08 December 2022

ANAJURE lecture and discussion

Last evening I was privileged to address remotely a group of Brazilians at the invitation of Gabriel Dayan Stevão de Matos, executive director of Associação Nacional de Juristas Evangélicos (ANAJURE), or the National Association of Evangelical Jurists. My talk was on the relationship between ideology and idolatry, and it was followed by questions from the participants.

As always, I was overwhelmed by the expressions of appreciation for my work and for my participation in this event. I was particularly moved by a prayer for me at the end of the event. May God bless the people of Brazil, and may he continue to advance his kingdom in that beautiful country.

Aqui está uma descrição em português:

02 December 2022

A mystical faith

Christian Courier has published my recent column titled, A mystical faith, with this subtitle: "Our approach to God must always be accompanied by the humble recognition that he deserves our worship." An excerpt:

No one has ever accused me of being a mystic. For one thing, I don’t dress the part. No flowing robes or beard down to the belly. Corduroy trousers and tweed jackets are my style. But even apart from sartorial evidence, my writings show few signs of flirting with mysticism. I love the carefully constructed logical argument, whose symmetry I find deeply satisfying – even beautiful!

Nevertheless, I have always known that mystery accompanies faith in the God who created us and saved us through Jesus Christ. Part of this may flow from my paternal Orthodox roots, but even a Reformed Christian upbringing made me aware of God’s presence in a way that defies explanation.

Does that make me a mystic? Read the entire article here to find out.

01 December 2022

Byzantine Calvinist Commentary 1: nondenominational churches and the liberal narrative

Beginning this week, I will periodically be uploading video commentaries on various issues, some relevant to politics and others more generally relevant to the life in Christ, including the church. Here is the first in this series, on Nondenominational churches and the liberal narrative, which is a slight reworking of my recent blog post with this title.

30 November 2022

A Trilha de Cantuária: culto e reforma

My recent post on The Canterbury Trail: worship and reformation has been translated into Portuguese and posted at Lecionário: A Trilha de Cantuária: culto e reforma. An excerpt follows the Portuguese translation immediately below.

Meu post recente sobre The Canterbury Trail: worship and reformation foi traduzido para o português e postado no Lecionário: A Trilha de Cantuária: culto e reforma. Um trecho:

Webber não me levou ao anglicanismo per se, muito menos a uma comunhão anglicana, uma invenção de meados do século XIX. Mas ler seus livros me ajudou a entender que até alguns dos reformadores do século 16 erraram, especialmente no que diz respeito às liturgias históricas da Igreja. Em qualquer esforço para reformar a igreja, os pretensos reformadores devem diferenciar entre o que pertence legitimamente à tradição da qual são herdeiros e o que são acréscimos antibíblicos. Isso requer conhecimento de como era a igreja antiga e como ela adorava o Deus trino. Infelizmente, os reformadores não tiveram acesso às fontes mais antigas que conhecemos hoje.

Leia o artigo inteiro aqui.

24 November 2022

Nondenominational churches and the liberal narrative

This month Christianity Today reports that ‘Nondenominational’ Is Now the Largest Segment of American Protestants. Although I have no memory of being part of such a nondenominational congregation, my parents had me dedicated as an infant at the Wheaton Bible Church in Wheaton, Illinois, although a year and a half later I would be baptized in an Orthodox Presbyterian congregation near Chicago. Back in the day, WBC was a flourishing congregation just north of downtown. Although the man who presided at my parents' wedding was an ordained Presbyterian minister, he attended this church along with his family. Decades later it is a nondenominational megachurch, having attracted members from other neighbouring congregations, one of which recently closed.

14 November 2022

November newsletter posted

My latest Global Scholars newsletter is now posted online: November 2022 newsletter. Among the news to report: my shoulder pain appears to be improving slowly, and I have received a second grant from the Reid Trust. Thanks for your continued prayers and financial support for my work.

04 November 2022

A new Carolingian era

Christian Courier has posted my latest column: A new Carolingian era, with this subtitle: "Three reasons to believe that King Charles is off to a good start." Here is the second reason:

[A]lthough King Charles has not been as beloved a figure as his late mother, he is heir to a legacy of considerable good will and admiration that she earned during her seven decades of service to her country and to the Commonwealth. Sad to say, the media are not as respectful of the royal office as they were in 1952, yet I believe that our new monarch will rise to the occasion, taking every opportunity to connect with his people on a personal level. He may not be a gregarious person, but neither was his late grandfather, who endeared himself to his people through his courage and dedication during the war.

