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, 31 October 2014

Kuyperania October 2014

Stephen N. Williams Reviews de Bruijn's Pictorial Biography of Kuyper at Reformation 21.

Andy Crouch Abraham Kuyper goes pop Christianity Today

  Reviews the DVD series Life of the World. He begins:
The statesman and theologian theologian Abraham Kuyper is all but forgotten in his native Netherlands, but his reputation continues to flourish in the United States among Christians looking for better ways to imagine their role in Western society. They often come to Kuyper for his account of the “cultural mandate”—the biblical theme of responsibility for the world so often neglected in narrower versions of conservative Christianity. But they stay for Kuyper’s most distinctive contribution, his carefully developed account of culture’s “spheres,” each with its own features, functions, and significance. The family, government, science, art, education, and more are each essential. None can be reduced to the other, and each requires particular virtues and bequeaths us particular forms of flourishing.

Vincent Bacote in an interview with Bart Noort discusses his kuyperian influences:

How has your work on Abraham Kuyper influenced your view on ethics? 
Many people are very surprised when they find out I’m studying him. I’m not from the traditional reformed background, and Kuyper was not a friendly man to non-European people like me. But my discovery of Kuyper, when I was in seminary, gave me a framework for engaging culture. His doctrine on common grace and the work of the Spirit sets a way for us to live our life inside and outside the church. The topic of my next book, eschatology and ethics, seems to be not neo-calvinistic, but in fact it is. You still have to think about God’s actions and purposes in the world from the beginning of time to the end of the age. How is God’s plan playing a role in how we see our lives? My approach is oriented towards giving people a framework for addressing important questions in areas such as business, the question of race or even our experience of public events. For example, someone can get pretty enthusiastic about a political rally, or about some entertainment event. It can give us a taste of the Kingdom, so to speak. But when we come home, it has given us no long-term vision. I want to consider how eschatology can inform these people in how to live their live in the face of God’s promises with the world. This fulfillment of God’s purposes still has a neo-calvinistic flavour to it.

What did studying Kuyper do for your own spirituality? 
I was shocked when I read racist comments by Kuyper. It didn't matter in what context he said some very racist things: he did say it. I couldn't erase it. I had to figure out what to do with this, because I was pretty excited about the rest of his work, especially regarding participating in society and culture. As a person, it raises the question of how you deal with the imperfection of people you have come to admire or you just started to admire. You can feel betrayed! Over the years I came to realize humans are very good at dissappointing each other. For me it raised the question: how do I have a proper mode where criticism needs to be, but also a merciful mode where I can still see someone as a human through the eyes of Jesus? Today, if I see something on Facebook which makes me distressed or angry, how do I keep generosity? With Kuyper I concluded that I needed a double view: I wanted to say something positive about common grace and public action, but I couldn't pretend and say those other things were not there. I have to tell the truth about both parts.

Can we say Kuyper made you a more merciful man?
(big laugh) He was the beginning of my path toward more mercy! He made me a more critical thinker. Think of it this way: Some people adore Schilder, and tell you not to read Kuyper, other people tell you to read Kuyper and certainly not Schilder. But a critical thinker wants to learn from everyone. One should admit for example that someone like Bultmann had excellent exegetical skills but that his interpretations are most of the time not helpful or orthodox. Let me tell you an example from a book that I am reading: the author is stating that euro-centric ethics is not good for latinos. In my opinion, he's indirectly saying we should take attention to African people as well. While I'm not following his methodology, I'm inspired by his attempt to give attention to the ethical questions of minority groups. Part of the critical thinking is also learning to deal with the downsides of someone; critical thinking is about telling the truth about someone. It is not helpful to hide the truth about the positives and negatives of someone, whether we like them or not. I think you can say a critical thinker is generous and merciful to others as a way of obeying the second one of the two Big Commandments. Obviously, mercy will not always look the same way, there's also the need for a prophetic voice. This voice is identifying things which need to be corrected in a merciful way. Don't lie about people. Don't disrespect people. They may even hate or disrespect you or your views, but loving them instead of hating them is part of the calling of a christian.

