What has Amsterdam to do with New York?

What has Amsterdam to do with New York? April 7, 2023

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That America is increasingly a secular society is so banal a statement in 2023 as to not even really be worthy of defense. Yes, Tim Keller is ministering in New York City and Mark Dever in DC and John MacArthur in Orange County, California. Yet the collapse of religious influence on American life continues unabated, despite the proximity of Wheaton College to Chicago and Westminster somehow to both Philadelphia and San Diego. We are not the first people to deal with this. At the turn of the the 20th century, Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck face similar circumstances in the Netherlands. There has been a renaissance in the study of these thinkers in the last decade, and now Cory Brock and N. Gray Sutanto have written an overview of their theology in the new book Neo-Calvinism: A Theological Introduction.

Over the course of ten chapters, rather than blazing new paths Neo-Calvinism systematizes and introduces the basic points of Kuyper’s and Bavinck’s theology. In the style of a systematic theology the authors cover the foundational distinctives of Neo-Calvinism including everything from creation to politics. While you should read the whole book, the authors also include a short summary of Neo-Calvinist theology in “16 Theses”, including points like:

“1. Neo-Calvinism is a critical reception of Reformed orthodoxy, contextualized to address the questions of modernity.”


“3. Neo-Calvinism rejects theological conservatism and progressivism. Instead it applies historic creedal and confessional theology to the concerns of the contemporary world.” (293)

As with what I’ve been reading in Common Grace, there’s much here to agree with and some to disagree with. For example, I am still a Baptist and am going to disagree with any view built on the intentional inclusion of unbelievers in the church (even while admitting that this will happen despite our best efforts at a regenerate church membership–that’s a different argument than intentionally making it happen).

Overall this is an excellent book. And while not a replacement for reading Kuyper and Bavinck themselves (I am certain the authors would heartily agree), it is an excellent survey and worth having on your shelf.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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