albert postma

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

It Feels Good

I just finished my last exam - a take home from HVD. Since Monday, I have had 2 significant take-home exams due and two regular written ones. It has been a little tight and hectic, and so, as my title indicates, it feels good to be done. There is something satisfying with accounting for what you have learned and doing it well. I'm not so sure where I stand on take-home exams. In some ways they are nice, but they also throw me out of sync. It's essentially like having a major paper due right smack in the middle of exam week. But hey, what can I say...I am done!

Though I like my job in the summer, I am quite sad that the academic year has come to a completion. In so many ways I'd rather be here at school rather than working. Although, not being in school has its benefits. Namely, you start at a given time and are done at a given time. No homework.

And...a novelty not found here on Redeemer campus, but comes in loud and clear at home...

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Neocalvinism Maybe...but Neocalvinist?

Allow me to clarify right off the bat...I am not saying I disagree with neocalvinism, its theology, or implications. Rather it is the title of neocalvinist that I rebel against.

Neocalvinism, at least to me, is a fairly new word on the block. Only this year did I hear of it as a label. However, the beliefs and implications of neocalvinism have been something that I have been interested in for some time. I had the benefit, then, of learning a thing or two about neocalvinism and then giving it a title - a thing that, I am sure, many neocalvinists have had.
The problem lies with non-neocalvinists and those not as familiar with the implications of what it defines. According to a number of blogs I have been reading recently, Graham Ware may be an example of this (and, of course, this is no offence to you Graham). What I have been reading is that Graham actually does agree with much of the same things a neocalvinist strives for, but sees neocalvinism in a negative way. Perhaps this is because his negativity towards Calvinism in general, leading him to revolt against anything with the name 'calvinism' in it without properly investigating the movement itself.

If I can recall some history I learned regarding neocalvinism correctly, then one of the forerunners of it was Kuyper. Those who surrounded Kuyper saw what he was doing and asked by what label he went by. The fact of the matter was that he didn't have one, nor did he want one. However, the people lamented and asked him to come up with a term that they could use to describe this new movement, so reluctantly Kuyper said, "If you must, then call it neocalvinism".
Why was Kuyper reluctant to label himself? Perhaps he saw the problem of an unfamiliar person automatically making unjustified assumptions. Perhaps he thought, why should a movement within Christianity have a name other than Christian?

I made a comment on Andrew Vis' blog asking if we should be called Christian with a neocalvinist view or something like that rather than neocalvinist. Andrew replied that neocalvinism is a way of life, a way to live out his Christianity. Fair enough. Here's the question, though...if neocalvinism is a comprehensive way to live out the Christian life, then shouldn't all Christians live in a neocalvinist way? Isn't that what neocalvinists claim to promote? So why do we need a seperate lable, since calling yourself Christian and neocalvinist would seem to be redundant. Why not just Christian?

By calling yourself a neocalvinist you make others believe it is not comprehensive, but that it is simply an aspect to Christianity. Otherwise you would just be Christian.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

A Whole New Spin on Legalism

The United Methodist website published a story of an internal court case performed to decide if Rev. Karen Dammann was acting against official church moral standards. Rev. Dammann was and remains to be a "self-avowing practicing homosexual". The legislative branch of the church convened to decide if she fell in line or not, and after deliberating and legal study of the issue, the eleven member jury cast 9 'not-guilty' verdicts and 2 undecided. Here is an excerpt from the story...

"Beginning April 27, the General Conference, the church's elected legislative branch, will meet in Pittsburgh to debate church policies and laws. Nearly 1,000 delegates from around the world will revise the United Methodist law book, the Book of Discipline. It is the very book that the Dammann trial court ruled does not clearly declare the practice of homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teachings.

After acquitting Dammann, a member of the trial court read a statement explaining the decision, noting that even the jurors were divided on that point. "We, as the trial court, are far from unanimous regarding biblical and theological understandings," the statement said.

The pivotal issue came down to a lack of a declarative statement in the Book of Discipline.

"We searched the Discipline and did not find a declaration that 'the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings,' the statement read. Although the jurors found passages containing the "incompatible..." phrasing, they said they "did not find that any of them constitute a declaration" that homosexuality is a chargeable offense.

Instead, trial court members pointed to other statements that are clearly declarative, such as: "Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the church, the community and the world. Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination." (Section 6 of The Ministry of all Christians, section VI "Called to Inclusiveness," Paragraph 138, p. 93.)

The irony I see is the legalism - usually a term used to refer to people who try to impose unjustified limits on Christian freedom - is being used to pick apart a document to justify an immoral practice. It's one thing to use scriptural themes to attempt to prove that homosexuality is a God-honouring lifestyle, it is another to take a document (apparently) derived from scripture and bend it to fit your purposes. If this 'Disciplines' document lacks any declarative stance against homosexual practice, couldn't they simply refer back to the document the 'Disciplines' is based on - namely Scripture?
It is sadly amusing to read about studying the 'Disciplines' up and down to see if homosexual behavior is wrong, then despite the fact that it says homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian life, they decide the 'Disciplines' makes no declarative stance on the issue - let alone scripture.

I was due for a good lawyer joke.