Tag Archives: Christian theology

The costly grace of serving God, not the cheap grace of self-service

13 Oct

A few posts ago, I mentioned Abraham Kuyper. Kuyper was a Dutch Reformed theologian-pastor-journalist-professor-politician of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In his famous speech opening the Free University in 1880, Kuyper said, “There’s not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is Lord over all, does not exclaim, ‘Mine’!” This has become Kuyper’s most famous statement, at least in North America.

So notes James Bratt, historian at Calvin College, who has recently published the best biography yet on Kuyper.

(Kuyper has some influence around here in northwest Iowa, where Kuyper himself visited in 1898 because of the Dutch Reformed immigrants who came here 1870 and following. For the latter story, look to our forthcoming book Orange City.)

In a post at The 12, Bratt comments on some problems he has with how Kuyper’s famous quote is too often taken:

Here’s my beef. In announcing that any work can be God’s work, we run the risk of saying that any work is God’s work. That whatever we want to do, we may do and put a God stamp on it. Wherever, however, with whomever, with all the standard rewards in that field. You don’t need Kuyper to crown the main chance with piety; all sorts of Christians in every tradition have been at it for centuries. Plus the inference is a whole lot short of what Kuyper said, and what the Gospel teaches. So if we’re going to intone “every square inch,” let’s have some riders attached.

Indeed. We do not need more remaking God in our image. Instead, we need more of loving God and our neighbor in all the realms of our lives, and of life.

To read about the riders Bratt suggests, here’s his entire post:

the12 – James Bratt – Why I’m Sick of “Every Square Inch”.

Desiring Secularity

12 Oct

Jason Lief, faculty at Dordt College, offers some thoughtful reflections on this age (postmodernity?), Catholicism, and Protestantism. He does so as a blogger at The 12, a Reformed (RCA and CRC) site.

Here’s Jason’s post:

the12 – Jason Lief – Desiring Secularity.

(Full disclosure. For one year, in the previous century, Jason was my student assistant. Way to go, Jason!)

Some Thoughts in Passing about Passing

7 Sep

Have you noticed how fewer people use the word “death” now, and more instead speak of someone’s “passing”?

What might this linguistic turn mean?

Jonathan Den Hartog wonders about it, and offers a hypothesis:

My claim would be that in the past decade, the normal elocution has shifted from someone “passing away” to someone simply “passing.” The dropping of the preposition actually signals a greater uncertainty about the meaning of death.

“Passing away” implied a direction or a goal. There was a silent destination, but in most cases the meaning was to heaven. “Crossing Jordan’s stormy banks” was difficult, but the sense was that “Beaulah land” was on the other side.

Granted, “passing away” was not as explicit as it might have been, and it undoubtedly obscured both the painful elements of death and religious differences. Still, it operated within a broadly Christian conception of death and dying.

By contrast, “passing” seems simply a polite form of dying, without a goal.

I find this rings true. See Den Hartog’s entire piece here:

Religion in American History: Some Thoughts in Passing about Passing.

The New Theist

1 Jul

The latest Chronicle of Higher Education has a fascinating (and lengthy) article by Nathan Schneider on philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig. Not only had I not heard of Craig, neither was I aware of Biola’s flourishing master’s program in philosophy.

You can find the Schneider article here:

The New Theist – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Evangelicalism and the Modern Study of Scripture

1 Jul

In case you haven’t already become a follower of Harold Heie’s Respectful Conversation project, take a look at the new topic starting today:

respectfulconversation – The Conversation – Topic #3: Evangelicalism and the Modern Study of Scripture.

N.T. Wright on Jesus’ Death

16 Jan

This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day brings to mind, among other things, suffering–of King himself, and of many others in history, and the present, who seek God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven.

N.T. Wright’s new book, Simply Jesus, powerfully presents Wright’s understanding of what Jesus was about, in ways that remind us that Jesus was King’s Lord and Savior. Here’s a passage from Wright’s book, pp. 185-7:

Somehow, Jesus’s death was seen by Jesus himself, and then by those who told and ultimately wrote his story, as the ultimate means by which God’s kingdom was established. The crucifixion was the shocking answer to the prayer that God’s kingdom would come on earth as in heaven. It was the ultimate Exodus event through which the tyrant was defeated, God’s people were set free and given their fresh vocation, and God’s presence was established in their midst in a completely new way for which the Temple itself was just an advance pointer. That is why, in John’s gospel, the “glory of God”–with all the echoes of the anticipated return of YHWH to Zion–is revealed in and through Jesus, throughout his public career, in the “signs” he performed, but fully and finally as he is “lifted up” on the cross. …

… In Jesus’s own understanding of the battle he was fighting, Rome was not the real enemy. Rome provided the great gale, and the distorted ambitions of Israel the high-pressure system, but the real enemy, to be met head-on by the power and love of God, was the anti-creation power, the power of death and destruction, the force of accusation, the Accuser who lays a charge against the whole human race and the world itself that all are corrupt and decaying, that all humans have contributed to this by their own idolatry and sin. The terrible thing is that this charge is true. …

… What we see throughout Jesus’s public career is that he himself is being accused … Jesus, in other words, has taken the accusations that were outstanding against the world and against the whole human race and has borne them in himself. That is the point of the story the way the evangelists tell it.

Exploring the Past

Reading, Thinking, and Blogging about History

Enough Light

"In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't." - Blaise Pascal

Lenten Lamentations

Preparing to Participate in God's Mosaic Kingdom

The Text Message

Discoveries from processing and reference archivists on the job

john pavlovitz

Stuff That Needs To Be Said

Wirelesshogan: Reflections from the Hogan

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

The Way of Improvement Leads Home

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

The Pietist Schoolman

The website and blog of historian Chris Gehrz

Native News Online

American Indian News

Reformed Journal: The Twelve

Reformed. Done Daily.


by Alex Scarfe


Thoughtful Conversation about the American West

Northwest History

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

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