Learn About Neocalvinism

Over at The Kuyperian you will find a few additions to the sidebar links which direct you to various off-site articles about Abraham Kuyper and/or his ideas about Calvinism as a worldview.

The on-site articles in the archives are "must reads" for anyone interested in finding out more about neocalvinism. However, I also want to draw your attention to two new resources which I have linked on the sidebar under books. The first is the "So You'd Like To Learn About Neocalvinism" guide, and the second is "The Kuyperian Book List," both of which are hosted at amazon.com

I hope you find The Kuyperian a helpful resource for learning more about neocalvinism, and for sharing with other believers neocalvinism's insights concerning a distinctively Christian and comprehensive understanding of life, the universe, and everything.


Short Video Hello

So... I have a new webcam. Enjoy.



In a matter of hours (DV) I'll be on a plane to good ole Cork. I'll have a weekend with my brother, then off to JFK. I'm so relieved to be packed and heading back.

My last few days here were relatively relaxing. A real change of pace. I enjoyed the hospitality and home-cooking of the Griffioen's in their Loenen countryside village. And the 'Lommer boys gave me a nice reprint of Kuyper's short devotional work "The Practice of Godliness" as a going away gift.

It's been a trying 14 months, and I'm thankful to the Lord for all the patience and encouragement of family and friends. I look forward to the comforts of the land flowing with milk and honey and to the final conquest over Giant Thesis.


Outlaws Gone Before

Thank the Lord for all His outlaws gone before us.

See about William Tyndale and others like him, here and here.
Good family education and entertainment.

Other excellent videos can be found at monergism.
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.
--WCF 20.2


More Thoughtful Audio

In case you hadn't noticed, over at my reformatorischeblog you will find a number of new links on the sidebar. Notice especially the CPRT Reading Room link, the nonEnglish site links, and Christian scholarly journals links.

I also have a group of links under "philosophy audio". Be sure to check out the Work Research Foundation's "think" audio resource. Currently, nine CDs are now available online in free mp3s, with more to come. These presentations reflect on faith and work in a broadly accessible style. Manual laborers, academicians, office workers... persons of all vocations can benefit from these recordings.

click HERE or image below


Quiets The Soul

Over this past year I've come across some music I like. You might like it too.

Damien Jurado has a new album "Now That I'm In Your Shadow".

Ox's "American Lo Fi" has just been released.

I can't say I've listened to a large number of Dutch bands, but At The Close Of Every Day, and their lead singer Minco Eggersman, appear to have something going on.

I think Timesbold [*] and the Baptist Generals [*] are due for something new. And I should mention that long-time favorite Will Oldham's latest "The Letting Go" sounds pretty good.

And did you know you can buy CDs of Mr. (Fred) Rogers' music?! Absolutely fabulous. See the bottom of this page for the four CDs: You Are Special, Bedtime, You Are Growing, and Coming And Going. (Don't even bother with the hackjob of a "tribute" album.) You can listen to some of his classics online here. I'm fairly certain that Mister Rogers was my introduction to jazz. One of my favorite songs to this day is "It's You I Like."

update : Speaking of jazz, I forgot to mention the music I heard months ago in a cafe near a neighboring town's train station. I was intently reading when the song lyrics crept to the fore of my consciousness. "Why does this sound so familiar?" I wondered. Don't miss Paul Anka's clever re-make album Rock Swings. Yes, Paul "put-your-head-on-my-shoulder" Anka doing a jazz rendition of Nirvana!


The Difference It Makes

So I'll be heading back to the U.S. in order to finish my thesis there. For now, I've ceased to make approximations about how soon I will complete it. But since I will not be finished by the end of this month as I had initially intended, financial considerations (among others) make returning the best thing. Plus, this way I won't miss the Great Thanksgiving Feast! But other celebrations will have to wait. I should be in the middle PA area by 15 November.

In any case, in light of my recent post about the SBC especially, I offer you this reflection:

In my nearly year&half experience here I have found that nothing is more conspicuous among the college age youth of the would-be orthodox confessional reformed churches in the Netherlands than the conviction that confessional reformed teaching is utterly irrelevant to authentic and practical Christian living. I perceived the substantial presence of this same conviction among the third and fourth generation Dutch immigrant communities I encountered in southern California and southern Ontario.

I suspect this conviction stems from their ironic but profound ignorance about reformed teaching and its biblical basis. But, even among some of my readers who are not ignorant about reformed teaching and knowledgeably embrace it, there may yet be a hesitance to unambiguously affirm that nothing is or can be more relevant to genuine Christian life. So, I want to take a moment to explain what I believe is the crucial practical difference between gospel proclaiming & believing overagainst that of a false gospel (which we will call, simply, 'nonCalvinism'. There are many false gospels, but this is an expression of the most prominent "Evangelical" one).

I focus here on the gospel because it is the sine qua non of salvation, the heart of Calvinism, and the essence of the whole of reformed teaching. I focus on the practical difference in terms of 'proclaiming and believing' this gospel because out from this root springs all real Christianity. So, the central question is what is meant in the actual proclamation of and faith in "Christ, and Him crucified." The difference at stake is not theoretical, but a question of life or death.

The nonCalvinist proclaims that Christ died for every single person whether or not they ever believe and are saved. He proclaims, not that Christ alone guarantees salvation by His death, but that sinners must contribute their native ability to believe, and that this action is what ultimately makes the difference for salvation. In stark contrast to the nonCalvinist's gospel, the Calvinist proclaims that all persons for whom Christ died will be given faith and full salvation. He proclaims that Christ absolutely guarantees this salvation by His death, and that no sinner is able to believe of themselves, so that Christ and Him crucified makes the exclusive difference for salvation.

