Friday, March 30, 2012

Legitimising The Global Aid Project & Sacrificing Victoire Ingabire

It seems the current Dutch coalition government of Christian Democrats (CDA) and conservative liberals (VVD) backed by Geert Wilders (who doesn't know him?) can only survive if it makes a deal on cutting aid. In this context Bill Gates warned Dutch prime-minister to not cut aid,  The former Scriba of the largest Dutch reformed Church Bas Plaisier warns he will end his CDA membership if coalition lowers aid budget. Professor Roel Kuiper, Dooyeweerd disciple, stressed the supposed Christian duty of aid in a recent tweet:
"ChristenUnie-achterban voelt het minst voor bezuinigen op ontwikkelingssamenwerking, volgens onderzoek. Kijk, daar ben ik nu trots op."
Arjan El Fassed, member of parliament for Groen Links (A liberal left green party), added the argument that 'the Dutch approach is getting a lot of praise from abroad and supposedly for good reason':
"De wijze waarop Nederland ontwikkelingssamenwerking doet is een manier van werken waar we terecht - Gates benadrukt dat ook – internationaal waardering voor krijgen"
In this context a debate on aid between Africa journalist Marcia Luyten and historian Arend-Jan Boekestijn took place on prime-time Dutch tv. In this  discussion Fred Teeven, under-minister for security and justice, provided the link between aid, Rwanda and Victoire Ingabire. Marcia Luyten, who is married to former senior worldbank economist/ member of Dutch parliament for dutch labour party (PvdA) Jeroen de Lange, made unsubstantiated slanderous allegations against Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.

Nothing new and nothing unexpected, but it raises once again the interesting questions regarding the role of externally constructed development narratives in legitimising the global ‘aid project’ as one commentator so eloquently observed:
"The comparison of Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki and Paul Kagame’s leadership raise interesting questions regarding the role of externally constructed development narratives in legitimising the global ‘aid project’. As someone who has worked with Prison populations of the Rwandan genocidaire, I gained some insights into the politics of Rwanda; it seems very clear to me that the misplaced idolatry of Kagame is not born of naivety, but serves specific political objectives of the western international community. I would only hazard a guess as to what these are; the need for a good example, justification of the global aid project and its modalities, geo-political concerns."
It explains how the former leader of Dutch liberal left Groen Links described her trip to Kigali as an oldtestament pelgrim on the road to the temple in Jerusalem. It explains how critical reports on the success of aid in Rwanda (let alone reports on human rights violations, election rigging, assassinations) are consistently ignored or minized.
Exactedly: "The misplaced idolatry of Kagame (and character assassination of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza) is not born of naivety, but serves specific political objectives of the western international community."

Natuur & Genade: Dooyeweerd Vs. Bavinck, Schilder, Hodge, Warfield

Roel Kuiper en Gert-Jan Segers stelden in reactie op een kritische artikel van Ad de Bruijne enkele jaren geleden:
"wij vragen ons wel af of hier niet iets binnensluipt van een onderscheid tussen 'natuur (wereld) en 'genade' (kerk)."
Deze reactie is een goed voorbeeld van de babylonische spraakverwarring die er tussen de erfgenamen van de denkwereld van Klaas Schilder en aanhangers van de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee bestaat. Koert van Bekkum, ND redacteur, stelde  onlangs bijvoorbeeld dat Klaas Schilder "daarom alles op de kaart van de kerk zette". Een zin die wat mij betreft de verwarring alleen maar groter maakt of in ieder geval niet wegneemt. Henk de Jong zei eens:
"Veenhof opereerde ook theologisch weer tussen de fronten: hij pendelde bijvoorbeeld tussen Schilder en de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee heen en weer"
Iedereen voelt op zijn klompen aan dat het hier gaat om twee verschillende denkwerelden. De moeite blijft echter om de verschillen te benoemen.

Bij het aftreden van Peter Blokhuis als voorzitter van de ChristenUnie en het aantreden van de nieuwe partijvoorzitter Janneke Louisa wordt gesteld:
"Met haar gereformeerde achtergrond en haar huidige lidmaatschap van een evangelische gemeente kent Janneke Louisa de cultuur van grote delen van de achterban van de ChristenUnie."
Het valt op hoe hier de werkelijk relevante tegenstelling tussen de "lyrische logica van de reformatorische Wijsbegeerte" en de door Dooyeweerd zo verfoeide scholastiek onvermeld blijft. Herman Dooyeweerd vatte het in zijn laatste interview nog eenmaal aldus samen:
“When I later get the chance to seriously concern myself with this field, then I know one thing for sure–that I will be against the scholastic school of thought.”
 De reformatorische Wijsbegeerte, met haar pantheistische invloeden en speculatieve tendenzen tegenover de traditioneel meer scholastische Kuyper en Bavinck, waarvan Schilder een volgzaam leerling lijkt te zijn geweest. Overigens lijkt de waarschuwing van A. Janse "om het Bijbelse spreken over de levende God niet te laten overwoekeren door dogmatische systematisering" bij aanhangers van de Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte eveneens aan dovenmans oren gericht te zijn geweest. Daarom wees J. Oliver Buswell de Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte van Dooyeweerd al in 1949 resoluut de deur met de woorden:
"With the background of Hodge and Warfield on this side of the Atlantic, we have learned much from Abraham Kuyper and Bavinck, the great Calvinists of your noble tradition. We prefer their straight-forward appeal to objective facts in the created world, and we regret that some of you younger scholars who have inherited great things from them, have failed to build upon the four-square foundations of their rugged, consecrated scholarship."
Vanwege haar uitgebreide netwerk en de karikaturen van Klaas Schilder's werk, die overigens ook mede door aanhangers van de Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte in stand gehouden worden, zijn de zeer problematische 'aspecten' van de Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte (om met Dooyeweerd te spreken) volledig genegeerd.

 Het wordt tijd dat dat gaat veranderen. Een schone taak voor Janneke Louisa?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Antheunis Janse Completeert Puzzel

Antheunis Janse, een leraar die het aan de stok kreeg met professoren aan de Vrije Universiteit over filosofische grondprincipes, en daarbij bijval kreeg van Klaas Schilder. Centraal stond daarin A. Janse's waarschuwing om het Bijbelse spreken over de levende God niet te laten overwoekeren door dogmatische systematisering. Predikanten als B. Holwerda, H.J. Jager, C. Veenhof, G. Visee en C. Vonk, ervoeren Janse's heroriëntatie als een reformatie. Henk de Jong schrijft daarover:
"Veenhof was iemand die de kunst verstond anderen te bewonderen. Dat is een prachtige eigenschap die wijst op een nederig karakter. Maar jammer was dat het soms wel eens doorsloeg in verering. Veenhof is in zijn leven te hard met Schilder weggelopen. En met A. Janse. Het eerste wordt algemeen wel gezien, het tweede minder."
 Bestudering van Antheunis Janse's relatie met de Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte geeft veel informatie over de vernieuwingsbeweging binnen de gereformeerde kerken tussen de twee wereld oorlogen. Het wordt duidelijk dat Dooyeweerd vooral bezig was met het veiligstellen van zijn eigen positie. Janse's artikelen leidden bijvoorbeeld tot onderzoek tegen professor Volenhove aan de Vrije Universiteit. Ook Dooyeweerd werd in dat onderzoek betrokken, maar kon zich op tijd van Janse distantieren. Dit bevestigt mijn steeds sterker wordende overtuiging dat de Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte, netzo als van Til in de VS, uiteindelijk de VU status quo vertegenwoordigden. Murk A.J. Popma's legt mijn inziens helder en duidelijk uit waar de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee vandaan komt en waar ze toe dient in "lyrische logica van Herman Dooyeweerd" :
"de gereformeerde zuil tussen de beide wereldoorlogen had een eigen filosofie nodig. Welnu - Dooyeweerd verstrekte die, wel wetend dat die maar tijdelijk zou kunnen functioneren. Hij bracht het met grandeur."
Zoals de Amerikaanse denktanks die ofwel de democraten ofwel de republikeinen steunen, zo had Dooyeweerd en zijn WdW tot doel de machtsbasis van de ARP te verstevigen. Die rol vervult de Reformatorische wijsbegeerte nog steeds.