Imagine you were a critical thinker on your work on Abraham Kuyper.
What would your comments be? Maybe I should elaborated more the Spirit's work on re-creation and not just creation. Also, I would have had more explicitly original Dutch sources in there, as critics were rightly saying. Those are things that would made my work better, though there were no negative reviews of my book, which amazed me. I might have written more about the specific possibilities for people to participate in the public, a broader range of examples of how that may look like. It wouldn't hurt to have done more of that. That will be more in my book on eschatology though, so I learned from that. But I think I made a positive contribution by the notion on the Spirit's presence and ongoing work in creation, something people don't really often think about from what I have seen. A focus on the Spirit helps us to have a more truly trinitarian theology, not just a trinitarian confession. In my current project, something that's positive is the question of how to expand the topics in ethics, not by replacing things but by adding things to whats already there. I think thats a more generous way of dealing with ethics. I am not writing to fight others but to make a contribution to our life together.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Evangelicalism & Fundamentalism by Bebbington and Jones

Evangelicalism & Fundamentalism
in the United Kingdom during the Twentieth Century
Edited by David Bebbington and David Ceri Jones
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013
ISBN 979-0-19-966483-2
Hbk, xiii+409pp, £72.01

It has been the received wisdom that fundamentalism is largely an American phenomenon that has had little impact on British evangelicalism. Here David Bebbington and David Ceri Jones have complied a volume looking at the relationship of evangelicalism and fundamentalism in Britain.

Bebbington is well know for his seminal Evangelicalism in Modern Britain and Jones is co-author of The Elect Methodists and is working on a history of evangelicalism in Wales, so both are well equipped to edit this volume.

Fundamentalism has been described as ‘the crypto-zooology of the theological world. It need not be argued against. It can be dismissed.’[1] Fortunately, in this volume it is not dismissed but examined in the light of the evangelical movement in Britain. Both fundamentalism and evangelicalism are notoriously difficult to define. The most oft-quoted definition in this book is Marsden’s tongue in cheek definition of fundamentalists as ‘evangelicals who are angry about something’ (cited in, for example, pages 116, 148, 231, 255, 339, 351, 363). Perhaps evangelicalism is then fundamentalism made more socially acceptable. Or as John Mark Reynolds, cited by Holmes, puts it an evangelical is ‘a fundamentalist who watches The Office.’ Or Marsden's (1980) ‘a mosaic of divergent and sometimes contradictory traditions and tendencies that could never be totally integrated’. Like the soap in a bath it is difficult to get a hold of - and very slippery.

Nevertheless, these authors all make an excellent attempt to examine British evangelicalism to see if there are any fundamentalist tendencies in it. Most think not. Though, of course it depends how each is defined. Some see the relationship as intersecting sets (e.g. Holmes), for some the intersection is an empty set, others as a spectrum of views (eg Warner).

The majority of the book is devoted to historical case studies. Warner and Holmes take a broader look and examine statements of faith and theological perspectives.

The Fundamentals the 12 volumes that were largely responsible for the fundamentalist movement so it is fitting that the first chapter takes a look at the British contributions to it. Treloar notes that there were 17 British contributors (out of the 90)who contributed about 400 of the 1400 pages. This alone shows that fundamentalism isn’t just an American phenomenon. He proceeds to provide brief biographies of the contributors.

One of the contributors was Thomas Whitelaw of Kilmarnock and he is the subject of the next chapter. One interesting chapter is that on Methodism. Its inclusion is intriguing as the Methodists are hardly renowned for their evangelicalism let alone fundamentalism, but Wellings identifies one small group that did have fundamentalist tendencies. One of the editors of the Fundamentals was A.C. Dixon - at one point he moved to England to Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle. It is surprising then that he didn’t play a greater role among the British Baptists. Bebbington provides a helpful look at the Baptists and Andrew Atherstone at the Anglicans - both of them deal with the inter-war years.

