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The schedule forces me to take a few days away from blogging, and Joe Carter (of First Thoughts and Evangelical Outpost fame) decides to drop in and guest-write a post on Kuyperian jargon over at Cardus. Thanks to Bill Kinnon @ kinnon.tv for highlighting Carter’s article and Richard Mouw’s recent post on the renaissance of Herman Bavinck. [A short advertisement. For those interested in take-no-prisoner book reviewers, you'd be hard pressed to find much that surpasses Kinnon's 3 August review of Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck's Why We Love the Church.] Here’s the paraphrase of Joe Carter’s jeremiad — You Kuyperians or neocalvinists or whatever you want to call yourselves. You have some really great ideas, but they don’t carry very well from continental Europe. They’re boring, dull, and they put your audience to sleep. You really should do something about that. Carter’s recommendation –
What is needed for the movement to expand is a broad range of bilingual cultural missionaries who are able to translate the jargon of neocalvinism into common vernaculars (in my case, evangelicalese)…For the movement to truly have an influence on the North American church—and after a hundred years it’s long overdue for it to have a more substantial impact—there needs to be a massive educational program implemented by every individual neocalvinist. At a minimum, we need dozen of books, hundreds of articles, and thousands of one-on-one conversations in which neocalvinist thought is presented in a comprehensible manner for an unfamiliar audience.
Vincent Bacote — that’s your telephone ringing. Please pick up.
And you too, Tony Reinke. You have a clear passion for Bavinck’s work. That said, speaking as one Sovereign Grace Ministries church member to another, our family of churches (not to mention the “Reformed resurgence” as a whole) really needs to see the ways in which theologians and intellectuals like Herman Bavinck, Abraham Kuyper and, for that matter, Richard Mouw, can help us to — as Bill Kinnon so aptly put it — “practice a kinder, gentler, more inclusive” form of our Christian faith, especially toward those who may not hold to the same secondary theological distinctives.
For those interested in additional reading re: Kuyperian or Neo-Calvinist thought –
Luis E. Lugo, Religion, Pluralism, and Public Life: Abraham Kuyper’s Legacy for the Twenty-First Century (Eerdmans, 2000)
John Bolt, A Free Church, a Holy Nation: Abraham Kuyper’s American Public Theology (Eerdmans, 2001)
Jeanne Hefferman Schindler, Christianity and Civil Society: Catholic and Neo-Calvinist Perspectives (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008)
The new issue (September/October 2009) of Christianity Today’s Books and Culture has some strikingly good reviews centered on the relationship between race and justice in the United States. For those who have been following Withered Grass, David R. Swartz’s pointed review of Peter Goodwin Heltzel’s Jesus and Justice (Yale University Press, 2009) is there, along with a critical assessment of Thabiti M. Anyabwile’s The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity (InterVarsity, 2007) by Vincent Bacote. Heltzel himself reviewed J. Kameron Carter’s Oxford University Press book, Race: A Theological Account and, finally, Curtis J. Evans examined a 2008 Harvard University Press title, Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion.
A couple of highlights from Bacote and Swartz: