info@neocalvinism.org +31 (0) 38 447 17 30

Research Projects

Notwithstanding the requirement for researchers to define and substantiate an individual research program, one of the desiderata of the NRI is to work as researchers on a common project. This project will be a publication (and a projected conference) with contributions from the NRI-researchers on the general research theme of the meaning of difference. The result will be a multidisciplinary approach of the stated problem and hopefully a synthesis of the results of the independent research projects.

Maarten Aalders

senior researcher

Amstelveen, The Netherlands

+31 (0)20 441 7803
info@mjaalders.nl

The research concerns the relationship between the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Hungarian Reformed Church during the Interbellum. This relationship is determined by similarities and differences. This relationship was very intense at first, so intense, that during the twenties there was a true Hungary-boom in the Netherlands and a Holland-boom in Hungary. After 1926 the Dutch interest declined, and so did the Hungarian interest, but it never completely disappeared.
This interest resulted in a number of charitable actions, best known among them that of the ‘children’s trains’. Between 1920 and 1930, more than 28,000 Hungarian children spent a couple of months in the Netherlands. But that was not all: the Reformed Churches wanted to contribute to the reviving Calvinism in Hungary, and set up all sorts of other actions to support it. There was for example a Dutch library, in which work by Dutch Reformed authors appeared in the Hungarian language.

The aim of the research is primarily to investigate the relationship itself, how it started, blossomed and got marginalized. What motivated the Dutch Reformed to reach out to the Reformed Church in Hungary? What would  ecclesiastical cooperation with a foreign church mean and what it should entail? Furthermore there was the ongoing discussion about joining the Presbyterian Alliance. With whom should the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands align internationally? These questions touch on the internal and external debate about the identity of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, and what would be the extent and the limits of international cooperation in the light of the robust identity of these churches?

Several articles will be published on the Dutch-Hungarian connection in 2019 and 2020, and a monography is planned for 2021.

Dmytro Bintsarovskyi

staff, postdoc researcher

Kampen, The Netherlands

+31 (0)61 987 8366
dimabin@gmail.com

The research plans are twofold: translating Herman Bavinck’s Gereformeerde dogmatiek into Russian. This book has four volumes. Each volume will be translated in 1 year. So the project will take 4 years, starting from April 2019.

The books will be published by Gospel and Reformation Publishing House (based in Minsk, Belarus), and distributed across all Russian speaking countries and countries with significant Russian population: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Israel, USA, Germany etc. Russian language is the sixth spoken language in the world. About 260 million people speak Russian.

The other part of the research time will be dedicated to making neo-Calvinist sources available digitally. The texts that are now available on www.neocalvinisme.nl have to be integrated in the website of the NRI. The structure will be kept intact, but the interface will be updated.

The corpus will be extended in two ways: more texts of the present representatives of the tradition on this site (Kuyper, Bavinck, Schilder) have to be made available, and more representatives (more theologians, but also philosophers and historians and others in the domain of the humanities) and their texts have to be selected.

The texts will be presented in a uniform way, interrelated and hyperlinked. Translated texts will be presented side by side on one page. This possibility is largely dependent on the willingness of translators and publishing house to grant the right to publish their texts on the NRI site.

Hugo den Boer

staff, PhD

The Netherlands

hwdenboer@tukampen.nl

PhD project ‘Allieeren door separeeren?’ [allying by separating], on historical views and ideas about unity and diversity in Dutch Protestantism in the nineteenth century. The argument is that the distinction between (religious) orthodoxy and liberalism is only useful when we do not define these terms in a theological, ecclesial or political way, but understand them in their self-understanding in relation to history and the historical context of the nineteenth century. Defense in 2019.

Ad de Bruijne

staff, professor

Kampen, The Netherlands

althdebruijne@tukampen.nl

My research deals with the theme of the NRI-program from a social-ethical and political-theological angle. I will approach the theme of difference, unity and diversity from two methodical perspectives:

