Thursday, March 28, 2013

Christian Political Engagement & Origen's Peri Archon

Princeton professor Jan-Werner Mueller wrote in 2010:
'Christian Democracy, even if power machines such as the CDU keep winning elections for many years to come, is on a long-term trajectory of decline. If it turns left, it becomes indistinguishable from social democracy; if it turns right, charges of "neoliberalism" will be levelled. If it turns much more religious, there just won't be enough votes. This structural dilemma should also give pause to those looking to Christian Democracy as a model to invent a softer, compassionate, post-Thatcherite conservatism on either side of the Atlantic.'
Allthough this illustrates how dominant the communitarian (and/or Dooyeweerdian) narrative of Christian politics has been, it ignores the ongoing conversation on citizenship among Christians worldwide. And also, what does professor Mueller mean when he uses the expression 'more religious'? It depends on his understanding of faith and how he understands the link between faith and politics.

In february the conference Sojourning and the early Church took place at the Theological University in Apeldoorn, 'resourcing from sources in the early Church in a post-Christian world'. At this meeting Henri Keurhorst gave a presentation on Origen and the accusations against the church. Henri Keurhorst got his masters degree August 2012 for researching Origen's interpretation of Scripture as summarized theoretically by Origen in Peri Archon IV.1-3. Which reminds me of my recent blogposts Origen and the Epistle of the Diatheke and Perspicuitas of the Scriptures & the Quadriga.

Ruth Clements writes on Peri Archon IV in her paper (Re)constructing Paul: Origen's Reading of Romans in Peri Archon:
'I illustrate how, in Peri Archon, Origen constructs his theological opposition between “fleshly Jews”/“Jewish literalism” and “spiritual Christians”/ Christian “spiritual” interpretation by transformative readings of its Pauline building blocks, with particular attention to texts from Romans.  I end with a discussion of Origen’s use of key Romans texts in several sermons, to illustrate the complex interaction between rhetorical context and exegetical emphasis in Origen’s writings.'
I wrote in my post Origen and the Epistle of the Diatheke:
 'The homilies on Joshua of Origen might actually point to the importance of the letter to the Hebrews in his (Origen's) thinking'
Ruth Clements confirms this when she writes:
'Paul appears in the very first paragraph of Peri Archon’s Preface.[1]  Origen begins the treatise as a whole by setting forth the theological foundation of his hermenutical method.  He asserts that the “words and teaching of Christ” are the only source for the knowledge (scientia) which leads human beings towards a “good and blessed life." However, says Origen, these words encompass not only Christ’s earthly teachings, but also the “words and deeds” of Moses and the prophets, who prophesied about him.  As proof that the spirit of Christ spoke through Moses, Origen quotes “this one testimony of Paul, taken from the letter which he writes to the Hebrews,” Hebr. 11:24-26.'
In Hebrews 11:24-26 we read:
 'By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.'
Origen writes on the first pages of Peri Archon chapter 4:
'And if we observe how powerful the word has become in a very few years, notwithstanding that against those who acknowledged Christianity conspiracies were formed,...'
A significant phrase while quoting Acts 19:20 'the word (Logos) of the Lord kept spreading and growing stronger' betrays his specific approach to reading the New Testament. It betrays the missionary citizenship (we can find it for example in Calvin's golden booklet of the Christian life) which remains the fundament of Christian political engagement.

Ruth Clements also points to another central element of Origen's hermeneutics which articulates further how he understands 'the word':
'Scripture contains deliberate “stumbling blocks” (skandala), “hindrances and impossibilities,” in its bodily sense, to ensure that the perceptive reader is not lulled by the usefulness of much of the narrative sense into forgetting to seek the higher, truer meanings toward which all the words of scripture point (2.9). Thus, if it is held in too high a regard, the bodily sense in itself becomes a stumbling block to the Christian, because it prevents the reader from pursuing this more essential quest.'

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Embarrassed by John Calvin's Longing for Heaven?

