11 April 2024

An enduring hope

My regular monthly column for April has been posted at Christian Courier: An enduring hope. An excerpt:

When we are young, we don’t bother to think much about our eventual demise, assuming that a good half century or more stretches before us, if God is willing. During my own youth, I was more likely to worry about what I would fill those future years with so as not to waste the gifts God had given me. When I began writing this column, I was all of 35 years old, with most of my academic career still lying ahead.

But now that I approach the biblical three score years and ten, my vantage point has shifted. Over the past five years, I have lost both of my parents and both of my parents-in-law. A close friend of mine – younger than I by a good ten years or so – recently lost his wife and his father-in-law in short order. And now we have received the news that my father’s sister-in-law in Cyprus has departed this life.

Read the entire article here.

10 April 2024

Mulroney's contested legacy

Christian Courier has published my assessment of our recently deceased prime minister: Mulroney's contested legacy. An excerpt:

Becoming leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives in 1983, Mulroney put together an unprecedented coalition of often fractious groups within the party, cruising to victory the following year. For the first time since Diefenbaker’s 1958 majority government, Mulroney brought Québec into the Conservative Party, winning 58 of the province’s 75 seats in the Commons. But rather than forming an enduring national base for his party, he succeeded only in stitching together a precarious patchwork that began to pull apart during his second term.

Read the entire article here.

09 April 2024

Calvin University visit

I have just returned from nearly a week at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I attended two back-to-back conferences. The first was the annual Kuyper Conference, which lasted from tuesday, 2 April to thursday, 4 April. The second was the biennial Henry Institute Symposium, which ran from thursday, 4 April to saturday, 6 April. The Kuyper Conference was devoted to "Stewardship in the Kingdom: Business, Academy, and Society." It began with a plenary session consisting of a live podcast discussion among James Eglinton, Gray Sutanto, Cory Brock, and Marinus de Jong. This was part of their Grace in Common podcast, on which I myself appeared last year. My involvement with this conference was minimal, extending to hearing plenaries and short papers.

19 March 2024

T&T Clark Handbook of Neo-Calvinism

A new anthology has just been published, titled, T&T Clark Handbook of Neo-Calvinism, edited by Nathaniel Gray Sutanto and Cory Brock. Published by T&T Clark, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, it includes essays by several scholars well known in the Neo-Calvinist tradition, including yours truly. I wrote chapter 33, titled, "Political Theology," pp. 415-425. The subheadings in my chapter are as follows: 

I. The Place of Politics in God's World
II. Every Square Inch
III. Sphere Sovereignty
IV. The Meaning of Public Justice: Constitutional Government and Federalism
V. Concrete Political Reforms

The hardbound volume sells for $249.75, the ebook for $199.80, although Amazon is selling the hardbound for $190 and the Kindle edition for $128.49. Sad to say, these high costs will limit its readership to a very few. (Even the authors do not receive a copy!) We can only hope that the publisher will eventually bring out a paperback edition at a substantially lower price.

In the meantime, I am pleased that IVP will be selling my next book for the eminently affordable cost of $18 US, which places it in the hands of readers of ordinary means.

18 March 2024

Citizenship Without Illusions now at IVP website

My next book, due out in November, has now been posted at the IVP website: Citizenship Without Illusions: A Christian Guide to Political Engagement. It can also be found at Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and even Lehmanns in Germany. It is even being sold by Amazon Brazil, but I hope that it will soon be translated into Portuguese for the benefit of a wider readership in that country.

15 March 2024

March newsletter online

I have now posted my Global Scholars newsletter for March, which includes cover art for my forthcoming book, preparations for travels next month, and educational opportunities relevant to Brazil. Thank you for your support for my work!

04 March 2024

The midnight office

The March issue of Christian Courier carries my most recent column, The Midnight Office, continuing from last month's piece on daily prayer. An excerpt:

Last month I recounted my youthful discovery of the discipline of daily prayer, also known as the daily office. According to this pattern, whose origins almost certainly extend back to God’s people of the old covenant, the entire day is divided up into approximately three-hour intervals punctuated by the several prayer offices. The number varies between five and seven, and sometimes more.

However, one of these offices puzzled me, because it occurred in the middle of the night when I assumed most normal people would be sleeping. If we are sleeping an average of eight hours per night, wouldn’t rising to pray in the middle of this period be a huge disruption? Perhaps that’s why the daily office was relegated to the monks, who were accustomed to cultivating heroic disciplines for the sake of their Saviour.

More than ten years ago, I learned something that solved the puzzle.

Read the entire article here.

29 February 2024

The Heidelberg Catechism in the RCUS

More than four decades ago, I purchased a little-remembered but significant book at an antiquarian bookshop in or near South Bend, Indiana: The Heidelberg Catechism in its Newest Light, by the Rev. Prof. James I. Good, and published by the Publication and Sunday School Board of the [German] Reformed Church in the United States in 1914. Good taught at the denomination's Central Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. As I noted in a previous post about the Evangelical and Reformed Church, the RCUS eventually united with the Evangelical Synod in North America in 1934 and later with the Congregational and Christian Churches in 1957 to form the United Church of Christ. However, one group within the old RCUS remained outside the merged body in 1934 and retained the denominational name. Originally the Eureka Classis within the larger body, today it is simply called the Reformed Church in the United States, a highly confessional body holding to the Three Forms of Unity.

27 February 2024

Shaw on democracy

George Bernard Shaw 
The internet is filled with websites listing famous quotes by famous people, but few of them bother to provide the actual sources for these quotes. In some cases, the quotes are falsely attributed to their supposed authors, but because the world wide web is effectively a planetary-scale rumour mill, the connection between a particular author and a particular saying multiplies endlessly until everyone believes it.

A case in point is an observation widely attributed to the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950): "Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." Clever indeed and boasting more than a measure of truth. We might well include it in our standard undergraduate political science textbooks as an easily verifiable principle.

20 February 2024

Daily prayer

My latest contribution to Christian Courier is titled, Daily Prayer, subtitled, "Devotions as daily practice taken from ancient patterns." Here is an excerpt:

When I was in my early twenties, I visited the bookstore of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and purchased a copy of The Daily Office, edited by Herbert Lindemann and published by Concordia in 1965. A small volume, it nevertheless runs to nearly 700 pages and includes liturgies for morning and evening prayer organized according to the church calendar. This ancient practice, usually associated with monastic communities, was unfamiliar to me, but it transformed my prayer life.

Read the rest of the article here.

15 February 2024

February newsletter online

My Global Scholars newsletter for February has now been posted. Included is news about my forthcoming book, two recent podcast interviews, future opportunities in the US and Brazil, and a largely forgotten metrical psalter from the 16th century.

12 February 2024

Rhapsody in Blue

I don't usually write about music in this blog, but I cannot allow this significant anniversary to pass without comment. Exactly one-hundred years ago tonight, George Gershwin's classic piano and orchestral work, Rhapsody in Blue, premiered at the Aeolian Hall in New York City. The composer was all of 25 years old, and his audience included the likes of Sergei Rachmaninov, John Philip Sousa, Jascha Heifetz, Leopold Stokowski, and actress Gertrude Lawrence. The occasion was a concert by Paul Whiteman's orchestra, titled, "An Experiment in Modern Music." Whiteman had invited Gershwin to compose a piece for this event, and Gershwin thought he had declined the offer. But Whiteman went ahead and included him in the lineup anyway, inducing something of a panic in George when he learned about it only weeks in advance. Here's the rest of the story:

05 February 2024

The Christian Underground Podcast

At the weekend I was interviewed by Joseph Shehan for The Christian Underground Podcast, and the interview has now been posted. This is the description from the YouTube channel: "Does Political Ideology offer a false salvation? Can Christians fall prey to this form of idolatry? Our interview with Dr. David T. Koyzis, political philosopher, and author of Political Visions and Illusions, seeks answers [to] these questions and more."