When a person believes the proclamation of the nonCalvinist gospel, that person is not given faith by Christ, nor do they trust in His work alone as guaranteeing salvation. This is a false gospel. It does not come with the power of God, and no one is saved by it. In total opposition to that, when a person believes the proclamation of the Calvinist gospel, that person is given faith by Christ and they trust in His work alone as guaranteeing salvation. This is the true gospel. It alone is the power of God unto salvation.

Only when, by God's sovereign grace, the churches in the Netherlands and around the world repent of their culpable ignorance and diligently live and teach this truth with and to their children, will they know His power. Until then, you yourself, dear reader, can know the reality of that power in your own life with assurance through the Spirit as He speaks in the Scriptures.


Le Garçon In DarkTown

Brother Gary got to meet and play with Lee Konitz* recently; a phenomenal opportunity. He's says he'll do some more sax study with Konitz at some point.

Gary's also been playing more in his duo with Brendan O'Connor, The Darktown Strutters. You can listen to a bit of their repertoire. Who doesn't love "My Favorite Things"?

His DoubleTime dj gig still seems to be as swingin' & hoppin' as it ever was.

Thanks to Donal for the DTS pic and heads-up on their myspace site!


Honest To Pod
from my computer to yours...

My new podcast module is on the sidebar, and you can subscribe via this link. The first episode, now available, is about the Reformation.

It's about 7 minutes long, and features a selection from an article by Dr. Robert Godfrey that you can find here. I also mention my short "Reformation Day" blog entry from last year.

Let me know what you think.


Reconstructing The Puzzle

The material complexity of Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique is hidden by a comparatively simple formal structure. But in order to really explain the critique (as I must for my thesis) one cannot, obviously, avoid explaining the material concepts. This is a significant part of what's taking me longer than I had hoped.

For example, in his A New Critique of Theoretical Thought (3 volumes), Dooyeweerd asks on page 41 of the first volume "And how is this abstraction possible?" Then, approximately 525 pages later, on page 6 of the second volume he says "The question how this entire process of abstraction is possible will be answered later on in a special chapter on the epistemological problem"... referring to a section approximately 990 pages after the original question!

Everything in between is building up to the answer. Thankfully, I don't need to distill and summarize everything in between. But the necessary "selection" process, prior to distillation, is itself a puzzle. I think I've got a handle on it, but my grip feels slippery.


The Soft-Petal SBC Calvinists

The CT article on Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention is now online.

My favorite quotation was "We're not the kind [of Calvinists] who are off in a Grand Rapids [read: ethnic Dutch] ghetto crossing our t's and dotting our i's and telling the world to get their act together. We're in the New Orleans slums with groups like Desire Street Ministries, raising up black elders through Reformed theology from 9-year-old boys who had no chance." (Although, I was under the impression that Desire Street was actually a PCA mission.)

But notice that the predominant attitude among these SBC Calvinists is that as it concerns spiritual life, gospel truth is "best," but optional. This comes across in Mohler's panel discussion with Patterson at the SBC pastor's conference this year. The gospel will only shake things up in the SBC when it is understood that it should divide churches. Perhaps some of these SBC Calvinists will embrace the perspective of Spurgeon who famously said,
"And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer?... [T]here is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispens[ing] grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption [ie, "limited" or definite atonement] of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross..."
The gospel cannot be optional. Biblical grace is not a secondary, inessential teaching only for the mature. It is the foundation. And there is not a true church apart from the profession of this gospel.

The research department of LifeWay, the "products and services" provider of the SBC and publishers of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, has conducted a survey of SBC pastors and found that about 10% consider themselves Calvinist, with (surprisingly) no present correlation to age of the pastor. With about 42,000 congregations and 10,000 missionaries, a conservative estimate would equal about 5,200 self-identifying SBC Calvinist pastors. Of course, the percentage and correlation with new (younger) pastors may be growing. A similar survey in a decade would be enlightening.

On another note, I suspect that some SBC'ers and other "Evangelicals" have been attracted to the Reformed faith, not only by its explicit teaching and meaning for church life, but also by its implications for worldview and approach to culture. Reformational Baptist David Naugle is the "Piper" or "Mohler" (ie, main promoter) of neocalvinism in Baptist and Evangelical circles. Read his pdf Intro to Reformational Worldview.


Framing The Debate

How could I disagree with John Frame on almost every Reformed in-camp debate? I think he has been wrong about Dooyeweerd*, wrong about the regulative principle of worship, and wrong about the nature of doctrinal controversy itself, and many other important issues. I hope to offer my reasons for disagreement with him on these issues in the future. However, in a recent article he attempts to characterize two opposing sides in a debate about the Christian approach to civil government. I want to touch on this briefly, because it has culture-wide implications.

The larger question at stake is whether there is a distinctively Christian (ie, Calvinistic) perspective on and approach to culture. In other words, 1) is it possible to understand and do culture Christianly. If so, then 2) how and where can we discover, learn, and/or develop such an approach? And 3) what exactly is that approach, and what makes it distinctively Christian? Those who answer the first question in the negative must still address "how, then, shall Christians live culturally?" (if not in a distinctively Christian way). But those who answer the first question affirmatively (as most, if not all, genuine Calvinists do) may answer the second in reference to God's revelation.

Revelation is given in two basic kinds, often called "general" and "special" revelation. A lot can be said about these two kinds of revelation, and what is said has crucial implications for the third question. But basically, general revelation is what God reveals through the created temporal order, and special revelation is what God more particularly reveals by (what we now know as) Holy Scripture. The relationship between general and special revelation is decisive for the second and third questions too.

