23 September 2020

The Descent of the Post-Modernists

Most of us are two young to remember this famous illustration by E. J. Pace in the 1924 book, Seven Questions in Dispute, by William Jennings Bryan.

Although the confessional liberalism plaguing evangelical protestantism a century ago is still with us in some fashion, it declined precipitously after around 1960, as the denominations most affected by it lost members to more confessional congregations or to sleeping late on sunday mornings.

However, the current form of "progressive Christianity" is based on similar assumptions about the nature of the Christian faith and the authority of Scripture, but it has led, not to an exaggerated faith in reason and the scientific method as it did in the early 20th century, but to an affirmation of the self and its subjective aspirations. Here is an updated illustration.

17 September 2020

Government's Call to Do Justice

Canadian periodical Faith Today has just published an adapted excerpt from my book Political Visions and Illusions, titled,"Government's Call to Do Justice: How a society can seek justice when there are so many ways to define it." A couple of paragraphs follow:

People seek justice as they understand it, but each nevertheless comes to a different conclusion on what it requires. The consistent liberal will argue that, based on the rights of individuals, no person should be required to join a labour union against her wishes. The socialist, on the other hand, will likely argue that class solidarity must take priority over individual preferences and that compulsory union membership is necessary to protect employees in the workplace. Of course, both cannot be right.

This difference of opinion is complicated by the fact that governing authorities are required to adjudicate, not only the dispute between worker and union, but the clash between liberal and socialist, which is no simple matter, particularly if the government is dominated by a party representing only one of these viewpoints. If government must be evenhanded in its treatment of worker and union, liberal and socialist, it cannot be neutral with respect to which vision of justice will underpin its decision. Yet whatever decision it finally makes, the government will inevitably be exercising its jural task.

16 September 2020

Tribute to my father

My monthly column in the Canadian periodical Christian Courier is devoted to my late father, a "man who survived more than his share of near-death experiences and turned tragedy into poetry." 

Throughout his 92 years he experienced vivid signs of God’s work. Ten years ago, he survived a lightning strike on the car he was driving, and five years ago he and my mother miraculously walked away unscathed from a serious automobile accident. So many times did such events happen to him that we sometimes thought him immortal. He was not, of course. But when God saw fit to draw his years to a close last month, we were thankful for a life well lived, confident that we will meet him again at the resurrection of the righteous.

10 September 2020

Visões e Ilusões Política: A série está completa

O Pastor Vitor Grando, da Igreja Presbiteriana do Bairro Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, completou o seu ciclo de conferências sobre o meu livro Visões e Ilusões Políticas. Essas palestras são postadas no canal da igreja no YouTube. A playlist começa aqui.

 Pastor Vitor Grando, of the Igreja Presbiteriana do Bairro Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, has completed his series of lectures on my book, Political Visions and Illusions. These lectures are posted on the church's YouTube channel. The playlist begins here.

08 September 2020

Intellectuals and the totalitarian temptation

Hannah Arendt
Last week I posted one of Hannah Arendt's examinations from 1955, and one question in particular intrigued me: "Explain why intellectuals can be attracted by a totalitarian ideology."

This is something that has perplexed many observers over the past century. From Martin Heidegger's positive estimation of national socialism to Jean-Paul Sartre's early flirtation with communism, many of the most influential philosophers and writers have flirted with an ideology that promises redemption and uses any means to achieve it, however costly in human terms. Sartre himself became disillusioned by Moscow's crushing of Hungary in 1956 but continued to advocate some form of socialist revolution in his later years.


Jean Francesco reviews my first book: "This book, in my opinion, is the best book for Christians . . . on politics." Muito obrigado, irmão! 


04 September 2020

The Common Good interview: WYLL Chicago

 This week I was interviewed by Ian Simkins and Brian From on "the Common Good" over Chicago radio station WYLL, AM 1160. It has now been posted here: Guest: David Koyzis, Author - Political Visions & Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies - September 2, 2020.

03 September 2020

Dooyeweerd and Political life (Dooyeweerd e a vida política)

Several weeks ago I was privileged to give an address to an online gathering of Direito Reformacional in Brazil. Arthur Loureiro was my host, and Vinícius Pimentel was translator. The lecture runs from the beginning of this video to around 40 minutes.


