Saturday, December 15, 2012

Incarnation Is Not Humiliation

The topic of Seakle Greydanus' dissertation was 'Incarnation & Humiliation' (1903). The background of this topic was a debate between Helenius de Cock and Abraham Kuyper. Kuyper stated that incarnation in itself allready was humiliation. Helenius de Cock stated that this wasn't the case while then Christ would have still been in a humiliated state today, which is incorrect. In his dissertation Seakle Greydanus made the case for Helenius de Cock's position based on lots of material of the Greek church fathers and thus pitted himself over against Abraham Kuyper on this specific issue.

In his bottenburg lectures Klaas Schilder mentions this debate between Helenius de Cock and Abraham Kuyper when he discusses Barth's claim that all that is created, is sinfull. He mentions Greydanus commentary on Philippians 2:6,7 in which he makes same point. Which brings us to 'our heavenly citizenship' introduced by Paul in this same letter. A commentary by a Dutch pastor on a short table prayer touches on the same topic in relation to what John Calvin wrote in book 3 chapter 9 of his Institutions 'the contemplation of the future life'. The prayer.
O Father, who feeds all of life
Crown our table with thy blessing;
Feed and give us to drink  of all this,
Obtained from Your mild hand!
Teach us to avoid excess;
That we behave like we should;
Make us exercise the heavenly (things);
Strengthen our souls by Thy Word!
The short commentary explains how Calvin's contemplation of the future life has two sides. Contempt for the current life (1) which should encourage us to contemplate the heavenly, but (2) should never lead to hatred for the current life. Contempt for current life 'far away from murmuring or impatience', a whole new dimension. Eventually this contemplation of the future life receives the accent of an overriding joy. The earthly life is a gift from God. Contempt for the current life, to which Calvin encourages us, never stands alone. It's only possible when earthly life is compared to the heavenly. Klaas Schilder said in 1932:
We are not allowed to (should not) isolate the "characteristics" of the church (static givens when they would be isolated) from the living, present, current, from heaven to earth coming, daily self-renewing dynamic ACT of the exalted Christ.'
This focus on 'heavenly things', 'our politeuma' (which is in heaven), &  the dynamic ACT of the exalted Chris obviously has a direct link to reformed (antirevolutionary) political engagement.

It's in this specific context that we should read Abraham Kuyper's lecture 'Maranatha' (hugely important speech for the understanding of antirevolutionary politics and the 'antithesis' in neocalvinist politics) and Seakle Greydanus' commentary on the book of revelations in which he focuses on the (according to Greydanus) main theme 'the Lord comes' (Maranatha). It's in this context quite understandable why Klaas Schilder wrote a commentary on 'the revelation of John and the social life'. Professor Ad de Bruijne recently explained the meaning of  Paul's 'politeuma' in the Dutch debate on national churches and international contacts affirming:
"A citizen of heaven is loyal to other citizens of heaven, wherever they may live'
 Or as Lawrence Semel writes:
'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." Here, in this statement, in a nutshell, is the eschatology of the New Testament that Geerhardus Vos wants to help us understand and appreciate.'


Ann Garrison said...

Vincent, is this a gag?

Vincent Harris said...

not meant to be. It's my discovery of one of the controversies in Dutch Reformed theology which I hadn't previously been aware of.