Friday, April 6, 2012

American Exceptionalism & Calvin's Accomodatio Dei

The ongoing "Buswell-Dooyeweerd" discussion with Chris Gousmett and Bruce C. Wearne made me aware of Cornelis van Til's attempt to merge "Amsterdam (Dooyeweerd) and Old Princeton" as an idealist-realist synthesis in the last chapter of his book "Defense of the Faith". An extremely valuable observation which could well explain the prevailing popularity of the American civil-religious notion of exceptionalism among Evangelicals (and beyond, I should add!). Professor Roel Kuiper, a Dooyeweerd disciple, gives us an example of this when he writes:
"National identity arises through the intercourse of a community of citizens under the leadership of a state. It is because of this that the USA can state that it is a ‘great nation'. Dooyeweerd's view of the role of the state in the formation of a national political community is highly relevant today -not only to the issue of racial integration within nation states such as the Netherlands, but also to the integration and governance of the peoples of the European Union."
My blogposts "Obama's Reelection Psalm?" & "Dutch Christian Conservatives Dominated By Communitarianism" which discuss the notion of American exceptionalism and it's Dutch Calvinist connection through the "Grand Rapids Intellectuals" could well point in the same direction of this suggested idealist-realist synthesis.

This valuable discussion also made me aware, thanks to French Pastor Vincent Bru's website, of the dissertation "Accommodatio Dei A Theme in K. Schilder's Theology of Revelation"
 by Jacobus de Jong, the successor of Karel Deddens (son of Pieter Deddens who after the schism in 1944 taught at the theological School in Kampen) in Diaconiology at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary. Arres Huijgen, who since 2008 teaches dogmatics and symbols at the Theological University Apeldoorn, has written his dissertation on Divine Accomodation in Theology of John Calvin (which might add some insights).

Van Til's attempt (I still have to read Defense of the Faith) to reconcile Amsterdam and Old Princeton reminds me of Professor C. Veenhof's (Schilder's "lieutenant") attempt to reconcile Dooyeweerd's philosophy with Klaas Schilder's federal theology and Francis Schaeffer's attempt to reconcile Buswell and "Amsterdam" (van Til, Dooyeweerd).

The three very different approaches all have clear links to covenant theology through Buswell and  Schilder.


Ann Garrison said...

Vincent, you're going to make my head explode. I'm just a simple news reporter.

Vincent Harris said...

Louise Fresco wrote last week about Dutch columnist Heldring how he ignored the influence of Chinua Achebe (things fall apart) and Jean-Price Mans indigene and the cubistic/ multiple voiced society in which we lived. Heldring was convinced of the utility of the 'concept' of original sin allthough he wasn't a Christian.

We often speak of the influence of greek philosophy and Calvinism on western culture. But what about the other influences?

African culture seems very anti-Platonic to me. Scared of the invisible world, a lot of dancing. Importance of the here and now.