Despite some technical glitches, we had a great conversation. I anticipate more such conversations with Shehan in the coming months, including after the publication of my next book.

01 February 2024

Citizenship Without Illusions: updated table of contents

Here is an updated table of contents for my new book, Citizenship Without Illusions: A Christian Guide to Political Engagement, forthcoming in November. The manuscript is currently with the copy editors at InterVarsity Press.

Acknowledgements

1    Introduction

Belonging: benefits and responsibilities
A Clash of Ideologies
Plan of the book

25 January 2024

Disarming Leviathan Podcast: part 2

Caleb Campbell has now posted the second part of his interview with me: The Political Visions & Illusions of Christian Nationalism (part 2). Campbell's book, Disarming Leviathan, is due out in July. I look forward to reading it.

19 January 2024

Disarming Leviathan Podcast: part 1

Last month Caleb Campbell, author of the forthcoming book Disarming Leviathan: Loving Your Christian Nationalist Neighbor, interviewed me for his Disarming Leviathan Podcast: The Political Visions & Illusions of Christian Nationalism (Part 1). From his website:

Pastor Campbell graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Masters of Arts in Ministry from Phoenix Seminary in 2015 and is currently a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary.

He has served at Desert Springs Bible Church, in Phoenix, AZ since 2006, serving as Lead Pastor since 2015.

He also serves on the board of United Pastors of Arizona and as the state-wide regional director of the Surge Network. He has spoken at events hosted by Acts 29, African American Christian Clergy Coalition, the Surge Network, Grand Canyon University, Converge Arizona, Young Life and Phoenix Seminary.

I will link to part 2 once he has posted it.

17 January 2024

January newsletter online

I have now posted my Global Scholars newsletter for January on this blog. Included are news about my forthcoming book, a visit to an Indonesian church in Toronto, and three posts on matters liturgical. Thanks for your support for my work.

16 January 2024

Seeking our roots

Lucy Jane with three of her children
My January column for Christian Courier has just been posted online: Seeking our roots, with the following subtitle: "Each life found on a genealogy is a miracle that shows God's goodness." An excerpt:

Since childhood I have wanted to know who my ancestors were and where I came from. This flowed out of a general interest in history. I knew the major milestones such as the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages and the exploration and settlement of the Americas. But where did my own family enter the picture?

Fortunately, my maternal great-grandmother, Lucy Jane Bentley Hyder (1875-1948), had the foresight to record two reminiscences of her own forebears extending back to the late 18th century. These included her grandfather David Wells (born c 1815), of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, who, on the day the American Civil War ended, was murdered by “the Raiders or Ku Klux Klan as they were sometimes called.”

Incidentally, I discovered through my genealogical research that I am distantly related to Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer, Abraham Kuyper's 19th-century mentor in the anti-revolutionary movement in the Netherlands.

12 January 2024

Liturgical standards and living faith: the case of the Evangelical and Reformed Church

My latest post in Kuyperian Commentary can be found here: Liturgical standards and living faith: the case of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. An excerpt:

So what was this Evangelical and Reformed Church? It was created by the merger of two predecessor bodies, the (German) Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) and the (German) Evangelical Synod of North America. The German Reformed were the descendants of Reformed Christians who had immigrated from German-speaking Europe, especially Switzerland and the Palatinate, the latter of which was once ruled by Elector Frederick III “the Pious” (1515-1576), who commissioned the Heidelberg Catechism in 1563. The German Reformed began in 1725 and were initially under the care of Classis Amsterdam of the Dutch Reformed Church until 1793. During the late 19th century, efforts to unite with the (Dutch) Reformed Church in America were unsuccessful.

Read the entire article here.

