assembly, though ill health meant that he had to withdraw in 1645. He was in favour of the episcopacy. 

Some of his writings are available here:

Saturday, 29 March 2014

British Calvinists: Arthur Hildersham (1563-1632)

Arthur Hildersham (1563-1632) was born in Stetchworth and graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge. He was the vicar of St Helen's, Asby-de-la-Zouch. 

He was one of the key Puritans behind the Milenary Petition presented to James I in 1603 which protested against the state of the Anglican church. It was supported by around 1000 Puritans. The petition led to the Hampton Court Conference. Hildersham was prevented from attending the conference. 

A biography of Hildersham has been recently published: The Life and Times of Authur Hilderham: Prince Among Puritans

British Calvinists: John Forbes (1568 – 1634)

John Forbes  (1568 – 1634) was born in Corse Castle he graduated from St Andrew's University in 1583.  He was the moderator of the Aberdeen assembly which met in defiance of the king. For this he was imprisioned. He was then exiled and in 1608 became the pastor of an English-speaking congregation of the Merchant Adsventurers in Middelburg. He then pastored a church in Delft.

In his book Certain Records touching the Estate of the Kirk in 1605 and 1606 he described the decay of reformed polity in Scotland. 

He was the brother of Patrick an Episcopal who became the bishop of Aberdeen. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

British Calvinists: Henry Jacob (1563-1624)

Henry Jacob (1563-1624) was born in Cheriton, Kent, he graduated with an MA from St Mary Hall, Oxford in 1586. In 1603 and 1605 he was imprisoned for his Puritan views. He was an exile in Leiden with William Ames and Robert Parker. There he formed his ideas on the need for the local church to be independent. hHe wanted to see a pure church but not complete secession for the Established church. He has been described as a non-separating Congregationalist and as a semi-Separatist and was associated with the Brownists.

He returned to London in 1616 and formed a local congregation at Southwark. He emigrated to the US in 1622 where he died.

The Jacob-Lathrop-Jessey Church

Two other  important figures associated with Jacob were John Lathrop (1584-1653) and Henry Jessey (1601-1663). All three were pastors of the same church, which became known as the Jacob-Lathrop-Jessey Church.

This is an extract from Michael Haykin's Kiffin, Knowlys and Keach:

Now, there is one church in particular which lies at the fountainhead, of the Calvinistic Baptists and that is the London-based congregation known to historians as the Jacob-Lathrop-Jessey church, so-called because of the names of its first three pastors. Henry Jacob (1563-1624) and a group of like-minded believers in London had established the congregation in 1616. To what extent Jacob and his congregation were influenced by Separatists like Francis Johnson, and John Robinson remains an open question - Jacob met both of these men Johnson in 1599 and Robinson in 1610. What is clear, however, is the fact that Jacob’s congregation was determined not to cut itself off from all fellowship with Puritans who had stayed within the Church of England. In the statement of faith that this congregation published when it was first established, it was clearly stated that attendance at services conducted in local parish churches was permissible as long as “neither our assent, nor silent presence is given to any mere human tradition”. Unlike the Separatists, Jacob and his congregation refused to deny that the Church of England still possessed “true visible churches”, and thus it was not at all ‘ wrong to continue fellow shipping with them where this did not involve countenancing what Jacob’s congregation regarded as definite error. It is not surprising that the authorities in the Church of England harassed the congregation as a Separatist body, and that the Separatists dubbed them “idolaters”.
Due to this harassment and persecution, Jacob decided to leave England for Virginia in 1622, where he died two years later. His successor was John Lathrop (1584-1653). During Lathrop’s 'pastorate at least two groups amicably withdrew from the church to found Separatist congregations, one of which came to be pastored by a certain Samuel Eaton (d. 1639). Eaton had problems with the legitimacy of the baptism of infants by ministers in the Church of England, though it does not appear to be the case that he had actually come to embrace believer’s baptism as the only basis for membership in the church.
In the early 1630s, when William Laud (1573-1645), the Arminian Archbishop of Canterbury, was seeking to rid England of Puritanism, Lathrop also decided to emigrate to the New World. He left in 1634, and it was not until 1637 that a new pastor was found in the person of Henry Jessey (1601-1663). Jessey had become a Puritan while studying at Cambridge in the early 1620s. Ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1626, he grew increasingly uneasy with the liturgy and worship of the Established Church over the next eight or so years. In 1635 he came into contact with the Jacob-Lathrop church, presumably began to worship with the congregation, and two years later was called to be the church’s pastor. An ironic individual, Jessey continued to uphold the “Jacobite” tradition, that is, the policy established by Henry Jacob of keeping in fellowship with Puritans within the Church of England.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

British Calvinists: Paul Baynes (c.1560-1617)

Paul Baynes (c.1560-1617) was a radical Puritan. Born in London, he graduated from Cambridge in 1593 and was elected a fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge in 1600. He was a student of William Perkins and he succeeded Perkins as lecture at St Andrew's the Great, Cambridge in 1602.

Richard Sibbes was converted under Baynes' preaching and he was a key influence on William Ames.

He was silenced for preaching without a licence in 1608. He was a Congregationalist  but disliked the separatism of the Brownists. 

His commentary on Ephesians is a defence of Calvinism. He died in Cambridge and is buried in St Andrew's.

Further Reading
Andrew Atherstone (2007) The Silencing of Paul Baynes and Thomas Taylor, Puritan Lecturers at Cambridge, Notes and Queries 54, pp. 386-389.
Some of his writings can be found here:

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

British Calvinists: Walter Travers (c. 1548–1635)

Walter Travers (1548?–1635) was born in Nottingham and graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1560. He obtained an MA from Trinity College and was made a senior fellow in 1567.

