Tag Archives: princeton

Calvinism and Democracy

In 2012 a group of scholars gathered at Princeton Theological Seminary for a conference titled, “Calvinism and Democracy.” The purpose of this conference was to reflect upon the neo-Calvinist legacy, to explore its theological roots, and to assess in what ways this tradition might provide resources for democratic criticism and renewal. The Kuyper Center Review (Volume Four): Calvinism and Democracy represents the published proceedings of this conference.

Although this collection of essays covers a wide range of topics there are two themes that tie all eleven essays together: 1) The notion that democracy today is facing a crisis and 2) The fact that neo-Calvinism has always had a complicated relationship with democracy. Despite these unifying themes this variegated collection of essays lacks coherence. Since there does not seem to be a strong organizing principle behind the arrangement of these essays, for the sake of the review I will divide these essays into three categories: historical essays on Abraham Kuyper, prescriptive essays based upon Kuyper’s theology, and essays examining other theologians.

The historical essays include contributions by seasoned Kuyper scholars George Harinck and Harry Van Dyke, as well as an essay by Clifford Anderson. Harinck contributes the first essay in this collection by exploring the reasons behind neo-Calvinism’s complicated relationship with democracy. Anderson makes perceptive observations regarding the logic behind liberalism and democracy. He argues that the Kuyperian notion of divine sovereignty rather than popular sovereignty allows us to hold these two ideologies together. Finally, Van Dyke makes two contributions; the first is a translation of correspondence between Willem Groen van Prinster and Kuyper regarding Kuyper’s election to parliament. The second is an essay addressing the nature of Kuyper’s democracy and his role as an emancipator of the kleine luyden in the Netherlands.

However, this collection does not limit itself to looking back at neo-Calvinism’s historical and theological roots; in the group of prescriptive essays Jeffrey Stout, Michael Bräutigam, and Michael DeMoor look to Kuyper as a resource for democratic criticism and renewal. Stout turns to Kuyper’s The Social Problem and the Christian Religion in order to prescribe a course of action for addressing the problems of poverty, domination, and exploitation. Bräutigam makes the case that Kuyper’s distinction between the church as an institution and as an organism “provides a significant motif for Christian political involvement” (p. 67). Finally, DeMoor calls upon other political theologians to develop a specifically neo-Calvinist conception of deliberative democracy rooted in the God’s sovereignty.

The final group of essays are focused on theologians other than Kuyper. David Little argues that Calvinist theology has made “a significant, if sometimes very ambivalent contribution” to the rise of modern constitutionalism (p. 24). He makes this argument by turning to the political theology of John Calvin, John Cotton, and Roger Williams. In “Distinctively Common,” Clay Cooke utilizes the thought of Herman Bavinck to develop ways to hold on to Christian peculiarity and the common good in the public square. James Eglinton also looks to Bavinck’s theology and shows how Bavinck could support the democratic development of the Netherlands while insisting that churches ought to be organized around principles that differ from democracy. Finally, Brant Himes shows how Kuyper’s and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christology and doctrines of creation enable them live our their convictions that Christianity demands “public discipleship.”

Calvinism and Democracy is a superb collection of essays that will serve to stimulate further theological and political reflection upon its subject matter. Many of these essays provide avenues for further scholarly research. For instance Clay Cooke’s essay suggests that Bavinck sees cruciformity as a political virtue. One might want to further investigate what it looks like in practice to engage in politics in a cruciform manner. Michael Bräutigam’s essay “The Christian as Homo Politicus” explains how Kuyper used new forms of media to stimulate political action among the kleine luyden. It would certainly be a worthwhile project to see how new forms of social media, including twitter and blogs, could be used to continue Kuyper’s legacy of stimulating political action within the church. In addition to stimulating further research, this collection will also serve ministers who are attempting to form their own theology of political action within the church. Clay Cooke’s and Michael Bräutigam’s essays will be especially helpful. Both essays move beyond mere theory and develop practical courses of action for the church.