01 January 2024

Anna's unexpected blessing

Christian Courier has published my latest column, titled, Anna's unexpected blessing, and subtitled, "The forgotten character of Jesus' story." Here is an excerpt:

How Anna becomes a prophet we do not know. What we do know is that, in addition to experiencing the subjugation of her own people, she has seen sorrow in her personal life as well. She married, likely in her youth and perhaps to a much older man, who died seven years later, after which she remained a widow, a status that makes her particularly vulnerable to abuse.

From then on, she has devoted her life to prayer and fasting and appears to have taken up residence in the temple. Perhaps it is here that she was endowed by God with her prophetic gifts. One can imagine her reputation growing with the years, with visitors to the temple seeking out the wisdom of this remarkable woman of God.

Read the entire article here.

28 December 2023

Your support makes a difference

Dear Global Scholars support community:

It's now been settled. My forthcoming book will be called Citizenship Without Illusions: A Christian Guide to Political Engagement. I have just received word that InterVarsity Press's publications committee approved the title. The book will be out in November 2024.

In these final days of 2023, please consider making a financial contribution to my work with Global Scholars Canada, a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency.

GSC's page for giving can be found here. Once you are in the page, scroll down to the heading marked DONATION DETAILS, and then choose one of the options under FUND. Americans may donate through our sister organization in the US, a registered charity in that country.

26 December 2023

Kuyper on education

A good friend alerted me to this quotation from one of Abraham Kuyper's parliamentary speeches delivered in his last months as Prime Minister of the Netherlands:
FEBRUARY 1, 1905 

Mr. Van Houten and I appear to disagree very little on the meaning of justice, but not on what freedom means. His freedom leads only to state tyranny. He wants the government to operate schools that teach young people to practice critical thinking even if it goes against their faith. In other words, it is to be a school that satisfies Mr. Van Houten and his like-minded friends and with which all who think like him are content. That school, he says, must be financed from the public treasury, hence must receive favored treatment, because that is the only real school. Everybody else has full freedom to establish other schools, provided they do not ask for money from the public treasury. You are entirely free, but you will have to pay for it yourself. Thus the honorable member first takes [through taxes] from the purse of those who do not support public education the money needed tor the government schools that he supports, and when the nonsupporters have spent all they could on education he says to them: "Now that I have pumped you dry you are welcome to establish schools with your own money." 

15 December 2023

December newsletter online

My Global Scholars newsletter for December is now online. Items include: a publication date for my next book (November 2024), podcast interviews, and even a visit to a local high school class.

12 December 2023

City on a Hill podcast: We Answer to Another

Not quite two years ago, I appeared on Aeric Estep and Scott Reavely's City on a Hill podcast to discuss my first book, Political Visions and Illusions. Last week the duo interviewed me on the subject of my second book, We Answer to Another: Authority, Office, and the Image of God: We Answer to Another: An Interview with David Koyzis. I found my conversation with them most enjoyable and hope others will as well. I expect that I will be talking with them again after my forthcoming book is published next November.

Estep and Reavely are pastors at New Life Church in West Linn, Oregon, United States.

22 November 2023

Parental rights

Who has the major responsibility for determining the education of children? Plato thought it was the polis, or city state, a conviction echoed by Aristotle and many others down through the centuries. However, following the example of our Jewish forebears, our Christian faith tells us something different, as affirmed in the Scriptures (e.g., Psalm 78:4-8; 145:4). Christian Courier has now posted my own thoughts on the subject: Parental rights. An excerpt:

Recently the Canadian media have been puzzling over the notion of parental rights, a concept they appear to regard as strange and unusual. Generally, the commentators take a condescending tone, assuming that all right-thinking Canadians would naturally defer to their betters in the provincial public education bureaucracy. The flurry of articles surrounding parental rights has come in response to the 1 Million March 4 Children protest in September, which the media have portrayed in a largely negative light, depicting the protesters as disseminators of hate.

