Tag Archives: Abraham Kuyper

Reformed in America Conference – November 1 & 2

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D.G. Hart

Is there an American form of Christianity? Many believers who live in the United States would be content simply to identify themselves as Christians, others as American Christians, and still others would be inclined to say they are Christians in America. But are believers in any of these groups able to identify distinctive traits of American Christianity? Do you know enough of the history of Christianity in this country to recognize how your own expression of Christian faith and practice has been shaped by America in the modern age, for good or ill?

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Alan Strange

None of us are simply “biblical Christians” but have a history that has shaped us in one way or another. Reformed Christians have a rich heritage going back to the Protestant Reformation in sixteenth-century Europe, but they also have a peculiar history in the United States. Join us for this free two day conference which will explore some of the major outlines of the history of Reformed & Presbyterian Christianity in the United States.

Friday, November 1

Session 1 at 7:00pm

Alan Strange: “The Tumultuous Beginnings of American Presbyterianism.”  The beginnings of American Presbyterianism, with a focus on the First Great Awakening and the Old Side/New Side controversy. We’ll also briefly reflect on the Reformed in America and the phenomenon of “becoming American.”

Session 2 at 8:15pm

Darryl Hart: “The Challenge of Americanism.”  The talk will cover the problems posed by new ways of recruiting and sustaining Christians (through the Second Great Awakening).  It will cover Reformed responses to the predicament from German Reformed, Dutch Reformed, and Presbyterians.

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J. Gresham Machen

Session 3 at 9:30am

Alan Strange: “Politics and the Pulpit.”  Charles Hodge developed his doctrine of the spirituality of the church in a subtle and nuanced fashion that permitted him to distinguish the church from the state and its political concerns while allowing the church to retain a prophetic voice to society. We’ll examine Old School Presbyterianism with respect to the spirituality of the church and the place of the doctrine among the Reformed.

Session 4 at 10:45

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Abraham Kuyper

Darryl Hart: “Kuyper & Machen–Models of Reformed Witness.” This talk will examine the differences between Machen and Kuyper’s attempts to recover a consistent Reformed witness, especially those that stem from the differences between church life in the United States and Netherlands.

Lunch 12:00pm ($5.00 Fee for all participating)

Session 5 at 1:00pm

Alan Strange: “Unity without Union — Beyond Acronyms.”  The CRC recognized and congratulated the OPC on its formation and the OPC did the same with the URC on its formation. We’ll look at OPC/CRC union talks, the formation of the URC and OPC/URC relations.

Session 6 at 2:15pm

Darryl Hart: “Anti-Modernism.” This presentation will examine the efforts of conservative Presbyterians in the United States and Reformed Protestants in the Netherlands to combat theological liberalism and indifference in the dominant churches.  It will also discuss the need for secession or separation when those efforts were no longer viable.

Session 7 at 3:30

Q&A with speakers

Reformed in America” will take place at Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church (3615 University Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa).  This conference is hosted by Providence Reformed Church and Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church, which are both congregations in Des Moines.

Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church (OPC): http://www.GraceReformed.org

Providence Reformed Church (URCNA): http://www.ProvidenceRC.org

Please RSVP to: ReformedInAmericaDM2013@gmail.com

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Filed under Church and State, Culture Wars, Presbyterianism, Spirituality of the Church

The Common Sense Philosophy of Thomas Reid

thomas_reidMost people don’t think of the philosopher David Hume as having much influence over Reformed Christianity, but in an indirect way his influence has been quite profound.  Most known for his skeptical epistemology, he argued with such force that he compelled reactions from two other philosophers: Immanuel Kant and Thomas Reid.  Kant’s “Copernican Revolution” – in which the mind imposes order on objects rather than conforms to them – changed the course of philosophy, and was subsequently borrowed in various ways by Kuyper, Dooyeweerd, and Van Til, insofar as they promote the idea that basic ideas or presuppositions are filters through which we see all things. The “transcendental argument” of Bahnsen also flowed from Kant’s ideas.

Although it is a matter of some scholarly debate, many argue that Old Princetonians such as Charles Hodge and B.B. Warfield followed the “common sense” philosophy of Thomas Reid Continue reading

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Does Worldview Deliver Presidents?

Worldview, promoted as a necessary and transforming enrichment of Bible-believing Christianity, has itself been transformed over the years. What started with Abraham Kuyper, Dooyeweerd and others from the Dutch Reformed perspective has become property of the Evangelical church through people like Francis Schaeffer, Charles Colson, Nancy Pearcey and Focus on the Family. Then of, course, numerous small groups and Sunday School classes explain Christian Worldview tinted by the perspectives of individual churches.

So rather than consider an academic explanation of Christian Worldview, it may be more helpful to consider an explanation by an actual, non-academic (as far as I know) pastor. One such pastor describes it as follows:

As the Reformed Christian looks at life, he does not make a dichotomy between sacred and secular. All of life is sacred and to be lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Believing not only that the Scripture is authoritative for one’s life individually, the Reformed Christian proclaims that the Scriptures inform all areas of life

…Any gospel, however, which does not affect the political and social structures in which it is proclaimed is a truncated gospel. The Christian’s job is to proclaim the gospel of Christ in the political, social, and cultural issues of the day. The Christian must proclaim that one cannot solve social problems apart from the redemptive work of Christ.

…many Christians speak of certain areas being amoral or neutral. If God has created all things, then all things have moral implications.

If this is popular worldview, then worldview consists of 1) a rejection of the sacred/secular distinction, 2) an assertion that the scriptures inform all of life, 3) a declaration that Christ’s redemptive work applies to political, social, and cultural matters, 4) a call for the Christian to transform politics and culture based on the scriptures and, related to but distinct from #2, 5) everything has a moral implication. No doubt there is more to it, but for now we can call these the Five Points of Worldviewism.

People who call themselves Evangelicals tend to have a bit of a bandwagon mentality – in part because of their self-perception of belonging under the Evangelical tent – and they may have hopped on board the Worldview Express with the general idea of living Christianly when, really, the worldview commitment is more specific and theologically loaded than that.

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Filed under evangelical politics, Evangelicalism, Worldview

We Are the Worldview

"We Are the World" 1985

There was a time in evangelicalism when “worldview” sounded exotic and intellectual.  The Dutch Reformed traditions had already been looking to Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) and Herman Dooyeweerd (1894- 1997) but it was Francis Schaeffer (1912 – 1984) who brought the worldview message to those of an evangelical mindset.  Schaeffer, who looked exotic anyway with his Swiss knickers and radically un-Baptistic facial hair, talked about the “mannishness of man,” presented an “upper storey / lower storey” history of philosophy (for which he should have at least given a footnote to Dooyweerd), set forth a Christian idea of history, and even talked about art.  It seemed that everything around us – all intellectual and cultural endeavors  – could all be re-thought and Christianized.  At the time, the development felt like it was bringing greater depth and intellectual respectability to evangelicalism and there was a certain excitement as to where it all might lead.

At some point worldview must have become divine because now it’s omnipresent. Continue reading

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Filed under Worldview