Friday, November 11, 2005

Origins of the term "Reformational"

In response to an earlier post, Steve Bishop shared definitions from the OED of the terms Neo-Calvinism and Reformational.

Later he posted a query on Thinknet to which Danie Strauss replied identifying Dooyeweerd's use of the term as early as 1926 in his Inaugural Address (page 108, note 7):
“Vgl. hier ook de summiere analyse van het wijsgeerig verschil tusschen de Thomistische en de Calvinistische wetsidee. De leer der substantieele vormen kan het Calvinisme nimmer vernieuwen. Want zij hangt samen met een natuurbeschouwing, die tegen de reformatorische rechtdraads ingaat en heeft tot grondslag gediend aan de Roomsche “Vermittlung” tusschen natuur en genade. Zij strijdt ook ten eenen male met de Calvinistische grensgedachte der wet” / “Compare here also my succinct analysis of the philosophical difference between the Thomistic and the Calvinistic cosmonomic idea. The theory of substantial forms can never be renewed by Calvinism for it coheres with a view of nature that directly contradicts the reformational and it formed the basis of the Roman mediation between nature and grace. It is also once and for all in conflict with the Calvinistic understanding of the law as boundary.”).

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Further defining "Reformational"

In retrospect, I think my last entry, "Defining 'Reformational'," should have been titled "Describing 'Reformational.'" I'll make a modest attempt at defining Reformational in this entry and do so "experientially."

At an accidental blog, Steve Bishop took some inspiration from me and began exploring the essential aspects of Neo-Calvinism and its relationship to branches of/movements within Christianity.

In response to his initial list of Neo-Calvinist particulars, I added "the centrality of the Word," not in the Biblistic way of Fundamentalist teaching, but in the broader and traditional Reformed sense which recognizes that God's Word is expressed in his Creation, in Jesus Christ, and in the Written Word.

This is, and has long been important to me as a Christian--the centrality of the Word and the need for us to conform ourselves to it. But as important as this is, I realize a central key to my own thinking (insofar as I understand myself to think Reformationally) is something other than this. I talk to many Christians who are Reformed, conservative, evangelical, or some combination of the three and frequently find those who would agree with me on the importance of the centrality of Word, but after that, our agreement usually quickly breaks down.

What is the essential point of disagreement? More often than not, it boils down to an understanding, or lack of understanding, of the Creation Order. This, I think, is what characterizes my own thinking as a Christian and is the key element in Reformational thinking.

Of course, this is no brilliant insight on my part. I only mean to highlight that my experience as I interact with other believers (as well as non-believers) has demonstrated to me how fundamental the concept of the Creation Order is to Reformational thinking.

I like how Al Wolter's expresses it in his essay "What is to be done . . .":
To thus see every thing in our experience as being fundamentally shaped and constituted by God's workmanship in creation (and thus very good), and at the same time as being subject to the mis-shaping and re-shaping forces of man's sin and God's grace (and thus simultaneously evil and in principle redeemable), is to my mind to capture the basic intuition of the neocalvinist worldview . . .
He further states
This basic vision implies a fundamental affirmation of creation in all its pluriform variety, and at the same time a deep sense of the extensive damage done by sin, as well as the ultimate recoverability (by God's grace in Christ) of even the most desperately distorted ontological shapes in our fallen world.