Dooyeweerd’s visie op de Schriften was afgeleid van de la Saussaye!! Een ethisch theoloog die Kierkegaard omarmde. Schilder's proefschrift gaat in op de Kierkegaardse "paradox", waarbij hij ongetwijfeld Chantepie de la Saussaye in het vizier had. Buswell had het goed gezien toen hij schreef:
"The notion that human reason is not autonomous, in the sense that God has created it so, is, in this little book from Amsterdam, quite suggestive of a basically pantheistic attitude. .                                          
With the background of Hodge and Warfield on this side of the Atlantic, we have learned much from Abraham Kuyper and Bavinck, the great Calvinists of your noble tradition. We prefer their straight-forward appeal to objective facts in the created world, and we regret that some of you younger scholars who have inherited great things from them, have failed to build upon the four-square foundations of their rugged, consecrated scholarship."
Buswell heeft precies het punt te pakken waar Dooyeweerd zichzelf en zijn discipelen al vroeg op een dwaalspoor zette:
“When I later get the chance to seriously concern myself with this field, then I know one thing for sure–that I will be against the scholastic school of thought.”
Uit dat laatste interview met Dooyeweerd blijkt ook dat hij 'soevereiniteit in eigen kring' vooral gebruikt als wapen om de (conservatieve) politieke visies die binnen de Anti Revolutionaire Partij leven te verdedigen. In zijn korte bespreking van Dooyeweerd's Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee laat J. Oliver Buswell daarvan geen spaan heel en constateert dat het op drijfzand gebouwd is. Schilder voelde zich verbonden met Dooyeweerd, schrijft van der Hoeven (blz 88 ontmoetingen met Schilder), maar voegt daar aan toe:
"Deze aansluiting bij Dooyeweerd en Vollenhoven mag ten dele verantwoord heten."
En ook op bladzijde 91:
"Tot een grondige en systematische bezinning op de onderlinge verhouding van theologie en wijsbegeerte is hij overigens nooit gekomen. Dit heeft hem parten gespeeld in zijn latere verhouding tot de toen ontwikkelde "wijsbegeerte der wetsidee"
Paradoxaal. Lijkt me toch een voor de hand liggend probleem. De aantrekkingskracht van Dooyeweerd en Vollenhoven op mensen als C. Veenhof doet mij sterk denken aan de populariteit van Francis Schaeffer in de jaren zeventig. Hoe onvolmaakt ook, Volenhoven en Dooyeweerd boden een opening vanuit het gesloten Kuyperiaanse bolwerk. Schaeffer borduurde hier op voort. Een opmerking van Rookmaker bevestigt deze lezing van de aantrekkingskracht van Dooyeweerd:
"It was in 1948 that I met Schaeffer .... I was a bit dissatisfied with Dutch Christianity, which I felt was in some cases below what it should be, particularly on the level of personal faith and way of walking with the Lord. On the other hand, I feel that Anglo-Saxon Christianity really lacks the intellectual insight we have developed in Holland. In a way, what Dr. Schaeffer and I have tried to do is to fuse the two things, to make them into something new"
Schilder's Heidelbergsche Catechismus lijkt mij echter niet een boek dat zich buiten de door Dooyeweerd verfoeide scholastische traditie van Bavinck en Kuyper plaatst. Mijn inschatting is dat Schilder's werk frontaal botst op Dooyeweerd's speculatieve theorie. En die inschatting lijkt op het eerste gezicht juist, als we M.J. Schuurman's bevindingen mogen geloven, die schrijft:
"Schilder heeft veel kritiek gekregen op zijn scholastieke manier van denken. Men heeft hem rationalisme verweten"
In Ds. Visee's resoluut afwijzen van het zogenaamde 'anthropomorfe' spreken van God zien we lijnen uit Schilder's en Janse's denk- en schrijfwerk bijelkaar komen, zo schrijft  H. Amelink bijvoorbeeld:
"Een zaak die geleerd werd (en wordt) door de meeste van de gereformeerde dogmatici. Om van anderen nu maar te zwijgen. Men bedoelt daarmee te zeggen dat als God spreekt Hij dat doet op mensvormige wijze. Anders zouden wij het niet begrijpen. Visee citeert H. Bavinck die zegt: "Als God tot ons spreekt op goddelijke wijze, geen schepsel zou Hem verstaan." Alsof God op een andere manier zou kunnen spreken dan op Goddelijke wijze. En alsof nu juist niet daarin ons behoud is gelegen dat God God is en tóch tot ons spreekt.
Wellicht is het 'probleem' het duidelijkst aan wat men zegt over het ook nu nog wel veel besproken berouw Gods, of over de haat Gods. De aanhangers van dat anthropomorfe spreken menen dat er eigenlijk van berouw bij God geen sprake kan zijn. In de Korte Verklaring staat te lezen bij Genesis 6: 5,6 dat er bij God 'van berouw zelf geen sprake kan zijn'. Men zegt dit omdat men meent dat echt berouw bij God in strijd zou komen met wat de Schrift leert over de onveranderlijkheid Gods. Visee nu toont duidelijk aan dat we in deze mening te maken hebben met een wat hij noemt dogmaticaal en wijsgerig vooroordeel. Ja hij komt tot het scherpe, maar wel juiste oordeel dat heel dit probleem van paganistische (heidense) oorsprong is."
Ds. Henk Smit, heeft in zijn doctoraalscriptie de argumentatie van Visee en anderen doorgelicht. A. Janse's naame is onlosmakelijk met deze discussie verbonden.

Henk de Jong schrijft over de relatie tussen Klaas Schilder en Dooyeweerd's Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee:
"Veenhof opereerde ook theologisch weer tussen de fronten: hij pendelde bijvoorbeeld tussen Schilder en de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee heen en weer"
Een waardevolle constatering. Daar zit namelijk een enorm spanningsveld.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Troost: Het Dilemma Van Schilder

Terecht wijst Koert van Bekkum dit weekend naar aanleiding van het overlijden (zestig jaar geleden) van de zoon van een sigarenmaker uit het toenmalig Havanna aan de IJssel op de "verbouwing" van Schilder's (denk-en schrijf)werk door Jochem Douma:
"Schilders nazaten pasten een heel aantal elementen uit zijn theologie aan. Dat begon in 1966 met de kritiek van J. Douma op Schilders wel heel sterke parallellie tussen verkiezing en verwerping. Douma had daarmee een belangrijk structurerend element in Schilders theologie te pakken. Wie hier iets aanpast, kan er niet omheen ook andere elementen te verbouwen. Dat is dan ook precies wat er vervolgens gebeurde. Schilders existentialistisch gekleurde nadruk op de concrete keuze en op absolute gehoorzaamheid werd gerelativeerd."
In de jaren zestig en zeventig werd er door Jochem Douma steeds de indruk gewekt dat hij hoeder van Klaas Schilder's theologische erfenis was, niets is minder waar. Zijn kritiek op Ds. Gerrit Visee met betrekking tot de betekenis van de Wet kwam rechtstreeks voort uit de bovengenoemde "verbouwing" van Klaas Schilder's werk. Ds. Wierenga schreef onlangs een boekje "Zondag geen geboden rustdag meer?" dat opnieuw duidelijk maakt dat Douma nooit de volledige vrijgemaakte mini-zuil achter zich heeft weten te krijgen, zoals ten onrechte vaak gesuggereerd wordt. Ds Gerrit Visee, Synode voorzitter in 1951, was in zijn artikelen, boeken en preken niet zozeer een scherpslijper met boter op het hoofd, zoals Ad de Boer onlangs stelde in Opbouw, alswel een traditioneel voorbeeld van de manier waarop Schilder's studenten (hoewel Visee aan de VU studeerde) de bijbel uitleggen: niet-speculatief. (lees ook eens Opmerkingen van H. Smit naar aanleiding van Berkouwer's een halve eeuw theologie)