In any case, Frame says that there are Kuyperians and then there are Klineans. Klineans, he says, do not believe in the necessity of special revelation for civil government (nor, one can infer, for "Christian culture"). Now, as both a Klinean and a Kuyperian (a Kuyperian-Klinean, or vice versa, if you will) I cannot agree with Frame's mischaracterization. Kline is himself both "Vosian" and "Vantilian". Certainly there are some differences between Vos' and Kuyper's views, but not disagreements on this issue. And Kline follows both Vos and VanTil in agreement with Kuyper concerning the sufficiency of general revelation, the necessity of special revelation, and the correlation between both kinds of revelation. Dooyeweerd, by the way, also agrees with Kuyper, Vos, VanTil, and Kline on this.

The specific meaning of sufficiency of general revelation, necessity of special revelation, and their correlation, and how they are articulated is crucial. I hope to address this in detail at some point. There are, of course, differences and disagreements between the views of these important thinkers, and some of those are relevant to this debate. Historcial development of the issues should also be taken into account. But Frame's (mis)characterization is inaccurate and is a detriment to clarity and to moving the discussion forward**. Some comments on Hegeman's blog [1, 2].


In The Papers

This week, The Baltimore Sun paper did an article about blogging. Who do they think their audience is that they frame blogs as something new? I mean, if your own mayor has had one for over a year, it really can't be "news" anymore. Well, I suppose regular print-newspaper reading types are less likely to be familiar. But I think they could have just assumed familiarity and written about local bloggers.

In any case, poet and friend, Salimah Perkins, un-anonymotizes herself, being interviewed for the article. Listen to the Sun mp3 podcast interview with her HERE. (I'm genuinely impressed with her interviewee skills.) The Sun, surprisingly, has a number of podcasted features.


Heretical Friends

I recently met neopelagian christi-anarchist community developer Dave Andrews. We had some good discussion, and later he gave a presentation on his centered-set approach to community.

In the mid 70s Paul Hiebert popularized the concepts of bounded-set and centered-set definitions of social groups. Roughly, the bounded-set defines group membership by position relative to a boundary. The centered-set defines group membership by movement relative to a center. I think both forms of definition are helpful in describing Christian life and community, my objections are to a theology that defines people as other than ("original and total") sinners, and Christ as other than ("substitutively atoning") Savior.

Nevertheless, I look forward to benefiting from Dave's writing on community work [1 & 2].


Somewhere In Some Library

My article, entitled Dooyeweerd's Societal Sphere Sovereignty: a theory of differentiated responsibility, is now available at the Peace Palace library here. It is also available online in pdf HERE, from the June 2006 Griffin's View International and Comparative Law Journal site. It is a revision of the short paper I wrote this year.

In other news, you can listen to Dr. Henk Geertsema's October 2005 lecture on Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique on this site. The recording -in two parts- was made at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, by fellow student Xiaomei Ge. The lecture was given in the International Masters in Christian Studies of Science and Society program (IMCSSS) in light of our reading of the first two chapters of Dooyeweerd's In The Twilight Of Western Thought. The recording is made available with the permission of Dr. Geertsema under the condition that exclusive responsibility and all liability remain with me.


Worth Reading

Officially, I don't do these "questionnaires". But I enjoyed reading the answers of others (practically everyone has done it already), and I was tagged by Steve and Scott, and figured I could take liberties with the format. So, here are a few comments about books.

G.I. Williamson's study on the Westminster Confession of Faith definitely changed my life. It's difficult to imagine what kind of person I might be today apart from the influence of this book on my faith. It's probable that I would have been just as argumentative, but I would have wasted my life arguing about less important things, or for less biblical views.

John Bright's The Kingdom Of God is one of the few books I've read more than once. I've read parts of books (particularly non-fiction) over again. But this book was definitely worth multiple cover-to-cover readings.

There are far too many books I've been intending to read. In a non-academic genre, I need to read something by Sarah Vowell. I'm familiar with her work from hearing shorter pieces over the radio. I might be her biggest fan who has never read any of her books. Academically, I really need to read something by Richard Muller; perhaps this one especially. And fiction-wise, I have a hard time persevering through novels (although audio is just fine, I can listen for hours), so short story is my preference. Anthologies are good.

You may be interested to know that I pretty much laugh and cry no matter what I read. Honest. I have both laughed and cried while reading philosophy texts. What can I say? I'm easily moved.

I don't (officially) "tag" them, but I would be interested to read Paul's, Jeff's, Salimah's, Eric's, and Julie's responses to the typical 9 questions. Paul devours books (so it seems) like Hades does the reprobate. The others are perhaps my most "literary" friends.


The Blogging Dooyeweerdians
or "blogosphere sovereignty"?

My friend, Scott Kennedy, is utilizing Dooyeweerdian modal aspects to tag his blog posts. I think this is totally fantastic. I don't use tags myself, and such an application would probably never have occurred to me. But I hope his endeavor is a success and that others try it out.

Modalities (or aspects) are highly abstract "categories." They are fundamentally hows or ways (not whats or things). They are the "hows" of meaning. Created reality, all existence, is meaning. Things don't have meaning, they are meaning. That sounds strange, but it means that, as created, the being of this universe is utterly dependent on its Creator. Being is meaning because it both refers to God and expresses His power. The modalities are theoretically irreducible "modes" of temporal being and experience, that is to say "of the way reality means."

Now, as the highly abstract categories that they are, modalities may not seem to be the best "taxonomy" for blog post tagging. Most topics discussed in any given blog entry cover a wide range of interconnections, or what might be called "modal analogies." But even these sorts of analogical concepts are still quite abstract. Many things one would talk about in a blog are the concrete things of "every day" experience. One might talk about a vacation trip, and the paintings viewed in a museum, and the friends who came with, and the foods tasted, and so on. One might even talk about the paper one's writing. But these are all concrete things, not abstractions.