In 1570 he went to Geneva, he was forced to leave by John Whitgift who was the master of Trinity. There he became friends with other Marian exiles and with Thomas Beza. He wrote his main work Ecclesiasticae disciplinae et Anglicanae ecclesiae ab illa aberrationis, plena e verbo Dei, et dilucida explicatio in Geneva. This was subsequently translated by Thomas Cartwright in 1574 as A Full and Plaine Declaration of Ecclesisaticall Discipline Owt Off the Word Off God - it was a major presentation of nonconforming Calvinism.

Travers went back to England in 1576 but returned to the continent in 1578 where he became chaplain to the English Merchant Adventurers in Antwerp. 

In 1580 he once again returned to England and became chaplain to Lord Burghley, WilliamCecil.. In 1581 he became deputy to the master of the Temple Church in London. Richard Hooker became the master of the Temple in 1585 and this brought conflict. Travers disliked what he viewed as Hooker's leaning towards Rome.

Travers had hoped to reform the church from the inside, he with others sought to set up a form of presbyterian church within the Established church. To help towards this they produced a Book of Discipline. Later Travers wrote Defence of the Ecclesiastical Discipline. During this time many of the presbyterian Puritans were being hounded by the Established church, many were imprisoned and brought before the Star Chamber. Though Travers had managed to avoid arrest.  With Lord Burghley's help Travers was able to find sanctuary at the newly formed Trinity College in Dublin. Travers became the provost in 1594.

Alan Ford summarises Travers's contribution thus:
Although Walter Travers exerted a considerable influence on the development of English presbyterianism, decisively tying the movement to the strict position that their Calvinist framework was the sole biblical church polity, and seeking to Anglicize the presbyterian system of church government, he signally failed in his major aim—to create an established presbyterian church in England. Indeed, his main achievement was probably, and ironically, his role as the irritant that may have stimulated Hooker to produce one of the few great works of English theology, the Treatise on the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.

Further reading

Alan Ford, ‘Travers, Walter (1548?–1635)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 []

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

British Calvinists: John Bradford (1510-1555)

John Bradford (1510-1555) was born in Manchester. He started to study law but when he was converted he switched to study theology at Cambridge. He was ordained by Nicholas Ridley. Under Mary I he was arrested and martyred, being burnt at the stake on 31st January 1555. 

Some of his writings are available form here:

Monday, 24 March 2014

Interview with David Koyzis

David Koyzis has recently had his latest book We Answer to Another published - he kindly agreed to this interview. (David also blogs here.)

David, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am an American-born Canadian political scientist teaching at Redeemer University College since 1987. My mother was born in Michigan and my father in Cyprus, where I still have relatives living. I sometimes call myself a Franco-Greek-Cypriot-Finno-Anglo-American-Canadian, one of the smallest ethnic groups in North America!
I am married and have a high-school-age daughter. We live at the top of the Niagara Escarpment overlooking the lovely city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, the gem of the Great Lakes. We have a bilingual (Greek and English) pet budgie who absolutely adores our daughter.

Who or what have been the main influences in your life?
Well, obviously my parents were a huge influence on me, and my new book is dedicated to them. I was raised in a Christian home and grew up knowing in no uncertain terms that God loves me and sent his Son to die for my sins. I've been reading the Bible ever since I can remember, and this has almost certainly been the biggest influence in my life. For nearly 40 years I have read through the Bible regularly in the course of a daily prayer regimen based on the historic Daily Office, as practised by the Benedictines and other monastic communities. To live the life in Christ calls for immersing oneself in God's Word and, as Lesslie Newbigin so aptly puts it, indwelling the biblical narrative, that is, finding one's own place within the larger drama of creation, fall and redemption.

I suppose I could also mention certain events that had an impact as well. In my youth, two developments moved me towards the study of political science after I had originally intended to pursue the arts. These were the Watergate scandal and the Cyprus crisis of 1974. I was indignant at the spectacle of a president abusing his office and attempting to subvert the constitution. Right around the time Nixon resigned the presidency, most of my relatives in Cyprus, including my elderly grandparents, became refugees in their own country as a result of an attempted Athens-instigated coup d'état, subsequent Turkish invasion, and forcible partition of the island. I've often found that students become interested in studying politics, not because they are inspired by the evident benefits of just governance, but because of concrete injustices they become passionate about correcting. This was my experience as well.

I was also inspired by my professors at what was then called Bethel College in Minnesota to think through the implications of the life in Christ for public life. Initially this moved me in an Anabaptist direction, but I didn't stay with this for very long.

Am I correct in assuming the work of Kuyper and Dooyeweerd have shaped your approach and writings?

Yes. Absolutely.

How did you get "introduced" to them?
Well, this takes me back to Bethel once again. I was around 20 years old at the time. A friend and fellow student named Doug Johnson, who lived in my dormitory, introduced me to them. I had never heard of them before, but I was quite taken with the notion that there are no sacred and secular spheres and that all of life belongs to God in Christ. Redemption in Jesus Christ covers, not just our so-called spiritual life, but everything we do. This is definitely a biblical insight, as we read in such passages as 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17. We do not follow Christ in church and then follow the gods of the age in the rest of life. Properly speaking, our lives are fully integrated into the service of God and neighbour, not divided into disconnected compartments. I began to read everything I could by and about Abraham Kuyper and ordered a number of books from the old Wedge Publishing Foundation in Toronto, including published lectures of Calvin College professor H. Evan Runner. This interest took me to the Institute for Christian Studies in the late 1970s where I studied under the late Bernard Zylstra and wrote a master's thesis on Hannah Arendt. Eventually I would come to write a dissertation at Notre Dame on Dooyeweerd and Neothomist philosopher Yves René Simon, who wrote thoughtful books on the nature and functions of authority.