  1. Research to retrieve, interpret and contextualize for today the sources of neocalvinist thought with respect to ethics and political/public theology, in order to bring them to bear on the overall research-theme of difference, unity and diversity. This research will concentrate on Abraham Kuyper and result in at least five journal articles or book chapters.
  2. Research starting from urgent and existential contemporary ethical and political-theological challenges. This research will deal both with questions of human sexuality and gender and with relevant moral questions for public policy. In both cases the aim is twofold: 1. Formation of Church and Christians for adequate public engagement; 2. Relate to non-Christians to stimulate public debate and contribute to public peace. This research will result in:
    1. Ultimately, building on articles and not necessarily in this research-period, three books should result
      1. Two articles and one book on the field of gender and (homo)sexuality
      2. Four articles on political/ public theology, with attention to
        1. the conceptual framework
        2. specific moral challenges
          1. artificial intelligence (the ‘difference’ of robots)
          2. nation state, worldwide church, foreigners and natives
  • At least two contributions to a Handbook of Ethics (co-authored with a, international group of ethicists)

I will tutor at least three PhD projects in this field

  1. Using Kuyper’s pluralist public theology for Christian Public engagement in the Japanese society
  2. Resident aliens, citizens of nation states and foreigners (or: Artificial Intelligence)
  3. Gender: identity-definitions between creation and kingdom

George Harinck

staff, professor

The Netherlands

+31 (0)20) 59 85273
g.harinck@vu.nl
+31 (0)38 447 1730
gharinck@tukampen.nl

The theme of my research will be the contribution of neo-Calvinism to and interaction with difference (diversity and plurality) in modern culture.  I project two historical research projects, one focusing on international Neo-Calvinism, the other on Neo-Calvinism and Dutch society.

 

The first has to do with the United States. In the first place the biography of a son of the Secession, Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949), focusing on the neo-Calvinist character of his theology, and the way he applied neo-Calvinism to modern developments in his discipline in the United States, a different cultural context than the Netherlands. Is there a distinctive neo-Calvinist position in theology and if so, what does this position mean for the interaction within the discipline and with modern culture? Article on Vos and Calvin Theological Seminary to be published in 2019 and the book to be published in 2020.

Related to this topic is a research of the relation of neo-Calvinist academic institutions in the Netherlands with academic institutions in the United States before World War II. Here again the research question is what distinct contribution did neo-Calvinism want to offer worldwide and what role it actually played.  This research will result in a monograph in 2019, and two articles (2018, 2019).

 

A second project is twofold. The first theme is Abraham Kuyper and the Jews. When it comes to differences and inclusion the Jews are an interesting case. In Kuyper’s days they had obtained equal rights in the civil sphere, but were dealt with as a distinct ‘nation’ within the European nations, given their religion, history and culture. Kuyper was not a nationalist, and stressed the importance of the legal equality of different worldviews within a nation. He considered Jews as having a worldview distinct from Christians or non-Christians, and by implication of his view of worldview as an identity marker, he expected people to express their worldview not only within their own circles, but also in the public domain. When it turned out Jews most of the times joined the liberals in politics, who wanted to exclude worldviews from the public domain, instead of Kuyper’s party or an independent Jewish political party, he criticized them: they should act like Jews in the public domain, found Jewish schools, etc., instead of joining the liberals and supporting their ant-Christian attitude. Is Kuyper an anti-Semite, why were Jews not open for Kuyper’s view of society. Was distinctiveness an aim of groups in Dutch society, and how did Jews evaluate Kuyper’s role in their history, and what can be learned from the tension between Kuyper and the Jews for diversity and unity in present-day society? This will result in article in 2021 and a book in 2022.

The second Dutch research theme is the role of Dutch churches in Word War II. The impression is churches did not do enough to opposed national ideology and practice, but this research starts with the assumption that churches and Christians – not mainly Reformed people, like Loe de Jong stressed – played a major role in Dutch society during the war, organizing resistance and hiding Jews. What arguments for this resistance were used in the case of neo-Calvinism with its view of a plural society, and what place was designated for the church in this view, and in the practice of resistance?

The production will be a monography (2023) and four articles (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022). 