One key characteristic of the fundamentalists is their anti-Catholicism stance this is taken up by John Maiden. Surprisingly is the inclusion of a chapter on women. Surprising as women were often overlooked by the predominantly male leadership. Wilson provides an excellent analysis of female involvement in fundamentalism, in particular Mrs Horrocks and Elizabeth Morton.

The section on the later twentieth century includes chapters on John Stott and Billy Graham. A sociological exploration of new churches in York brings the narrative up to date. A surprising omission is a chapter on D.M. Lloyd Jones, particularly as Jones is the editor of a volume on him. But then the omission may be overlooked in that there is book on him! The National variations section deals with the Ulsterman W.P. Nicholson, Scotland and post-War Wales. The final section on theological reflection looks at Pentecostalism, evangelical bases of faith, and theology.

For those with an interest in twentieth-century evangelicalism this book is a treasure trove. The book is replete with sources and avenues for further research. The book deserves a wider reading than the price tag would permit.

The majority of the chapters appear in this volume for the first time, those by Bebbington, Randall and Tidball are reprints of articles published first elsewhere. Each chapter has its own footnotes and there is a useful 17-page bibliography and an even more helpful 15-page index.

[1] Bauder, K.T. 2011. In Four Views of the Spectrum of Evangelicalism ed. A. D. Naselli and C. Hansen. Zondervan.

The Drama of Scripture by Bartholomew and Goheen (2nd edn)

The Drama of Scripture
Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story
Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen
Grand Rapids: Baker Academic
ISBN 978-0-8010-4956-9
Pbk, 272 pp, £11.05.

The Drama of Scripture is the first book in the trilogy that also includes Living at the Crossroads and Christian Philosophy. First published in 2004, now a decade later we have the updated second edition.

The success of the first edition has been justly deserved. It has been translated into Russian, Korean, Chinese, Czech and Spanish. There were UK and US version and an abridged version with a study guide published as The True Story of the Whole World and now this second edition.

The second edition hasn’t changed the narrative structure; the biblical story of creation, fall and redemption still remains, as do the chapter titles. The main additions are not major but include mainly updated references and a few literary tweaks, its length has been increased by almost ten per cent.

The book was written for first-year undergraduates but the appeal will be wider. In an age when biblical literacy is waning, even in the church, this book will provide a welcome tool in the pastor’s, and was as educator’s, arsenal. Few books do a similar job of retelling the biblical narrative as a coherent, unified, integrated story of redemption. Even fewer do it with the grace, humour and accessibility of Bartholomew and Goheen. The book will help makes sense of the storied scriptures and of our storied world. Finding our place in the scriptures will help us to find our place and role in the world. This second edition is to be warmly welcomed.

Roy Clouser video recordings

Here are more recordings of Roy Clouser's presentation to the Wrestlers class:

Presenter Name(s)TitleCourse DateClick for recordings
Roy ClouserReformed Theology and the Myth of Religious Neutrality (2 of 2) 4/25/2010 Link
Roy ClouserCan we Know that God is True? 5/15/2011 Link
Roy ClouserThe Idea of a Christian Philosophy 3/11/2012 Link
Roy ClouserThe Dutch Philosopher Dooyeweerd's Theory of Reality 3/18/2012 Link
Roy ClouserUnderstanding Early Genesis 12/8/2013 Link
Roy ClouserWhat is Faith? 9/28/2014 Link

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tom Wright on Dooyeweerd and Kuyper

In a recent piece in Dutch Tom Wright spoke about his regard for Herman Dooyeweerd and Abraham Kuyper (translation based on google translate):

Tom Wright 2

Wright emphasizes often that his theological insights are innovative, or at least surprising. Still, he has his sources such great thinkers to whom he is indebted. In an interview with the Dutch magazine Wapenveld Wright  named  the Calvinist philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977), who conceived a comprehensive philosophical worldview  - the Philosophy of the Law Idea - in which he took the whole of reality into consideration, from school and hospital to economy and sacrament. Wright is impressed by that great Dooyeweerdian grip. "Herman Dooyweerd was important for me," he says, "although I haven't made a careful study of his work ​​myself. His ideas reached me through a good friend, Brian Walsh, who was very influenced by Dooyeweerd. In the early nineties we taught together in Oxford a series of lectures in which the different elements of the theology of the New Testament ethics, had to come together. I was then very much in the preparatory phase of the thick academic books on the New Testament, The New Testament and the People of God (1992). First It is without doubt the result that I then realized that the sense of God's comprehensive Kingdom is associated with the Messiah expectation in the Old Testament, and of course with the way this all came to light in Jesus through my conversations with Brian Walsh."