Decades later I came to recognize that I had returned to something with which I had grown up as a small child, namely, the Reformed tradition of Christianity. Until age 11 I was raised in an Orthodox Presbyterian Church congregation near Chicago and was accustomed to the many Dutch and Frisian surnames of our fellow parishioners, such as Auwerda, Bosgraaf and Dykema. In fact, historian Mark Noll was a member of this congregation long after our family left, and he once told the story of an elderly member with whom I was familiar from childhood. As Noll was talking about Kuyper at a church function, she spoke up and said that her father had delivered Kuyper's groceries back in the Netherlands. I hope I am remembering this story correctly. If so, it is ironic that, although I knew nothing of Kuyper during my first two decades, someone I knew from childhood of my grandmother's generation already had a personal connection with him.

Your new book, We Answer to Another, has recently been published. Could you tell us a little about it?

Yes, certainly. I think I can best answer this by quoting the description from the back of the book:
The quest to escape authority has been a persistent feature of the modern world, animating liberals and Marxists, Westerners and non-Westerners alike. Yet what if it turns out that authority is intrinsic to humanity? What if authority is characteristic of everything we are and do as those created in God's image, even when we claim to be free of it? What if kings and commoners, teachers and students, employers and employees all possess authority?
This book argues that authority cannot be identified with mere power, is not to be played off against freedom, and is not a mere social construction. Rather it is resident in an office given us by God himself at creation. This central office is in turn dispersed into a variety of offices relevant to our different life activities in a wide array of communal settings. Far from being a conservative bromide, the call to respect authority is foundational to respect for humanity itself.

So, why should we read it?
Because it treats a phenomenon that is absolutely central to human life in God's world. Even when we think we are evading authority, we really do nothing of the sort. Each chapter begins with a story relevant to its subject matter. The introductory chapter starts with a day in the life of Michael, a university undergraduate who is engaged in all of the typical activities of the student. I've read this story to classrooms and audiences and asked them to describe each encounter Michael has with some manifestation of authority. It quickly becomes apparent that authority is ubiquitous. It is apparent at every turn, for example, in the calendar that governs his life, the professor's teaching authority and even in his own authority as student.

In our contemporary society, it is almost automatically assumed, primarily under Immanuel Kant's influence, that the mature adult must attain moral autonomy and question critically every directive that authority makes. When I was much younger, I think I would have found this a persuasive position, especially in the wake of the civil rights revolution, the Vietnam War and, of course, Watergate. Yet in the real world this is impossible. It is impossible to question authority in general. If we see fit to question specific manifestations of authority – as indeed we must – then we necessarily do so based on some other authority which we accord priority. This is what the apostles did in the book of Acts when they claimed to be obeying God rather than mere human beings (e.g., Acts 5:27-29).

Sometimes I'll ask my students who they think has authority in the classroom. Invariably they will point to me. Yes, I tell them, but I'm not the only one; you have authority too! Not the same authority, but authority no less. Everyone has an authoritative office within the classroom. Koyzis has the office of professor, while those responding to my question possess the office of student. Each office bears authority and is worthy of respect accordingly.

What prompted to you write on this topic?
The ideas in this book had been percolating since the mid-1980s when I was a student at Notre Dame. My final year there I taught four first-year seminar courses devoted to authority in which I had students reading a number of books and writing on the ideas therein. Then I put the topic aside for a number of years as I wrote my first book, Political Visions and Illusions, which was published in 2003. But my interest in authority never really went away, and I returned to it for my inaugural lecture at Redeemer later that year. That lecture eventually became this new book after seven sometimes difficult years of work.
As I researched the topic, I was surprised to discover, among other things, that everyone seems to give lip service to the distinction between authority and power. Authority and power are not the same. So far so good. Nevertheless, when they start to elaborate their understanding of authority in more detail, they still tend to identify it with some capacity at our disposal, such as psychological power, persuasive ability, superior knowledge or some such. In other words, as soon as they tell us that authority is different from power, they proceed to define authority as, well, some form of power! I knew this couldn't be right. This is when I began to conclude that authority must have something to do with office. An office is a calling, a commission, a task given us in fulfilling our duties before God. A Dutch Reformed minister, the Rev. Cornelis Sietsma, wrote a brief book on office before the Second World War and paid with his life at Dachau during the nazi occupation for living out his convictions. His story appears at the beginning of chapter 5 of my book.
Although theories of authority generally don't account for office very well, it occurred to me that virtually everyone already understands intuitively the relationship between authority and office. David Cameron's authority comes from his occupying the office of Prime Minister. People may – and do – question his ability, but no one questions his office. This is what many theoretical accounts of authority tend almost inevitably to ignore.

I mentioned Yves Simon a moment ago. He wrote three books on authority during his too brief life: The Nature and Functions of Authority, Philosophy of Democratic Government, and (posthumously) A General Theory of Authority. Since then a lot of books have been written on leadership, but very few on authority as such. It's almost as if we are afraid of it in some fashion. Simon himself began one of his books by writing of the “bad reputation” authority has acquired since the French Revolution. Simon too has been a major influence on me, as he seemed better able than most to understand that, although some functions of authority properly diminish with time, other functions are needed indefinitely for a flourishing society. Parental authority, for example, rightly recedes with the maturity of the child subject to it, but what I call the communal coordinative function of authority is needed even in a community composed of mature and virtuous adults, and it doesn't go away. Simon wrote his works more than half a century ago, but his insights are not as well known or understood as they deserve to be.

