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For the Healing of the Nations: Essays on Creation, Redemption, and Neo-Calvinism

TCI has experienced something of a slowing of pace over these past six months. While we have still had great contributions, our founding contributors have all been more or less out of pocket. Some of this has had to do with personal and professional transitions, but another component is that we have been hard at work in other fora. Now it is with great excitement that I announce the fruit of one of those endeavors. Thanks to the Davenant Trust and the participants in the 2014 Convivium Calvinisticum, a new book is being released: For the Healing of the Nations: Essays on Creation, Redemption, and Neo-Calvinism.

There is an interesting and diverse range of essays to be found in this volume, each of which interacts with the doctrines of nature and grace in various ways relevant to the legacy and criticism of Neo-Calvinism. But we should also point out that while some of the necessary technical nomenclature of both church and academy is in play, the intent is, as always with our community, general and practical. I do not mean to undersell intellectual rigor in making such a qualification, far from it. My true goal is to expand it. It isn’t actually correct to say that this is a collection of essays about Neo-Calvinism. No, these are a collection of essays about the world, dominion, and the nature of reality itself. They use Neo-Calvinism and its themes, successors, and opponents as starting points for conversation, but they also reach back into the early church, the Reformation era, and to the “outside” journalistic and political community to conduct a comprehensive study of the topics and their various applications. Perhaps the greatest unifier is the philosophy and methodology of Reformed Irenicism, something which we hope can guide all of our endeavors.

There is a bit of iconoclasm to be found here, as certain favored narratives are called into question, but there is also a strong sense of tradition and philosophical and theological inheritance at work, as a true sort of catholicity is promoted at all times. The essays each have their own specific topics and theses, but they are all united in their philosophical and theological orientation. Critiquing both “transformationalism” in its popular conception and ecclesiastical retreatism (even “High Church” ecclesiocentrism)– both of which, we insist on pointing out, are two sides of the same retreat to commitment– this book affirms a positive role for the concept of nature and the application of natural philosophy, even and especially in Reformed theology, as well as a uniquely Christian outlook on domestic, social and political life, what we call dominion.

Here is the table of contents:

Introduction
Peter Escalante
vii
1 Abraham Kuyper: A Compact Introduction
Dr. James D. Bratt
1
2 Sphere Sovereignty among Abraham Kuyper’s Other Political Theories
Dr. James D. Bratt
21
3 And Zeus Shall Have No Dominion, or, How, When, Where, and Why to “Plunder the Egyptians”: The Case of Jerome
Dr. E. J. Hutchinson
49
4 “The Kingdom of Christ is Spiritual”: John Calvin’s Concept of the Restoration of the World
Dr. Matthew J. Tuininga
81
5 Participating in Political Providence: The Theological Foundations of Resistance in Calvin
Andrew Fulford
105
6 “Bavinck’s bug” or “Van Tilian” hypochondria?: An analysis of Prof. Oliphint’s assertion that cognitive realism and Reformed theology are incompatible
Laurence O’Donnell
139
7 De-Klining From Chalcedon: Exegetical Roots Of The “R2k” Project
Rev. Benjamin Miller
173
8 Narrating Christian Transformationalism: Rousas J. Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionism in Current Histories of American Religion and Politics
Dr. Brian J. Auten
209
9 Nature and Grace, Visible and Invisible: A New Look at the Question of Infant Baptism
Joseph Minich
241

It is our hope that this volume will be helpful in starting new conversations and in continuing old ones, and we plan on putting out future books following future convivia. It is also of personal encouragement to see the names of these contributors and their ongoing professional accomplishments. Dr. Bratt of Calvin College was the special invited guest and keynote speaker for the 2014 Convivium Calvinisticum, and it was a great honor for us that he would participate. The other contributors are all friends and associates from the Reformed Irenics community, each having their own callings and backgrounds but being united in friendship and ethos. It is truly an honor to have such associates, and I do not mean to be overly sentimental to say that I am humbled that they would have an interest in the projects and work of our irenic community. I am also excited and proud to see the younger rising stars, as their names will no doubt be appearing in many more collections in more prestigious arenas. Great work gentlemen.

Pick up a copy of For the Healing of the Nations, and be on watch for future projects from the Davenant Trust and TCI friends and associates.

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.