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The Great Inviter

By Essays

W. Dale Brown, put in front of an audience, was always disarming: smart, artless, arch – and Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing put him in front of many audiences. Given his druthers, though, Dale would station himself at the back of a crowd. From there, he could wink at the latecomers. He could chuckle, a little less than circumspect, at the speakers’ jokes and quirks. He could whisper along with the poets and commit the orators’ maxims to…

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A Seeker of Gospel-Shaped Stories

By Essays

I somehow managed to earn a bachelor of arts in literature without ever encountering Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote until a high school production of Dale Wasserman’s 1965 play Man of La Mancha. I went as a rookie minister in the 80s because a 16-year-old junior from my youth group was playing the role of Aldonza, the scorned scullery maid Quixote keeps calling Dulcinea because somehow when he looks at her, all he can see is a princess: “I see…

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A Curious Professor

By and Essays

Part I: Holberg In all the years of our long friendship, there was never a week that went by when Dale Brown and I did not talk about teaching. We talked about our own classes, of course, and our students, but we also talked about all the pedagogical “nitty-gritty” – grading and assignments and course readings – trying to figure out how to get ever better at what we felt was the most meaningful part of our job as professors….

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The Work of Lent: Learning with Emily Dickinson

By As We See It

I didn’t grow up celebrating Lent. I came to it later in life. My first Ash Wednesday came late winter, only months after burying our firstborn son. Ashes; all was ashes. Dust; all was dust. In the dimly lit sanctuary, I found dried palms, ashes and words about loss. I discovered words to voice what was seething in my heart: words of honesty in Lent, however unsavory they might have been. How does one sing the songs of Easter when…

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Common Grace and Race

By Essays

That Abraham Kuyper was a racist, following the conventions of his time, is something that no neo-Calvinist would deny. His views on race and his theological impact – to some degree – on the rise of apartheid in South Africa have been well documented. For Kuyper, this is no mere blind spot: the problem of race in his thinking is situated within some of his most important theological formulations, namely his doctrine of common grace. With Kuyper, common grace is…

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The Cost of Faithful Witness in South Africa: Russel Botman, 1953–2014

By Essays

Russel Botman, Reformed theologian and university president, died on June 28, 2014, in Stellenbosch, South Africa. A 60-year-old dying in his sleep is not typically a matter for international attention. But in later press investigation and commentary a more complex story emerged. The context of his life and the circumstances of his death should interest us because they illustrate a theme about the personal toll exacted on those who would follow in the gospel train of Mandela, Tutu and King…

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Abraham Kuyper bust

Many Sons Had Father Abraham

By Essays

In 2013, we saw the publication of Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat, the masterful biography by James D. Bratt. When the president of Fuller Theological Seminary, Richard Mouw, announced his retirement, the July/August 2013 issue of Perspectives reminded us how much a Kuyperian our leading Reformed Evangelical has been. Mouw has been candid in his deep appreciation of the Kuyperian legacy and also judiciously critical of some parts of it. I want to engage the legacy that these two…

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Abraham Kuyper bust

WWWow! It’s Perspectives’ New Website

By As We See It

“‘Wow! This is Perspectives?’ That’s how we hope you react as you pick up this issue.” We began a From the Editors with that line in the January/February 2011 issue of Perspectives. At that time, the editors and board believed the journal needed a fresh look to signal a renewed commitment to be our best. And, if you don’t mind our saying so, the new-and-improved print edition has been well received. We said something else in that From the Editors…

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Home, Heroes and Saints in Christ

By Essays

I have been told that I have a tendency to ruin cultural outings with my penchant for theological critique. I try really hard to rein it in, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. It might have happened last month, when I took my 4-year-old son to see “The Wizard of Oz.” It was an Andrew Lloyd Webber production, with many of the classic songs from the 1939 movie and a few new songs written for this play. One of…

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Lying, Truthfulness and the Grace of God

By Essays

It is an old question, and it happens every fall. Every fall, I teach a required course on biblical theology as seen through the Old Testament and the Gospels. Every fall, we get stuck on the story of Rahab in the book of Joshua, and we get particularly stuck on the question of whether Rahab was justified in lying to Jericho about the whereabouts of Israel’s spies. Every fall, almost all of my students — whether they are products of…

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