Journal of Reformed Theology special issue: on neo-Calvinism and race

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The most recent edition of the Journal of Reformed Theology includes six articles that first saw the light of day as papers at the 2015 Kuyper Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary on neo-Calvinism and race. Continue reading “Journal of Reformed Theology special issue: on neo-Calvinism and race”

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Abraham Kuyper and the Brexistential Crisis

 

This article was published in Pro Ministerio, a Dutch magazine for Reformed ministers, in a special issue on Abraham Kuyper – who is undergoing something of a renaissance in (at least some) Dutch Reformed circles. I was asked to write a piece on Kuyper from a Scottish perspective, particularly with a view to how Kuyper might be interesting within Scottish culture.

In summary: the article is about how Brexit, and especially the phenomenon of Brexistential crisis, changed the way I thought about Kuyper in a Scottish context. The article sets out that this crisis has to be viewed in relation to the modern self – which is driven to create its own identity and environment, and which, for most Scots, has been severely frustrated by Brexit. It views the experience of Brexistential crisis as another example of a world experienced by its inhabitants as a kind of postmodern chaos, and against that backdrop, it tries to bring Kuyper’s view of the Lordship of Christ to bear on how Scottish Reformed Christians might think about their place in a frustrated and frustrating culture.

Thanks to Pro Ministerio‘s editor Mark Veurink, for granting permission to reproduce the article here.

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Herman Bavinck’s ‘My Journey to America’

My translation of Herman Bavinck’s (short) book, Mijne reis naar Amerika, is now available in Dutch Crossing: Journal for Low Countries Studies (Taylor and Francis).

‘Herman Bavinck’s ‘My Journey to America’

Bavinck travelled to North America in 1892. Although travel journals were relatively commonplace in late nineteenth century Europe (Bavinck’s colleague Abraham Kuyper also published a book, Varia Americana, on his own travels around America), Bavinck’s observations on American culture are fascinating for three reasons. Continue reading “Herman Bavinck’s ‘My Journey to America’”

Steve Bishop’s Mind-maps of Trinity and Organism

It’s very nice if you write a detailed (and in places complex) academic work, and later find someone who has actually read it, who has done so with care, and has made a serious effort to take in its flow of ideas: how do the contents progress? How do its ideas develop, and in what order? Who are the key figures? What are the important dates in understanding the context?

One blogger, Steve Bishop, has gone further than most in producing mind-maps for each chapter of Trinity and Organism.

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Thanks Steve! These are fantastic. They look more like neurons than maps, which fits perfectly with the point made in the book (that Bavinck’s thought is profoundly marked by the organic nature of his ideas and their interrelationships).

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Trinity and Organism reviewed by Allkirk Network, and Derek Rishmawy

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Over the last year (or so) my first monograph, Trinity and Organism (New York and London: T&T Clark/Bloomsbury, 2012), has been reviewed on a couple of blogs. It featured on the Allkirk Network, and has also been covered by Derek Rishmawy. In Rishmawy’s review, I particularly appreciated that he used the review to explore why detailed historical theology is worthwhile to the church: as communities committed to the importance of truth (and the corresponding duty not to bear false witness of one’s neighbour, even if that neighbour lived in the past), and that strive for right doctrine, churches benefit from historical theology. To that, Rishmawy adds (and I agree!):

Beyond avoiding error, studies in historical theology prove that our Fathers and Mothers in the faith may still have something to new to say to us. Corrective studies like Eglinton’s have the possibility of opening up theological vistas or impasses in current theological and churchly debate because it comes from another time that’s not caught up in the assumptions we share. This is true whether it’s simply reminding ourselves of older sources we merely forgot or by gaining an understanding of their answers that weren’t properly heard the first time around. In this way, historical theology can become a timely word from another time.

Neo-Calvinism and the French Revolution, in Reviews in Religion & Theology

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Our book Neo-Calvinism and the French Revolution (T&T Clark/Bloomsbury, 2014) was recently reviewed in Reviews in Religion & Theology by Elissa Cutter (Loyola Marymount University). It was great to see particular praise for Matthew Kaemingk‘s excellent essay, ‘French Secularity and the Islamic Headscarf: A Theological Deconstruction,’ which used Kuyper to critique Laïcité (a distinctly French approach to secularism) as a de facto religion.

[Kaemingk] describes his essay as a ‘theological experiment’ (p. 159) where he applies Kuyper’s method of interpreting the French Revolution to the French response to Islam today. He argues, following Kuyper, that laïcité (secularity) in France has achieved the status as a religion so the conflict over Muslim headscarves in France should be seen as a clash between two religious worldviews. Because of this approach, I found this essay to be the most unique and interesting of the whole collection.

On publishing theological translations

Before moving into my lectureship at New College, I spent three years in the Netherlands, where I worked at the Theologische Universiteit Kampen. When I arrived there, I had finished my PhD on Bavinck, which meant I had a good reading knowledge of late nineteenth century theological Dutch. My spoken Dutch was much more limited: I could work through complex technical material (although I had never heard much of it pronounced), but my everyday vocabulary and range of expression were not extensive. My early attempts to converse dried up quickly and required a lot of patience from my Dutch conversation partners (bedankt voor jullie geduld, Marinus en Wolter!).

Three years in a Dutch university context transformed that. I seized every opportunity to improve my Dutch: I went to language classes, absolutely refused to speak English to my colleagues, watched Dutch TV, read Dutch newspapers, read a lot of Dutch theologians (in Dutch) other than Bavinck, went to Dutch church services (twice!) every Sunday, and got to know our Dutch neighbours. At the end of my first year there, I gave my first public lectures in Dutch, and started to preach in Dutch church services. By the end of my time in Kampen, my home life was in a mix of English and Gaelic, but the rest of my life took place in Dutch. It became comforting and familiar – almost like a second mother-tongue, something I could play with and enjoy. It became a big part of my identity and experience. When I first returned to Edinburgh, I felt bereft of the language. I remember the palpable sense of relief upon meeting a Dutch postgrad and being able to have a long conversation in Dutch. Continue reading “On publishing theological translations”