However, each of these concrete things may be associated with some "primary characteristic" or other. And such primary characteristics, however discerned, can be associated with some particular related modality. Blog topics classification is not a theoretically precise science, and there's no reason it should be. But the possibility of relating such topics to Dooyeweerd's profound theoretical matrix seems to hold promise of providing a diverse-enough-to-be-flexible, yet concise-enough-to-be-systematic solution for blog metadata. Who woulda thunk it?

Anyway, let me take this opportunity to list the several Reformational (aka Dooyeweerdian) and/or Neocalvinist (aka Kuyperian) active bloggers from my sidebar. In part, I mention these blogs to find out who else I can include. So, if I've left you out, let me know!
Macht Beheersing
Mark Bertrand
Nathan Bierma
Steve Bishop
Byron Borger
Joe Carter
Jeff Cavanaugh
Sander Chan
Nevada Epiginoskein
Cal Fox
Bill Gram-Reefer
Rudi Hayward (new blogger!)
Dave Hegeman
Andrea Hensen
Kenn Hermann
Ben House
Brian Janaszek
David Koyzis
Keith Martel
Cynthia Nielsen
Paul Otto
Nancy Pearcey
The Philologous
Theo Plantinga
Russ Reeves
Owl Refwrite
Paul Robinson
Jamie Smith
Gideon Strauss
Steve Veldkamp
Greg Veltman
Graham Weeks

Again, if I mistakenly left you out (and you've posted in the past month or so), or if you're only a neocalvinist in my dreams (I mistakenly included you), be sure to leave me a comment and I'll correct the list.


To Be Clear

One difference (among many) between academic seminars and personal relationships is that there should be a mutual love-commitment between persons in the latter case. Nevertheless, what Lonergan said in the Halifax Lectures on Insight (1958) applies to interpersonal communication generally, I think.
"The more you talk with one another and throw things out, the more you probe, and the more you express yourself spontaneously, simply, frankly, not holding back in fear of making mistakes, then the more quickly you arrive at the point where you get the thing cleared up."
--Understading and Being, p.18
I read this to my friend, Karel, and he said "Ah, yes. Social hermeneutics."


Re-turning To Ones Self With The Other
:how I rewrote the themes in my head

A friend informed me that Superman Returns was now showing at a cinema near me here in Amsterdam... of course, I went to see it immediately. There are other things one could say about the movie, but I want to tell you what it was about and what it should have been about.

What it was about:
The justification of our no-fault therapeutic culture of mid-life crisis, illegitimate parentage, and absentee fatherhood (with a subtext of modernist (erroneous) faith in progeny and the basic goodness of humanity & an underdeveloped postmodern ambiguity about the potential destructive/salvific power of technology). In other words, typical Hollywood garbage.

What it coulda-shoulda been about:
Needing the other, and the deconstruction of the autonomous selfhood (as resolution of the freedom-determinism dialectic within personal identity).
Let me break it down for you.
Lex is the banally evil actual Nietzschean Übermensch who defines his own power-morality, resenting "the other" as limiting his own would-be absolute autonomy.

Clark is in the process of "becoming oneself," in a continuous existential coming to terms with his own identity. But now he realizes this can no longer be facilitated by an appeal to irresponsible destiny, nor to autonomous self-definition, but rather only in a recognition of ones finitude and situatedness with the other.

Having re-turned from his last attempt at being an autonomous (Kryptonian) self, finding "nothing there but a wasteland," he turns back to the other (the earth-world, personified in Lois). In conflict with Lex (a sort of alter-ego) he recognizes his need of the other, as much as the other (as a self) recognizes her need of him in order to really discover their-own-selves in them-self in a mutual relation (love).

Of course, to fill out this theme in a film would require genuine dialog.

Note : be sure to see comments below. Leopoldtulip ably challenges my interpretation and prefered alternative. But I now see a more substantial connection regarding the "was about" and the "wasn't but shoulda been" about. In brief, the absent father is actually Autonomy, and Hollywood is in denial about it. Lois is the Real Uberfrau!
Recommended Reading.


Office Hours

I don't have web access in my new apartment (yet?), and working at home has become too isolating. Although I can get to the university easy enough when I need to, I decided to find a cafe nearby with wifi. For today deBalie is my office, but I suppose I'll have to find multiple alternatives to avoid annoying the staff at any one place.

In other news, there is a nice piece about Gordon in the Sun.
Also, I made a second response on DeRegnoChristi blog here.

thesis happenings: pressing on... at the moment concentrating on analysis of Lonergan material.


The Belz Toll

Poetry is alive in the American Heartland. Unfortunately, it's also broke.

St. Louis writer and poet, Aaron Belz, is the proverbial starving artist. He's a fellow Calvinist and personal friend of mine. His work is really good, and if you believe in supporting good art, then consider the matching funds program for Observable. How often is one dollar worth two?

At the very least, you should visit Aaron's website and check out his writing, and you too will become a fan. Because, let me tell you, I've been feeling like that guy in the photo; alone in a crowd, tired, and undone. But sometimes a good poem can give you hope. You know what I mean?


Going Westside

Today I am moving from the southside to the westside. Some generous fellows are letting me stay with them for the next month and a half or so while I attempt to finish my thesis. I'm uncertain about the internet connection situation... so I may not be as readily accessible.

The new apartment is in a neighborhood called "Bos En Lommer." It's considered a not-so-good part of town because it has a higher percentage of immigrants. But even some of the nicer neighborhoods in Baltimore don't compare to the Lommer, let alone the Charm City neighborhoods I lived in.

I look forward to the change of scenery.


Got Liberty?

On this Independence Day I am pleased to be an American, both politically and culturally, more than ever. Being in this socialist dystopia of Europe has reinforced my conviction that we can't give up the fight. We must continually beat back tyrannous aggression. Because, folks, they'll even try to take your milk.