What was the highlight in writing the book?
That's a hard question to answer. I did have a bit of an epiphanic experience nearly a decade ago as I was sketching out the plan of the book. This occurred when the relationship amongst power, authority and office suddenly became clear to me. It hit me like a bolt from the blue as I was sitting with my preschool daughter in our dining room.
That said, I am more aware of the low points. My momentum was broken for a few years by a series of medical setbacks, beginning with a couple months of an environmentally-related illness in late 2005 (during construction on the main academic building), followed by a spell of depression, then a burst appendix, quickly followed by a bout with a potentially deadly case of C. Difficile, the after-effects of which took three years to run their course. Most unpleasant. I finally recovered my momentum in 2010-11 and was able to complete the book fairly quickly after that. But while it was going on, it seemed that so many obstacles were getting in the way of my completing it, and it was all rather discouraging for a time. That's now past, thank God.

How does a kuyperian/ reformational approach to authority differ from the usual Calvinist or evangelical approach?
Well, I'm not sure there is a “usual” Calvinist or evangelical approach to authority. Evangelicals are an extremely diverse lot, so their approaches – in the plural – are likely to take different forms. But let me mention one approach that has recently been in the news.

Without mentioning names and other specifics, there is a Christian organization that has been around for some four decades whose approach to family and social life is based on a chain of command or umbrella of protection. This is based on an excessively top-down view of authority, that is, the assumption that, within a particular communal context, only the higher-ups have authority while those under them simply defer to that authority. That's wrong. All of the members of a community bear an office relative to that community, even if it is limited to membership. Ordinary citizens bear no less of an authoritative office than a president or prime minister, even if it is not the same office with an identical mandate. A well-organized community will ensure that those at the top be accountable for their actions in some fashion. In particular, they must respect the offices of those who are under them. Chain-of-command language is unhelpful in this respect.
On the other hand we find those evangelicals who so emphasize mutuality in community that they ignore the necessary differentiation of offices within it and may even downplay office itself. Communities attempting to realize equality and mutuality at the expense of office too frequently find themselves subject in practice to self-appointed charismatic leaders unwilling to recognize limits to their competence. This too is unhealthy and, in many cases, results in situations not unlike the chain-of-command approach. History has demonstrated time and again that those who despise legitimate authority tend themselves to become tyrannical.

A focus on office I believe will enable us to steer between the Scylla and Charybdis of authoritarianism on the one hand and an excessive egalitarianism on the other.

Are there any other projects in the pipeline?
Yes, indeed. I am currently involved in co-editing with a friend and colleague an anthology of essays relating the creation-fall-redemption narrative to the various academic disciplines. Most of the authors are colleagues at Redeemer University College. We've provisionally titled the volume, Academy Regained, a tribute to my esteemed emeritus colleague, Al Wolters, whose Creation Regained has become a classic since it was first published three decades ago.

I have also recently determined to write something of my personal pilgrimage through the Psalms. This grows in part out of a 30-year-old project devoted to the Genevan Psalter. I've discovered so many wonderful things about the liturgical use of the Psalms – including, of all things, a 17th-century Turkish translation of the first 14 Genevan Psalms – that I think they would make a wonderful book accessible to a popular audience.
Since September of last year I have begun a second psalter project, in which I have written metrical texts for more than 40 of the Psalms and have composed original music for them to be sung to. I've not posted most of these on my website, and I may try to get them published as a single collection separate from my proposed book on the Psalms.

What do you do for fun?
Hmm. Good question. Music has long been considerably more than an avocation for me. I play classical guitar (albeit completely self-taught) and I love to sing and compose music as well. Collecting bow ties is definitely fun. I love old books as well. The jewel of my collection is a King James Bible dating back to 1637 – just before the outbreak of the English Civil War.

What books are you reading at the moment?
Well, I've not started reading them yet, but high in my list are three books: Jan de Bruijn, Abraham Kuyper: A Pictorial History; David L. Schindler, Ordering Love: Liberal Societies and the Memory of God; and my colleague Kevin Flatt, After Evangelicalism: The Sixties and the United Church of Canada. Recently I've been rereading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Rebuilding Russia to get his take on Ukraine's uneasy relationship with Russia. My favourite most recent read has got to be Jim Bratt's wonderful biography of Kuyper.

I'm not much of a fiction reader, but I did recently read Booth Tarkington's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Magnificent Ambersons, about how the automobile reshapes an Indiana city in the first years of the 20th century. Orson Welles made it into a famous film in 1942.

If you were on a desert island what two luxuries would you take with you?
Well, I think I'd take my computer, along with internet access, so I could summon help!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

A Reformation Timeline

This timeline of the Reformation is taken from Harry Reid's book Reformation: The Dangerous Birth of the Modern World St Andrew Press, 2009. (I love the subtitle!)

Review: Antinomianism by Mark Jones

Reformed Theology's Unwelcome Guest?
Mark Jones
Philadelphia: P&R Books, 2013.
£12.99, pbk,  176pp
ISBN: 9781596388154

Antinomianism is a familiar pejorative term. Many hyper-Calvinists in the seventeenth century were accused of it; their riposte was to accuse their accusers of Arminianism or of legalism. The arguments prompted more heat than light. This book by Mark Jones throws some helpful insights on the arguments and sadly shows that it is not just a debate that was left in the seventeenth century.

The initial impetus for this book was the response to Jones’ review of Tullian Tchividjian’s Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Jones shows how Tchividjian’s book has antinomian tendencies. In Jones’ book he carefully shows how antinomianism is a “system of thought that has to be carefully understood in its historical context”. Antinomianism isn’t simply a rejection of moral law. 

Jones maintains that the first antinomian was Adam in the garden and he shows that antinomianism isn’t a “monolithic group”. Diverse Calvinists such as John Eaton (1574/5–1630/31), Tobias Crisp (1600–1643), John Saltmarsh (d. 1647), John Traske (c. 1585–1636), and Robert Towne (1592/3?–1664) have all been described as antinomian. 