Brian Walsh challenged Wright to learn to think differently from what he was used to. "Not in the spirit of 'give to God what is God's and to Caesar what is Caesar's' - that would be tantamount to separate compartments - but deliberately going for a deep connection between church and world. Dooyeweerd wanted to integrate all aspects of life from the point of Christ's victory. He was convinced, like C.S. Lewis way that every square inch and every second is claimed by God - and return claimed by Satan. This insight was also not completely foreign to me, it was latent, I had never thought to the bottom . Now I just had to do, thanks to the critical questions of my friend who was so fascinated by Dooyeweerd. And I must say that I am the intellectual rigour of the Dutch Christian thinkers - Kuyper should also mention here of course! - I admire. It made a real difference to what I was used to finicky and sometimes sweet-voiced English way of thinking. Not that I did not know any serious and profound thinkers in England, but the perseverance of the Dutch thinkers have converted a change in me."

Wright is speaking at a conference in Theological University Kampen on 31 October - details here.

Sustainable Development, Architecture and Modernism: Aspects of an Ongoing Controversy

In their paper 'Sustainable Development, Architecture and Modernism: Aspects of an Ongoing Controversy' Arts 2014, 3, 350-366; doi:10.3390/arts3040350 Han Vandevyvere and Hilde Heynen use Dooyeweerd's ideas to critique sustainable development.

Here's the abstract:

Abstract: In some discourses on sustainability, modernism in architecture is blamed for its technocratic beliefs that supposedly generated a lot of the social and environmental problems the world is facing today. At the same time, many architectural critics seem to be convinced that the present call for sustainability with its “green buildings”, is but another screen behind which well-known old power structures hide. In this paper, we react to these viewpoints in different ways. First we clarify the issues that are haunting current architectural discourses by unraveling the logics behind the viewpoints of the critics of the “environmental doctrine” on the one hand and the technical environmentalists on the other hand. We will offer, secondly, a new framing to these debates by relying upon the modal sphere theory of the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd. This new framing will allow us to reconnect, thirdly, with the discourse of modernism, which, we will argue, is all too often conflated with a technocratic paradigm—a partial, incomplete and even misleading representation. In conclusion, we present a different framing of modernism, which allows understanding of it as a multilayered and multifaceted response to the challenges of modernity, a response that formulated a series of ideals that are not so far removed from the ideals formulated today by many advocates of sustainability. We are, thus, suggesting that the sustainability discourse should be conceived as a more mature and revised version of the paradigm of modernism, rather than its absolute counterpoint.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Calvin Seerveld's writings 2009-2014

A list of Calvin Seerveld's writings from 1995-200 appeared here


The damages of a Christian worldview In After Worldview ed. J. Matthew Bonzo and Michael Stevens. Sioux Center, Iowa: Dordt College Press.

Cities as a place for public artwork: a glocal approach. In Goheen, M.W. & Glanville, E.G., eds. The gospel and globalisation: exploring the religious roots of a globalised world. Vancouver: Regent College Publishing & Geneva Society. p. 229-324.

How should Christians be stewards of art? A response to Nathan Jacobs. Markets and Morality 12(2): 377-385.

How should Christians be stewards of art? A surresponse to Nathan Jacobs. Markets and Morality 12(2): 393-398.

Redemptive grit: the ordinary artistry of Gerald Folkerts. Image, 63 (Summer): 51-60.

Categories for Art Historical Methodology:  Antoine Watteau (Les Fetes Venitiennes). In Art as Spiritual Perception.  Essays in honor of E. John Walford, edited by James Romaine (Wheaton:  Crossway, 2012), 165-178.