Ook wordt er in het artikel van Koert van Bekkum gesteld:
"Wie in zijn boek De Openbaring van Johannes en het sociale leven de sociale kwestie vervangt door de klimaatproblematiek, de eurocrisis en de blijvende armoede in de Derde Wereld, heeft iets om over na te denken en wordt tegelijk getroost"
Let op dat woord "Troost", we zijn daarmee namelijk aangekomen bij het centrale dilemma in Schilder's werk, wat goed tot uiting komt in volgende Schilder quote uit De Openbaring van Johannes en het sociale leven net na het door van Bekkum geparafraseerde:
"Overschat niet het belang der sociale kwestie.
Maar onderschatting - neen, ook dat is niet de leuze der Openbaring. De weg naar de eeuwigheid loopt nu eenmaal dwars door den tijd. Ja, de eeuwigheid snijdt elk oogenblik den tijd en alles, wat hem beweegt. En daarom is hetgeen den tijd beroert, van precies even groot belang, als alles, wat achter den tijd ligt en eens in den dag der eeuwigheid ontsluierd wordt."
Daarom is de centrale vraag die Schilder zichzelf en ons stelt, het dillemma dat hij steeds voor ogen heeft, in zijn commentaar op de Heidelbergsche Catechismus deze:
"Kan het, mag het? Kan het goed zijn: alles zetten in het raam van den troost? Is het mogelijk, zonder antropocentrisch te worden?"
Het spanningsveld dat zich manifesteerde in de gereformeerde zuil (en daarbuiten) sinds de democratiseringsbeweging aan het eind van de 19de en begin 20ste eeuw tussen charismatisch en technocratisch leiderschap verklaart zowel Schilder's radikale afwijzing van rangen en standen als zijn felle strijd tegen populisme van allerlei gading:
"Daarom moet ge ook nooit in de kerk komen om het gemakkelijk te hebben. Gij moet niet uw prediker beschouwen gelijk Israël Mozes deed: voor hem de zwarigheid, de ontzetting, de verbazing - voor u 't resultaat der bezigheid Gods als ‘gesneden koek’. Gods spijze moet immer zwaar te verteren zijn. Een volk, dat zijn Mozessen laat zwoegen met Gods ontzaglijkheid en zelf naar gemakkelijke houding staat, verwerpt God, die spreekt en openbaart zijn blode zelfzucht in liefdeloosheid. Ze moeten 't elkaar niet gemakkelijk maken: prediker en gemeente. Wij moeten niet Gods Woord willen ontvangen als in den slaap. Wij moeten niet tot God klagen, dat Hij ons meer geeft dan wij verdragen kunnen. Wie zijt gij, die Zijn openbaring beticht van onverstand aangaande uw bevattingsmogelijkheid ?"
In tegenstelling tot wat P. Veldhuizen in zijn proefschrift "God en mens onderweg - hoofdmomenten uit de theologische geschiedbeschouwing van Klaas Schilder" beweert, ging Klaas Schilder's hart uit naar noch supralapsarism, noch infralapsarisme. Een essentieel punt dat rechtstreeks in verband staat met Schilder's centrale vraagstelling:
"Maar waar ik zelf noch supra- noch infralapsarist wil wezen, geloof ik, dat zoowel Gods gezindheid jegens de personen van den aanvang af bepaald is door zijn besluit, ten hunnen opzichte genomen, als ook dat God een positief behagen heeft in zijn werken."
Ewout Klei verwijst naar ditzelfde spanningsveld in Klaas Schilder's verbondsleer wanneer hij schrijft:
"Schilder gaf het primaat van de liefde in de verbondsleer op. Hij was hierin consequenter dan Johannes Calvijn, die geleerd had dat de belofte in het verbond meer gewicht heeft dan de eis. Bij Schilder stond de eis centraal."
Op basis van Schilder's College dictaat "Het Verbond in de Gereformeerde symbolen" lijkt me dit niet waarschijnlijk. Daar stelt Schilder namelijk:
"Het is betekenisvol voor de constructie van Olevianus, dat hij het verbond een eed noemt. Enerzijds noemt hij het een ‘mutua conventio’ anderzijds een eed Gods. De eed gaat voorop, de belofte is primair, omdat het verbond in de eerste plaats is een kwestie van het spreken Gods, van het Woord Gods."
Natuurlijk laat Schilder daar direkt op volgen:
"Bij Olevianus is het verbond een eed, een promissio, het is altijd een zaak van Gods spreken; belofte en eis zijn woorden Gods. Als de twee delen van het verbond, zijn ze dus een dubbel woord Gods."
Dit houdt natuurlijk rechtstreeks verband met de centrale vraagstelling en dat blijkt ook als hij toevoegt:
"Later kwam in samenhang hiermee het vraagpunt naar voren, wat in de prediking het uitgangspunt moet zijn, wat domineren moet, het verbond of de verkiezing. O.i. moet het verbond domineren, wijl het verbond het woord Gods bevat, of eigenlijk is, voorzover het van Hem komt, en daarom moet het verbond ook leiden en niet verkiezing. De verkiezing is verborgen naar graad en omvang etc. We moeten uitgaan van hetgeen geopenbaard is. Door de openbaring krijgen we pas zekerheid van de verkiezing."
De prediking:
"van Gods genade (plus van zijn toorn), de verkondiging van zijn deugden (liefde èn gerechtigheid), de stipulatie met de bondskerk (eisch èn belofte). Die is altijd, behalvemiddel’ ter bereiking van wat straks als uitkomst zal gezien worden, ook een doel-in-zichzelf, een schoone verbreiding van Gods Naam, een uitstraling van zijn heerlijkheid, een prolongatie van zijn ochtend-stonds-werk in Genesis 1: de verantwoordelijk-stelling van den mensch. Hij stelde hen dadelijk verantwoordelijk door Woord en dóór verbondsstipulatie. Die is in het drama der geschiedenis niet maar een haast-middeltje, om straks weg te werpen, zooals men het beschermend omhulsel van een goeie Amerikaansche sigaar wegwerpt, zoodra men ze opsteekt."
Een preek van C.H. Lindeboom uit 1957 over het het gebod van het gebed lijkt me een goed voorbeeld van waar Schilder hier op doelt.