Jones provides a helpful set of questions around which the issue(s) of antinomianism arises:
1. Are there any conditions for salvation?
2. Is the moral law still binding for Christians?
3. What is the precise nature of, and relationship between, the law and the gospel?
4. Are good works necessary for salvation?
5. Does God love all Christians the same, irrespective of their obedience or lack thereof?
6. Who is the subject of spiritual activity, the believer or Christ?
7. May our assurance of justification be discerned by our sanctification?
8. Does God see sin in believers?
9. Is a person justified at birth or upon believing?
The book is however not merely a historical survey - but he does show how important is an historical understanding. The great strength of the book is that it places the discussion in a clear Christological context: “The solution to antinomianism must be to understand and love the person and work of Christ”; “Christ is not only the pattern for our Christian life, but also the source of our Christian life.” "In essence, the mistakes of legalism and antinomianism are Christological errors."

Those not familiar with the historical context may find this book a little hard-going at times, but it is worth persevering with. Jones has done an excellent job in analysing the issues that surround antinomianism and show how the past can help us understand the present. 

Foreword by J. I. Packer ix
 Preface xiii
 Acknowledgments xvii
 Editor’s Notes xix
 1. Lessons from History 1
 2. The Imitation of Christ 19
 3. The Law 31
 4. The Law and the Gospel 43
 5. Good Works and Rewards 61
 6. Amor, Amor 81
 7. Assurance 97
 8. Rhetoric 111
 9. Toward a Definition and a Solution 123
 Bibliography 131
 Index of Scripture 137
 Index of Subjects and Names

Recent Kuyperania (March 2014)

Mars Audio have made available a full version of the interview with James Bratt

Rod Dreher comments on the Bratt interview.

The fourth volume of the Kuyper Center Review  has been announced - release in May 2014 -  with papers from the Neo-Calvinism and Democracy conference held at the Kuyper Center for Public Theology last year.

ISBN: 9780802871152

The contents:

George Harinck "Neo-Calvinism and Democracy: An Overview from the Mid-Nineteenth Century till the Second World War"
David Little  "Calvinism, Constitutionalism, and the Ingredients of Peace"
Jeffrey Stout "Christianity and the Class Struggle"
Clifford B. Anderson "Liberalism versus Democracy? Abraham Kuyper and Carl Schmitt as Critics of liberalism"  
Michael Bräutigam "The Christian as homo politicus: Abraham Kuyper and Democratic Imbalance in Post-Democratic Times"
Clay Cooke "Distinctively Common: Advancing Herman Bavinck's Theology to Pressure Liberal Democratic Ideals"
Michael DeMoor "Legitimacy, Public Justice, and Deliberative Democracy"
James Eglinton "Democracy and Ecclesiology: An Aristocratic Church for a Democratic Age?"
Brant Himes "Distinct Discipleship: Abraham Kuyper, Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  and Christian Engagement in Public Life"
Harry Van Dyke "Abraham Kuyper between Parsonage and Parliament"  
Harry Van Dyke "Kuyper as Emancipator and Christian Democrat"  

Harry Van Dyke

Friday, 21 March 2014

British Calvinists: William Perkins (1558-1602)

William Perkins (1558-1602) was one of the Cambridge Calvinists. He was born in Warwickshire and graduated from Christ College, Cambridge in 1581 with a BA and an MA in 1584. In between these he was converted from idle and debauched undergraduate lifestyle. 

He was elected fellow of Christ's College. In 1585 he became a lecturer at Great St Andrew's Church, Cambridge.

Perkins has been described as a "moderate Puritan"; he was an ordained Anglican who was opposed to separatists and non-confomists as well as the Romanising of the Anglican church. He was an advocate of double predestination (God chose some to be saved and some to be condemned), limited atonement  and held to a supralapsarian position. 

R. T. Kendall in his Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 (Oxford University Press) maintains that Perkins and William Ames took their theology from Theodore Beza rather than Calvin. The result, according to Kendall, is that the Puritan tradition became anticalvinistic and almost Arminian in many respects. It was Beza et al who developed the idea of limited atonement something, Kendall maintain, that Calvin never taught. This view was disputed by Paul Helm in Calvin Among the Calvinists (Banner of Truth, 1982). 

He was highly influential on William Ames and Paul Baynes. Baynes took up Perkins position of lecturer at St Andrew's on his death.

Perkins' Golden Chain showing the order of salvation (click to enlarge): 

Further Reading
Jonathan Long (1989) William Perkins: ‘Apostle of Practical Divinity’ Churchman 103 (1) 1989 online:

William Perkins

Joel Beeke and Randall J. Pederson (2007) Meet the Puritans. Reformation Heritage Books Section on Perkins:

Thursday, 20 March 2014

British Calvinists: Robert Browne (1550-1633)

Robert Browne (1550-1633) was a separatist Puritan and has been described as the founder of Congregationalism. He gave his name to a separatist movement: the Brownists. He was born in Tolethorpe Hall, Rutland. He graduated form Corpus Christi, Cambridge in 1572 and was then ordained into the Anglican church.

While at Cambridge he became friends with the Norwich-born Robert Harrison (c.1546- 1585). Both were influenced it appears by Thomas Cartwright's lectures. They both settled for a while in Norwich. Browne was imprisoned by the bishop of Norwich in 1581 for preaching. He was released through the help of Lord Burghley. On release he went to Middelburg in the Netherlands where he set up a church based on Congregationalist principles

There were a number of disputes in the church at Middelburg and Browne left with a small number of followers to go to Edinburgh. He was imprisoned there but soon released. He was excommunicated form the Anglican church. However, he was reconciled with the church authorities and rejected his separatist teachings.