A Christian mission of glocal culture within riven societies in God’s world. Koers - Bulletin for Christian Scholarship 75(1):115-134. doi: 10.4102/koers.v75i1.75

Getting into Martin Luther's groove. Reformed Worship 95 (March): 20-21.


Why we need to learn to cry in Church: reclaiming the Psalms of Lament. In Forgotten Songs:  Reclaiming the Psalms for Christian Worship, eds. C. Richard Wells & Ray Van Neste. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group.

Footprints in the snow. Comment (March)

Getting ready for church. The Banner  147 September):8

Reading the Bible like a grown-up child. Comment (November)


Overlooked Herder, and the Performative Nature of The Greatest Song as Biblical Wisdom Literature. Southeastern Theological Review 4(2) 197-222. 

The pros of Christian organizations. Comment (Spring)


Cultural Education and History Writing: Sundry writings and occasional lectures, edited by John H. Kok. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press, 2014.  388 pages
Introductions by Doug Blomberg and Gideon Strauss 
Reformational Christian Philosophy and Christian College Education 
Making the Most of College: Studying Ourselves to Life or to Death?
Why Should a University Exist?
Through the Waters: Christian schooling as a city of refuge
The Song of Moses and the Lamb: The joke of A.R.S.S. education
The Damages of a Christian Worldview
Babel, Pentecost, Glossolalia, and Philoxenia: No language is foreign to God
Jubilee on the Job
Concluding Theses on Teaching Philosophy in the North American Undergraduate College
A Final Lecture at Trinity Christian College
Thinking Deeply About Our Faith
Dooyeweerd’s Contribution to the Historiography of Philosophy
Dooyeweerd’s Idea of “Historical Development”: Christian respect for cultural diversity
Footprints in the Snow
The Pedagogical Strength of a Christian Methodology in Philosophical Historiography
Early Kant and a Rococo Spirit: Setting for The Critique of Judgment
“Mythologizing Philosophy” as Historiographic Category 

Redemptive Art in Society: Sundry writings and occasional lectures, edited by John H. Kok. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press, 2014.  310 pages

“Prophetic Shalom in Theatrum Dei” by Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin 
The Necessity of Christian Public Artistry
On Identity and Aesthetic Voice of the Culturally Displaced
From Ghost Town to Tent City: Artist community facing Babylon and the city of godGod’s Gift of Theatre in our Hands
Professional Giveaway Theatre in Babylon: A christian vocation
Necessary Art in Africa: A christian perspective
Turning Human Dignity Upside Down
The Challenge to be Imaginative Salt as Artists in God’s World
Cities as a Place for Public Artwork: A global approach
How Should Christians Be Stewards of Art?
For the Next Generation of Christian Writers of Literature
A Note on Poetry
A Review: Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste

A Review: A Broken Beauty

Art History Revisited: Sundry writings and occasional lectures, edited by John H. Kok. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press, 2014. 308 pages

Introductions by Dirk van den Berg and Henry Luttikhuizen 
Biblical Wisdom underneath Vollenhoven’s Categories for Philosophical Historiography
Vollenhoven’s Legacy for Art Historiography
Towards a Cartographic Methodology for Art Historiography
Antiquity Transumed and the Reformational Tradition: Which Antiquity is Transumed–How and Why?
Methodological Notes for Assessing What Happened 1764–1831 in the History of Aesthetics
The Moment of Truth and Evidence of Sterility within Neoclassical Art and Aesthetic Theory of the Later Enlightenment
Idealistic Philosophy in Checkmate: Neoclassical and Romantic Artistic Policy
Badt and Dittmann: Art Historiographic Testing of Heidegger’s Aesthetics
Telltale Statues in Watteau’s Painting
God’s Ordinance for Artistry and Hogarth’s “wanton chace”
Canonic Art: Pregnant dilemmas in the theory and practice of Anton Raphael Mengs
No Endangered Species: An Introduction to the wood engraving artistry of Peter S. Smith
Redemptive Grit: The ordinary artistry of Gerald Folkerts
Book Review: A. L. Rees and F. Borzello’s The NEW Art History
List of illustrations