Van Bekkum's uitspraak "Hij zet daarom alles op de kaart van de kerk" was misschien ongelukkig, maar al met al werd er deze week een eerlijke poging gedaan Schilder's werk op een evenwichtige manier te bespreken. Gelukkig zijn we lichtjaren verwijderd van sprookjes (horror stories?)  zoals J. Stellingwerf, aanhanger van Dooyeweerd en vooral Vollenhoven die na vrijgemaakt te zijn geweest na scheuring van 67 terugkeerde naar de synodaal gereformeerde kerk, (in 2011 publiceerde deze meneer de ”Geschiedenis van de reformatorische wijs­begeerte”) die in 1996 in Philosophia Reformata durfde op te schrijven:
"Schilder heeft de theologie nooit van buiten kritisch bekeken en ook de auteur blijft binnen de theologische problematiek. Er is geen wijsgerige of geschiedkundige en helemaal geen natuurhistorische of kosmologonische vraagstelling. Andere onderwerpen zoals literatuur en de evolutie, bekeek Schilder als theoloog. De paradox bezag hij begripmatig. Bij Schilder ben je, onder een hoge sterrenhemel, toch steeds in de kerkpolder met een beperkte, of in het kerkschip met een woelige maar op een paar andere kerkschepen na, vrijwel lege horizon"
We weten nu in ieder geval waar Wim Berkelaar zijn "wijsheid" vandaan heeft.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jim Yong Kim & Beatrice Munyenyezi

Who to believe, when the African government uses genocide memories as political tool?
Two stories coming out of New Hampshire this weekend that could impact the Rwanda narrative:
U.S. trips in Rwanda prosecution:
"Beatrice Munyenyezi's trial was part of a multimillion-dollar effort by the U.S. Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prosecute and deport U.S. residents suspected of involvement in Rwanda's 100-day slaughter, 18 years after it ended. Only the government didn't succeed. "
Read the whole article here:
"a growing body of evidence suggested that the Rwanda's government is using genocide allegations to silence exiled political opponents and discourage defense witnesses from coming forward — as Munyenyezi did for her husband."
Tenacious disease-fighter ready to tackle World Bank:
"This is a man who's worked in squatter settlements, slums, villages, cities, prisons, he's done all that," Paul Farmer, a friend of 30 years and fellow co-founder of non-profit group Partners In Health, told Reuters in Rwanda"
 Jason McLure, from New Hampshire, who blogged about tenacious Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega in January, contributed to both reports. Dr. Paul Farmer, who also served as UN Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti,  can be seen in this interview on PIH. It's instructive to read this statement just hours after Obama made his announcement:
"He was widely praised by officials in the U.S. and overseas. Former President Bill Clinton, who advocated for Kim during Obama's selection process, said in a statement that the nominee was "an inspired and outstanding choice." Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Kim was "a true friend of Africa" and "a leader who knows what it takes to address poverty."

Axe At Root Of Dooyeweerdian Card House

George Marsden wrote in 1991:
"In virtually every field the principal interaevangelical debate has been the same: Do evangelical Christian scholars pursue their science or discipline differently from the way secularists do?"
And:
"Kuyperians, in contrast, emphasize that discipline is built on starting assumptions and that Christians’ basic assumptions should have substantial effects on many of their theoretical conclusions in a discipline."
This statement might apply to Dooyeweerd and his disciples, people like Cornelis van Til, but certainly not to the whole work of Abraham Kuyper. Francis Schaeffer attempt to blend Dooyeweerdian thought into his Warfielder heritage was only a mitigated success. Van Til probably tried to do the same thing. Buswell in his discussion of van Til and Dooyeweerd had seen how useless that effort would be.

However, when we look under the hood of the reasoning of several leading Warfielders, people like J. Oliver Buswell and John Gerstner, it's obvious they have much more in common with the true heir of Abraham Kuyper's legacy, Klaas Schilder, then the Dooyeweerdians would want the world to know.

I am convinced Klaas Schilder's ideological war against "common grace" was actually the axe at the Dooyeweerdian card house.

The introduction to a april 19th conference on the Regimes of Religious Pluralism in 20th‐Century Europe  at the VU gives the typical Dooyeweerdian VU characterisation of Kuyper's antirevolutionaries as "moral collectivities":
"In the Netherlands, a number of communities came to embody distinct moral collectivities within the nation. Through this process, religious/ideological diversity became the principle of social organization that the Dutch call “pillarization" 
Through which process? All this talk of "moral collectivities" is the typical Dooyeweerdian trick to claim relevance for their philosophy. Often overlooked in discussions on Dutch neo-calvinism and Abraham Kuyper, but the technocrats that wrecked the Antirevolutionary battleship from within were Dooyeweerdians.

Vincent Bacote and Daniel Pylman write:

"The aim of tonight’s presentation is to suggest that neo-calvinism’s emphasis on common grace offers the same vital support to the postmodern-friendly emergent church as it did to the late nineteenth century Dutch reformed church that sought to engage every area of life while maintaining fidelity to orthodoxy."
Once again the misconception that "common grace" somehow played an important role in the rise of Dutch neocalvinism. The philosophical Foudations of Bavinck were rejected (!) by Dooyeweerd. We read in the excellent article by Eduardo J. Echeverria:


"Indeed, as early as 1939, Dooyeweerd had rejected the moderate realism of Bavinck's philosophical thought as being in the "scholastic line" rather than the "reformational line" of Calvinism"

The link between B. B. Warfield, Old Princeton and scottish realism has often been over emphasized, allthough sofar it's not exactedly clear what the link really was as we can read in this bookreview of B.B. Warfield's Scientifically Constructive Theological Scholarship:

"Warfield's detractors have maligned his thought as static and beholden to an outdated epistemology, yet Smith debunks this myth. Placed within his historical context, we discover Warfield expressing the organic and dynamic nature of truth, overcoming the subject-object dilemma that plagues Western epistemological rationalism and mysticism, and all through his explaining the doctrinal system warranted by the Bible. Theological scholarship and American church historiography will have to reckon with this fresh and much-needed apologetic on America's preeminent apologist."
Dooyeweerd can't even stand in the shadow of Warfield's big toe.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Covenant Theology Is Based Upon Representative Principle

On the he 60th anniversary of the death of Dr. Klaas Schilder Wes Bredenhof writes:
"Today Schilder is controversial because some have associated his name with Federal Vision theology"
Depends offcourse wether you take Cornelis van Til and Westminster Seminary as the guardians of sound Presbyterian and Reformed theology. This would ignore the origins of the split of Westminster with Covenant. From what I have read sofar I'm reaching the conclusion federal theologians in the  Turrentin tradition can ill afford to ignore Klaas Schilder's writings on philosophy and theology.  As Nelson D. Kloosterman writes today:
"people could profit significantly from his cultural, ecclesiastical, and theological insights"
The American theologian who reminds me the most of Klaas Schilder is J. Oliver Buswell, former Dean of Covenant Seminary. Buswell's writings on Dooyeweerd and van Til show that "Old Princeton" is actually closer to Klaas Schilder then to Dooyeweerd and his Free University and "Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte" buddies. Buswell's evaluation of Cornelis van Til's "Common Grace" revolving around federal theology and Cornelis van Til's platonic realism give us a good idea of his reasoning:

"Professor Van Til’s denial of the autonomous character of man as a creature of God is, it seems to me, logically related to his statement quoted above, making God the ultimate cause of sinful actions.
Closely connected with the denial of the autonomous character of created man, is Van Til’s platonic realism exhibited in his references to the doctrine of original sin. He says of humanity since the fall:
Yet they do exist. They exist in Adam as their common representative.35
And it was mankind, not some individual elect or reprobate person, that sinned against God. Thus it was mankind in general which was under the favor of God, that came under the wrath of God.36
Buswell quotes Charles Hodge in explaining his own position:
"This realistic theory (realistic in the platonic sense of the reality of ideas, not in the creationist dualistic sense of the reality of created substantive entities) is discussed by Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology, Vol. II, pp. 216ff. It was the view of Jonathan Edwards, and, as Hodge clearly shows, must be rejected as based upon non-Scriptural speculation. I sinned in Adam not by any means in the sense that I existed in Adam, certainly not in the sense that Adam was not a specific individual but mankind in general. Such notion is platonism indeed! I sinned in Adam specifically and precisely because he, an individual, represented me,— stood as the federal and representative head of all mankind in this original act of sin.