Charlie Dennison wote on Calvin's Institution book 3 (especially the section known as "the golden booklet of the Christian life):
"I fear many present-day Calvinists are embarrassed by the reformer's longing for heaven. Such an eschatological orientation also dominates the work of the Westminster Assembly if we take the Shorter Catechism as a key. Glorifying and enjoying God forever (Question 1) and being made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to an eternity (Question 38) set the tone at Westminster Abbey."
Which reminds me of the article 'het hemelse betrachten' which discusses chapter 9 (chapters 6-10 are part of the socalled 'golden booklet of the Christian life') of this book that starts with the phrase:
'Whatever be the kind of tribulation with which we are afflicted, we should always consider the end of it to be, that we may be trained to despise the present, and thereby stimulated to aspire to the future life'
On the implications for ethics:
 'Life is a school of training ( a term Calvin adopts from the classics). The totality of Calvin's ethics is based on this. The calling starts here and continues. Even through these unfathomable Sizoo-phrases (translator Sizoo) we sense Calvin's thought resonating towards us: like a song that doesn't stop. It is grand and simultaneously sharp, it is heavy and it lifts you up. It's all at once.'
The same topic is at the heart of two sermons on James T. Dennison's website Kerux, number one is The Weeping of Rachel where we read:
'Rachel's pain is a crisis for many because we all suffer with Rachel's illness. But a crisis yields to either good or evil.
The second sermon is The Year of Destruction in the Light of the Year of Jubilee where we read:
'Now we can do two things. We can say the year of destruction is still there and this is very serious indeed. Therefore we groan and moan, which makes us sink even deeper in the swamp. Or we can say the year of destruction is there, but we are children of the promise and so we will place the year of calamity in the light of the year of jubilee which is coming. Only in this way will we be pulled out of this swamp with the cords of God's love, our Father in Christ Jesus, our Lord. For that is truly Christianity. In this time of Advent, we must place all the years of destruction in the light of the year of jubilee of Christ Jesus, which was and is and is to come, in order that we might be children of the promise.'
William Dennison refers to Calvin's Institution book 3 chapter 9 section 4 in this interview:
'if heaven is our homeland, what else is earth then our place of exile?'
Lane Tipton mentions Calvin's Institution book 3 chapter 9 as well in relations to this subject.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Living East of Eden

Sermon 'Living East of Eden' from Chattanoog

Let's reread John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden and compare:
'Lee becomes a good friend and adopted family member. Lee, Adam, and Samuel Hamilton have long philosophical talks, particularly about the story of Cain and Abel, which Lee maintains has been incorrectly translated in English-language Bibles. Lee tells about how his relatives in San Francisco, a group of Chinese scholars, spent two years studying Hebrew so they might discover what the moral of the Cain and Abel story actually was. Their discovery that the Hebrew word "Timshel" means "thou mayest" becomes an important symbol in the novel, meaning that mankind is neither compelled to pursue sainthood nor doomed to sin, but rather has the power to choose.'

Monday, March 25, 2013

Evangelicals, Citizenship & Immigration Reform

In a post 2015 migration and development context it's obvious (to informed policymakers) that citizenship will surge to the heart of policy making on both sides of the Atlantic. As I wrote in november:
'from a purely logical perspective can only be about the merger of migration & development.'
Linda Chavez wrote last week:
'Perhaps the most promising development hasn’t been Paul’s embrace, but that of thousands of evangelical church leaders. The Catholic Church has been part of the immigration-reform coalition for years, but evangelicals, as a group, are relative newcomers. A new group, the Evangelical Immigration Table, which represents pastors of more than 100,000 churches nationwide, is launching a grassroots effort to make reform a moral crusade.

Beginning with a verse in the Gospel According to Matthew — “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” — the group is trying to get church members to read 40 Bible verses that describe the duty to treat strangers as neighbors. If they succeed, the conservative base in the faith community may begin to view immigrants, including illegal immigrants, differently.'
Last friday an Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action for Immigration Reform was announced as the latest effort by evangelical pastors and organizations to push for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. I would argue this effort to be a symptom of a more fundamental conversation about citizenship among evangelicals worldwide.