 Read the first and third reasons here.

03 November 2022

The Canterbury Trail: Liturgy and Reformation

Kuyperian Commentary has published my post, titled, The Canterbury Trail: Liturgy and Reformation. I wrote it in response to a post by Gillis Harp: Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Reflections on the Pilgrimage to Anglicanism Nearly 40 Years After Webber’s Classic. An excerpt:

A close examination of the Apostolic Tradition [of Hyppolytus] and similar early documents indicates that many of the Reformers unduly disposed of much that should have been retained, rejecting some of the substance of the tradition along with the accretions. . . . If the Apostolic Tradition was lost to the Reformers, its liturgical rubrics and texts survived in both the western and eastern rites of the historic church and were thus available to the Reformers of the 16th century in that form. Indeed, Cranmer and Luther retained much of the ordinary of the mass, removing its accretions, translating it into their respective vernacular languages, and prescribing it for use in the churches for which they were responsible.

This is cross posted to my Genevan Psalter blog as well.

02 November 2022

Dooyeweerd and the inadequacy of conservatism and progressivism

One of Abraham Kuyper's philosophical heirs was Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977), whose prolific writings are increasingly being translated into English, Portuguese, and other languages. One of his lesser known works is his Encyclopedia of the Science of Law, of which two volumes have thus far been published in English. Although Dooyeweerd was also an heir of Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer (1801-1876), whose analysis of the French Revolution owed much to that of Edmund Burke (1729-1797), Dooyeweerd was severely critical of conservatism in its many manifestations. This is from volume one of the Encyclopedia:

31 October 2022

Iran and the arc of history

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
When I was an undergraduate student back in the mid 1970s, I took a concentrated summer course in the Russian language at the University of Minnesota. While my grasp of Russian would weaken over the ensuing decades, I still remember the protests on campus of Iranian students against the rule of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had less than two years remaining in his troubled reign. At the time, it seemed possible that the Shah might be replaced by a Marxist régime. My political science education, coupled with a minor in history, had prepared me for the likelihood that an unpopular American-supported monarch, whom the CIA had put in power in 1953, could be replaced by a revolutionary group sympathetic to the Soviet Union. After all, we had seen it happen before in Asia and Africa, and, of course, in Castro's Cuba, only 140 kilometres from Florida's coast.

18 October 2022

Ukraine & Russia: To Whom Does The Land Belong?

Jason Scott Montoya interviewed me again last week, and the interview can be viewed here:

The interview along with ancillary material can also be found here: Ukraine & Russia: To Whom Does The Land Belong? Discussing Geographic Sovereignty With David T. Koyzis Ph.D.

17 October 2022

October newsletter posted

My Global Scholars newsletter has now been posted online: October 2022 newsletter. As always, I am thankful for your financial and prayer support for my work. Please pray for a complete recovery from my chronic shoulder pain and that I might get to see two specialists before too long. Thanks again.

The altar call: good or bad? Kuyperian Commentary

My short piece from last week has been reposted at Kuyperian Commentary: The altar call: good or bad? An excerpt:

Reformed Christians in North America were historically divided over New Measures revivalism, leading to an outright split between Old School and New School Presbyterians lasting from 1837 to 1857. The division resurfaced in the 1930s during the fundamentalist-modernist controversy with Orthodox Presbyterians (Old School) going one way and Evangelical and Bible Presbyterians (New School) going another. Old School Presbyterians feared that revival methods would elicit false conversions that would quickly disappear when buffeted by the winds of adversity and the temptations of sin (Matthew 13:20-21). Once the emotional high had evaporated, converts would rest on a false assurance of salvation depending too much on their own decision for Christ apart from God’s electing grace and the work of the Holy Spirit. Revivalism appeared to be based on the false assumption that an unregenerate person could decide for Christ and thereby effectively ensure his or her own redemption—something often called decisional regeneration.

Would bringing back altar calls in churches be a good thing?

Find the answer here.