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

David Koyzis' new book: We Answer to Another: Authority, Office, and the Image of God.

David Koyzis' new book We Answer to Another: Authority, Office, and the Image of God is now available.

Here is a description of the book from the back cover:

The quest to escape authority has been a persistent feature of the modern world, animating liberals and Marxists, Westerners and non-Westerners alike. Yet what if it turns out that authority is intrinsic to humanity? What if authority is characteristic of everything we are and do as those created in God's image, even when we claim to be free of it? What if kings and commoners, teachers and students, employers and employees all possess authority?
This book argues that authority cannot be identified with mere power, is not to be played off against freedom, and is not a mere social construction. Rather it is resident in an office given us by God himself at creation. This central office is in turn dispersed into a variety of offices relevant to our different life activities in a wide array of communal settings. Far from being a conservative bromide, the call to respect authority is foundational to respect for humanity itself.

Monday, 17 March 2014

British Calvinists: John Greenwood (c. 1550-1593)

John Greenwood (c. 1550-1593) was a separatist Puritan. He graduated form Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 1578. He then was ordained and minsitered in Wyam, Leicestershire until 1585 when he left the established church.

He was good friends with Henry Barrowe and they were executed together in 1593 for their separatist ecclesiastical views. Greenwood was an undergraduate at Cambridge during the Thomas Cartwright controversy. 

Greenwood was the leader of the London separatists. He was ordained into the Church of England by Thomas Cooper, the bishop of Lincoln, but he later renounced his ordination. 

He was imprisoned in 1586 and spent most of the rest of his life in gaol. With Barrowe he wrote a number of books and tracts from prison, they were both hanged at Tyburn in 1593.

Both Barrowe and Greenwood are regarded as the pioneers of Congregationalism.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Benn's five questions about power

Review: The New Calvinism Considered by Jeremy Walker

A Personal and Pastoral Assessment
Jeremy Walker
EP Books
Pbk, 128pp, £6.99
ISBN 978-0852349687

Jeremy Walker, pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley, provides a good introduction and analysis of the New Calvinists and its proponents such as John Piper, Mark Driscoll, C. J. Mahaney and Matt Chandler. Being a Brit Walker presents a helpful outsider’s view of New Calvinism.

New Calvinists are rarely out of the Christian-social-media news; and, often, not for the best of reasons: we have had the Elephant Room with T. D. Jakes and Steven Furtick, the abuse allegations at Sovereign Grace Ministries, plagiarism, and the blatant use self-promotion techniques in order to appear to be big and successful. Tim Challies has recently produced an excellent infographic on New Calvinism - it presents a skewed one-sided view of it (inevitably!); he appropriates John Stott to the cause and makes the success of Rap and Hip Hop down to the endorsement of John Piper (HT @wyclif)! 

New Calvinism came to the attention of the wider public when it was named as one of the 10 ideas changing the world by Time magazine - although Challies places its origin to the 1986 publication of Piper’s Desiring God. Unfortunately, Time used the term neo-Calvinism to describe it. Not realising that it had already been taken! New is definitely not neo when it comes to Calvinism. Sadly, many have made that mistake. Fortunately Walker is not one of them.

Walker as the subtitle implies presents a personal and pastoral assessment and so, helpfully, avoids a polemical approach - I didn’t spot any straw men. As he puts it: “I’d rather use hard arguments than hard words” and “I would rather deal with the issues, but the issues are so intertwined with the personalities”. Walker is aware that New Calvinism is not “monolithic” it is more an amorphous conglomeration of networks and conferences, rather then a clearly defined entity.

Walker starts in good sh*t sandwich fashion by outlining some of the good things that he sees in New Calvinism these include being:
  • Christ-oriented;  
  • grace-soaked; 
  • avowedly a missional movement; 
  • a complementarian movement; 
  • immersed and inventive (“If you own a PC you are almost by definition not a New Calvinist”)
  • commitment in principle to expositional preaching.

Personally I wouldn't place complementarian in this category. Too often it leads to an unbiblical view of authority:

Walker then takes a look at some of his cautions and concerns. These include:

  • The tendency towards pragmatism and commercialism
  • An unbalanced view of culture. Here Walker suggests that “a neo-Kuyperian perspective dominates the movement” (if only that were true!). There has been a misappropriation of Kuyper to justify using “worldly” methods - Walker suggests that for the New Calvinist culture is neutral and so can be appropriated by Christianising it - this is certainly not what Kuyper taught or thought! 
  • A troubling approach to holiness - manifested in incipient antinomianism (we are not under law, so we can do what we like) and unbiblical views of sanctification. Walker makes an excellent point here: “principled obedience is not legalism”. 
  • A potentially dangerous ecumenism - an emphasising of unity over truth
  • A genuine tension with regard to spiritual gifts
  • A degree of arrogance and triumphalism

It should be emphasised that Walker doesn’t see all these in all of the New Calvinists. He is careful not to overgeneralise.

For Walker New Calvinism is at best Christ-centred and at worst human-centred. He focuses primarily on the theology of the movement. His critique could have been helped by sociological and historical perspectives. He mentions that it is centre-bounded rather than boundary-bounded, but doesn’t develop this helpful insight and it implications. Nevertheless, this is a good place to start to understand the strengths and weakness of a movement that is probably past its heyday. 

Let’s forget New Calvinism, we want a Newer Calvinism, and then the Newest Calvinism. This faddishness evidenced in some New Calvinists can be remedied, Walker suggest, by being mere Calvinists - or has it: “be Calvinists. Don’t be new Calvinists or any other particular brand or stripe of Calvinists, whatever those distinctions may presently mean, or may come to mean.