01 September 2020

Hannah Arendt's exam questions

Someone recently posted this on Facebook, purporting it to be a final examination from one of Hannah Arendt's (1906-1975) courses at the University of California at Berkeley. I cannot imagine she would have been an easy marker.

29 August 2020

The True Nature of Freedom

Last evening I was privileged to speak at the 1ª JORNADA DE DIREITO E FÉ CRISTÃ on the subject of "The True Nature of Freedom" ("A Verdadeira Natureza da Liberdade"), based on my second book, We Answer to Another: Authority, Office, and the Image of God


23 August 2020

Turkey administers a second blow to Christian minority

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has done it again. This time it's the much smaller Chora Church in Istanbul, dating back to the 4th century: Turkey Turns Another Historic Church into a Mosque.

A decision by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, published in the country’s Official Gazette, said Istanbul’s Church of St. Saviour in Chora, known as Kariye in Turkish, was handed to Turkey’s religious authority, which would open up the structure for Muslim prayers.

Like the Hagia Sophia, which was a church for centuries and then a mosque for centuries more, the historic Chora church had operated as a museum for decades before Erdogan ordered it restored as a mosque.

The church, situated near the ancient city walls, is famed for its elaborate mosaics and frescoes. It dates to the fourth century, although the edifice took on its current form in the 11th–12th centuries.

19 August 2020

Hazony on Marxism and liberalism

Yoram Hazony
Last year I wrote a review of Yoram Hazony's book, The Virtue of Nationalism, which I appreciated more than I thought I would. Now Hazony has contributed an article to the online journal Quillette, titled, The Challenge of Marxism. I hope to write about it soon, but for now an excerpt will suffice:

My liberal friends tend to believe that oppression and exploitation exist only in traditional or authoritarian societies, whereas liberal society is free (or almost free) from all that. But this isn’t true. Marx is right to see that every society consists of cohesive classes or groups, and that political life everywhere is primarily about the power relations among different groups. He is also right that at any given time, one group (or a coalition of groups) dominates the state, and that the laws and policies of the state tend to reflect the interests and ideals of this dominant group. Moreover, Marx is right when he says that the dominant group tends to see its own preferred laws and policies as reflecting “reason” or “nature,” and works to disseminate its way of looking at things throughout society, so that various kinds of injustice and oppression tend to be obscured from view.

For example, despite decades of experimentation with vouchers and charter schools, the dominant form of American liberalism remains strongly committed to the public school system. In most places, this is a monopolistic system that requires children of all backgrounds to receive what is, in effect, an atheistic education stripped clean of references to God or the Bible. Although liberals sincerely believe that this policy is justified by the theory of “separation of church and state,” or by the argument that society needs schools that are “for everyone,” the fact is that these theories justify what really is a system aimed at inculcating their own Enlightenment liberalism. Seen from a conservative perspective, this amounts to a quiet persecution of religious families. Similarly, the pornography industry is nothing but a horrific instrument for exploiting poor women, although it is justified by liberal elites on grounds of “free speech” and other freedoms reserved to “consenting adults.” And in the same way, indiscriminate offshoring of manufacturing capacity is considered to be an expression of property rights by liberal elites, who benefit from cheap Chinese labor at the expense of their own working-class neighbors.

No, Marxist political theory is not simply a great lie. By analyzing society in terms of power relations among classes or groups, we can bring to light important political phenomena to which Enlightenment liberal theories—theories that tend to reduce politics to the individual and his or her private liberties—are systematically blind.
Stay tune for my own thoughts on Hazony's analysis.

18 August 2020

Philadelphia Statement

 I am not generally in the habit of signing statements or manifestos, but I think the new Philadelphia Statement is worthy of support. Although it is tailored to the American context, it has relevance also for Canada and other western countries. Here is an excerpt:

Humanity has repeatedly tried expunging undesirable beliefs and ideas. What self-appointed speech arbiters, whether in the majority or in the minority, fail to grasp is that they will likely eventually become the targets. The winds inevitably shift, sometimes rapidly. The question is whether civility norms and free-speech safeguards will remain in place to protect them, or whether they will become victims of the dangerous precedents they themselves have established and advanced.

To be sure, our free speech tradition is not absolutist. It does not embrace certain, limited categories of speech, such as defamation, obscenity, intimidation and threats, and incitement to violence. Yet the idea of “hate speech” exceptions to free speech principles is foreign to our free speech ideals, impossible to define, and often used by those wielding political, economic, or cultural power to silence dissenting voices. That is why we must favor openness, to allow ideas and beliefs the chance to be assessed on their own merits; and we must be willing to trust that bad ideas will be corrected not through censorship but through better arguments.