14 October 2022

Can Christian Higher Education Stay the Course?

A blog post of mine from the beginning of last month has been picked up by the Christian Scholar's Review blog: Can Christian Higher Education Stay the Course? An excerpt:

One possible reason for a university losing its confessional moorings is an underlying worldview that divides the curriculum between divinity/theology on the one hand and so-called secular disciplines on the other, parallel to the historic scholastic division between sacred and secular. Because it was assumed that these latter disciplines were subject to the canons of a neutral reason, any connection with the faith would be extrinsic at least and unnecessary at most. In McMaster’s case, this approach is likely why the university could so easily restrict the historic Baptist element to the Divinity College, still situated uneasily on campus as a curious vestige of its earlier affiliation.

10 October 2022

Understanding liberal mythology: The Politics Network

Last week, on 3 October, I had the privilege of conversing with between 15 and 20 young people in the United Kingdom who are part of the Civitas programme of the Politics Network. I believe this is the third time I have spoken with a Civitas group, as hosted by Thomas Kendall. The Politics Network is affiliated with Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, or The Christian Unions, located in Oxford. The participating young people are generally working for members of parliament. The topic under discussion was "The Liberal Myth: Rationalism and the Privatisation of Faith." As before, it was a most enjoyable experience.

The altar call: good or bad?

Christianity Today recently published an article by Russell Moore titled, Bring Back Altar Calls,  with the following subtitle: "They could foster the worst in evangelical spirituality. But the best of it, too." Because the article is behind a paywall, I cannot assess the author's argument, but I will take the occasion to look at the altar call because it is something with which I grew up, at least in part. No, not at the Orthodox Presbyterian Church congregation my parents started with another family in Wheaton, Illinois, when I was a small child. The OPC represents a rather pure form of Old School Presbyterianism, which took a dim view of New Measures revivalism in the 19th century. Worship in our congregation was based on the 1961 Trinity Hymnal, along with the use of traditional liturgical forms such as the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, the Gloria Patri, the confession of sin and assurance of pardon, and the weekly reading of the Ten Commandments. We sang metrical psalms from the 1912 Psalter of the former United Presbyterian Church in North America.

04 October 2022

Remembering Ron Sider

My latest Christian Courier column has been posted online: Remembering Ron Sider, devoted to the late Christian leader who died on 27 July this year. Here is an excerpt:

[Sider] attempted to articulate a comprehensive pro-life ethic in opposition to abortion, capital punishment, and of course hunger. In 1987 Sider wrote a book called Completely Pro-Life: Building a Consistent Stance, in which he tied together several issues that would defy the conventional labels of conservative and progressive. Sadly, his efforts did not prevent especially evangelical Christians from dividing along the political lines familiar to us today.

Read the entire article here.

03 October 2022

When a constitution gets rights wrong

Last month, after Chileans rejected a new proposed constitution, I offered some possible reasons for this rejection: Chile's constitution: back to square one. Now another article appears that puts Chile's constitutional issue in a larger historical context: What the Constitutions of the Soviet Union and North Korea Can Teach Us about Rights—and the Purpose of a Constitution. The author, Jack Elbaum, recounts the adoption of the 1936 Soviet Constitution which the country's leaders praised as "the most democratic in the world."

22 September 2022

Jason Montoya interview

This week Jason Scott Montoya interviewed me for his podcast, which can be seen immediately below:

The interview can also be found at Jason's website, along with relevant links: Political Visions & Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies — With Author David T. Koyzis. Thanks to Jason for a stimulating conversation!

21 September 2022

The seeds of the gospel: remembering the Queen

Over the past not quite two weeks, the world has witnessed the grandest of ceremonial and pageantry in honour of Her Late Majesty the Queen, beginning with the memorial service at St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, then the funeral a week later at Westminster Abbey, and finally the committal service at St. George's, Windsor, where she was laid to rest. Great Britain is, of course, famous around the globe for the pomp and circumstance with which it surrounds its monarchy—something which other constitutional monarchies long ago put behind them.

Nevertheless, what stood out for me in these three memorial services is the extent to which they focussed, not so much on the Queen's life and witness, but on the person of Jesus Christ whom she trusted as her Saviour. To be sure, there was some eulogizing, especially by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, during the funeral.