Despite possessing these strengths, this collection certainly has its flaws. One weakness of the collection as a whole is its lack of organization. There is no apparent logic as to how the individual essays were organized within the collection. Several essays also have major flaws. For instance, DeMoor’s essay does not make any significant contribution to neo-Calvinist scholarship, here merely calls for someone else to develop a neo-Calvinist model of deliberative democracy. The essay would have been stronger if he had developed it a model himself. Little’s essay also has a serious flaw; although he addresses John Cotton’s and Roger Williams’s political theories he never specifically addresses their distinctive Calvinist theology. This certainly undermines his thesis. Despite these drawbacks Calvinism and Democracy is a valuable collection that will stimulate further scholarly work and encourage ministers to develop their own theology of political action.

Advertisements

Cool Christian Beards (pt. 3): B.B. Warfield

Its been a while since I last posted in our “Cool Christian Beards” series, but its time for the cool Christian beard to make a comeback! Today we have one of the most famous beard protestant theologians. Although he isn’t as famous as the bearded Calvin or the non-bearded Luther and Edwards, this bearded theologian is one of the most important theologians for evangelicals. Most evangelicals don’t know him, but the truth is that almost all evangelicals have adopted his doctrine of scripture. Today I present to you B.B. Warfield!

BB Warfield Beard

B.B. Warfield was born on November 5, 1851 in Lexington, Kentucky to the Union officer and editor of the Farmer’s Home Journal William Warfield and Mary Breckinridge Warfield, the daughter of a Princeton graduate and the founding president of a Presbyterian seminary in Kentucky. Having growing up in a pious and intelligent family it was not unusual for Benjamin to develop an interest in mathematics and science, as well as a knack for theological studies. At the age of six he would have already completed the shorter catechism, and would have begun to study the larger catechism and memorize large amounts of Scripture.

After graduating from College in 1871 with several awards and recognitions he went to study in Edinburgh and Heidelberg. Eventually he came back the United States, entered Princeton Seminary and began ministering in the Presbyterian Church. Eventually he decided to go back to Europe for further studies, this time in Leipzig, Germany. After his studies he returned to the U.S. to work at a Presbyterian church in Baltimore, but he was shortly contacted by Western Seminary to teach New Testament. He took the job and published many articles. Thus he began to be recognized as an apt scholar.  In 1887 Warfield was called to teach at Princeton Seminary as professor of didactic and polemic theology. He taught at Princeton for thirty-four years and died in 1921.

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield is one of the most influential theologians in the history of American Christianity (although he is now dead…) Most lay people have no clue as to who he is or what he did, his theology has influenced the lives of countless American Christians; specifically his articulation of the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture.

A Dose of Theology – Archibald Alexander

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) an American educator and theologian, was President of Hampton-Sydney College (Virginia) from 1797 to 1806. In 1807 he became pastor of Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. He received the Doctor of Divinity in 1810 from the College of New Jersey. He is most noted as founder and first principal of Princeton Seminary serving there from 1812 to 1840. As principal and professor of theology, he is considered the first of the great “Princeton theologians.” He continued as professor at Princeton until his death in 1851. He was buried in Princeton Cemetery. (HT: Theopedia)

Charles Hodge, the most famous student and successor of Alexander, named his son Archibald Alexander Hodge after his mentor.

Quote: “Do not for a moment suppose that you must make yourself better, or prepare your heart for a worthy reception of Christ, but come at once – come as you are.” —Archibald Alexander

 

 

The Debate Over Inerrancy: Comparing B.B. Warfield and Harold Lindsell – Part 9: Links & Bibliography

For those of you who are interested in reading this as a cohesive whole here are the links in order….

Part 1 – Introduction

https://cwoznicki.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/the-debate-over-inerrancy-comparing-b-b-warfield-and-harold-lindsell-part-1-introduction/

Part 2 – B.B. Warfield

https://cwoznicki.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/the-debate-over-inerrancy-comparing-b-b-warfield-and-harold-lindsell-part-2-b-b-warfield/

Part 3 – Harold Lindsell

https://cwoznicki.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/the-debate-over-inerrancy-comparing-b-b-warfield-and-harold-lindsell-part-3-harold-lindsell/