I agree and have thus signed the statement.

14 August 2020

Global Scholar's page

Since November of last year I have been a member of Global Scholar's Canada, an organization set up to aid scholars in academic outreach around the world, whether locally or at a distance. I have now set up my own page as a Global Scholar, and it can be accessed here. I will be updating the page regularly from now on, including such items as links to writings, online lectures, interviews, &c. Here is my GSC mission statement:

My mission is to disseminate to the larger world the riches of a Reformed Christian worldview, especially as it impinges on social and political life. More specifically, I aim:

  1.     to expose the idolatrous religious nature of political ideologies and their implications for our shared public life;
  2.     to affirm the role of authority in human flourishing; and
  3.     to connect our political cultures with the institutions they nurture.

To facilitate these aims I anticipate using my two published books, Political Visions and Illusions (InterVarsity Press, 2019) and We Answer to Another (Pickwick Publications, 2014), and thirty years of teaching experience to reach interested readers in Canada, the United States, Brazil, and elsewhere; to teach seminar courses, both in person and online; to continue to publish in my field; and to travel when necessary.

If anyone is interested in supporting me in this mission financially, please contact me privately at dtkoyzis at gmail dot com. Thank you.

13 August 2020

Hagia Sophia becomes a mosque

Last month it was reported that a Turkish court has cleared the way for the historic Hagia Sophia, an ancient Roman church built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, to return to its former use as a mosque. Known as Ayasofya to the Turks, it functioned as a Muslim place of worship between 1453, when the Ottoman armies of Mehmed II, the Conqueror, conquered Constantinople, and 1934, when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk turned it into a museum.

Since then this architectural wonder has seen millions of tourists file through its interior, which once echoed with the sounds of Byzantine chant and Muslim prayers but now houses the ancient artefacts of two civilizations and two religions. Because Islam prohibits the presence of images in worship, the status of the building’s Byzantine mosaics, uncovered in recent times, remains uncertain.

This development is consistent with the efforts of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to move his country away from the secularizing Kemalist legacy towards a more Islamic identity.

Read the full column in the latest issue of Christian Courier.

12 August 2020

A new book about Kuyper

Brazilian publisher, Editora Monergismo, has just published this new book, Abraham Kuyper e as Bases Para uma Teologia Pública, by Thiago Moreira. The title in English is Abraham Kuyper and the Bases for a Public Theology. Perhaps it will be translated into English at some point. In the meantime, here is my translation of the table of contents:


Introduction: Brazil and its Encounter with Abraham Kuyper: brief critical hermeneutical considerations

Chapter 1: Religion and Modernity: historical notes

    Religion and Worldview

    Religious Worldview, Narrative and History

Chapter 2: Abraham Kuyper and Calvinism as a Coherent and Integral System of Life

    Relevant biographical points

    Abraham Kuyper and his Conversion to Orthodox Calvinism

Chapter 3: The Kuyperian Antirevolutionary Vision

Chapter 4: Calvinism as Worldview in Kuyper

    Kuyperian Social Thought and the Political Sphere

    Creation Order and the Spheres of Human Existence

Chapter 5: The question of Pillarization and Apartheid in South Africa

Chapter 6: Common Grace in Kuyper's Vision

    Cosmogony, the Doctrine of Creation and the Manifestation of Common Grace in Humanity

Chapter 7: Culture, Engagement, and Antithesis

Chapter 8: Kuyper and the Relation Between Church, State, and Society

     The 1891 Christian Social Congress and the Question of Social Justice

    The Relation between Church, Society, and State in the Kuyperian Corpus

    Religious Worldview and Political Participation in Social Life: A Kuyperian Proposal

Epilogue: The Roots of Shalom

About the Author

11 August 2020

Differentiated authority in a pandemic

The second part of John Sikkema's interview with me is posted here: State and church authority in a pandemic – An interview with Professor Koyzis. An excerpt:

The church in no way derives its authority from the state. However, the state, as a community of citizens led by a government, properly cares for the public welfare in ways that other communities are not easily able to do. The institutional church, for example, is not equipped to handle public health crises affecting huge numbers of people, nor do we expect it to. An emergency necessitates someone assuming a temporary coordinating function in ways that might otherwise seem intrusive. In wartime young men are conscripted into the military, food is rationed, curfews are imposed, bank accounts are frozen—all of these impinge on marriages, families, churches, businesses, and many other communities, at least temporarily.