Cultural Problems in Western Society: Sundry writings and occasional lectures, edited by John H. Kok. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press, 2014.  212 pages

“My Sensibility is European…” by Barbara Carvill 
Minorities and Xenophilia
Beyond Tolerance to Tough Love
Does the World Ask Europe to Sacrifice Its Beautiful Art?
Imaginative Reenchantment of Society in God’s World: A redemptive artistic task in the European Union
Human Multiculturality: Invitation to enriched identities
From Systemic Suppression of Women to Asymmetrical Gender Mutuality: An historical and systematic introduction
Cultural Dialogue as Human Resource for the Integration of Europe—and what about the development of cities?

Putting Humpty-Dumpty Back Together Again: The problem of artists earning a livelihood in society

Normative Aesthetics: Sundry writings and occasional lectures, edited by John H. Kok. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press, 2013. 320 pages.

Introduction: "(Un)Timely Voyage: Calvin Seerveld’s Normative Aesthetics" by Lambert Zuidervaart 
The Halo of Human Imaginativity
Dooyeweerd’s Legacy for Aesthetics: Modal law theory
Joy, Style, and Aesthetic Imperatives, with the Biblical Meaning of Clothes and Games in the Christian Life
Ordinary Aesthetic Life: Humor, tastes and “taking a break”
Both More and Less Than a Matter of Taste
Christian Aesthetic Bread for the World
The Place for Imaginative Grit and Everlasting Art in God’s World
The Relation of the Arts to the Presentation of Truth
A Turnabout in Aesthetics to Understanding
Philosophical Aesthetics at Home with the Lord: an untimely valedictory
A Review: Kant’s Kunsttheorie

A Review: Truth and Method

Biblical Studies and Wisdom for Living: Sundry Writings and Occasional Lectures, edited by John H. Kok. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press, 2014

Introductions  by Craig Bartholomew  and by Peter S. Smith 
Hearing God’s Narrative about “the Way” of shalom
Reading and Hearing the Psalms: The Gut of the Bible
Psalms are to be Heard Everywhere
Five Psalms: For the American Guild of Organists
  a. Psalm 19: Celebrating the good news of God’s creational ordinances and creatural glossolalia
  b. David Psalm 30: A song written for a consecration service of the house of God
  c. Psalm 96: A song that never gets old is new
  d. Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–9, 11: The most human of these is hope
  e. Revelation 18:21–19:8: Hip-hop millennial culture and Hallelujah!
Pain Is a Four-Letter Word: A congregational lament
Proverbs 10:1–22: From Poetic Paragraphs to Preaching
Celebrate the Resourceful Woman (Proverbs 31)
Herder’s Revolutionary Hermeneutic and Aesthetic Theory: The Import of Herder’s Hermeneutics for Text Performance of The Greatest Song
Needed: Biblical Recovery of Human Corporeality and Historical Institutionality in God’s World
The Gift and Distraction of Pleasure
The Smell of your School: A letter of reference?
A Christian School Song for Parents and Teachers
Ways-of-life and becoming elderly wise
Import of Biblical Wisdom Literature for a Conception of Artistic Truth
A Modest Proposal for Reforming the Christian Reformed Church in North America
A Snake and Dove Policy for Redeemer Graduates
Graduating to Glocal Martyrdom
Reformed Institutions in Transformation
Book Review: Reading Ecclesiastes: Old Testament Exegesis and Hermeneutical Theory
Carlos Martínez Mime Actor
A Worship Service Where Two People Walked Out
Say “Amen!” Somebody: On gospel singing and joyful worship
Longing to Lament: A conversation between Michael Card and Calvin Seerveld
The Rule of God
Long-range mercy for Africa: The CRC in Sierra Leone
We are Not Pilgrims: We are called to build tent cities in God’s world
Bastards or Sons of God?
Operation Fish and Bread for the Ontario Government
The Tender, Tough Mystery of (Married) Love
“The Rare Gift of a Friend”A Morning Weather Hymn
Reading the Bible like a Grown-Up Child

Epilogue: A personal testimony