Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why Republicans Need Geerhardus Vos

Recently, in an interview, Senator Rand Paul said:
 “I think it’s important that people know that for the country to get better it needs more than just politicians. Politicians aren’t enough and it needs resurgence through churches, through revivals through a spiritual cleansing of the people."
An obvious reference to Jim DeMint's book Saving Freedom which is part of the ongoing debate on what the Church needs. For this debate to be fruitful we will need to move the idea of 'revival' beyond a nostalgic longing for early America. Historian Charlie Dennison wrote in 1996:
'Could it be that the OPC, helped greatly by Van Til's biblical apologetic, calls to mind that Christ's church is a pilgrim people without nationalist or ethnic portfolio? Could it be that the OPC, encouraged by Van Til's antithetical posture, reminds Christ's church that she is stamped with an otherworldliness, so that she does not seek to regain the world from which she has been delivered, but seeks instead to be a servant in that world until Christ returns? Could it be that the OPC provides a much-needed testimony that Christ's church must always confess, "Here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come" (Heb. 13:14 KJV)?'
Gary North, Director of curriculum development at Ron Paul homeschool program, wrote some time ago:
'In October, 1990, the long-promised book by the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary finally appeared: Theonomy: A Reformed Critique. In response comes Westminster's Confession. It is both a negative and a positive statement. Theonomists believe that "you can't beat something with nothing." It is not enough to demonstrate that someone is wrong: you must also show what is correct.
Cornelius Van Til made this principle the bedrock application of his apologetic method. It was not enough to demonstrate that his opponents' systems of thought were internally inconsistent; he also showed why Christianity is the only logical alternative. But he left an incomplete legacy. He refused to offer an explicitly biblical alternative to the natural law theory that he had refuted. His system created a judicial vacuum.'
 A recent lecture on Natural Law by William Dennison & John Witte's article A Demonstrative Theory of Natural Law: Johannes Althusius and the Rise of Calvinist Jurisprudence give us the best introduction to the debate on natural law among 'Calvinists' today. Natural law is discussed on the radio program Christ and Culture here.

Republican strategists would do well to listen carefully to William Dennison. Dennison articulates the principles behind Kuyper's political strategy which succeeded in transcending the conservative-liberal divide in Dutch politics at the end of the 19th century. Instead of superficial pandering towards immigrants and libertarians, William Dennison's articulation of the (traditional Calvinist) antirevolutionary position has the ability to provide credible thoughtleadership to the Republican party in transition. The political thoughtleadership Geerhardus Vos dreamed of when he convinced Abraham Kuyper to do the Stone Lectures at Princeton in 1898.

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