Reformational Christianity.


Reformational Christianity is also known as Neo-Calvinism, probably because this whole movement exists within the Calvinistic movement. The roots of Reformational Christianity are to be found in the rediscovery by Abraham Kuyper and his colleagues of the greater vision that Calvin had of The Christ’s Sovereignty over area of life. This led Kuyper and his followers to stress the need for a Christian worldview.

Kuyper’s followers articulated this call for a worldview in various ways as I hope to demonstrate below at the outset I must warn against seeing this movement as one that is united in all of its philosophical and theological articulation.

In Holland Herman Dooyeweerd developed his own philosophical approach which saw creation as goodbut fallen and he tried to demonstrate that the whole of reality is divided into various spheres which should not be dominated by other spheres but rather that there is an interrelationship between these spheres. He used the concept of sphere sovereignty to show the bounds of each area. His main work was “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought” an easier way to understand Dooyeweerd is to read “Contours of a Christian Philosophy” by L Kalsbeek. Dooyeweerd’s thought is complex, but it sheds much light on the created order. It should also be noted here that Dooyeweerd acknowledged that D.H.Th.Vollenhoven was the co-founder of the reformational philosophical trend. Even within the Dutch movement there was a diversity of approaches this can be seen for instance in comparing Klass Schilder’s “Christ and Culture” with the approach of Dooyeweerd.

Kuyper’s thought was first articulated in the USA in his Stone Lectures. These lectures were available in print before Dooyeweerd’s thought had been heard of. This led to differing approaches to a Christian Worldview.  For instance  Van Til articulated a Christian wordldview in a different way than Dooyeweerd did. When one reads Van Til one does not find the same approach to the spheres of created reality as one finds in Dooyeweerd. See the interesting exchange between Dooyeeerd and Van Til in “Jerusalem And Athens”   editedby E.R.Geehan. Some of Van Tils followers became very critical of what they called the Amsterdam Philosophy see for example the writings of John Frame and Vern Poythress

Kuyper’s work was also promoted by Dr Francis Schaeffer and his good friend Dr.Hans Rookmaaker what is interesting here is that Schaeffer never accepted Dooyeweerd’s philosophy, Rookmaaker did accept it. Although I don’t know if they still exist there were some tapes by Schaeffer and Rookmaaker setting out their position regarding Dooyeweerd’s philosophy, I listened to these in 1974 and again at Schaeffer’s request in 1978. There are clear differences here but both were concerned to promote a Christian worldview.

In South Africa the reformatioal philosophy of Hendrik Stoker took the movement in different way and yet enriched the thinking of the whole movement, I came into touch with this school of thought through reading J.A.L Taljaard’s book “Polished Lenses” and also through the essays of B.J.Van der Walt, it seems to me that these scholars add dimensions to a Christian Philosophy that Dooyeweerd has not touched upon. In 1978 0r 1979 having read these books I gave a series of lecturesd at L’Abri on the coherence and complexity of reality.

Reformational Christianity in all its forms proclaims the Lordship of Christ over all of created reality, I believe that further attempts will be made to articulate a Christian Philosophy in the light of the light of the fact that Jesus is Lord we certainly need to see this happen not despisng the past but rather building upon it.

About pneumaandlogos

David Rollings was born in Luton in1949 and raised by my Christian parents in the Gospel Standard Strict Baptist denomination( Hyper-Calvinistic} in the sixties I rebelled against this background and got involved in left-wing politics. I became a Christian in 1969 and soon started reading Francis Schaeffer's books and came to embrace a Christian Worldview. I had the privilege of being on the staff of L'Abti Fellowship from1975 - 1979. After L'abri I studied at London School of Theology where I gained my BA.(1983) A few years later I studied for my MA by distance learning with The Nazarene Theological College Manchester (1999) For the last 22 years, I have been an elder of Shoreham-by-Sea Baptist Church. I also regularly attend the Christian Doctrine Study Group of the Tyndale Fellowship.
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