20 September 2022

Sherif Girgis on Constitutional Law and Culture After Dobbs

Last week Calvin University hosted Prof. Sherif Girgis, who teaches at the Law School at my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. His lecture on Constitutional Law and Culture After Dobbs can be found immediately below:

One of Girgis' more persuasive points is that, in today's United States, there is a predominant notion that the courts—and the courts alone—are the arbiters of what is constitutional and what is not. But it has not always been thus. In the early history of the US, presidents and Congress alike saw themselves as guarantors of the constitution, alongside the courts. The introduction of judicial review in 1803 was not meant to negate the responsibilities of the other branches of government to uphold the constitution. Two centuries later, however, something like judicial supremacy has become a poor substitute for constitutional supremacy, as provided for in Article VI, paragraph 2, of the Constitution of the United States.

14 September 2022

September newsletter

I have just posted my Global Scholars newsletter for September online, including, once again, a request for prayers for my return to health, especially after COVID made its way through our household this month: September 2022 newsletter. Thanks once again for your financial support and prayers!

09 September 2022

'We are all orphans'

My updated Christian Courier column has been posted online under the title, "We are all orphans," with this subtitle: "In a culture of ‘self,’ the Queen was a true servant of the people." An excerpt:

Although we knew it was coming, we still experienced the death of Queen Elizabeth II as a blow. I myself was caught off guard and wept when I heard the news. A good friend put it well: we are all orphans. The Queen had been on the throne for seven decades, since before I was born, and serving until after my retirement. . . .

In Canada and 14 other Commonwealth Realms, once styled dominions, Queen Elizabeth II served as head of state, serenely carrying out the responsibilities she believed God had given her. No other monarch reigned as long as she. During her years on the throne, she earned the admiration of her own subjects and of people around the world, who have good reason to envy people living in these realms.

Read the entire column here.

06 September 2022

Chile's constitution: back to square one

Plaza de la Constitucion, Santiago, Chile

Twice in recent months I have had speaking events related to Chile, an unusually long and thin Spanish-speaking republic stretching along the Pacific coast of South America bounded to its east by the Andes Mountains and Argentina. On sunday, 4 September, Chilean voters rejected the new constitution proposed by the administration of the country's 36-year-old president Gabriel Boric by a substantial margin of 62 percent over 38 percent. This new draft, intended to replace the 1980 constitution introduced by former dictator Augusto Pinochet, boasted a whopping 388 articles, making it one of the longest, if not the longest, constitutional documents in the world. After unrest in 2019 over price rises, the government decided to hold a plebiscite on a new constitution, which 80 percent of voters supported the following year. The next two years were spent drafting the document, which was to be placed before Chileans for their approval. While Pinochet's constitution had enshrined a neoliberal market-oriented economic régime, ordinary Chileans became increasingly dissatisfied with it, culminating in the mass protests of three years ago.

05 September 2022

Unifying or divisive? Biden's speech

Last thursday evening, 1 September, United States President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., delivered a speech in Philadelphia, a city of historic significance for Americans. Here is the speech in full:

There is reason to be ambivalent about the appropriateness of this speech, which will likely be seen as hopelessly partisan by his political opponents. I will make three observations concerning the speech.

01 September 2022

Staying the course: Christian higher education

Not far from our home in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, is one of southern Ontario's premier universities, McMaster, known internationally as a centre for advanced scientific and medical research. What few remember is that the university once had a connection with the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Québec, the only remnant of which is the presence on campus of McMaster Divinity College, whose most famous faculty member was probably the late Clark Pinnock

During my first years of teaching at a neighbouring institution, I often found myself in the Mills Library at McMaster. During one visit, I happened to notice the university's crest outside the elevators, and I was surprised to read the motto emblazoned in Greek letters above the shield: ΤΑ ΠΑΝΤΑ ΕΝ ΧΡΙΣΤΩΙ ΣΥΝΕΣΤΗΚΕΝ: "In Christ all things hold together." This, of course, is a reference to Colossians 1:17. I imagined that hundreds of people would walk past this coat of arms every day as they moved between the floors of the library, unaware of what the words meant or of their history. According to the university's website, "One may suppose that the motto and book were intended to express the concept, espoused in the Will of Senator McMaster, of 'a Christian school of learning'."