Friday, 14 March 2014

British Calvinists: Henry Barrowe (c 1550-1593)

Henry Barrowe (c 1550-1593) born in Norfolk was a separatist Puritan. He graduated from Cambridge and trained for the bar at Bray's Inn, London. It was during this time that he became converted and became a Puritan. He became firm friends with John Greenwood (c. 1550-1593). 

When Greenwood was arrested an Imprisoned Barrowe went to visit him and he to was arrested for his ecclesiastical views. he was examined by Whitgift and the Court of High Commission. He and Greenwood were indicted under the 1581 Act and sent to Fleet prison.

Barowe spent the rest of his life in prison. But here he wrote many books which were smuggled out and printed abroad. In these books he articulated his view that a Church must be a faithful company of people and separated from unbelievers. there was no place for a mixed church. The word of God not tradition should be the guide. He was firmly opposed to the Established Church with its hierarchy and thought that church government should be in the hands of the elders.

He established a form of separatist quadrilateral: separation was needed as the established church involved: false worship; promiscuous membership; false ministry; and flase and anti-Christian government.

It was for these writings that he was eventually hanged with John Greenwood on 23rd March 1593. He is regarded as one of the fathers of Congregationalism. 

Further reading

John Brown 1998 [original end 1910] The English Puritans Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

British Calvinists: John Rainolds (1549-1607)

John Rainolds (aka Reynolds) (1549-1607) was a Puritan, he was one of the initiators of the King James Authorized Bible. He was born in Pinhoe, near Exeter.

Rainolds studied at Merton and Corpus Christi colleges at Oxford. When he graduated he became a tutor to Richard Hooker. Elizabeth I objected to Rainolds being appointed the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, so Thomas Holland was given the post instead.

In 1593 he became the Dean of Lincoln Cathedral and then in 1598 he was elected president of Corpus Christi (1598-1607). He was one of the key Puritan members of the 1604 Hampton Court Conference in the early days of James I. 

The Hampton Court Conference was convened in response to the Millenary Petition - signed by supposedly 1000 Puritans. The Puritans had high hopes of James I as he was familiar with Scottish Presbyterianism. The Puritans expressed revulsion against several Episcopal ceremonies including the signing of the cross at baptism, bowing at the name of Jesus, and the wearing of the surplice and the cap. Unfortunately, the Puritans didn't win the backing of the king. Rainolds left the conference largely satisfied but the more radical Puritans were disappointed. 

The main gain of the conference was the initiation of the Authorized Version (KJV) of the Bible, but subscription to the Prayer Book was still enforced and the episcopal structure remained. Bancroft who succeeded Whitgift as the Archbishop of Canterbury was even more zealous that his predecessor in enforcing the Prayer Book and the use of copes, caps, hoods and surplices.

Some of Rainolds writings are available here:

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

British Calvinists: John Field (1545-1588)

John Field (1545-1588) (aka Fielde) was a graduate of Christ Church, Oxford. he was ordained by Edward Grindal in 1556.

He worked in London for a while, there he voiced criticism of the Established church which led to him being suspended from preaching from 1571 to 1579. He was opposed to the Act of Uniformity and to Romanising tendencies in the Church of England.

He wrote  A View of Popish Abuses yet remaining in the English Church in 1572 for which he was imprisoned for a year. 
"… we in England are so far off from having a Church rightly reformed, according to the prescript of God's word that as yet we are not come to the outward face of the same. …"
From the Admonition to Parliament (1572)

 In 1584, he helped compile the  Book of Discipline which served as as a model for how Parliament should be reforming the Church. Field unsuccessful in trying to organise the Puritans into presbyterian synods.

British Calvinists: Edward Dering (c.1540-1576)

Edward Dering (c.1540-1576) was born in Kent, he was a graduate of Christ's College, Cambridge

He offended Queen Elizabeth when he preached before her, and was consequently banned from preaching. He was a great supporter of Thomas Cartwright, but unlike Cartwright was a non-separating Puritan.

He died from tuberculosis in Essex.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

British Calvinists: Laurence Chaderton (1536-1640)

Laurence Chaderton (1536-1640), born in Oldham, was one of the key Puritan tutors at Cambridge. He was friends with Thomas Cartwright and William Perkins. Peter Toon (1973) in Purtians and Calvinsim describes his as the pope of "Cambridge Puritanism" (p 17). He was bought up a Catholic but when converted to Reformed views was disinherited by his father. 

He was appointed the first master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. 

He drew up a special programme designed to provide parishes with clergy who knew their theology. One of his innovations was the "mutual conference". This model was used by the Puritans in their "prophesying" conferences. 

He was one of those those involved in the Hampton Conference translators of the newly commissioned Authorised Version (KJV) of the Bible. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

British Calvinism: Thomas Cartwright (1535-1603)

Thomas Cartwright (1535-1603) was born in Hertfordshire and educated at St John's, Cambridge. He has been called the "father of English Presbyterianism". He became professor of Trinity College. In 1569 he was appointed as The Lady Margart Professor of Divinity.  He was used his position to criticise the Church of England, much to the disgust of John Whitgift, who was the vice chancellor who removed him from post.

Cartwright proclaimed six propositions, which formed the basis of presbyterianism in England: 
1. That the names and functions of archbishops and archdeacons ought to be abolished.

2. That the offices of the lawful ministers of the Church, viz., bishops and deacons, ought to be reduced to their apostolical institution: bishops to preach the word of God, and pray, and deacons to be employed in taking care of the poor.

3. That the government of the Church ought not to be entrusted to bishop's chancellors, or the officials of archdeacons; but every church ought to be governed by its own ministers and presbyters.

4. That ministers ought not to be at large, but every one should have the charge of a particular congregation.

5. That no man ought to solicit, or to stand as a candidate for the ministry.

6. That ministers ought not to be created by the sole authority of the bishop, but to be openly and fairly chosen by the people.