Part 4 – The Briggs Heresy Trial

https://cwoznicki.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/the-debate-over-inerrancy-comparing-b-b-warfield-and-harold-lindsell-part-4-the-briggs-heresy-trial/

Part 5 – Fuller Seminary

https://cwoznicki.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/the-debate-over-inerrancy-comparing-b-b-warfield-and-harold-lindsell-part-5-fuller-seminary/

Part 6 – Similarities

https://cwoznicki.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/the-debate-over-inerrancy-comparing-b-b-warfield-and-harold-lindsell-part-6-the-battles/

Part 7 – Differences

https://cwoznicki.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/the-debate-over-inerrancy-comparing-b-b-warfield-and-harold-lindsell-part-7-the-battles-differences/

Part 8 – Conclusion

https://cwoznicki.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/the-debate-over-inerrancy-comparing-b-b-warfield-and-harold-lindsell-part-8-the-battles-conclusion/

For those of you interested in the entire bibliography here are the works cited:

1-Hatch, Carl. The Charles A. Briggs Heresy Trial. New York: Exposition Press INC, 1969.

2-Waugh, Barry. “Warfield and C.A. Briggs: Their Polemics and Legacy.” In B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, ed. Gary Johnson, 195-240. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007.

3-Lindsell, Harold. The Battle for the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976.

4-Lindsell, Harold. “Biblical Infallibility: The Reformation and Beyond.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19, no. 1 (1976): 25-37.

5-Marsden, George. Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism.

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.

6-Marsden, George. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991.

7-Noll, Mark. “Introduction.” In B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, ed. Gary Johnson, 1-11. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007.

8-Warfield, B.B.. “The Biblical Idea of Inspiration.” In The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, ed. Samuel G. Craig, 241-255. Philadelphia: P&R Publishing, 1948.

9-Warfield, B.B.. “The Real Problem of Inspiration.” In The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, ed. Samuel G. Craig, 241-255. Philadelphia: P&R Publishing, 1948.

10-Waugh, Barry. “Introduction.” In B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, ed. Gary Johnson, 241-255. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007.

11-Zaspel, Fred G. The Theology of B.B. Warfield: a Systematic Summary. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010.

The Debate Over Inerrancy: Comparing B.B. Warfield and Harold Lindsell – Part 8: The Battles – Conclusion

If you are an Evangelical Christian (or you know any) then you know how divisive the debate over the inerrancy of scripture can be. However you might not know that every generation this battle comes up over and over again. In this blog series we will be taking a look at two iterations of this debate, then we will be comparing them. Hopefully there is something to learn from the past…..

Today we close out this series by looking at what we can learn from these two men’s stories.

________________________________________

Conclusion

            Although the issue of inerrancy still remains an important topic for many Christians today, it is no longer a hot button issue in the same way it used to be, so what can we learn from debates that took place over 100 years ago and over fifty years ago? The most important thing we should learn from these debates is that there will always be issues that divide the church, but as Christians we must not resort to unchristian ways of conducting these debates. Warfield displayed courtesy and even charity when dealing with his opponents who were also Christians. Lindsell on the other hand made out his opponents to be an evil force, that like cancer needed to be eradicated.[1]  Both were dealing with other Christians, one treated his opponents like brothers the other treated them like enemies. Perhaps the greatest lesson that we should draw from the history of the debate over inerrancy is that in debates we must remember that Scripture tells us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another.”[2]  If we walk in the Spirit and display the fruit of the Spirit perhaps even when there is division with the Church, we can bear witness to the world that God’s grace has the power to transform even broken sinners like us.


[1] Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 185.

[2] Galatians 5:22-23

The Debate Over Inerrancy: Comparing B.B. Warfield and Harold Lindsell – Part 7: The Battles – Differences

If you are an Evangelical Christian (or you know any) then you know how divisive the debate over the inerrancy of scripture can be. However you might not know that every generation this battle comes up over and over again. In this blog series we will be taking a look at two iterations of this debate, then we will be comparing them. Hopefully there is something to learn from the past…..

In this post we will look at some of the differences between Warfield and Lindsell as they waged their respective “battles” over the inerrancy of scripture.