A recent speech at the University of Groningen by Ad de Bruijne on our heavenly citizenship, discussions between Henk Geertsema and Ad de Bruijne on God's politics and our politics in the reviews Radix and Theologia Reformata are strong signals a transition is taking place at the grassroots. I gave my interpretation of the organic developments concerning this important topic in the Netherlands in my blogpost our missionary citizenship (Re)defined. The 'Refugee Church' in Amsterdam is also a symptom of this conversation among Evangelicals. Add to this William Dennison's discussion of apologetics and citizenshsip and it becomes clear Geerhardus Vos' thinking is making a comeback:
'Paul's appeal to his Roman citizenship is not an appeal to a two kingdoms doctrine for the sake of his ministry and the church; rather, Paul's appeal to that citizenship is only to undermine it for the purpose of serving his sole, real, and final citizenship in faith-union with his Savior who now sits at the right hand of his heavenly Father.'
Allthough since the first world war American exceptionalism dominated the political discourse in the US, the reality that the United States has allways been a country of immigrants has remained an important undercurrent. Just think of what J Gresham Machen, a student of Geerhardus Vos, wrote after the first world war:
'It is a glorification of imperialism....A very immoral purpose indeed!...Imperialism, to my mind, is satanic, whether it is German or English. The author glorifies war and ridicules efforts at the production of mutual respect and confidence among equal nations....[The book] makes me feel anew the need for Christianity,...what a need for the gospel!'
Examples abound, like Chris Christie speech at the Republican National Convention, Saul Bellow's book Augie March, based on his personal experience as immigrant in Chicago, John F. Kennedy's speech in Berlin which has strong similarities to Geerhardus Vos' understanding of citizenship.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Apologetics & Citizenship (Re)defined

From the abridged edition of the opening section of William Dennison's course "Christian Apologetics" at Northwest Theological Seminary in Lynnwood, Washington:
'Paul's appeal to his Roman citizenship is not an appeal to a two kingdoms doctrine for the sake of his ministry and the church; rather, Paul's appeal to that citizenship is only to undermine it for the purpose of serving his sole, real, and final citizenship in faith-union with his Savior who now sits at the right hand of his heavenly Father.'
The essay reminds me of my blogpost Missionary Citizenship (Re)defined when he writes:
'There is no boasting in an earthly domain; there is only boasting in Christ'
(let's also read Nelson D. Kloosterman's review of Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms  A lecture I would have wanted to read Dr. William Dennison on Natural Law  and this article
also this Two Age Apologetics

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Intersecting-plane Dogmatics

The interview between Laurence O’Donnell & Brian Mattson on the book 'Restored To Our Destiny' has a quote that immediately reminds me of what James T. Dennison said on the hermeneutics/ biblical theology of Geerhardus Vos:
'Vos transforms biblical study by introducing an intersecting-plane hermeneutic'
The quote (made bold in the interview!) is:
'I hear you saying that it is one thing to parse what Bavinck says about eschatology or anthropology by themselves; it is another to view both loci in light of each other; yet it is still another to view both in relation to their underlying “vertical” (metaphysical) and “horizontal” (covenantal) grounds. Am I understanding you correctly here? And am I right to conclude that, in your view, previous scholarship has tended to take the first two roads, but the third is the only one that does full justice to Bavinck’s anthropology?'
This confirms to me (once again) my understanding, here herehere and here that Schilder's work can (and should) also be understood/read as a Herman Bavinck/Geerhardus Vos interpretation.

At the same time, Bavinck's (& Vos') farfetched speculations in this article on Bavinck's realism, the Logos principle and Sola Scriptura by K. Scott Oliphint don't seem like an application of the intersecting-plane hermeneutics. Why it's interesting to compare it with Schilder's discussion of the Logos in the chapter on sunday 9 of the Heidelberg Catechism (you see him struggling with the tension).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

How Does the Transcendental Critique Work?