I sinned in Adam in precisely the same sense in which I died for my sins in Christ. Certainly the atonement does not mean that I existed in Christ, or that he was other than a specific individual, namely, the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, God manifest in the flesh. I died in Christ specifically and definitely because he is my Substitute, my Representative, the federal or covenant Head of the redeemed. Federal theology, or covenant theology, is based upon the representative principle which is logically ruled out when Platonic realism is applied to original sin,— ruled out when distinct individual created identity and a measure of genuine created autonomy is denied to individual men." 
J. Oliver Buswell (and Charles Hodge)  sounds like Klaas Schilder in this passage. Dr. J. Veenhof wrote an article on Klaas Schilder titled "Jesus Christ the substitute" in the book "Ontmoetingen met Schilder" in which he points to this exact same issue of representation.

All this demonstrates federal or covenant theology continued at Princeton after Jonathan Edwards. It also demonstrates Klaas Schilder finds himself in good company across the Atlantic. The more I read the more I get the impression Old Princeton theology is both scottish realism and covenant theology.  J. Oliver Buswell quotes here the fact that Charles Hodge was a staunch Calvinist and a strong defender of the Penal Substitutionary Theory (PST) of the atonement. Which might bring us to Paul C. Gutjahr’s new book "Charles Hodge, Guardian of American Orthodoxy" Francis Turretin Theologiae Elencticae At Princeton Seminary, R.C. Sproul says about the same thing, was replaced as a textbook by Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology in the late 19th century. John Gerstner called Turretin:
 "the most precise theologian in the Calvinistic tradition." 
John Gerstner seems to agree with Norman Shepherd, "who in some ways builds on the work of earlier Dutch theologians such as Klaas Schilder" ( writes S. Joel Garver), as we can learn from the anti-federal vision study bible:
"Regarding Norman Shepherd's paper, "The Grace of Justification," Gerstner wrote these disturbing words: "This paper is very clear evidence of his sola fideism to which only an antinomian could take exception."
In this discussion in relation to federal visionism R. Scott Clark, who is a critic of federal vision claims:
" Klaas Schilder made the post-lapsarian covenant dipleural in nature. Why? Because he was concerned about the looseness and immorality etc he saw as resulting from the Kuyperian doctrine of presumptive regeneration."
I don't know what the federal vision fight is about. But this characterisation of Schilder's position on covenant and election by R. Scott Clark doesn't sound right. R. Scott Clark attracts all kinds of controversy. RedBeetle has taken his Calvinist crusade to a new level. Haha.

What explains R. Scott Clark's treatment of Klaas Schilder is exactedly the stuff J. Oliver Buswell criticized in van Til, if I read this article correctly:
"is also a devoted follower of the late Cornelius Van Til, and, not surprisingly, is an unapologetic defender of logical paradox in Scripture. "
J. Oliver Buswell, Francis Turrentin, Charles Hodge, John Gerstner, Jonathan Edwards all seem closer to Klaas Schilder then R. Scott Clark. Which isn't surprising considering the reasons for the split of Westminst and Faith Seminary as explained by Francis Schaeffer. Let's see what Meredith Kline writes about this.


Interestingly J. Oliver Buswell also discussed presuppostional apologetics with Gordon H. Clark in 1947.

Federal Visionism, never heard of it, but sounds like a strong undercurrent. See the Presbyterian Church in America v. TE Peter Leithart case verdict october 7th 2011.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Herman Dooyeweerd Traps Calvinist Lightning Bugs

Dooyeweerd reminds me of catching lightning bugs when visiting family in the US. Once you catch the lightning bug you put it in your jar, but not long and the light goes out. In similar fashion Dooyeweerd gives the impression that he thinks he can catch faith in his "ground motive jar" and that's the end of it. It looses strength and slowly dies like a trapped lightning bug.
Dooyeweerd's philosophy is built on his personal summary of Christian faith, which he called ground motive:
  •  Creation
  •  Fall
  •  Redemption
On a sidenote,  as we can read in the linked to passage he has no problem using "common grace" as part of the justification for his theories:
'The fall redirected the human heart, it did not change the creation ordinances, for God preserves these ordinances through common grace."
He claims in that same quote:
"Thus the Christian ground motive is a leaven that ought to permeate all things, radically changing a person's view of the state and societal spheres as it comes to acknowledge their true principles."
Herman Dooyeweerd's Ground Motive is what links him to Francis Schaeffer and Cornelis van Til. As William Edgar wrote in 2005:
 "Schaeffer's first book, Escape from Reason, shows a decided influence from Herman Dooyeweerd. A Dutch friend, professor of History of Art at the Free University, wrote extensively to Cornelius Van Til at Westminster Seminary, urging him to give his former student a fair hearing"
Roel Kuiper, another Dooyeweerd disciple, says in his article "State As Unifier":
"Dooyeweerd's starting point was the nature and functions of the state, taking it to exist in fact for public justice"
A typical example of the Dooyeweerdian circular logic. Why would we take Dooyeweerd's ground motive or his description of the functions of the state as starting point? It sounds completely arbitrary to me. Based on this kind of flimpsy logic I imagine someone can claim to be of the school of Cornelis van Til, Francis Schaeffer and/or Herman Dooyeweerd and attack Karl Barth, socialism or the opening of swimming pools on sunday.

This whole "ground motive" or presupposition school, in essence is the same thing if you ask me. It might give you a little respectability and win you some friends at some University here and there. But in the end it's trapping calvinism like a lightning bug in a glas jar.

After reading J. Oliver Buswell's letter exchange 1937 and critique of Cornelis van Til's "presuppositionalism" 1948, I was curious if J. Oliver Buswell had also written on Dooyeweerd's "Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee". And indeed, he has!! in april 1949. My intuition tells me this is a straight continuation of his exchange with Cornelis van Til.

In that same year Buswell wrote an article "Karl Barth's Theology" and later, in 1950, met Karl Barth together wtih Francis Schaeffer.
Buswell asked Karl Barth two questions in that brief encounter:

“In a brief conversation with Karl Barth in Switzerland in August 1950. I referred to his Dogmatics in Outline and asked if his view of the Persons of the Trinity, as there expressed, was not Sabellianism. ‘Well, you could call it Sabellianism,’ he frankly replied. Barth sometimes denies that he is a ‘modalist.’ But my esteemed colleague, Dr. Alan Killen, who is a specialist and critic in the field of the Barthian type of theology, tells me that a careful analysis of Barth’s views shows that he really is a modalist, or Sabellian.”
“In the conversation above referred to, I asked Professor Barth how he explained the prayers of Jesus and His sayings in which He spoke objectively of the Father and of the Spirit. His reply was to the effect that in speaking of the Deity the difference between subject and object completely disappears. I said, ‘Is that not then mysticism?’ to which he replied, ‘Well, you could call it mysticism.’” (A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, vol. 1, pp. 123-24) "

As found by Louis McBride in Buswell's Systematic Theology of The Christian Religion, which is probably a very valuable book to read.
Francis Schaeffer on why Faith and Westminster split (in 1937):
"The Reformed emphasis was very much beyond what I was sure the Bible taught and in fact what Calvin taught" He told a prospective student that the Westminster professors "have so stressed the sovereignty of Go that they have reduced man's free agency to mere responsibility,"
A quote that says a lot.

Another investigative post on Francis Schaeffer's relation to Buswell and van Til.