The intensity of such state-coordinated solidarity would be inappropriate during most circumstances. And there are risks that the state will abuse its authority even during emergencies, as when Canadian and American governments interned their own citizens of Japanese descent during the Second World War. We need to be vigilant to be sure that, once the emergency has ended, the state will not inappropriately try to hold on to emergency powers. This is why democratic and constitutional checks are important.

10 August 2020

Authority and office: an interview

 I was recently interviewed by John Sikkema of the Association for Reformed Political Action on the subject of my second book, We Answer to Another. The first part of the interview can be found here: The Key to Authority is the Office of Image Bearer – An Interview with Professor David Koyzis. An excerpt follows:

If we have a high view of office, then rather than simply railing or rebelling against it, we recognize that we can call the office holder to use their authority in a non-abusive way. It’s not helpful simply to be cynical about authority per se. Rather, we should recognize authority’s legitimacy and on that basis, call the office bearer to exercise their authority in a way that fits the office, its norms and limits. Deny the legitimacy of authority, and you are simply left with a competition for power. But that view does not line up with our daily experience and intuitive recognition of authority.

08 August 2020

Interview posted

Mark Tooley, of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, recently interviewed me on the subject of my book, Political Visions and Illusions, now in a revised second edition. 


Theodore Anthony Koyzis (1928-2020)

Theodore Anthony “Ted” Koyzis has died at age 92 in Andover, Massachusetts. An extraordinary man, he lived an extraordinary life, giving of himself to so many people over the decades, especially his beloved family. He was born in Koma tou Yialou, Cyprus, in the Greek Orthodox Christian community, during the British colonial era. When the Second World War began, his father and mother moved him, his four brothers and two sisters to the old walled city of Famagusta. Theodore graduated from the American Academy in Larnaca. 

In 1948 he left Cyprus and served briefly as a war correspondent for a British newspaper during the first Arab-Israeli war. He then moved to Kano, Nigeria, where he worked for a Greek entrepreneur. He traveled widely during these years. After meeting American missionaries in Africa, he moved to Chicago in 1951 to study at the Moody Bible Institute, where he met his wife Jane Korpinen, both of whom graduated in June 1954. They were married that year and had six children. Theodore was an independent businessman throughout most of his adult life, working from their long-time home in Wheaton, Illinois.

He was an amateur poet in two languages and was regularly published in Cypriot newspapers in his youth. He continued to write poetry into his 90’s. He and Jane were married for 66 years. He leaves her behind, along with a brother Eustace (Dora); sister Anna (Gus); his six children, David (Nancy), Cynthea (John), Pamela, Dawn, Thomas (Rodney), and Yvonne (Guy); seven grandchildren, Janine (Anthony), Robyn (Rick), Claire (Chad), Bethany (Brian), Theodora (Jereme), Cecily, and Theresa; and ten great-grandchildren, Aurélie, Elodie, Charles, Ingrid, Benjamin, John, Rose, Aaron, Jane, and Béatrice. Theodore's family was his greatest joy in life, and he was unfailingly generous to his many descendants. After living in Aurora, IL for 16 years, Ted and Jane recently relocated to MA where they were living with family. 

He loved God and served him faithfully, his prayers echoing the cadences of both the Orthodoxy liturgy and the King James Bible, especially Psalm 107: “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” We whom he has left for a time hold him in our hearts and look to the hope of the resurrection.

The obituary can be found here.

27 July 2020

Dooyeweerd's Encyclopedia

I have just finished reading Herman Dooyeweerd's Encyclopedia of the Science of Law: Series A, Volume 8/1: Introduction. Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) was a Christian philosopher who taught at the Free University of Amsterdam from 1926 to 1965. He was a prolific scholar and writer who founded a unique philosophical school known as the Philosophy of the Law-Idea (De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee), or the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea. His major contribution to philosophy consisted in demonstrating that the pretended autonomy of philosophical thought is in reality nothing of the sort. All theoretical thought has its own religious starting point in naive experience, and to claim otherwise is to fall prey to dogmatism. For this reason, Dooyeweerd believed that the only way forward in the ongoing conversation between different philosophical schools was for their adherents to examine their own "Archimedean point," that is, the pre-theoretical standpoint from which they develop their theories. This requires a degree of self-knowledge that cannot be acquired through theory itself. Such self-knowledge is the purpose of his transcendental critique of theoretical thought.