Do you really want a future of lifeless servitude to the State while drinking synthetic beverages? Let me encourage you, then, to get some real milk and to join the Constitution Party.

Also, you should support Gun Owners of America.


God And Politics Revisited

The RPCNA denominational magazine, RPWitness, is publishing a series of articles over the next several months about the political view often called National Confessionalism.

I was invited, as a representative of neocalvinism, to be on the panel of respondents for the "corollary blog" to that series, entitled De Regno Christi. Some of the other contributors are heroes of mine, such as D.G.Hart and David VanDrunen. I'm the youngest and most inexperienced contributor, and perhaps way out of my league (shhh, our little secret), but I'm totally thrilled.

This is my first post, and at the very least I think I can squeeze in one post a month on a Lordsday (as a devotional exercise) when I'm not thesis writing.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to learn about this painting -->


Of Apples And Oranges
an excursus on varieties of self-knowledge and my thesis progress

After giving myself a "jump-in-the-deep-end" crash course on Lonergan, I began to outline points of comparison between his view of self-knowledge and Dooyeweerd's. It soon became apparent to me that each thinker addresses self-knowledge primarily in the context of their respective transcendental approaches to knowledge overall. So, that was about two-and-a-half months ago. I've done more reading and thinking since then, of course.

I developed my outline further, and came up with my main (prospective) conclusion, namely, that the difference in BL's and HD's views of self-knowledge may be accounted for in terms of difference in religious position with regard to each transcendental method. (If that doesn't make any sense to you, don't worry about it. I haven't arrived at the punch-line yet.) So, I was feeling pretty good about everything up to that point. However, in the back of my mind there was this nagging dark spot, like I was missing something important.

Then I read Lonergan's 1974 lecture Self-transcendence: Intellectual, Moral, and Religious. He begins by distinguishing self as substance from self as subject. I got distracted for quite a while on the issue of Death of the Subject, and how HD answers the problem, and trying to think through BL's approach to it. This was a mistake, because it turns out not to relate directly to my actual thesis. I wrestled myself free from that rabbit trail when BL's statements about religious self-transcendence began to pose a difficulty for how I had been conceiving of his view of self-knowledge so far. That's not so important in itself at the moment (although it may turn out to be decisive for my conclusion, but we'll set it aside for now).

The upshot of this was that it caused me to focus on what BL might be saying about self as substance. He didn't elaborate much on that in the aforementioned lecture, but I began to compare what I knew of his substance idea with what HD says about substance and selfhood. Eventually, I realized that in all my notes and outlines, I hadn't actually provided for discussing what view these guys have of the actual "Self." I had only been paying attention to what they say about knowing the self, and had left their view of self per se out of the outlines! Oops. "But, easy enough to correct," I thought. And I wondered how in the world I could have overlooked something so seemingly basic.

Well, turns out it's not so easy to correct. You see, around the same time, I came across a philosophical encyclopedia article on self-knowledge. The thing that jumped out at me was the primary division between views that address self-knowledge in terms of knowledge of ones own "characteristics," particularly ones mental states (cognition, etc), and views that address knowledge of the self per se. And it occurred to me that this is the sort of difference we have between BL and HD. Then I realized this was probably exactly the point my thesis supervisor, Dr. Geertsema, was getting at a month ago when he tried to direct me in explicitly considering the question of what effect the respective contexts of each transcendental method has on each view of self-knowledge, and whether or to what degree that context is in some way determinative for either view. I could cry. This insight was so obvious, staring me in the face the whole time, and I couldn't see it. Lonerganians around the world can have a good chuckle (sorta an inside joke).

So, now I'm looking for apples to compare with apples, and oranges to compare with oranges, because presently I've got an apple and an orange, and the number of interesting things one can say in a Masters thesis about how these are not comparable is fairly limited. No doubt, contrasts are important (my prospective conclusion is basically a contrast), but I need to draw the lines of "same fruit" contrasts, if you know what I mean. In any case, I thank the Lord for bringing me this far. Continue to pray with me, as I work to avoid irrelevant kiwis and try not to slip on anymore bananas; as I work to find the contrasting fruit (and root) ideas of relating varieties.


Katie Ward Knutson

I count it a privilege to have skilled friends in the arts. Recently, I've been enjoying Knutson's work.

Perhaps you're an artist, somewhere out there, reading this... and you feel isolated and unsupported and misunderstood. Well, if it means anything, I hope you keep at it, keep creating. This world needs more artists. I believe that.


American Goes To Parliament

On Wednesday I visited the Hague, got a nice tour of parliamentary buildings, and spoke with a Representative in the "Tweede Kamer" (second chamber) from the CDA. I would have preferred to also meet with CU folk, but they have a comparatively small staff and simply couldn't spare the time. In the afternoon, I was in Utrecht and met with reps from the Christian Trade Union Federation (CNV-NL). I like those guys a lot, and hope to keep in touch. They have a historical connection with the CLA-USA, I think.

The weather was terribly stormy and chilly --a bit of hail and the hardest rain I've seen in the Netherlands-- but I managed to avoid getting soaked.

In other news, one of my heroes, Michael Farris of Patrick Henry College, has been in the media a bit lately. Listen to his FreshAir interview here. In my youth I was enamored with Terry Gross (perhaps I was under the false impression that she was critical and bohemian, rather than a plain ole establishment lefty), now I just listen to hear her sound incredulous when speaking to or about bible-believers.


Don't Ask... Just Yet

This morning after church, a friend showed me this t-shirt someone gave him. It says "Don't ask me about my thesis." I had to laugh, as that's pretty much my sentiment, but I will report on my progress soon enough.
I was reminded of a few other t-shirts I've seen and admired: 1, 2.