 Ricardo Quadros Gouvea, who has studied in Westminster, claims van Til is inferior to Dooyeweerd because van Til was part of the fundamentalist Presbyterian movement.  He calls van Til sectarian and fideistic. Interesting how van Til is attacked by a Dooyeweerd supporter and by the Scottisch realist old Princetonian Buswell. Sounds to me van Til must have felt pretty lonely at times.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pauline Eschatology & Geerhardus Vos

Lawrence Semel summarizes in a nutshell the eschatology of the New Testament that Geerhardus Vos wants to help us understand in the first sentence of his excellent article "Geerhardus Vos and Eschatology":
"Ephesians 1:3: "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." 
Geerhardus' exotic background as the son of a German (Bentheim ostfriesland) pastor who had studied in Kampen (descendent of French Huguenote family that immigrated/fled to the Netherlands after the revocation of the Edit de Nantes in 1685) in the north of the Netherlands.  He immigrated to Grand Rapids in 1881 when he was 19.  He received  a doctorate in Arabic Studies from the Philosophy Faculty of Strassburg University in 1888 provides important context for Vos' understanding of Pauline Eschatology. One other important detail was that he studied in Berlin under Bernhard Weiss (author of the revolutionary Biblical Theology of the New Testament), August Dillmann (a critical Bible commentator), Herman Strack (of the justly famous Strack-Billerbeck Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Midrash. In Strassburg he sat under the feet  of the premier liberal critic and reconstructor of the Pauline Theology: H. J. Holtzmann. Dennison writes:
"Vos's two worlds—the orthodox and the critical were in collision and that at first hand"
Hard to not think of Vos' own background, and that of many other Dutch immigrants in Grand Rapids, when he quotes Paul:
"The Christian has his citizenship in heaven, not upon earth, and therefore should not mind earthly things (Phil. 3:19, 20)."
Why did he choose Arabic Studies and what dissertation did he write? Answer that question and you know a lot about Geerhardus Vos I suspect!
Sure enough, James Dennison, who had Geerhardus Vos son Johannes as College bible teacher at Geneva College, Beaver Falls Pa, in his youth, provides half of the answer:
"He realized that he could not live in the critical world of Holtzmann, Wellhausen, even Dillmann and Weiss. He also realized that the Dutch pietistic world expected predictable things from him on his return to Grand Rapids. The Ph. D. was, for the Curators of the Christian Reformed Synod, only a necessary evil. He had been allowed to go abroad on the condition that he return to Calvin Seminary as the young poster boy."
Before accepting a position at Calvin Theological Seminary faculty, Kuyper and Bavinck had offered him a position at the Free University (which was founded in 1880) in 1888, but he had refused. Abraham Kuyper had actually travelled to Berlin to ask Geerhardus Vos for this position (James Dennison does a great job in that article, wow).

In 1892, Vos joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary, where he became its first Professor of Biblical Theology. In his inaugural adress in 1893 in Princeton he marked out the relationship between systematic and biblical theology:
"The fundamental difference between biblical and systematic theology is simply the mode in which the material is organized. Biblical theology organizes the material in a historical framework, whereas systematic theology organizes its material in a thematic or topical fashion. However, Vos went on to argue that systematic theology ought to be structurally dependent on biblical theology"
Lints quote's Vos:
"The Bible is, as it were, conscious of its own organism; it feels, what we cannot always say of ourselves, its own anatomy"
 Lints summarizes his own understanding of Vos' approach:
"The facts of Scripture ought not to be construed in isolation from one another or as inventions of the mind but rather as truths found clearly within the great eschatological framework of Scripture."
His background made him less indebted to the reigning "Scottish Common Sense Realist" philosophy, writes Richard Lints, who adds how astonishing it is that Vos has received scant attention in comparison to Warfield and Hodge. Lints thinks Vos:
"didn't fit into the usual neat categories usually associated with the philosophical positions of the seminary in that period. His approach to theology also looks different in form from that of hodge and Warfield, and this too may account for his being excluded from summary accounts of this very influential conservative ninenteenth-century seminary" 
Geerhardus Vos seems to have also steered clear of the common grace, Barth and fundamentalism controversies, unlike his friend Van Til who left to found Westminster Seminary at some point. However, van Til's views were controversial also among those at Westminster. J. Oliver Buswell wrote a very critical review of Van Til's Common Grace in his publication The Bible Today, which gives us an idea of the discussion on Abraham Kuyper's "common grace" in the US at that time. Buswell's article confirms my previous observation that Jonathan Edwards is closer to Klaas Schilder then to Hepp, Berkouwer, Ridderbos concerning election and covenant. Buswell:

"Students of the history of philosophy will need only to have the Hegelianism of this doctrine pointed out. They will see clearly and at once, that a good and sincere man (Cornelis van Til) has carelessly tracked in mud from the pagan streets."
and:
"One has the impression of a priest giving a Christian name to a pagan idol."
And a quote in same article by Buswell that immediately reminds us of Klaas Schilder and Jonathan Edwards:
"But for God’s righteous indignation to be vindicated and His grace extended thru the atonement, certainly expresses a change of attitude in God which is more than a figure of speech"
Van Til's book on common grace clearly creates misunderstandings of what was going on among Dutch Reformed Christians in the Netherlands and the views of Klaas Schilder. Van Til clearly hurt Schilder's reputation among presbyterians.

The interaction between Oliver Buswell, Francis Schaeffer and Cornelius Van Til concerning Presuppositional Apologetics, as taught by Van Til, is obviously part of this Dutch Reformed - Old Princeton "Scotch Realism" debate. An anonymous participant to the debate wrote:
Scotch is Scotch,
And Dutch is Dutch,
But Calvin was French, you see,
And died at the age of fifty-five,
Not older than “B” or “VanT.”
Too bad Klaas Schilder's actual point of view was never brought into the equasion. In 2007 a conference in Princeton on "Karl Barth and American Evangelicalism" tried to give the impression van Til singlehandedly created the reticence towards Karl Barth among Presbyterians that left Princeton and started Westminster, Faith and Covenant. It's complete nonsense. Presbyterians without a Dutch reformed background, people like like Buswell, read, respected and spoke highly of Abraham Kuyper and other Dutch reformed theologians. In the above quoted article Buswell even quoted Kuyper to counter van Til's arguments.
Geerhardus Vos is the ideal key to studying the merger of Dutch reformed and Presbyterian theological thought pre-Kuyper (at least pre "common grace") I suspect. How did he do it? That's an immensely interesting question considering Geerhardus Vos' links to both Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed churches and theology.
Geerhardus Vos' intriguing merger could help us understand Jonathan Edwards and Klaas Schilder.  What has been his influence on presbyterian theology at Princeton, Westminster and beyond
Lawrence Semel discusses the book "By Faith, Not By Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation" by Dr. Richard Gaffin, Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in his article "Paul the Covenant Theologian" which is linked to these questions. A blogpost by Rev. David O. Donovan gives a good overview of Geerhardus Vos' impact on presbyterian thinking and preaching in the US.
James Dennison, Professor of Church History and Biblical Theology and Academic Dean at Northwest Theological Seminary, has brought us:
"a fascinating collection of Vos’s correspondence to Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, Benjamin B. Warfield, and J. Gresham Machen (among others), together with a lengthy introduction. His introduction is thorough, though quirky at places."
According to Dennison:
"Vos was a man caught between the Old World and the New World, Amsterdam and Princeton (and Grand Rapids)"
The correspondence tell us the story of all three Reformed communities at once:
 "They mediated these worlds by facilitating conversations between Kuyper and Herman Bavinck of the Netherlands and Warfield of Princeton. Because he lived simultaneously in different worlds, Vos is not easily pigeonholed. He exemplified the tensions in all three Reformed communities at once."
According to Dennison who summarized his findings in the article "life between two worlds":
"he remains an enigma."
Noteworthy quotes from John Halsey Wood's article:
  • Like Kuyper, Vos was a supralapsarian (Klaas Schilder writes in response to Hoeksema that he wanted to be neither supra- nor infra-lapsarian)
  • his questions about Abraham Kuyper’s view that baptized infants ought to be presumed to be regenerate. Vos himself held to "presumptive election" writes John Halsey Wood.
Dennison adds this immensely interesting detail however:
 "Vos was a supralapsarian at least during his years as Professor of Reformed Dogmatics at Grand Rapids. Unlike Kuyper, Vos was more moderate in his supralapsarian expressions. But a significant element in the Dutch community viewed the Canons of Dort as distinctively and uncompromisingly infralapsarian. Vos wrote to Kuyper at Amsterdam and B. B. Warfield at Princeton seeking advice and information. From Kuyper, he requested detailed clarification and elaboration of the views of many of the fathers at the Synod of Dort (1618-19). To Warfield, he registered his disagreements with some of Kuyper's views and requested books and information on the covenant theology of the English Reformers and the members of the Westminster Assembly. The "useless bickering" (as Vos called it) was revealing the insular character of the Dutch community in Grand Rapids. In February 1891, Vos wrote, "There is very little theological development in our little church." In June, he wrote "a lack of historical sense and historical denial can lead to dangerous things." And then he adds, "Lately I have more and more come to the conclusion that in the long run I do not want to stay in my present position." Three years after returning to his new world home, Vos regards himself as a stranger and an alien in Grand Rapids. By 1891, Vos has been forced by circumstances to come to grips with the narrow, provincial character of his ecclesiastical environment.  "
So how did Geerhardus Vos end up at Princeton: William Henry Green.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Scottish Common Sense Realism & Jonathan Edwards