13 July 2020

Ubi Caritas et Amor

This is an incomparably beautiful performance of the ancient Latin chant, Ubi Caritas, sung in a stairwell, of all places. I could listen to this all day and never tire of it.

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.

09 July 2020

M Elaine Botha (1938-2020)

This week we bid a reluctant farewell to Elaine Botha, a friend and former colleague whom I had known for many years. A native of South Africa, she taught philosophy for much of her career at the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education, later serving as vice president (academic) and professor of philosophy at Redeemer University College, where I knew her best.

I first met Elaine in the mid-1980s at the University of Notre Dame, where I was a PhD student. She was there for a sabbatical year, and we both worshipped at the same church. During that time we got to know each other, renewing our friendship when she came to Canada more than a decade later. Among other things, she had two earned doctorates, in cultural studies and in philosophy of the social sciences, the latter of which came from the Free University of Amsterdam. Her major field of interest was metaphor, on which she published prolifically.

Late in life she married Bob Goudzwaard, the Dutch political economist and one time member of parliament who is a major influence on my own thinking, particularly with respect to understanding the nature of political ideologies. They lived in retirement in South Africa until her passing.

Here is a link to her page at All of Life Redeemed. We who loved her will miss her, but not as those without hope. May she rest in peace until the resurrection.

21 May 2020

All the Areas of Life (Todas As Áreas Da Vida)

I just have to post this marvellous performance of a song written by Marcello Oliveira Ferreira. He sang this after the conclusion of an online course on Abraham Kuyper's thought in Brazil, and it is worth passing along.

Here is my rough translation from Portuguese:

28 April 2020

Earlier in the month, I was interviewed by Dr. Bruce Ashford, provost at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, on the subjects of socialism and Marxism. The interview has now been posted and can be seen immediately below:

More such videos are forthcoming, as part of the series, "The Public Square and Everything In It."

27 April 2020

Clash of Idols

Today Mere Orthodoxy published this brief essay of mine: Clash of Idols.

An excerpt:

Some people believe that idolatry affects us only in those matters concerning liturgy, prayer, sacraments, and preaching. But idols refuse to remain within the walls of a formal worship space. After all, worship can be said to describe the way we live our entire lives seven days a week, as individuals and as communities. If we are obsessed with making as much money as we can, subordinating every other consideration to that goal, we effectively serve an idol of our own making. This idol is a jealous god, refusing to share space with other ordinary activities, such as raising children, being faithful to our spouses, nurturing friendships, and helping the poor. We need not literally burn incense, sing praises and offer prayers to this god, but because it so dominates our lives, we in effect worship it.
As we look more closely at public life in North America, we can see at least three principal ideological groupings battling for political power. Each of these in its own way is intermeshed with the idols that shape—and distort—our efforts at securing just governance. These idols are nation, market, and the expansive self. Of course, there is nothing intrinsically evil about nation, market, and personal freedom. Each of these has developed over time and come into its own, enriching our lives as those created in God’s image. Yet each of these goods, separated from God and from the larger normative framework of his creation, becomes an idol that enslaves.
Read more.

23 April 2020

Government vs. virus

Over the past two centuries, the pace at which we have succeeded in taming our environment has accelerated, tempting us to assume that we are in nearly absolute control over our own lives and futures. Although my grandparents lived through the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, many millions did not. The last flu pandemic took place when I was 13, killing one million people worldwide and 100,000 in the United States. As a boy I was afflicted, like virtually all of my peers, with the “normal” childhood diseases such as measles, rubella and the mumps. But we were inoculated against more serious maladies such as smallpox, diphtheria and polio. As an increasing number of diseases have been conquered by medical researchers, we were lulled into thinking that good health is a right to which we are entitled.

Now, quite unexpectedly, we are faced with another pandemic, the COVID-19 coronavirus. And we are freshly reminded that we are not in control; we are still subject to the vicissitudes of life beyond our powers.