31 August 2022

Gorbachev (1931-2022)

RIA Novosti archive
Vladimir Vyatkin
Mikhail Gorbachev, who died yesterday at age 91, leaves behind a Russia caught up in the troubles engendered by the breakup of an empire he tried in vain to salvage. Lionized by the west, he was vilified at home, a tragic figure whose good intentions were insufficient to free Russia from the weight of its own turbulent past.

He will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the great leaders of the last quarter of the 20th century, who brought to a fairly peaceful end one of the most oppressive regimes in history, yet without being able to alter for the better the political culture that had nurtured it. Successfully ending the Cold War after just over four decades, Gorbachev proved more skilled at initiating good relations with the major western powers than at securing and maintaining the support of his own people. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher memorably called the Soviet leader "a man one could do business with." Nevertheless, co-operation at élite levels does not necessarily lead to lasting friendship between nations, as we are seeing at present with Russia's international isolation over its attack on Ukraine.

I will have more to say about Gorbachev's legacy in the near future.

30 August 2022

The respectable Christianity of Life with Father

In many ways this classic 1947 film has not aged well, with its portrayal of a stern patriarchal father and a manipulative mother who actually controls the household and invariably gets her way. What was thought humorous seventy-five years ago might be thought insufferable today. Nevertheless, I found the film fascinating, even as I admit I had to take it in small doses to get through the entire thing. Starring two of the best known actors of their day, William Powell (1892-1984) and Irene Dunne (1898-1990), Life with Father is a cinematic version of a 1939 play, based in turn on the 1935 autobiography by Clarence Day, Jr. (1874-1935), played in the film by 24-year-old Jimmy Lydon (1923-2022), better remembered for playing Henry Aldrich in the eponymous radio programme and film series. The score was composed by Max Steiner (1888-1971), known for his music for Gone With the Wind (1939), Casablanca (1942), and A Summer Place (1959), among many others.
The source of my interest lies in its portrayal of turn-of-the-last-century upper-middle-class urban Christianity. The Day family are New York City Episcopalians (Anglicans) in the 1890s (1883 in the film), their church affiliation playing a major role in the story line. This comes out in three subplots.

29 August 2022

Iron Sharpens Iron interview

As I mentioned in my August newsletter, Jonathan Chaplin interviewed me on the subject of my book, Political Visions and Illusions. The interview has now been posted on YouTube:

23 August 2022

Hopeful realism or patient hopefulness?

Last month three esteemed colleagues of mine published a statement in Public Discourse: the Journal of the Witherspoon Institute: Hopeful Realism: Renewing Evangelical Political Morality. The authors, Jesse Covington, Bryan McGraw, and Micah Watson, I know from conferences we have all attended. Last May, during my visit to Calvin University, I was privileged to have coffee (well, tea actually) with Watson, who teaches political science there. This article was a collaborative effort, and I recommend a close reading of their argument, which is that the future of evangelical politics lies in a recovery of the natural law under the broad rubric of a hopeful realism. The authors outline four principles of a hopeful realism:

22 August 2022

Tradition as a Way of Life: Yoram Hazony’s Winsome Defence

Mere Orthodoxy has published my review of Yoram Hazony's Conservatism: A Rediscovery: Tradition as a Way of Life: Yoram Hazony’s Winsome Defence. An excerpt:

I personally found the book a delightful read. Few nonfiction books are likely to be page turners, but this one is. Despite its nearly 400 pages, Conservatism is difficult to put down once you’ve begun, so it’s best to set aside some time to do it justice. Indeed, virtually every page is brimming with wisdom rooted in the biblical tradition with which the author, an observant Jew, is familiar. He shows considerable insight into human relationships and the qualities needed to maintain them over the long term. In fleshing out his conservative vision, Hazony succeeds in making the rival liberal and Marxist worldviews look thin and remote from lived reality. Nevertheless, despite the book’s considerable strengths, I was not persuaded by his overall argument for two reasons that I will explain below.

To learn what those reasons are, click here.

Three years ago I reviewed Hazony's earlier book, The Virtue of Nationalism, at Kuyperian Commentary: Is Nationalism Worth Defending? Both books are worth reading and pondering.


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Contact at: dtkoyzis at gmail dot com