I'm happy to report that I will have a version of my paper on Sphere Sovereingty published in the June issue of Griffin's View, the Vrije Universiteit LLM journal of international and comparative law. This will be my first genuine academic publication. I'm quite excited about it. The journal has received some serious professional recognition, at least in the Netherlands, so I'm curious whether my views will get any attention. I would be surprised. The bulk of the paper is the same (ie, explicating Dooyeweerd's conception), but I wrote a new conclusion, applying Sphere Sovereingty to state legislation and "social responsibility" in general.

Speaking of things political, David Koyzis alerts us to Chris Erickson's Christian Democratic Union site. As I comment on Koyzis' post, I think if one knows something about William Jennings Bryan (other than his racism, prohibitionism, anti-evolutionism, and relation to the Wizard of OZ), then imagining such a view in the U.S. context --a view that may otherwise seem to be a European or Latin American political phenomenon-- will be easier. Despite the willingness of some Kuyperian-influenced political thinkers (eg, CPJ) to align themselves with the outlines of the so-called Christian-Democratic approach, I find the inherent Statism (socialism) in such views utterly untenable and opposite the principles of genuine neocalvinism.

update : Check out Philosophia Reformata, the journal of the Association for Reformational Philosophy. Once again, thanks to Steve Bishop! The Nederlanders don't know it yet, but we're plotting to take over the entire organization. The good news of Reformational scholarship has been keep hidden by the "Dutch Mafia" for far, far too long.


Friends Are Good

My 33rd birthday is tomorrow (3 May). However, this morning I received a large care package with lots of goodies, cards, and gifts... and photos of a party some friends held back home in my honor. Absolutely fantastic! What a wonderful present!

The love of friends is real encouragement, and I'm so thankful for it.
I consider it a privilege to be associated with these good folk.

update: this was a very nice gift too --Joe Carter of evangelical outpost and managing editor of World Magazine's blog WorldViews offers his endorsement, saying "Gregory Baus is one of the best popularizers of [Herman Dooyeweerd's] thought *... Baus is wickedly smart and destined to become one of the most influential philosophers in neocalvinism."*

And thanks to Steve Bishop for putting my paper on Dooyeweerd's Societal Sphere Sovereignty into pdf format. Now you can read the footnotes.

another update: It was recently pointed out to me that while this year I turn 33, that Cornelius VanTil (also born 3 May) turns 111, making the distance between CVT and myself the same as between Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Make of it what you will.


Baus In Berlin

Here are a few photos of me from Easter weekend (click to enlarge). You'll notice it was still a bit cold there.

In this first one I'm at the Schiller monument. I liked this guy behind me at the base more than the statue of Schiller himself. He seems so thoughtful, like maybe he's thinking about how Bernard Lonergan and Herman Dooyeweerd compare on the topic of knowing the Self. Or maybe he's just wondering where he can buy some cigarettes.

Next I'm at the Huguenot Church in Berlin. There were a bunch of people sitting around on either side at cafe tables when I stopped in my tracks and started shouting for Paula to get the camera. My friends asked what was the big deal. I said, "this is Calvin!" And all the people drinking coffee started whispering to each other, as though they were discussing among themselves who in the world Calvin might be and why this American tourist was so excited to be photographed with a plaque of him.

This is at Checkpoint Charlie. Facing east I presume.

This is Hannah Arendt Street, near the stunning Holocaust Memorial, a massive field of granite monoliths.

Here I'm gazing at a bit of the old wall displayed at Potsdamer Platz.

Here I'm fantasizing about the quaint life I never had as an U-bahn kioskman.

This gorgeous Kruezberg district Italian and Arab owned joint was a serendipitous find.

Here I'm at an autobahn exit with a sign to Hannover, the halfway point.

And yes, I did smile during this trip. Quite a bit. Just not in any photos. Sorry.


Easter In Berlin

Three friends, Marthe, Heleen, and Paula, invited me along to Berlin for the weekend. Marthe arranged a ride Friday afternoon from Amsterdam to just south of Berlin, then we hitched into the city and met Heleen and Paula at the Brandenburg Gate around midnight. The hostel at which we hoped to stay was booked up, so we found accommodations elsewhere, but we got in for our final evening and loved it.

If you're ever in Berlin, the Circus at Rosa-Luxemburg Platz is excellent. It's a classy and mature atmosphere. Large, clean, comfortable rooms with a good cafe downstairs. Only 18euro a night. Marthe abandoned us for some other adventure on the second evening, but she footed my entire bill anyway (since I had initially said I couldn't afford to go with).

With Heleen as our guide, we wandered about and saw major landmarks; Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag, Potsdamer Platz, etc. I particularly liked the Gendarmenmarkt. (When I get the pictures, I'll post them). I brought my books and did some studying. We even went bowling! One can hardly beat German beer and a game of 10-pins for a good time. I relished the goulash soup, and finally had a decent schnitzel. I didn't get my fill of spaetzle, I'm afraid to say.

We met some very nice people at the hostel and stayed up til early Monday morning playing cards, and billiards, and chatting. Monday early evening Paula and I went out to a gas station in the southwest of Berlin near the autobahn and started thumbing it. We made a sign, and smiled enthusiastically (tips here). Eventually, we were on the road.

We had four rides and it took us 12 hours to get back to Amsterdam. Much thanks to Mike the naturopath, Michel the military helicopter pilot, Gregoire the civil engineering student, and the last gentleman who took us the farthest when our spirits were lowest and whose name I was too exhausted to even ask. You all made my first European hitchhicking experience a blast. And thanks to dear Paula, whose charm and German skills made things go smoothly.


MP3s Blossoming

Though not here in the Netherlands I'm afraid, the T.U.L.I.P.s are ever in bloom.
URCNA blog Semper Reformanda and Sinners&Saints offer podcasts on the basics of a biblical understanding of salvation.

Or you can cut to the chase, and read up on the L.