William D. Dennison, who studied at Beaver Falls (where Johannes Vos taught), writes:
'By participating in Christ's words, the apologist is to uncover and expose the heart of humanity. For Van Til, no one is exempt from this critical analysis. The transcendental critique reveals the deep roots of sin in the heart of man, and it demands the purity of biblical truth in the church as well as in the individual Christian.'
'How does the transcendental critique work? Let's say, for example, that I believe that all disputes between nations can be resolved through discussion (negotiation) and experience. The transcendental critique attempts to figure out why I hold that position. As you begin your analysis of my thought, as a Christian apologist, you must have a self-conscious understanding of God's revelation from Genesis to Revelation. Specifically, you must participate self-consciously in Christ's message to the church (the Bible) as you attempt to disclose the foundation (root) of my system. By participating in the biblical text, theory and practice are brought together. With a biblical consciousness of God's revelatory truth in place, you are ready to begin your analysis and critique of my thought.'
Remember this phrase:
'By participating in the biblical text, theory and practice are brought together. '

Tim Black, who studied at covenant college, applies this 'Transcendental Analysis and Critique' on Dooyeweerd’s Distinction between Naïve and Theoretical Thought.

In this interview on his book, 'Paul's Two-Age Construction and Apologetics', William Dennison discusses the link between Geerhardus Vos' thought ( his intersecting-plane hermeneutics ) and Cornelis van Til's apologetics. It contains also a critical chapter 4, discussed briefly in this blogpost.  Also instructive to read William Dennison's comparison of Cornelis van Til's apologetics with Keller's approach.

Through William Dennison's explanation of this apologetical method, Francis Schaeffer suddenly emerges as  van Til's best student. Suddenly we also see clear links between van Til's apologetics and Klaas Schilder's deliberate enforcement of the perspicuitas of Scripture and his understanding of Christian freedom.

So let me remind you as I close of 1 Peter 3:15 as quoted by Helenius de Cock:
 'Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect'

Friday, March 15, 2013

Geerhardus Vos' Intersecting-plane Hermeneutics

James T. Dennison, Jr, who had Johannes Vos, the son of Geerhardus Vos, as bible teacher at Geneva College in Beaver Falls Pennsylvania, makes an extremely valuable and succinct comment on the hermeneutics of Geerhardus Vos:
'The dynamic of a theocentric (and Christocentric) revelation must recognize the vertical dimension. In other words, Vos transforms biblical study by introducing an intersecting-plane hermeneutic: the intrusion of the vertical into the horizontal, the penetration of the temporal by the eternal, the intersection of the protological and the eschatological'
This, often overlooked, intersecting-plane hermeneutics is what makes Schilder's article 'licht in de rook' so valuable. It's the point Schilder makes in his article on the first and last poetic book of the bible:
"Choosing transcendence as starting point in your thinking, with neglect of immanence, equals false prophesy.  Putting forward immanence, with neglect of transcendence is also lying. Only these two thoughts, connected together, speak to us the truth of God. Scripture always keeps them together."
Just notice how his approach is misunderstood  by N.H. Gootjes here. Notice the role this intersecting-plane hermeneutics plays in Henk de Jong's discussion of C. Veenhof's inaugural address on the Word of God in the letter to the Hebrews. The article I started with has at least four opinions as to Vos’ unique contribution to the Reformed theological tradition. Indication that there is a lot of confusion as to what his contribution actually is. A lot of people clearly don't see the immense value of this intersecting-plane hermeneutics. Might this explain why even at Princeton, Vos was an enigma, as James Dennison writes:
'What did he do to be placed on the periphery; what didn't he do to attain a place in even Princeton's tiny spotlight? Was it too hard to follow his lectures? Was it his distinctive approach to the organic character of revelation?'
Kerux and the article 'The Eschatological Aspect of Justification'  and his introduction to the gospel of John and his 'To the Hebrews": A Narrative Paradigm' gives practical insight into how this works out in James Dennison's mind.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bonhoeffer & Neocalvinism

 Marvin Olasky recently commented on this article with the phrase:
Some inmates seek cheap grace: religion not necessarily a deterrent to criminal behaviour via
A clear reference to one of the most quoted parts of the book 'The cost of Discipleship' in which Bonhoeffer makes the distinction between "cheap" and "costly" grace. But what is "cheap" grace and "costly" grace according to Bonhoeffer? In his own words:
"cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ."
"costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Bonhoeffer is quoted a lot, and to advance a variety of agenda's.  And apparently it's fashionable in some circles to compare Kuyper to Bonhoeffer, as Gerard Dekker does here. But what is noteworthy is the frequent quoting of Bonhoeffer in relationship to political engagement.