Cartwright went to the Continent and visited Theodore Beza, Calvin's successor at Geneva. He returned to England but had to escape to Antwerp in 1574, where he became the pastor to English residents. In 1585 he returned without permission to England and was arrested. His influential friends managed to secure his release. 

It is claimed that he was the first preacher to have practised extempore prayer before preaching.

Some of his writings are available here:

C. S. Lewis on the Puritans: "bishops, not beer, were their special aversion"

We can hardly help calling them 'Puritanism' and 'humanism', but neither word meant the same as it does in modern America. By purity the Elizabethan Puritan meant not chastity but ‘pure’ theology and, still more, ‘pure’ church discipline. That is, he wanted an all-powerful Presbyterian Church, a church stronger than the state, set up in England, on the model of Calvin’s church at Geneva. Knox in Scotland loudly demanded, and at least one English Puritan hinted, that this should be done by armed revolution. Calvin, the great successful doctrinaire who had actually set up the ‘new order’, was the man who had dazzled them all. We must picture these Puritans as the very opposite of those who bear that name today: as young, fierce, progressive intellectuals, very fashionable and up-to-date. They were not teetotallers; bishops, not beer, were their special aversion. 
C. S. Lewis "On Edmund Spenser". Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.  p. 121.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Kuyper on the Lord's Prayer

In his discussion on spontaneous and liturgical prayers, in Our Worship, Kuyper notes that the issue is not on whether free prayer is to be preferred, but whether it is always possible. He then has this to say on the Lord's Prayer:

"The Lord's Prayer is a liturgical prayer that has been used throughout the world and throughout the centuries. It is a prayer that still unites all Christians. The prayer is arranged symmetrically to facilitate firmer and easier retention.  The plural that is used indicates that it was not primarily to be prayed by one individual alone, but by many in community. And the liturgy of the Reformed churches indicates that it was thought to have been given for our use as well. In fact, its contents are too overwhelming for such a prayer to be used once only. Praying the Lord's prayer for a life time will certainly enrich a person even in old age. We can even say that the Lord's Prayer puts the stamp of the Saviour's approval on liturgical prayer." (p. 34) 
He then goes on to say: "It should be understood, however, that this does not mean that we recoomend all existing liturgical prayers. On the contrary, in many respects the liturgical prayers we find in our liturgy leave much to be desired."  

Friday, 7 March 2014

British Calvinists: William Whittingham (c. 1524-1579)

William Whittingham (c. 1524-1579) was born in Chester and educated at Brasenose College and Christ Church, Oxford. He went to France to help in his language studies. He returned to England in 1553 but his Reformed views meant he had to go into exile when Mary I came to the throne.

He was one of the first to arrive in Frankfurt which became a centre for Marian exiles. He became friends with John Knox there and supported Knox in the dispute over the form of church service. Knox wanted a more Reformed approach, others, such as Richard Cox,  a more Reformed Anglican approach - here can be seen the start of another of the inter-family disputes among the Reformed and perhaps the roots of non-Conformism. Knox had to leave and went to Geneva. Whittingham soon followed Knox to Geneva. In 1575 Whittingham published an account of the dispute: A brieff discours off the troubles begonne at Franckford in Germany, Anno Domini 1554. 

In Geneva Knox became the minister of the English-speaking exiled group there. In 1558 Whitingham was elected elder. In 1559 when Knox left for Scotland Calvin suggested that Whittingham take over as minister.

The Genevan congregation drew up a service format and a form of church discipline that was very similar to Calvin's system, with elected ministers, elders and deacons and the power of ex-communication.

When Elizabeth I came to the throne many of the Genevan exiles returned to England. Whittingham stayed to complete his work on the Geneva Bible. He also worked on metrical Psalms.

In 1560 he left Geneva for England via France. In 1563 he became the dean of Durham. 
Whittingham disliked the "popish apparel" of surplice an cope and originally refused to wear them. Several complaints were made against Whittingham, including one that maintained that he was not properly ordained. 

He died on 10 June 1579, he was buried in Durham Cathedaral. 

Some of his writings are available here:

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

British Calvinists: Edmund Grindal (1519-1583)

Edmund Grindal (1519-1583) was the second archbishop of Canterbury appointed by Elizabeth I, the first was Matthew Parker. 

He was born in Whitehaven, Cumbria and was educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Under Edward I he was prebendary of Westminster, but on Edward's death became one of the Marian exiles in Frankfurt.

On return to England he was made the bishop of London and helped to revise the Book of Common Prayer. He was "promoted" to York in 1570. During this time he ensured that church furniture such as crosses, candlesticks and altar stones were removed and replaced by a simple communion table. In 1575 became archbishop of Canterbury. 

During his time at Canterbury he became embroiled in a debate over the "Puritan prophesyings". These were meetings in which clergy prayed and discussed the Scriptures. These prophesyings originated in Northampton. It seems that on Saturdays from 9 to 11 am a number of ministers would gather to expound the same scriptures one after the other and then discuss how they handled the text. The first minster was not to exceed three-quarters of an hour (see Geoffrey Nuttall The Holy Spirit in Puritan Faith and Experience. University of Chicago Press, 1992).

Grindal refused Elizabeth I's order to silence them and so was suspended from his bishopric. Grindal felt that the prophesyings were helping to stem the tide of catholicism. In 1582 he was later reinstated but by then his health was deteriorating and he died in July 1583.

Grindal was replaced as archbishop by John Whitgift, who was no friend of Puritans. 

Some of Grindal's works are available here:

Further reading

Patrick Collinson 1979. Archbishop Grindal 1519–1583: The Struggle for a Reformed Church. University of California.

John Strype 1710, Life and Acts of Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury. Available here