Gnostics in Bizzaro World
Irenaeus (and DeMar) on the Gospel of Judas

The Gospel of Judas is actually old news. While a Coptic-language version of this 'gospel,' dated around A.D. 300, was found in the Egyptian desert in 1970, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, debunks it in one of his writings around A.D. 180.
Like so much would be scholarship today, liberals are a day late and a dollar short.

Read DeMar's full article here.


Mister Pancake's

Josh stopped by on his way back to the U.S. from Iraq. It was great to see him, and it was fun playing tourist. I continued touring when Keenan arrived. We wore ourselves out walking around and stopping in a different bar every two hours or so. We also enjoyed the Van Gogh Museum, and my new favorite restaurant, Meneer Pannekoek ("Mr. Pancake")... the closest thing to a diner this town's got.

Finally found a copy of Dooyeweerd's The Analogical Concepts in English, thanks to Andrea. I toast to you! We may use it for our next Philosophy Club meeting, and I should probably give a copy to the University library for future generations of Anglophone students. I'm continuing with Lonergan thesis readings. I don't have anything pithy to report just yet, but I'm getting a lot out of it.

Updates (mp3 and CD-ROM links) at The Kuyperian.
The last two installments (13 & 14) in Hart & Muether's Turning Points series are posted.

Thank the Lord, (and McDowell) and congratulations to the Emissary of Swing, brother Gary. He received a two year visa and is now a legal resident! Come visit me, Garçon. I'll take you out to Mr. Pancake.


What Does The Fall Of Man...
have to do with the splitting of the atom?

This week I had a drink at East Of Eden, a Genesis 4:16 - John Steinbeck - James Dean inspired bar near the Tropics Museum. I met a friend of a friend of a friend who works at AMOLF, a research institute for atomic and molecular physics. She's a British Christian who has a strong intuition that, as a whole person, "leaving her faith out of her science" just doesn't make sense. I'm hoping to find adequate Reformational Physics references to recommend.

Fellow Kuyperian, Sander Chan, had me over to his exquisite apartment near the Rembrandt House, also near the little pub in the photo. We watched a "Thai-Western" film: Tears of the Black Tiger. Hilarious. If you can find a copy, watch it. This morning we had breakfast at the end of his block, across from the Amsterdam School of the Arts, Theatre Academy. Coffee at a Cafe on a Saturday morning in the city is so much more vivifying than in ones own lifeless apartment.

addendum: I forgot to mention among everything else under the sun that Sander and I discussed related to Christian Worldview, we talked about nuclear power plants. "I don't see any problem with nuclear power," I said. "Uh... how about a 100,000 year waste management project? I don't see how that is Christianly responsible," Sander replied. So, I'm seriously reconsidering my view on that. Any thoughts?

If you're having trouble reaching me, my internet connection is intermittent recently.


Thesis... And Everything Else

Unfortunately, I've come down with a slight cold again. I'm praying this won't slow me down too much, since I already feel behind schedule.

I'm in full swing with the thesis. At this point it will involve a comparison of the views of Bernard Lonergan and Herman Dooyeweerd concerning "self-understanding." More on that to come, as it's my bread&butter til August. There are many interesting parallels between these two philosophers. Working at the same time, though never directly interacting, they both tried to develop "transcendental-empirical" approaches to knowledge (that is, concerning the necessary conditions for knowledge related to concrete experience) informed by their respective religious convictions. Lonergan was a Jesuit Neothomist, Dooyeweerd a Reformed Neocalvinist. It will make for a very interesting thesis, if I can do it justice.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Rotterdam, Utrecht (shown above), and some other nearby cities. I really enjoyed Utrecht and plan to visit again soon, particularly when my lifelong friend, Keenan, comes to visit in April.

Gearing up for the Reformational Philosophy Club's fourth meeting this Tuesday, it should be a good one. We'll be at deBalie, since vE90 was booked-up that night.

Happy First Birthday to my niece, Lillian.

Happy (belated) St. Patrick's Day to my brother, Gary, and all our Irish and Celtophile friends out there.


The Master Cleanser
a meditation for Unlent

Last month I was washing the dishes after dinner when I heard a knock at the door. I answered it, and there stood my upstairs neighbor, Nick, with his arms full of vegetables and half a block of plastic-wrapped tofu.

"You want these?" he asked.
"Sure," I said "you leaving town for a while?"
"Nope... The Master Cleanser," he said.

I first heard of this detoxification diet some time ago when an old friend told me about it. It became a popular craze in the 70's, especially among newagey types. You might be familiar with some version of it under the name "Lemonade Diet." The basic idea of detoxing is to fast and to only drink certain liquids that will aid your body in flushing out the toxins that it normally stores. There are hundreds of these diets. You can even go on professionally organized detox retreats.

I don't know if such things have been shown to improve health or not. Maybe one day I'll start to feel unhealthy, and look into it. For now, I have to confess that I'm in miraculously good shape for a 33 year old non-exercising, bacon-loving, scotch-drinking, smoker. And, you know, every once in a while a neighbor gives me a carrot and some tofu. So I feel pretty good about my toxin levels.

But chemical toxins aren't the only sort that threaten us mortal beings. There are powerful psychological toxins, for instance. These are much harder to get rid of than chemical ones, but there are self-help books for various emotional toxins too.

The Bible speaks of sin as a kind of toxin, a dark defiling agent that enslaves and kills, worse than any other poisonous addiction. But the Bible is no self-help book. In fact it tells us there's no diet, no methodology, no cure that we can apply ourselves to make us whole, clean, or alive again. We're in dire need of a cleanser that reaches to the depths of our being, but only the Master Himself can apply it to us.