Arie Slob, leader in Dutch parliament of the ChristenUnie, defended joining the coalition government in 2007 by referring to Bonhoeffer. In 2012 Kuyper center published the article 'Distinct Discipleship: Abraham Kuyper, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Christian Engagement in Public Life.' Next week a Bonhoeffer conference takes place in the Netherlands. Last year a Bonhoeffer conference took place at Wheaton College.There was a recent presentation on "The Common Good and Just Peacemaking: Abraham Kuyper and Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Discipleship for a Better Worldliness." at Westmont College in Santa Barbara California by Fuller PhD candidate Brant Himes.

Bonhoeffer's ideas centred around an exposition of the Sermon on the Mount. Haley Feuerbacher writes:
'In 1937, a book by controversial theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer presented the Sermon on the Mount as the paramount description of discipleship, generating much stir in Nazi Germany due to its label of the nation's religion as antinomian'
 And in the same blogpost Haley says:
'Another manifestation of this antinomianism, the German Church embraced Luther's Two Spheres doctrine, which speaks of a spiritual use and a civil use for Scripture.'
 Admiring Bonhoeffer is one thing, agreeing with his reading of the Sermon on the Mount another. And concerning this idea of separating 'cheap' from 'costly' grace, it seems very superficial. As Rick Ritchie wrote in 2007:
'Bonhoeffer sees a problem in Lutheran Systematics, so he coins some counter terms. Then he reads these terms into a bunch of Bible texts. Only they are different texts from the ones the original systematic terms came from. "Grace" is in large part a Pauline term. St. Paul counters it to "works of the Law." We are saved by grace apart from works. Grace is exclusionary. The Lutherans noticed this and insisted upon it. Bonhoeffer thinks that in their insistence on this, they have undercut Jesus' teaching.

The sad thing is that he won't engage the issue on the ground of the Pauline Epistles. (I checked the index. While Bonhoeffer does quote from Paul a lot, these are either not the Lutheran core texts, or they occur late in the book, after he has made a case for a certain understanding of grace.) He reads his own conclusions back into the Gospels.'
Rick Ritchie makes a very good point when he adds:
'He reads his own conclusions back into the Gospels. And in many points they are plausible conclusions. Except this doesn't seem to be a convincing argument to me on one account. If all I had been given were the Gospels, I would not have thought it possible for St. Paul ever to write what he wrote. If I had heard the Sermon on the Mount in person, I would never have guessed that St. Paul's arguments in Romans would be a possibility.'
It reminds me of what I said earlier:
'The gospel of Matthew should be in the first place read through the lense of the rest of the New Testament, in particular Acts of the Apostles, Hebrews and the revelation to John.'

In my recent blogpost on the organic structure of the Reformed Experimental Garden I wrote about the coherence of developments in reformed theology at the Theological University in Kampen. Is it possible to reconcile Bonhoeffer's views on 'cheap' and 'costly' grace with neocalvinism? I'm not very confident it can be done.

John Piper, a Calvinistic Baptist (?) Christian preacher , who regularly writes in World Magazine, studied in Munich under Pannenberg and writes here on what he took away from some of Panneberg's lectures:
'While Bonhoeffer drew the line at the church-rejection of Jewish ethnicity, and Pannenberg drew the line at the church-affirmation of homosexual behavior, the principle was the same: both the rejection of Jewish ethnicity in the church and the affirmation of homosexual behavior in the church stand in opposition to the cross of Christ.'
February 27 2012 he summarized his post:

