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By In Books, Theology

Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition

In March 2017, IVP Academic published Craig G. Bartholomew’s systematic introduction to the Neo-Calvinist school of thought entitled, Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition.

Kuyper scholars like James D. Bratt, author of the 2013 Kuyper biography Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat, have recommended Bartholomew’s book. “Agree with Kuyper or not, this is the place to go to learn, in brief, what he said, did, and wrought,” said Bratt.

Over at the Jesus Creed blog on Patheos, The Rev. Canon Dr. Scot Mcknight has two posts on the book. On December 22, McKnight overviews his familiarity with Kuyper’s work and poses the usual objection to Kuyperian thinking: the how. In the Reformed world, we have seen a variety of Neo-Calvinist interpretations from Rushdoony’s Reconstructionism to James K.A. Smith’s efforts to revive Augustine’s “permixtum of the saeculum.”

McKnight is likely familiar with this variety (and history) of its applications and expresses his nervousness at Bartholomew’s paragraph: “Mission is easily reduced to evangelism and church activities, and indispensable as these indeed are, mission is much broader. As David Bosch points out, “Mission is more than and different from recruitment to our brand of religion; it is alerting people to the universal reign of God.”

McKnight and I belong to the same Anglican Diocese, where he is Canon Theologian. While McKnight doesn’t embrace the term Kuyperian – I do and here’s one reason why. McKnight returned to Contours on December 28, 2017 and pulls up to Kuyper’s conversion story. Interestingly, this is a place where McKnight’s Anglican tradition and Kuyper can actually touch historically. Kuyper’s conversation happens while reading a popular novel: The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte M. Yonge – a disciple of Father John Keble, who closely supervised the writing of the book.

McKnight and Bartholomew point to Kuyper’s quote:

“I read that Philip knelt, and before I knew it, I was kneeling in front of my chair with folded hands. Oh, what my soul experienced at that moment I fully understood only later. Yet, from that moment on I despised what I used to admire and sought what I had dared to despise.”

It is not clear in his blog if McKnight has made (or would agree with) this connection, but I would posit that it is no coincidence that Kuyper’s conversion and ecclesiology are born out of a Yonge novel. McKnight is likely familiar with the “Tractarian/Puseyite” traditionalism (or Oxford Movement) that Yonge hopes to romantically entangle the reader with. Her inclusion of high-church, sacramental Anglo-Catholicism is essential to the historic import of the book. In Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, Bratt notes how Kuyper made the connections himself, “the hero’s funeral rite in the Church of England conveyed the comforts available from a pure ‘mother-church’ that was there to guide each step of the pilgrim’s way.”

McKnight goes on to connect Kuyper’s critique of modernity with his emphasis of separation and the sphere-sovereignty of the church. While Kuyperianism is often maligned as a political theology, McKnight, Bratt, and Bartholomew all point to his bold emphasis on the importance of the Church.

Perhaps, I am putting too much weight on Kuyper’s conversion story and its connection to the Tractarians, but they both spring from the same revolt against modernity. Both Neo-Calvinism and Anglican Traditionalism are born to combat the tides of what they saw as liberalism. It is impossible to understand the Anglo-Catholics as a liturgical movement alone, they also represented an anti-modernist political philosophy for the Church against the encroachments of “whiggery.” In a similar way, Kuyper would develop a political theology as a result of his high view of the church, as a defence against modernism, not as a tool for power or mere social engagement.

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By In Theology

The Word Makes History

St. John begins his Gospel with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” a

The Word as “Logos”

His use of “word” is often explained with its connection with the Greek “λόγος.” b The Scripture explains that God is Word, and this is associated with the Son in Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity. While there may be additional philosophical and theological meanings for “word,” my core idea here is of God coming to us through the medium of language.  (more…)

  1. John 1:1 NKJV  (back)
  2. Strongs 3056: Logos is a word as embodying an idea, a statement, a speech  (back)

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By In Podcast, Worship

Episode 24: On Music Making Culture

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast Jarrod Richey and Derek Hale discuss music making in our culture.