In Dr. John Gerstner's view the absence of a distinct philosophy, like for example Scottish Common Sense Realism of Old Princeton, is a fatal flaw in dispensationalism and points to the debate on fundamentals and inerrancy to support this idea.  Let's assume Scottish Common Sense Realism arrived at Princeton in 1768 with it's fresh President John Witherspoon who had just arrived with 300 books from Scottland. Jonathan Edwards preceded the Scottish Common Sense school and died in 1758, so how should we see the relationship between this school and Jonathan Edwards?
As Joseph DiLuzio writes (helpfull):
"By the end of John Witherspoon’s first year as president of Princeton University (then, the College of New Jersey) in 1769, a small group of tutors, including the late president’s son – Jonathan Edwards Jr. – had resigned their positions at the college. Their leave had been amicable in spite of their philosophical differences with the new president. Though tolerant of the tutors’ idealism, Witherspoon had arrived in the colonies promoting Scottish realism and that brand of moral philosophy advocated by Francis Hutcheson and argued against by his predecessor at Princeton, Jonathan Edwards."
Has John Gerstner or any other Johnathan Edwards expert thought this through? This question came to my mind when reading about Sang Hyun Lee's book "The philosophical theology of John Edwards" throug Don Schweitzer who writes:
"Lee showed how Edwards' dispositional ontology enabled him to coherently affirm both. By conceiving God's nature and created reality in terms of a dispositional ontology Edwards was able to describe God as fully actual in the immanent Trinity and radically transcendent to creation, yet also as internally related to it in a positive way, so that creation and redemption bring a relative but still real increase to God's being."
Scottish Common Sense Realism is a school of philosophy that originated in the ideas of Scottish philosophers Thomas Reid, Adam Ferguson and Dugald Stewwart during the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment. We know how Cornelis van Til struggled to reconcile his interpretation of Abraham Kuyper's "common grace"  and "antithesis" with the school of Scottish Common Sense Realism at Princeton. At the same time we read about Peter Enns and G.C. Berkouwer's criticism of inerrancy and fundamentalism.

Klaas Schilder took apart Abraham Kuyper's theory of "common grace", while people like Dooyeweerd and to some extent van Til built their philosophy on top of it. He didn't do this to be arrogant, rude or unkind to his teachers and colleagues in Kampen and Amsterdam, but because he recognized the weakness of Kuyper's "common grace" construction in the face of the writings of Karl Barth. His dissertation Zum Begriffsgeschichte des Paradoxons and his commentary on the Heidelberger Catechism is focused on this central issue. A philosophical debate that boiled over into a schism at the end of the second world war. A schism that provided him the context to write the characteristic sermon "The Year of Destruction in the Light of the Year of Jubilee" in the year of Dutch liberation (1945).
Johnathan Edwards' "philosophical theology" or "dispositional ontology" as briefly described by Don Schweitzer sounds very similar to what Klaas Schilder proposes in this dissertation. In addition twentieth century discussions of Edwards's and Schilder's covenant theology evolves around similar tensions.

Jonathan Edwards and Klaas Schilder could well be two sipping hurricanes that could potentially threaten the bastions of scottish common sense realism, common grace, vanTilism, Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte and Barth's dialectics. Research on similarities in philosophic and dogmatic positions of Jonathan Edwards and Klaas Schilder is the new fronteer.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Election Or Covenant: Revelation & Inerrancy

