Dutch theologians from an emerging church perspective.

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Just got an email from Nico-Dirk of post-gereformeerd.blogspot.com answering a question i put to him when i was in Amsterdam last month. I asked what theologians had influenced him as an emerging church practitioner. His answer:

From email, Nico-Dirk, Netherlands

“A. Kuyper

A free church, a holy nation, by John Bolt (Just a example, I read only Dutch texts of him)

H. Kraemer

The christian message in a non-christian world

J.H. Bavinck

Introduction in the science of missions

The impact of christianity on the non-christian world

J. Verkuyl

Contemporary missiology: an introduction

Tear down these walls, (Dutch only)

Message of liberation in our age,

On the Indonesian question (Dutch only)

K. Schilder,

Christ and culture

H. Dooyeweerd

A new critique of theoretical thought

In the twilight of Western thought

Contours of a christian philosophy by Kalsbeek

There is one crucial remark on Kuyper, Schilder and neocalvism in general: For me, living in the Dutch culture and history, a reading of Kuyper and Schilder is very different compared someone non-Dutch. I recently had a conversation with US based reformed theologian on Schilder. He reads Schilder very different from me. Jamie reads a book form 1932 and interprets it. I read a book from 1932 and interpret it with a full history in my mind, including the outcome of Schilders work in church history. The same about Kuyper, he also played a more questionable role regarding “apartheid” in South Africa. In both cases the “darksides” are more present in my dutch context, both readings are valid in different ways.




Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)


  • Good to read where my post-reformed buddy got his inspiration.
    He is right about the perspectives. To me, Schilder and Kuyper read “church split” all over. ND is from the reformed tradition that views both as heroes of the faith. My reformed tradition views them as, well, troublesome heretics. For those people thinking “what the heck”, we’ve got about twelve reformed denominations, each with their own tradition and theology, and their own view of church history and influental theologions. It’s a bit tiresome.
    Interesting he mentions Dooyeweerd, since Dooyeweerd is a philosopher, originally a law scholar. He developed a very clever philosophy, dealing with science, truth and reality, which is somehow gotten popular in South Africa. Dooyeweerd got a lot of trouble from theologians, who stated that his use of Scripture wasn’t theologically correct (well, he used only two verses, and he used them as a springboard for rational reflection). Also, the theologians attacked his holistic view of man.
    Also interesting he doesn’t mention Willem Ouweneel, the most famous evangelical theologian/philosopher/Bible teacher of the Netherlands. Every dutch christian has read *something* of Ouweneel. I know he has inspired me a great deal! I wonder…

  • Does the name ring a bell? Or are you just curious about interesting theologians?
    Another big name, and probably much bigger name to be, is Stefan Paas. Paas is a young guy, about 30 years old, a theologian and church planter living in Amsterdam. Hey, maybe you’ve met him already!
    Paas became “famous” (in christian circles, that is) with his work on evangelism and church planting, mainly his book “Jesus as Lord of a flat land”, which of course refers to the Netherlands. (I’ve heard there are hills abroad… is that true?) He’s now causing commotion with his writings on social justice and politics.
    He’s got a lot of years to go, so I think we’ll be hearing good stuff from Paas for a loooong time.

  • i had not heard of Ouweneel but i am always curious what emerging church leaders have read and been influenced in their countries.
    as for hills beyond Netherlands . . . they are just a rumor. we all live below sea level on flatlands with windmills.

  • Good to hear that. It seems terribly tiresome, driving your bike up and down hills all day.
    As for Ouweneel, I think most dutch evangelical and post-evangelical christians are somehow influenced by Ouweneel. He started out as a biologian and was one of the leaders of the dutch creationist movement. He was involved in the start of the ‘Evangelical High School’ (EH) over thirty years ago, a school offering one year of bible school/personal development/creationism/evangelical theology, so that young people were equipped to deal with evolutionism and liberal theology. Some of the younger influental evangelical thinkers went to that school before going to the university, including Stefan Paas. I went there to, so I’ve got good odds of becoming an influental evangelical thinker, I guess.
    Because Ouweneel started teaching philosophy (primarily Dooyeweerd’s philosophy) at the EH, he decided to write a dissertation on philosophy, so he would be officially allowed to do what he has been doing before anyway. Later on he got his third Ph.D. in theology. Rumor says he wanted to get a fourth Ph.D. in psychology, but his wife wouldn’t let him…
    He’s in his early sixties now, still going strong. He’s written… 126, 127 books on publications, on about every major topic. He’s currently busy writing a dogmatic series of five books, the first two have been published yet.
    He is notorious for changing his opinions, even though he didn’t do it that much. He used to be a champion of young earth creationism, but tends to evolutionism/intelligent design now. Back in the 60’s or 70’s, he’s written a book called ‘The serpent’s domain’ about the occult, in which he put the label ‘demonic’ on prophecy, speaking in tongues, supernatural healing, and all things pentecostal. Thirty years later, he changed his view and became a champion of an unofficial interdenomational charismatic movement, stating that dutch churches need more of the Holy Spirit, that God still heals sick people today, etc.
    I must say, he has inspired many, but also made many enemies. Both anti-charismatics and creationists state that his early work was his best, and Ouweneel has turned from the ‘right view’. He engages postmodernism in a rather positive way, which many people don’t like. He has also been involved in a church split (but he, which dutch theologian hasn’t?) amongst the dutch Plymouth Brethren.
    So you might see why I was surprised that ND didn’t mention him. You can’t be dutch, post-evangelical, and not be influenced by Ouweneel 😀

  • Oh boy I am in trouble… but you know I am post-reformed and I guess as a molecular scientist I did (maybe do) not always like his attitude towards creation/bible stuff.
    I never read any book of him until the last couple of month’s (my wife does his systematic theology classes). But two weeks ago I talked to him, and he had no clue about the emerging church in NL! So we made a appointment to ‘enlighten’ each other!.

  • Besides Ouweneel (whose philosophical work I’ve appreciated as a student of reformational philosophy), you may also want to look into G.C. (Gerrit Cornelis) Berkouwer –another (earlier) Dooyeweerd influenced theologian. Berkouwer’s work is better known (than Ouweneel’s) outside the Netherlands and outside of Protestant circles.
    You may be interested in this (largely ‘non-theological’) site:

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