The Desert of Musical Literacy

Jarrod begins with the observation, “Everybody in the world has music around them all the time, and yet, no one can make it. Everybody has a device, everybody has access to the world’s greatest music (and the world’s worst music) at the touch of a button or the click of an app. And yet, very few people have formal music training, have the ability to make music, or to be what we would call literate in music.” (more…)

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By In Culture

If Men Were Angels

The Constitution as an Expression of Individual Freedom

In his lionhearted defense of the Constitution, James Madison declared, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary…” (The Federalist No. 51) Madison argued that human nature and its tendencies toward the abuse of power demanded a tripartite constitution to restrain human governments. Yet the triumph of the American Constitution is greater than merely actualizing this Montesquieuan balance of power. Rather, the U.S. Constitution represents a revolution toward self-government. By its recognition of delegated powers, our Constitution not only protects individual freedoms, but expresses all political authority as derived from the cooperation of self-governing institutions. Today, in our time of political polarization, Americans must recover their founders’ constitutional hierarchy of authority. An inversion of the medieval hierarchy with the individual at its crest as the sole-grantor of powers for its servant: the constitutionally-restrained Federal government. Today, as communities fear overreach by the President, the Congress, and even the Judiciary – a return to the Constitution’s emphasis on self-government is the only remedy. (more…)

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By In Podcast

Episode 14: Biblical Counseling with Paul Tautges

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Uri Brito and Dr. Paul Tautges discuss the role of Biblical Counseling in the Church.

“Counseling is the normal work of Christian Discipleship,” says Dr. Tautges, who also serves as senior pastor of Cornerstone Community Church just outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

Where preaching is often considered the public ministry of the word, Tautges suggests counseling may be the “personal ministry of the word.” The two discuss the Biblical basis for Christian counseling and its relationship to psychology and the Church. Pastor Uri Brito is also a certified counselor through the Association of Biblical Counselors.

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By In Podcast

Episode 13: The Nashville Statement

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastors Uri Brito and Peter Jones discuss the impact of the Nashville Statement.

On August 29, 2017, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) announced the release of The Nashville Statement, an evangelical coalition statement on biblical sexuality. The statement, comprised of 14 affirmations and denials, addresses issues related to the Christian view of human sexuality.

“When it came out, the reaction was quick and sharp by the progressives,” said Peter Jones, who published a reaction on Kuyperian entitled Mere Sexuality. Jones writes,”the reaction of progressive Christians and secular folks indicates that the document was necessary.”

In a guest post for Kuyperian, Alistair Roberts said that, “In signing the statement, I am not committing myself to walk in lockstep with a particular party, but am joining with fellow flawed Christians in bearing witness to what I believe to be essential Christian truth.”

The entire text of The Nashville Statement can be read here, with a list of endorsements for the statement found here.

“If you reject the substance of the document that is a serious issue” said Peter Jones, “In my mind, you are rejecting Christian orthodoxy and Christian morality…”

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By In Podcast

Episode 12: Clergy Self-Care

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Uri Brito and the Rev. Canon Dr. Tony Baron discuss the idea of clergy self-care and pastoral life satisfaction.

“We ought to love the church,” says Uri Brito. “But never at the expense of our families.”

Uri Brito is the Senior Pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl. He is married to Melinda and is the father of four children. He is the editor of The Church-Friendly Family, author of The Trinitarian Father, and a certified counselor through the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC). Uri is also the founder and a contributor to Kuyperian Commentary and a board member of the Theopolis Institute. Rev. Brito received his M.Div from Reformed Theological Seminary and is currently a doctoral student at RTS.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Tony Baron shares on what constitutes a healthy and satisfying life and how to approach each of them. You can watch his entire video series on pastoral life satisfaction here.

Tony Baron is a psychologist, theologian, professor and author— he has successfully planted two churches, developed a Christian Healing Center, and started two consulting firms based on the concept of servant leadership. Dr. Tony Baron serves as the Director of Azusa Pacific Seminary in San Diego and Associate Professor of Christian Leadership and Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University. Baron is also founding president of Servant Leadership Institute, a resource think tank on leadership development and transformation, and has shared his expertise with churches and denominations worldwide. Ordained as an Anglican priest and serving as Canon for Clergy and Congregational Care for the Anglican Church in North America under Bishop Todd Hunter, Baron has a great love for current and future pastors who seek to live, learn, and love the Christ-life within the Church.

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