In the article "Berkouwer: A Hole In The Dike?" by Carl W. Bogue, a very critical analysis of Berkouwer's writings(which he wrote in 1976 one year after he got his Th.D. from the Free University, smart thinking!!),  we read:
"It is Berkouwer’s conviction that election is the very “heart of the church”
Klaas Schilder in 1941 while teaching students in Kampen answers the question: "what should be the starting point, what should dominate in preaching, the covenant or the election"?:
"While the covenant contains the word of God, or actually is, as far as it comes from Him, and therefore the covenant should be leading and not election. The election is hidden in degree and scope etc. We should take our starting point in what is revealed. Through revelation we receive certainty of electioin."
During the sixties/seventies (or earlier, I have to look it up) Berkouwer emerged as a player in the debate against inerrancy. Jack Rogers of Fuller Seminary wrote his doctoral dissertation on the doctrine of Scripture in the Westminster Confession under Berkouwer’s supervision (published in 1967), and he is the translator of Berkouwer’s Holy Scripture (1975). Furthermore, he sees himself as leaving behind his “conservative” background and its “rigidity” while finding deliverance in Berkouwer:
 “It is possible to avoid the extremes of both conservatism and liberalism and yet develop into an outstanding evangelical theologian. My example is G. C. Berkouwer of the Netherlands.”
Randy Alcom writes on his blog:
"There’s a long and well-documented history involving Fuller and the inerrancy issue that you may not be aware of. Much of the discussion goes back to Harold Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible, which Jim mentioned, which was published in the 70s and contained many pages of documentation of statements from Fuller professors denying biblical inerrancy, and affirming that the original manuscripts of Scripture contain a variety of errors."
It appears the consistent trait in Berkouwer's work has been to ignore Klaas Schilder's good advice (see above) to:
"take our starting point in what is revealed"
It's clear Berkouwer and his disciples are far away from Abraham Kuyper's statements on biblical inerrancy in his "Principles of Sacred Theology". Jamin Hubner, who studies at Dordt, has further researched this intriguing topic and written the blogposts biblical inerrancy and what Kuyper really believed and biblical inerrancy and what Bavinck really believed.  Peter Enns discussed inerrancy with his blog readers recently here. Peter Enns's views are discussed by Ken Ham here. Although Enns was supported by a vote of 12-8 by the seminary faculty the Westminster Board of Trustees voted on March 26, 2008 to suspend Dr. Enns from his teaching position at the end of the spring semester.  Abraham Kuyper's doesn't just "articulate the idea that Jesus is the central point of the whole Bible" but states:
"Either Jesus' view of the Scripture is the true one, and then we should kneel in His presence; or Jesus' view of the Scripture is an enormous mistake, in which case the Rabbi of Nazareth can no longer be the absolute guide along the way of faith" 
Carl Bogue received his Doctor of Theology at the Free University in Amsterdam in 1975 and became pastor in the PCA in Akron Ohio in that same year. In that same year he wrote Jonathan Edwards and the Covenant of Grace mentioned by John Gerstner (sermon on justification by faith alone on youtube here) in his article Jonathan Edwards on "Covenant".  Gerstner wrote the influential book "rational biblical theology of Jonathan Edwards". Carl Bogue writes an article on Johnathan Edwards and the covenant of grace in which he mentions that he is a former student of John Gertsner. Carl Bogue states in a footnote to that article:
"Dutch Calvinism (he obviously means the Berkouwer brand) tends to view the Puritan doctrine of the covenant as the hole in the dike through which the Arminian flood poured. Jan Ridderbos. De Theologie van Jonathan Edwards (The Hague, 1907), p. 316, has much praise for Edwards but says his theology is not a pure Reformed system. Ymen Pieter De Jong, De Leer der Verzoening in de Arnerikaansche Theologie (Grand Rapids, 1913), "
Just like C.G. Berkouwer, Jan Ridderbos played an important role in the 1944 schism as well. With that we are back to why I got interested in Berkouwer in the first place: election and covenant. The introduction to Carl Bogue's book on Johnathan Edwards and the Covenant of Grace immediately brings to my mind the schism of 1944 in the Gereformeerde Kerken:
"Twentieth century discussions of Edwards' covenant theology frequently named a tension in the purity of Edwards' Calvinism. Was his insistent teaching on the covenant of grace suggestive of incipient Arminianism"
Klaas Schilder's Dissertation "Zur Begriffsgeschichte des ‘Paradoxon’ " immediately comes to mind when reading the preface by Don Schweitzer to "John Edwards as contemporary, Essays in honor of Sang Hyun Lee":
"Lee (The Philosophical Theology of Jonathan Edwards,1988) showed how Edwards, on the basis of his dispositional ontology, re-conceptualized God's relationship to the world so as to transcend the dichotomy that has long haunted Western Christian thought between God's aseity and transcendence versus God's involvement in the world. Virtually every major tradition in the Biblical witness describes God in various ways as both creatively free and transcendent to the world and as internally related to it. However, from the patristic era on, attempts to conceptualize God's aseity in terms of Hellenistic metaphysics led to the development of classical theism, in which God is not affected by what happens to the world or in it in any way. Conversely, modern attemps to more adequately conceptualize God's involvement in the world and relatedness to it have tended to fall short in their affirmations of God's transcendence. Lee showed how Edwards' dispositional ontology enabled him to coherently affirm both. By conceiving God's nature and created reality in terms of a dispositional ontology Edwards was able to describe God as fully actual in the immanent Trinity and radically transcendent to creation, yet also as internally related to it in a positive way, so that creation and redemption bring a relative but still real increase to God's being."
Michael J. McGlymond and Gerald R. McDermott in the chapter "Calvinism and Edwards" of their book "theology of Jonathan Edwards":
"Carl Bogue exaggerates, but not much, when he decarles:
 "No issue is so fundamental to the understanding of Edwards the theologian as the Calvinist-Arminian controversy."
Jonathan Ray Huggins writes in his thesis on Jonathan Edwards on Justification by faith alone: An analysis of his thought and defense of his orthodoxy:
"Bogue understands Edwards to argue that:
"Faith then is our nonmeritorious uniting with Christ"
"Bogue concludes that, for Edwards:
"The blessing of the covenant of grace, analogous to the marriage covenant, is that all our sin and unrighteousness is Christ's, and all His blessings and righteousness are ours."
Further reading on Edwards, here is a list of books by Kenneth P Minkema from the Yale Jonathan Edwards center who is interviewed below together with Oshea Davis (sermons by Edwards on his website).

Klaas Schilder and Jonathan Edwards really seem to have a lot in common! Both were kicked out of the pulpet for one. Edwards views on supra,- and infralapsarianism, as mentioned by Oshea Davis, immediately bring to mind Schilder's refusal to choose between the two. It's amazing, Klaas Schilder actually quotes Jonathan Edwards once and in relation to infra- and supralapsarism on page 490 of his commentary on the Heidelberger Catechism sunday 4 question 10, a chapter that elaborates on the discussion/ controversy with Dutch American reformed theologian Herman Hoeksema! Klaas Schilder's direct ideological link with Geerhardus Vos at Princeton through "their roots in the second Dutch Reformation which brought them to a similar understanding of redemptive history" is additional indication of Schilder's similarities with Jonathan Edwards, as Geoff Thomas writes:
"Jonathan Edwards was born exactly a century after Cocceius and he wrote the first work on this theme in North America, "A History of the Work of Redemption." Schilder was the European pioneer of 20th century Biblical Theology, while Geerhardus Vos, who was 28 years older than Schilder, became the American leader."

Radio interview with Kenneth Minkema and Oshea Davis about Jonathan Edwards from OsheaDavis on Vimeo.

Victoire Ingabire's mother, in pink, says her heart is in prison with her daughter


Loose Allegations Against Kobagaya, Munyenyezi & Basebya

As one of the very few bloggers who followed the traditional media coverage of both the Kobagaya and the Munyenyezi case in lockstep I can safely say that attorney Ruoff, who represented Munyenyezi, hit the nail on the head when he stated:
"We told her we beat substantial odds by hanging the jury, convictions are far more prevalent."
The article today by Maddie Hanna "Why Did Genocide Case Falter?" underlines this once again. In that article David Simon, a lecturerer in the genocide studies program at Yale University, makes two baseless statements:
"he thinks the Rwandan government is capable of pressuring witnesses overseas, although he believes allegations of that influence are exaggerated."
And:
"even if the government isn't bribing or forcing witnesses - "the kind of things that people allege loosely a lot" - incentives exist for testifying against accused genocide participants"
I take issue with both statements in italics while they neither reflect traditional media coverage nor my own coverage of the Kobagaya, Munyenyezi and Basebya cases.
Coverage of both the Kobagaya and Munyenyezi case by traditional media was certainly not biased in favor of the accused! On the contrary I should add! I am pretty confident David Simon won't be able to point out one example in US press coverage of exageration of Kigali's influence or "loose allegations" to that effect in both trials. Instead media coverage was heavily stacked against both Kobagaya and Munyenyezi.

First, even though Kobagaya was completely acquitted of playing any role in the genocide whatsoever, Lynn Tuhoy wrote february 23 2012, at the start of the Munyenyezi trial (!), that the jury "locked on whether Kobagaya had played a role in the genocide". A false statement or "loose allegation" while:
 "Three jurors told The Associated Press after the verdict that they unanimously rejected allegation Kobagaya participated in the genocide"
Maddie Hanna writes today as if Kurt Kerns makes unverifiable claims concerning the outcome of the jury trial in the Kobagaya case:
"Kobagaya's attorney, Kurt Kerns of Wichita, said jurors told the Associated Press they didn't believe Kobagaya was involved in the genocide, despite witnesses who testified he forced Tutsis to march up a mountain to be killed."
Again, the FACTS are presented in a way that casts doubt on Lazare Kobagaya's involvement in the genocide.

Secondly, when investigating murder, detectives (and the journalists in their slipstream) allways search for a motive. Sofar mainstream media coverage of the Kobagaya, Munyenyezi and Basebya cases has ignored the role these cases played in shaping Kagame's path to election rigging in 2010. Not one article in mainstream media on any of these cases mentions this easily verifiable FACT (a fact that sets these cases apart from other genocide-related cases).

David Simon's claims that allegations against the current regime in Kigali of pressuring witnesses are "spread loosely around alot" or "exagerated" are not only incorrect, it's actually the other way around. In reality these allegations were mostly ignored or downplayed in coverage by mainstream media of these three cases and sofar I am the only source that has pointed to the role these cases played in shaping Kagame's path to election rigging in 2010.