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Fighting Over Grace

Americanization, acculturation, inevitably envelops us all. The broader question at hand in 1924 was, which America were the immigrants joining? That translates exactly into our own era: which part of “the world” are we comfortable with? Which part do we do we foreswear? And what sort of “world” do the issues at hand at Synod 2023 represent, for both parties?
June 12, 2023

Using Kuyper

The last weeks of the Trump administration were hard on the reputation of Abraham Kuyper. Jim Bratt, Kuyper's biographer, considers how Kuyper is being appropriated and concludes that in the Reformed tradition, Abraham Kuyper is too valuable to surrender.
May 10, 2021

Moved by the Liturgy of Revival

I love high-church liturgy. Smells and bells, processions and litanies, choirs and acolytes – the more the merrier. It might be because of the sere Christian Reformed atmosphere in which I was reared. It might well be a function of my education and social class. (Final exam question for Liturgics 101: "All evangelical academics wind up Anglican. Discuss.") Doubtless a strong factor is my allergy to revivalism and its sundry assumptions, abstracting the person from history and context, subjecting her…
November 1, 2016

Keeping Kuyper Current

James D. Bratt In 1985, Richard Mouw left his teaching post at Calvin College for Fuller Theological Seminary, where he has taught ever since and for the past twenty years has served as president. Though leaving the heartland of the Dutch Reformed, he still intended to hone "a neo-Calvinist perspective" that was both "indigenous ecumenically enriched" for contemporary American application. This collection of fourteen previously published essays testifies that Mouw has been faithful to that call and that taking this…
July 1, 2013

An Obsolete Political Faith

NOVEMBER 2012: AS WE SEE IT by James Bratt The most common theme running through postmortems of the presidential election has been demographic: the Republican Party's mortal dependency on an eroding white male power base, mirrored by its pitiful share among the rising Latino sector in American society. Some 60 percent of whites voted GOP, and fully two-thirds of white males—the most lopsided outcome in that demographic in all American history. Yet these figures shrink next to the one adding…
November 1, 2012

Charles Colson and the Cancer of Incarceration

MAY 2012: AS WE SEE IT by James Bratt Charles Colson's death last month prompted a chorus of praise from his evangelical supporters. Praise for his enduring conversion to Christianity. Praise for the change of character it wrought in him. Praise for the compassion that galvanized him to build his Prison Fellowship into the largest prison ministry in the world. Praise, sometimes followed by sad sighs that the mainstream media had too much remembered the Watergate felon and not the…
May 1, 2012

The Prism of Calvin’s Political Legacy in the United States

The writers of the American Constitution were guided by the theology of Calvin and the philosophy of Hobbes. On the contrary, they were resolute secularists who cared neither for nor about the doctrine of predestination. The American polity grew organically from roots planted by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621 and continued to manifest that Reformed original in spirit and shape at least until the 1960s. On the contrary, the separation of church and state, mandated for the federal government in…
June 1, 2009

The Coming of the Lord?

The Thanksgiving Day service was almost over. The singing had been inspiring, the sermon right on point, the prayers plain and heartfelt. Then the Congressman mounted the pulpit. "A Proclamation by the President of the United States," he announced. I listened until my count of the half-truths and hypocrisies in the script reached five, then tuned out to save the spirit of the day. That particular harbor was not to be found this day, however. Arriving home I clicked on…
December 16, 2006

Warriors and Public Servants

My father died this past February. After several years of slow decline, he passed away free of pain, surrounded by three generations of family, and confident of life everlasting in Jesus Christ. Those circumstances, along with the enduring good bonds he helped instill in our family, made the visitation and services that followed less difficult. The only glitch, for me, came at the interment, where the funeral director, an able and friendly man, sat waiting to present my mother with…
May 16, 2006