________________________________________

The Battle: Warfield and Lindsell Compared – Differences

Besides these superficial similarities between Warfield’s and Lindsell’s battles for inspiration there are some major differences. I would like to point out two major differences: 1-their arguments and 2-the manner in which they argued.

Warfield’s argument for the inerrancy of Scripture is quite different from Lindsell’s argument. One could say that the major difference is that Warfield’s arguments are offensive while Lindsell’s arguments are defensive. Lindsell begins his argument for inerrancy in The Battle for the Bible by defining what he means by inerrancy. He then goes on to show that historically the church has always affirmed inerrancy. Elsewhere he makes a similar point, stating that “There is no evidence to show that errancy was ever a live option in the history of Christendom for eighteen hundred years in any branch of the Christian Church that had not gone off into aberrations.”[1] He then goes on to show that the belief that the bible could be full of errors is a recent innovation which has infiltrated American mission boards, denominations, and schools. He names The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, the Southern Baptist Convention, and Fuller Seminary as examples of organizations that have abandoned inerrancy. The final step in his argument is to show that organizations that abandon inerrancy, including Fuller Seminary, eventually end up abandoning orthodoxy and end up in apostasy. Thus Lindsell’s argument for inerrancy is not that it is an accurate position to hold, although he would have believe that is the correct position, his argument for inerrancy is that if one abandons inerrancy one ends up in apostasy.[2] Therefore unless the Church wants to become apostate it must fight for inerrancy. So we can describe Lindsell’s argument as defensive because he sets himself up against opponents who are being successful in their intentions; Lindsell is calling his readers to take a stand against the oncoming tide of opponents who deny inerrancy. He argues that unless Christians defend their position they will lose the battle.

Contrasting Lindsell’s defensive stance is Warfield’s offensive stance. Although Warfield recognizes that many scholars are beginning to believe that the Bible contains errors, he sees himself on equal ground as his opponents and tries to argue on the basis of reason rather than on the basis of possible consequences. In the essay “Inspiration” Warfield tried to show that “proper scholarship on Scripture and its background supported, rather than undercut, a high verbal view of inspiration.” Warfield argues for inerrancy based upon the Bible’s witness to the doctrine and appeals to the doctrine of providence to show that the Bible can contain both God’s words and human words and still be without error. Anticipating his opponents’ objections he qualifies the argument by stating that the autographs and not the manuscripts are free from errors, and that the Bible must be interpreted after the intent of its authors.[3] Although his argument does contain some defensive elements, it should be noted that Warfield argues not by appealing to consequences but by presenting reasons why Christians should hold to inerrancy.

Another area in which Lindsell and Warfield are dissimilar is in the way they conduct their arguments. Warfield could be “blunt and relentless in his critique of his theological opponent, but he maintained a sense of fair play and gamesmanship even when the issue at stake was very dear to him.”[4] Warfield rarely resorts to ad hominem arguments and is able to separate his opponents and their character from their positions. Take for example two of his articles “The Biblical Idea of Inspiration”[5] and “The Real Problem of Inspiration.”[6] In the first article Warfield presents an argument for the verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible, not once does he name any opponents; he presents his argument and the arguments of others without naming names. The second article,“The Real Problem of Inspiration” is a polemical work, and he names various opponents, but even then he treats them with respect. Speaking of Scottish theologian James Stuart he says that his position is poorly stated but overall his book is written with “a force and logical acumen which are far above the common.”[7]

Lindsell on the other hand does not make his arguments in a polite and considerate manner. Lindsell resorts to ad hominem arguments and judgments on people’s characters to make his arguments. Even though he begins the book by saying that he wishes “to avoid dealing in personalities” and that he wants to avoid giving “the appearance of sniping at any person, or seem to be attacking anyone’s person” because that is not his intention,[8] that is exactly what he ends up doing. He says that soul of the Missouri Synod is at stake, thus implying that certain leaders within the denomination are the problem. He names certain people within the Southern Baptist Convention as the root of the disease which is “now eating at the vitals of the Convention.”[9] He also makes snide remarks about Daniel Fuller, sarcastically suggesting that maybe Daniel Fuller can tell readers which parts of the bible are inerrant an which parts are not, because Daniel Fuller has the authority to make those kinds of decisions.[10] Finally, and perhaps worst of all Lindsell suggests that Christians who fight against inerrancy are somehow working for Satan. Lindsell says that the Holy Spirit bears witness within our spirit that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, thus those who cannot say that the Holy Spirit informs them of this fact are either listening to their “old nature” or are listening to the voice of Satan and proclaiming what Satan wants them to believe.[11] Lindsell ends the book by saying that those who abandon inerrancy cannot technically be called evangelicals, they might be saved, but they are not evangelical Christians.[12]