 

I tutor several PhD projects in these fields:

– Anne Schipper, C. Rijnsdorp, Calvinism and Art (2018)

– Hugo den Boer, Historical views and ideas about unity and diversity in Dutch Protestantism in the nineteenth century (2019)

– Marinus de Jong, K. Schilder, the distinction of the church from and relation with the ‘world’ (2019)

– Jan Lubbe, The reception of Abraham Kuyper in South-Africa, 1870-1920 (2020)

– Hillie van de Streek, Principles and politics regarding women in Dutch Christian political parties  (2020)

– Marc Janssens, Classicism and anti-Nazi resistance in the biography of R.J. Dam (2020)

– Rolf van der Woude, Reformed pietism as distinctive renewal in the province of Groningen in the 18th Century Groningen (2022)

– Merijn Wijma, Development in time and space of affiliation with Reformed churches, 1930-present (2023)

Wolter Huttinga

postdoc researcher

The Netherlands

whuttinga@tukampen.nl

Theology, Pedagogy and Education (at least from 2018-2020)

This research is a systematic and analytic approach within a broader and much more practical project on the Christian identity of a group of Reformed schools in the Netherlands. This group of schools faces different challenges concerning its Christian identity: 1) the original demarcated ecclesial context of their schools is loosening; and 2) they face the situation of deepening secularization in the Netherlands and within their own circles.

The theological question in this project concerns the role and nature of theology itself. It is a constant tendency within the schools to sideline theology when it comes to the pedagogical and educational matters at stake. ‘Theology’ for many in this field stands for an old-fashioned, normative-idealistic and in fact superfluous discourse when it comes to the real questions of education.

I am creatively searching for ways in which theology and pedagogy/education can productively interact. In this research I am building on my former research on Radical Orthodoxy (John Milbank, Graham Ward) and neo-Calvinism (Herman Bavinck). Both strands of theology articulate a robust theological voice in a secular world. There is no ‘square inch of creation’ that is not theological, to paraphrase Abraham Kuyper. I try to reconnect the worlds of theology and pedagogy/education and try to show how their visions and goals are much more united than is often envisioned.

Of course, questions of difference and identity are highly relevant when it comes to Christian education. How does it remain Christian while doing justice to ‘the other’? In my research I will focus on the theological-ontological questions that underlie these themes. How can theology be helpful in a world of shifting, instable identities, which claims to embrace ‘difference’?

In the early spring of 2019 I hope to publish a book under my editorship with different academics from the Netherlands and Belgium, on the relation between theology and pedagogy. I will also be the author of three articles in this volume.

Until the summer 2020 I further hope to publish two academic articles or book chapters on the same theme.

Marinus de Jong

postdoc researcher

The Netherlands

jmdejong@tukampen.nl

PhD project on the church in the theology op Klaas Schilder (1890-1952). The process of separation and a marking of the boundaries between church and world is still ongoing and in today’s situation in the West of what is often called post-christendom the questions of the relationship between the church and the world are of renewed urgency. The key question for ecclesiologists in a postmodern context is their understanding of the relationship of the church to the wider ‘world’. Even though Schilder is know for his focus on the church, he never losses sight of the fact that the church is there for the wider world. Defense in 2019.

Jessica Joustra

postdoc researcher

United States of America

jessicadriesenga@fuller.edu

My research project is twofold. First, I will investigate the contributions that a dialogue between the Reformed and Anabaptist traditions on the imitation of Christ can bring to North American evangelical social ethics in the 21st century. This project will look specifically at a neo-Calvinist theologian, Herman Bavinck, and a North American Anabaptist theologian, John Howard Yoder, placing the two in dialogue together, arguing that the two share deep commonalities, and are instructive voices in North American evangelical ethics today.

 

Second, I will focus on mining insights from neo-Calvinism, particularly in the thought of Herman Bavinck, that can address existing questions and problems relating to the theme of difference, looking at navigating both theological difference within Christianity and social and ethical differences that we encounter in society.

 

The anticipated result of this inquiry will be a book, published by a North-American publishing house, that investigates the imitation of Christ in North America today, and drawing on Herman Bavinck and John Howard Yoder as resources to navigate concrete questions of social engagement. Alongside the book project, I hope to publish multiple articles on similar themes: the cultivation of virtue in public life and the correctives that Anabaptist thought might bring to the contemporary, North American neo-Calvinist tradition as it navigates difference in the public square.

 

My research will be accompanied by continuing translation and editing work on the English translation of Bavinck’s ethics, in cooperation with John Bolt of Calvin Theological Seminary.

Dirk van Keulen

senior researcher

The Netherlands

+31 (0)38 447 1719
dvankeulen@tukampen.nl

The research will focus in the first place on the publication of the edited and annotated manuscript of the Reformed ethics by Herman Bavinck. This project is executed in cooperation with John Bolt of Calvin Theological Seminary, the editor of the English translation of Bavinck’s ethics. The projected publication date is in the Fall of 1919 or early 2020. Related to this project 3 articles will be published on Bavinck.