22 April 2020

Online church shopping

During the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, our church has of necessity made the move to an online presence. We have had a YouTube channel for a few years now, so the technical infrastructure was already in place to permit this. For the past several weeks, we have worshipped from home, tuning in from our televisions while seated on our living room sofas, whose cushions are more comfortable than the 112-year-old wooden pews in our sanctuary. We even celebrated the Lord’s Supper on Palm Sunday, each of us providing bread and wine and having it consecrated from 2 kilometres away by our minister. It’s not the same, of course, but it will have to do for now. We can be thankful to God that our technical means have come so far that we can worship in this way, which we would not have been able to do even twenty years ago.

27 November 2019

God’s Divided People: Biblical Lessons for the Church

The recent observance of the 502nd anniversary of the Protestant Reformation should once again prompt us to reflect on the unity of God’s church amidst so many divisions. Christians everywhere can point to Jesus’ high priestly prayer recorded in John’s gospel: “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21), yet wonder why this cannot be a present reality. It’s not just that churches are organizationally distinct but that they do not enjoy full communion with each other, erecting barriers preventing their members from recognizing outsiders as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Of course, some church bodies deny that God’s church is divided at all. The Roman Catholic Church claims to be the one holy catholic and apostolic church founded by Jesus nearly 2,000 years ago. Other communions are officially in schism from this one true church, and their members constitute at most separated brethren in imperfect communion with Rome. The Orthodox Churches, while organizationally more pluriform, return the favour, claiming that Rome, along with every other ecclesiastical body, is outside the one true church, embodied in global Orthodoxy.

16 October 2019

We Praise Thee, O God: a literary analysis of the Te Deum

A few weeks ago I began volunteering at a local food bank. In between conversing with clients and manning a literature table for the chaplain, I discovered there is time for other things. As I had neglected to bring anything to read, I decided to undertake a literary analysis of the ancient Te Deum, a 4th-century Latin hymn traditionally sung on great occasions of thanksgiving. As I typically pray this during my daily prayer regimen, I mostly know it by heart. Variously ascribed to Sts. Ambrose and Augustine and to Nicetas of Remesiana, its authorship is otherwise unknown.

Now I freely admit that, as an academic political scientist, I am by no means an expert in literary analysis beyond the basics. However, I have noticed a few things about the Te Deum that I thought worth passing along.

30 September 2019

Thoughts on Thunberg and ordinary politics

Greta Thunberg
Last week, shortly after adolescent Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg angrily addressed the United Nations, I posted the following on my facebook timeline:

The world is in crisis; there is no denying that. It has always been in crisis and always will be in the present age. There are so many injustices to be angry over, and I went through such a period of grieving and anger in my youth.

But watching this performance prompts me to wonder whether this still very young woman is assuming too much responsibility for the entire globe, more than is emotionally healthy for her. It suggests to me that her parents need to offer her better guidance, perhaps encouraging her towards engineering or some profession that will give her hope that she can make a difference in some fashion.

No one person can cure the ills of the world, and Greta should not be encouraged to shoulder this burden, especially not in so public a fashion. Take time for family, hobbies, friends and, yes, political causes, but don’t be consumed by them.

I knew that some people would likely take issue with my assessment, but I was not expecting to have more than one-hundred comments, in response to which I thought it appropriate to make some clarifications.

22 August 2019

Loving the church: lessons from Bonhoeffer

It is not always easy to love our fellow Christians. After all, they sometimes say things that we find embarrassing and embrace causes that we find repugnant. Their political opinions are hopelessly atavistic or thoughtlessly progressive. They believe the world will end tomorrow and think they can hasten the coming apocalypse. They think they will save their country and bring godliness to everyone. They make all Christians look foolish by their missteps, and we–their betters surely?–are reluctant to associate with them for fear of losing respectability.

How many of us have experienced this for ourselves? I freely admit that I have, and it’s a side of me that I quite dislike. In my youth I developed a burning passion for social justice, for helping the poor and oppressed and for ending the economic structures that hold them in their grip. This produced in me an anger towards anyone else in the church who was less aware of these issues than I. Of course, this included most of my fellow Christians who were busy making a living, raising families and giving time and financial resources to their church and other communities. At least temporarily, my attitude made it difficult for me to sit in church and to listen to sermons that failed to touch on what I had come to believe was so important to a genuine faith. Had someone attempted openly to correct me and thereby coax even a little humility into me, I doubt I would have listened.


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can be contacted at: dtkoyzis@gmail.com