[1] Harold Lindsell, “Biblical Infallibility: The Reformation and Beyond,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19, no. 1 (1976): 37.

[2] Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 142.

[3] Noll, “Introduction,” In B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, 6-7.

[4] Gary Johnson, “Warfield and C.A. Briggs: Their Polemics and Legacy,” In B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, ed. Gary Johnson, (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007.), 208.

[5] Warfield, “The Biblical Idea of Inspiration,” 131-66.

[6] Warfield, “The Real Problem of Inspiration,” 169-226.

[7] Warfield, “The Real Problem of Inspiration,” 189.

[8] Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 27.

[9] Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 104.

[10] Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 115.

[11] Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 183.

[12] Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 210.

The Debate Over Inerrancy: Comparing B.B. Warfield and Harold Lindsell – Part 6: The Battles – Similarities

If you are an Evangelical Christian (or you know any) then you know how divisive the debate over the inerrancy of scripture can be. However you might not know that every generation this battle comes up over and over again. In this blog series we will be taking a look at to iterations of this debate, then we will be comparing them. Hopefully there is something to learn from the past…..

In this post we will look at some of the similarities between Warfield and Lindsell in their respective “battles” waged over the inerrancy of scripture.

________________________________________

The Battle: Warfield and Lindsell Compared – Similarities

            There are various similarities between these two men. These similarities can be categorized into similarities of belief and similarities of historical context. Both authors believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God. They also hold a plenary view of inspiration, that is, the whole Bible is inspired by God. Lindsell says that “The Bible in all of its parts constitutes the written Word of God to man. This word is free from all error in its original autographs…It is wholly trustworthy in matters of history and doctrine…the authors of Scripture, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, were preserved from making factual, historical, scientific or other errors.”[1] Warfield also holds to an inerrant verbal plenary view of inspiration, he believes that all of “Scripture is the product of a specifically Divine inspiration.”[2] Like Lindsell he also admits that there seems to be errors in the Bible, however he distinguishes between difficulties and proven errors.[3] In Warfield’s opinion no one has made a presentation for indisputable errors, thus all “errors” remain mere difficulties.

In addition to shared beliefs, Warfield and Lindsell share some similarities in their historical contexts. For instance both men were expounding their positions in a polemical context. Warfield was presenting his views on inspiration in relation to Brigg’s works in the Presbyterian Review. Lindsell wrote “The Battle for the Bible” after the controversies at Fuller Seminary. Thus both men were not writing about inspiration merely for the sake of presenting their views; they had opponents which they were arguing against. Another similarity is that the Warfield’s and Lindsell’s opponents were influenced by European Biblical scholarship. Briggs had studied in Germany but so had Warfield. In addition, many of the others who Warfield was writing against in articles like “The Real Problem of Inspiration” were advocating for forms of higher criticism that had sprung up in Europe. Lindsell was also writing against those who had been influenced by European scholarship. One of the major episodes of Lindsell’s fight for inerrancy occurred over the hiring of Bela Vassady, a Hungarian scholar who had been influenced by Karl Barth. Another episode is his fight for inerrancy due to Daniel Fuller’s role on Black Saturday. Fuller had studied in Basel and had moved away from inerrancy in the years he spent studying in Europe.


[1] Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 30-31.

[2] B.B. Warfield, “The Biblical Idea of Inspiration,” In The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, ed. Samuel G. Craig, (Philadelphia: P&R Publishing, 1948.), 133.

[3] B.B. Warfield, “The Real Problem of Inspiration,” In The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, ed. Samuel G. Craig, (Philadelphia: P&R Publishing, 1948.), 225.