Friday, April 11, 2014

Kuyper's Stone Lectures In Redemptive-Historical Context

Recently it occurred to me that Abraham Kuyper's stone lectures at Princeton are just a picture in a bigger narrative. The narrative of his 1898 US tour. At first I was attracted to the idea that this trip to the US was part of a premeditated campaign strategy. The reports on this trip, Varia Americana, in his newspaper De Standaard certainly helped him in the years leading up to the 1901 election victory. And the visits to the Dutch in the American diaspora no doubt helped as well.

But I would want to go one step further. This trip to the US should be placed in the overriding framework of Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics as discussed in a previous post: Grace Restores Nature. It's this redemptive historic framework that helped keep the diverse family of Dutch reformed together in the years following the merger of Afscheiding & Doleantie in 1892. In his book 'Christ in his suffering' Klaas Schilder points precisely to this framework when he writes on Jesus silence in front of Pontius Pilate: 'God's painter does not defend himself with pictures - this would have been self-rejection.'

When we keep that in mind it suddenly reminded me of the link between Apostle Paul's (forced) trip to Rome and his letters. Instead of reading the letters as pictures, they should be seen as part of a bigger narrative. The framework of Paul's trip from Jerusalem to Rome, yes. A metaphore for the spread of the gospel across the world. But also the redemptive historic framework of Grace Restores Nature. In the chapter on the silence of Christ in front of Pontius Pilate Klaas Schilder's focuses on the heart of his discussion of what this Grace Restores Nature framework actually is: 'only in the absolute enforcement of the transcendence of the coming of the revelation in both the spoken word & silence has He retained the immanence of the fruit of revelation for us.'

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