'The church that approves of homosexual relations has by that act ceased to be a true church. Wolfhart Pannenberg'
Yesterday John Piper referred to Bonhoeffer again:
'Dietrich Bonhoeffer was engaged to Maria when he was hanged. He never married, skipping the shadow on the way to the reality.'
Let's however listen to K. Schilder's sermon (in 1939) on Galatians 4:30a 'what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son' to understand how he uses it to strike at the heart of national socialism. After rejecting the approach of the Buchman and 'similar movements' he emphasize the word 'isolement'  (isolation) to explain his approach. The word 'isolement' has a specific meaning among Dutch neocalvinists since the founder of protestant-christian politics Groen van Prinsterer used In ons isolement ligt onze kracht” as motto. How does Schilder define 'isolation' in this context? Let's listen to excerpts of the sermon:
'Isolation, not coveted in and of itself and by himself. Oh no, he wasn't even allowed to covet it in that way: it was about the fathership, also of himself, the fathership of many nations? Fathership, also of  Sumbanese and JavaneseBatavians, Saxons, fathership, oh yes, also of those who formerly were humanists and 'Buchmanian', but which have now abandonned the boasting in the flesh? But an isolation that faithfully wanted to preserve the gospel for himself and others, so that later salvation can come to the Gentiles, and to the "many peoples" of the promise of God. For he who keeps the word of free grace unchanged, works for the "many nations", the other works against them, he is ecumenical, the other is a man of a secthe  works for peace, and in honor of the Prince of Peace, the other tables blood, race, soil, or the soul, the stateclass, and birth.'
'And since the discipline, that Paul wants to see exercised against the Judaizers, should  certainly not be judaistic, and therefore must be fully fashioned according to the New Testament, therefore this discipline is not just a matter for elders and pastors of the church, but of all those that are part of the congregation.'
'Hear, all that this morning are here in the church: the requirement of the Lord, that thou should throw out the slave and her whole family, the whole tribe, ban the principle of bondage, is spoken to you all strictly individually.'
Notice the emphasis on 'individually', a consistent trait in all of Schilder's sermons, obviously linked to his understanding of Antirevolutionary politics but most of all to what he said about the value and centrality of the perspecuitas of scriptures in his inaugural address (in his thought) as I summarized it recently:
'The deliberate enforcement of the perspecuitas of scripture as interpretative tool'
Or, to quote Jim Demint's life verse (Galatians 5:1), 'it's for freedom that Christ has set us free'.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Francis Schaeffer: Herman Dooyeweerd's Trojan Horse?

Was Francis Schaeffer just a popularizer of Dooyeweerd's ideas? A narrative pushed (&believed?) by numerous (Dutch & American) publicists, policymakers and Reformational philosophers. Just a recent example in this quote by Byron Borger:
'Roots shows Dooyeweerd's broad analysis of the flow of Western history, the consequences of the dualisms inherited from Greek thought, the synthesis of medieval worldviews, and the subsequent secularization as (to use the words of popularizer Francis Schaeffer) "nature eats up grace."'
Michael Horton, host of the popular White Horse Inn radio ministry, recently said:
“There is disenchantment with market-driven approaches [like Warren’s]. A new generation is looking for a little bit more seriousness and depth.”
The success of Jim Demint's grassroot advocacy points to this same trend away from top-down. This is bad news for people like Peter Wehner and Michael Gerson who have distinguished themselves since 2008 through their efforts to sink the grassroots campaigns of both Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. A few weeks ago Peter Wehner and Michael Gerson wrote a ( according to Joe Scarborough 'great' ) essay on saving the Republican party. Today Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post 'Rand Paul masks his true worldview' which reminds us of the fact that Michael Gerson was the speechwriter of Charles Colson. Michael Gerson writes:
'In the interval, Paul gathered the sudden, unexpected, Internet-driven momentum of a varied coalition.'
The success of Rand Paul's filibuster builds on years of transpartisan coalition building. For years Michael Gerson could afford to ignore and ridicule the efforts of people like John Whitehead, who served as research assistent to Francis Schaeffer on the influential book "A Christian Manifesto". Whitehead's blogpost Setting the Record Straight: Michele Bachmann, Francis Schaeffer and the Christian Right gives some insight in Francis Schaeffer's thought:
'However, while the Christian right has made big gains politically in the past several decades, the Christian involvement in politics has produced little in terms of definable positive results spiritually. After all, political action as a cure-all is an illusion. Although it is a valued part of the process in a democracy, the ballot box is not the answer to humankind's ills. And, in fact, Christians who place their hope in a political answer to the world's ills often become nothing more than another tool in the politician's toolbox.
Francis Schaeffer understood this. As he advised in "A Christian Manifesto," Christians must avoid joining forces with the government and arguing a theocratic position. "We must not confuse the Kingdom of God with our country," Schaeffer writes. "To say it another way, 'We should not wrap Christianity in our national flag.'" As history makes clear, fusing Christianity with politics cheapens it, robs it of its spiritual vitality and thus destroys true Christianity.'
John Whitehead's words on Francis Schaeffer's thinking are confirmed in a blogpost by Colin Duriez who corresponded with Schaeffer on supposed links between his thinking and Dooyeweerd's philosophy (of sphere sovereignty):
'I am really not sure that I have much relationship to Dooyeweerd. Most of my thought was developed prior to my detailed contacts with Hans Rookmaaker and in our detailed contacts I do not think that what we exchanged had so much to do with Dooyeweerd at all, but simply our own thoughts which undoubtedly we have shared backwards and forwards to our mutual advantage for the 20 years.'
The battle for a bit more seriousness and depth among Evangelicals is directly linked to the battle for Francis Schaeffer's legacy. You either trap Calvinists lightningbugs with Dooyeweerd, or you engage the grassroots in a learning process.