The really interesting thing about this true Master Cleanser is that the cleansing agent He applies to us is... Himself. And once He washes us in Himself, we are definitively cleansed. No matter how much uncleanness we step into or consume, while we have Him (or rather, while He has us) we still remain ultimately clean. And we are miraculously made cleaner and more clean in His continual application of Himself to us by His Spirit, especially in His Word and Sacrament.

Diets can be terribly hard (or, so I've heard). Dieters tell me it's helpful when you diet with others. But with all the self-help material out there, rightly encouraging us to take responsibility for our lives together, the hardest thing might be to admit that we can't help ourselves, or each other, when it comes to ultimately getting rid of sin. Only the Master can eliminate that toxin along with it's deadly effects and addictive power. Thankfully, He is indeed the Master, and His cleansing is irresistible, irreversible, and reaches to the core and totality of our being and community. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!


100% Ash-Free Calvinist

It's that time of year again folks. One of my favorite annual feasts: Unlent. During this time of year we try very hard to practice moderation in moderation. We're extra careful not to give up anything, and to add extra goodies... all for Jesus, of course.

I mean, if you're Lutheran or Anglican or run-of-the-mill cafeteria-gelical... whatever, sure. But professing Presbyterians that observe ecclesiastical calendars, especially ones who have abandoned the Lord's Day as a new covenant sabbath, well, they should just "go the whole way" as some squeamish translators would have Paul say.

Anyway, it's a full-on thunder and lightning snow blizzard right now, and I'm feeling a little energized. Can ya tell?


Challenging The Zeitgeist:
what societal sphere sovereignty really means

So I've been really busy with trying to finish my short paper, so I can get started on my thesis. For a long time I was hung up on a few passages, and it took way longer to write than it should have. But I'm done now, and I am grateful to the Lord for His tender mercy. Your prayers for me were effectual, and I appreciate them.

I still have to add the footnotes and other references, but you can read my short paper here. Please do comment or ask questions!

I believe that Dooyeweerd's conception of societal sphere sovereignty is an essential key to faithful Christian living. Of course, not every one can grasp the theoretical details of this view. But in its basic outline this view is essential to a genuine Christian worldview. Every Christian --but especially those who already understand that culture is not optional, that cultural life is the shape of human life, and therefore of the Christian life-- should carefully consider these ideas as best they can, whatever their vocation.


What Home Tastes Like

Many thanks to my friends who have sent me care-packages while I've been here. I do feel cared for. Today I was so pleased to find a can of Old Bay in my mailbox. I suppose this means nothing to most of you, but to me it's comfort in salty form.

Now for all you LOVERS out there, here's a whole bunch of great audio stories to enjoy from ThisAmericanLife:
Love Thy Neighbor, people trying to love their neighbors... and failing.
What Is This Thing?, they call it love.
So Beautiful... To Me, about love, and what people mean when they use the word.
How To Win Friends, highly recommended fourth act: Jonathan Goldstein on what it's like to date Lois Lane when she's on the rebound from Superman.
Star-Crossed Love, how love blossoms, even when (perhaps) it shouldn't.
The Big Day, all that takes place decades after the moment your eyes meet.
Impossible Love and Heartbreak, need we explain?
And a special from Hearing Voices.


The Glory Of Kings
: a meditation on the calling of Christian scholarship

Even before the fall, Adam was dependent upon God to know how he ought to serve God in the dominion which God granted him over all the earth. There is a passage of Scripture in which we learn about a certain way that man is called to cultivate and keep, to fill, subdue and rule the creation. It is the passage that tells us about the naming of animals. “So out of the ground Yahweh-God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name” Genesis 2:19. So God reveals to man that part of his calling to rule involves naming things.

But do we find it strange that the man does not inquire of God concerning their names? And might we find it even stranger to begin with that God brings the animals to the man to see what their names are? In the calling of scholarship --itself a form of naming the creation-- some would have us look to Scripture to provide specific criteria for every field of study. But this is not the example we have in the Scripture itself. Rather, man calls out the names that he reads upon the "book of nature," God's general revelation in the creation. This is also the meaning of that ancient proverb concerning the glory of man's kingly dominion over the world's treasures: “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search them out” Proverbs 25:2.


Don't Lose My Number

Several international friends, who were only studying here for six months, have left. ...And they left behind a lot of stuff. It's like Xmas all over again. One dear friend gave me her cell phone! So, feel free to "SMS" me (abbr. "short message service," European for the verb text).

# 064-854-3296

If you're calling from the U.S., drop the zero, and first dial 011-31 (the intl & NL codes).
I also skype and googletalk.

In other news, the Reformational Philosophy Club of Amsterdam is set to have the next meeting on Monday (13 Feb).


I Break For History

Darryl Hart and John Muether have given us a wonderful treat in their continuing series of historical vignettes. They write, "...this series is designed to interpret [the] significance [of the American Presbyterian tradition] for Orthodox Presbyterians. Our aim is less to win readers over to our interpretation of these events (although that would be nice), than to get [you] to focus more carefully on [your] history... we want to make a case for memory and not nostalgia... what will unfold is three centuries of Presbyterian struggles over strikingly familiar issues."

Take a moment, now and then, to be enriched by these essays.

01 -- Introduction
02 -- Origins and Identity, 1706–1729
03 -- Old Side versus New Side, 1741–1758
04 -- A National Presbyterian Church, 1789
05 -- The Plan of Union, 1801
06 -- Old School Presbyterianism, 1838
07 -- The Reunion of 1869
08 -- Confessional Revision in 1903
09 -- The Special Commission of 1925
10 -- 1936: A Continuing Presbyterian Church
11 -- The Confession of 1967
12 -- 1973: The Presbyterian Church in America
13 -- Liberal Reunion in 1983
14 -- Conclusion

update April 2007 : the index above now available on OPC homepage.
See also Presby & DutchRef family trees and a list of "P&R" churches.