In a secularized Canada such caricatures are not unusual, but they are certainly unfair.

Read here for more.

20 November 2023

Why Ayaan Hirsi Ali is now a Christian

I love to read conversion stories. Decades ago, I read John Henry Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua in which the 19th-century cleric and Oxford Movement luminary recounted his departure from the Church of England for Roman Catholicism. Many of us know C. S. Lewis's story of his own conversion to Christianity in Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. However, there are few available stories of Muslims or ex-Muslims converting to Christianity, mostly because abandoning Islam is a punishable offence in many predominantly Muslim countries. There are indeed such converts, but for obvious reasons they prefer to keep a low profile.

Earlier this month, Ayaan Hirsi Ali put aside such reticence and published this statement: Why I am now a Christian. Ali's story may not be familiar to everyone, but here are the basics: Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, to a politically active father who fell afoul of the Marxist regime, she and her family moved to Nairobi, Kenya. After fleeing a forced marriage, she wound up in the Netherlands in her early twenties. She became a Dutch citizen and even served in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament before moving to the United States and becoming an American citizen. By the turn of the millennium she declared herself to be an atheist, having become disillusioned with her Muslim upbringing.

17 November 2023

November newsletter online

I have now posted my Global Scholars Canada newsletter for November. Included is a statement on terrorism, an address to a Latin American consultation on Christian higher education, an analysis of pro-life setbacks in the United States, and a brief update on my forthcoming book.

14 November 2023

Where are the pro-life majorities?

Kuyperian Commentary has published my latest piece, Where are the pro-life majorities? In the wake of the recent poll in Ohio that entrenched abortion rights in the state constitution, some might wonder what happened to the pro-life cause, which many thought to have a demographic advantage. Here is an excerpt:

Peter Berger once observed that, if Sweden is the most secular country on earth and India is the most religious, America is a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. This saying is appealing to those who prefer to think that their troubles can be attributed to unaccountable elites who are out of tune with the people they lead.

Yet this attitude fails to account for the complexities of human nature and draws too drastic a line between leaders and led, much as Marxists persist in positing a facile cleavage between oppressors and oppressed when in reality, each of us is both oppressor and oppressed, depending on the constantly shifting circumstances in which we find ourselves. George Bernard Shaw’s wry observation is closer to the truth: “Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.” Leaders and led are inextricably connected with each other, and the gap between their respective worldviews is less than some would prefer to believe.

Read the entire article here.

30 October 2023

Calling terrorism by name

Black Lives Matter is an organization seeking to defend the rights of African Americans, prompted by the tragic deaths of George Floyd and others at the hands of police in major urban centres. Unfortunately, it has not limited itself to such cases, as Newsweek reports: Black Lives Matter Org Praises Hamas, Sparks Backlash. After the recent horrific terrorist attack on innocent civilians, a Chicago chapter of BLM issued a statement supporting Hamas. Although the statement has since been deleted, controversy continues. Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, responded with outrage:

19 October 2023

Mapping the globe

Ever since I was a small boy, I've had a fascination with maps. Read about it here: Mapping the globe. An excerpt:

One of my prized possessions is a 1901 Cram’s Modern Atlas of the World which I purchased at an antique shop in my hometown at age 16. It’s a hefty volume with numerous indices and other helps in addition to the maps of every country in the world. The United States had only 45 states. Canada had seven provinces. To my delight, this atlas boasted a large map of Cyprus, nominally part of the Ottoman Empire but administered by Great Britain. My paternal grandparents would have been quite young in that year.

So what’s the allure? For one thing, I think in terms of maps. Familiarity with maps allows one to navigate the surface of God’s good earth. As I write, we have just returned from visiting family in the Chicago area. I know by heart the roads in the western suburbs and could easily find my way around, despite all the changes that have occurred since my youth. If I navigated by landmarks, I’d be lost in my own homeland.
Read the entire article here.

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