 

Secondly, a research theme is the later Bavinck (after 1902), and the way he coped with the tension between unity and diversity, not only practical within the Reformed circles (his students), but al theological-philosophical. Is antithesis the way to deal with modern culture? Can the difference between Christianity and a secularizing culture be bridged, is there a common ground, if only a hint to a relationship, like Bavinck postulates in his Modernisme en orthodoxie within the Christian community? The research will be based on archival sources, like Bavinck’s notes on his classes on major problems in present systematic theology. The products will be an edited and annotated publication of these notes, and 3 article related to this subject.

Roel Kuiper

senior researcher

The Netherland

+31 (0)38 447 1710
rkuiper@tukampen.nl

Building on a previous research project on ‘Identiteit als sterk merk’ (2015-2018), this research will focus on the shaping and representation of the Christian identity of organizations that function on the public sphere (like schools). How could their identity have societal impact? These institutions used to rely on a Christian network, with the church as facilitator of a Christian identity in society. These structures have evaporated or at least have been weakened, and these organizations now have to define and apply their identity on their own. They do this all-in their own way, but all relate to the tension between inclusiveness and distinctiveness. They at the same time want to be open to society and mark their Christian identity. How do they deal with this tension, and is there a way to overcome this tension, and make the distinctiveness a quality within a inclusive context? The product of this project will be a book and 3 articles.

 

This research is related to another topic: if the structures mentioned above have evaporated, what then is the function of the church in society. More and we see local congregations define its Christian identity, passing by the larger ecclesial community they participate in or belong to.  What does this mean historically, theologically, and philosophically? This research asks for the distinctiveness und relatedness of the church in its organizational structure (local and national) and in the societal context.

This research has a facilitating function in relation to the projected program Kerk2030, which aims to support the reunification process of the Gereformeerde Kerken (vrijgemaakt) en de Nederlands Gereformeerde Kerken. The product of this project will be a book and 3 articles.

Marijn Wijma

MA, staff., PhD

The Netherlands

merijnwijma@hotmail.com

PhD-project on the development in space and size of membership numbers of Reformed denominations in the Netherlands from 1930 till the present day. The project is a combination of statistical and historical research, and employs the vast numerical information that has been collected over the years by church historian Prof. Dr. M. te Velde of Kampen Theological University. This information is combined with data regarding the Dutch population in this time period from the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. The project will provide insight in the precise developments over the years in numbers, location, concentration of each denomination, and the Reformed as a whole, in relation to the same developments of the Dutch population in general. Defense in 2023.

Chair ‘Christian identity and practices’

Christians present themselves through organizations and formative practices in public life. The ‘repertoire’ of action and conduct of Christians is in the heart of the research of this chair. This regards concepts, narratives, institutionalized manifestations, styles and formative practices of Christian representation in the context of schools, churches, professional practices. By placing identity-issues in the center the researchers contribute to the general theme ‘meaning of difference’ of the research-group. Differences do have deeper grounds and layers. We focus on theological, spiritual, moral and social meanings of difference and connectedness.

Four main projects:

  1. General theoretical work on:
  • Christian education as a practice (Roel Kuiper)
  • Christians styles and practices in late-modern context (Roel Kuiper)

Book in 2019

Book in 2020

  1. Pedagogy and formation (Tirza van Laar)

Book in 2018

  1. Theology and pedagogy (Wolter Huttinga)

Book in 2019

  1. Quality standards for Christian education (Berber Vreugdenhil)

Dissertation (2019-2022)

Articles and valorization projects will be written and conducted alongside these four themes in partnership with LVGS and other bodies of Christian education

There will be conferences with Christians schools in the next three years (4 each year), and a study course for teachers. The program consists of 6-8 courses. A course book will be produced, based on the ‘theory for Christian education’, developed at this chair.

In August 2018 (30-31) there was a conference in Kampen, Education, Formation and The Church, organized by this chair and the chair of Prof. Dr. Bram de Muynck (TUA), bringing together pedagogues, theologians, and philosophers and teachers. This started a bi-annual series of conferences. In the summer of 2020 the next will be held.

Reflections on the development and identity of the Reformed Church are part of a general self-reflections about the role of Churches in a late-modern society. Among others the chair will contribute to this self-reflection by developing short studies in this area.