Instead of using Schaeffer as the Trojan horse for Olasky's compassionate conservatism or Dooyeweerd's sphere sovereignty, let's dig deeper. To understand the origin of Schaeffer's thought and thoughtleadership, we should read the work of J. Oliver Buswell and  van Til's friend Geerhardus Vos.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Perspicuitas of The Scriptures & The Quadriga

Joseph Ratzinger (now ex-pope) writes on perspicuitas:
'Luther was persuaded of the "perspicuitas" of Scripture-of its being unequivocal, a quality that rendered superfluous any official institution for determining its interpretation.'
and adds:
'Yet this fundamental postulate of Scripture's unambiguousness has had to be dropped, on account of both the structure of the Word and the concrete experiences of scriptural interpretation. It is untenable on the basis of the objective structure of the Word, on account of its own dynamic, which points beyond what is written. It is above all the most profound meaning of the Word that is grasped only when we move beyond what is merely written'
Thus, apparently, his preference for the gospel of John. The conclusion that the perspecuitas of scripture should be discarded while the 'meaning of the Word' transcends the written text seems premature.

We could, for example, argue that 'the most profound meaning of the Word' can be found through the Quadriga, the fourfold sense of scripture. In Contra Celsum Origen writes:
'In what follows, Celsus, assailing the Mosaic history, finds fault with those who give it a tropical and allegorical signification'
In a blogpost on the Hermeneutic Principles in Typological Interpretation Geoff Gummer writes:
'The influence of the Alexandrian school, along with Ambrose of Milan and Augustine, was critical for the development of the Quadriga, the fourfold sense of scripture: literal, allegorical, tropological, and anagogical'
 Francis Turretin on the Quadriga:
'Thus allegory, analogy and tropology are not so much diverse senses as applications of one literal sense.'
Breuss Wane wrote in 2008:
'(Geerhardus) Vos himself posited something very much like the medieval quadriga when he talked about the progress of revelation being like a "seed to flower"'
Via my previous blogpost on Origen and (Platonic) idealism in the letter to the Hebrews, another post on Reading the New Testament in context of Hebrews 12 and this post by Wim van der Schee on the specific traits that defined the Theological University in Kampen the first half of the 20th century, and some searching online, I ended up inside Schilder's inaugural address where we read:
'In this perspecuitas-acceptance lies the unity between 1834 and 1934, between Hendrik de Cock and us. And in the need to replace the 'naive' acceptance of the 'obviousness' (perspicuitas) of revelation, from the days of 1834, by a deliberate enforcement of this now in 1934 as one of the dominant points in the issues of our time, I see here the diversity demonstrated inside the unity which I just mentioned'
The deliberate enforcement of the perspecuitas of scripture as interpretative tool, which value should be judged by it's fruits.

(Let's also read the article (Plato's) Eros or Christ to see how Schilder's Plato interpretation can help us)
Perspicuitas certainly was very important.