Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What is Reformational?

It might be helpful to clarify a little what is meant by ‘reformational’. I linked in my first post to the wikipedia entry on reformational philosophy and then latter mentioned neocalvinism providing a corresponding link, however these pages need some work done on them and “reformational” includes much more than just a philosophical movement.

A while ago there was some discussion about the relation of these terms (see here and here). I personally like Seerveld’s definition of reformational; it saved me worrying about whether I was neocalvinist, neokuyperian, neodooyeweerdian, or perhaps even neoseerveldian!

“Reformational” identifies (1) a life that would be deeply committed to the scriptural injunction not to be conformed to patterns of this age but to be re-formed by the renewal of our consciousness so that we will be able to discern what God wills for action on earth (cf. Romans 12:1-2); and (2) an approach in history to honour the genius of the Reformation spearheaded by Luther and Calvin in the sixteenth century, developed by Groen van Prinsterer and Abraham Kuyper in the nineteenth century, as a particular christian tradition out of which one could richly serve the Lord; with (3) a concern that we be communally busy reforming in an ongoing way rather than standing pat in the past tense (ecclesia reformata semper reformanda est). (How to Read the Bible to Hear God Speak p.39)

I take the term 'Dooyeweerdian' in the restricted sense of “the philosophical systematics of Herman Dooyeweerd”, with 'reformational philosophy' being more broadly “philosophical thinking in the line of Dooyeweerd, Vollenhoven and other sundry saints”


Baus said...

I too appreciate Seervelds definition. However, what keeps coming to mind is the issue of "distinctives". What Christian would disagree with #1, or Protestant with #3, or Reformed/Presbyterian with #2? So, when folks want to know what makes being 'reformational' something different... we've got to say more, I think. Surely, we should say no less... but to say what is distinctive, we must say more.

Don't you think so?

Rudi said...

To be reformational involves more than merely accepting #1 and #3. It involves making these key ingredients which flavour ones Christianity. As for #2 the addition of Groen van Prinsterer and Abraham Kuyper makes this very distinctive, at least from a UK perspective (there being more adherents in Britain of the Jedi religion than people who have even heard of Prinsterer and Kuyper). But you are right there is more that could be said about reformational distinctives.

Paul said...

Sorry to be stupid, but what exactly does Seerveld mean by "an approach in history"?

Baus said...

I think one distinctive of being Reformational is to clearly distinguish the theoretical from the pre-theoretical, and this includes a distinction between our concrete faith-confession and theoretical commitments.

However, there are confessional distinctives I want to claim as part of being reformational (despite the probable minorty of such a confession among self-identifying reformationals today). And then there are various distinctive theoretical commitments.
And then, too, there are various commitments to certain kinds of action... but many of these (actions) are made distinctive by the pre-theoretical and theoretical vision that shapes them.

Seerveld is talking about ways-of-being-in-the-world, and approaches to history, and communal vitality. Indeed the names of Calvin and Kuyper nuance this, but articulations of the (integral) faith-confession and (distinctive) theoretical commitments are crucial.

I will email you about my secret project... to be worked on after my thesis.

Baus said...

Paul, not a stupid question. Seerveld has written various things on historiography (philosophy of history?) and history of philosophy.
However, in the 1991 #56 Philosphia Reformata article "Footprints In The Snow," he talks about "traditioning" as a practice of passing-on & renewing ways of doing culture.

He writes:
"... the central meaning of tradition is to be found in its being the fund which capitalizes human culturing activity. A tradition of whatever sort provides the historical context for renewed continuation of such activity at hand."

Does that help at all?

Paul said...

Thanks Baus.

It is still not 100% clear to me, but I think I get the gist. I'll try and order the article as soon as someone lets me know how to buy back issues of PR. (!)

Rudi said...

I've bought back issues of PR by e mailing reform.philos@wxs.nl with the details of the issue and my credit card number. It may be safer though to fax or phone.