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October 2005 CACE eJournal

Welcome to the second edition of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics E-Journal. The response to our journal last month was quite positive and we are glad that we are meeting a need for tough thinking on the ethical issues of our day. In this number you will find information about important events on campus. In November we are sponsoring the “Reading the Sermon on the Mount” conference in conjunction with the Biblical and Theological Studies Department and the new “Lectureship in Christian Moral Formation” with Ruth Padilla DeBorst as the inaugural speaker. Information regarding our Annual Wheaton College Science Symposium on stem cell research can also be found in this issue. In our feature CACE Ethical Issues, we are pleased to highlight the book The Spirit in Public Theology recently published by Wheaton professor Vincent Bacote. It weaves together public theology and the role of the Holy Spirit. Next month we will be highlighting our Speakers Bureau with information on how you can schedule a Wheaton College professor to address an ethical issue at one of your events. Enjoy!

Lindy Scott
Director of CACE

Upcoming Events:

The Politics & Ethics of US Foreign Aid
Monday, October 24, 2005 - 7pm Barrows Auditorium
featuring Andrew S. Natsios, Administrator, US Agency for International Development
Sponsored by Politics and International Relations.
Free and open to the public.

Reading the Sermon on the Mount
Conference Co-Sponsored by CACE and the Biblical & Theological Studies Department
Thursday, November 3 - Saturday November 5
Barrows Auditorium, Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College
Registration required. For Conference information contact:
Liz.A.Klassen@wheaton.edu or call (630) 752-5197

Wheaton Lectureship in Christian Moral Formation, Wednesday, November 7 through Friday, November 9, 2005. Ruth Padilla DeBorst is the inaugural speaker. The event each evening will be held at 7pm in Coray Auditorium on Wheaton College campus. It is free and open to the public. Contact Joy Trieglaff (630) 752-5886 for more information.

Promises and Perils of Stem Cell Research: Human Ingenuity vs. Human Dignity?
speakers include: William Hurlbut, Stanford University, Dr. John Kilner, Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, and Dr. Peter Andrews, Sheffield University, UK
Co-Sponsored by CACE and the Science Division.
April 3 & 4, 2006

New for 2005: CACE Ethical Issues - Book Summary

This month's summary features The Spirit in Public Theology: Appropriating The Legacy Of Abraham Kuyper written by Vincent E. Bacote, Assistant Professor of Theology.

The Spirit in Public Theology brings together the threads of public theology and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in creation around the person and work of Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch Calvinist who strove for a Christianity that permeated every area of life. The book first examines contemporary theologians such as Jürgen Moltmann and Clark Pinnock on the Spirit’s work in creation. This is followed by a summary of the public theologies of Max Stackhouse and Ronald Thiemann, who represent apologetic and confessional approaches to Christianity’s intersection with public life. A brief biography of Kuyper introduces him as an intellectual who led a popular movement aimed toward giving public “space” to confessionally Reformed Christians.

The second chapter presents Kuyper’s public theology. After noting Kuyper’s significant political coalition with Roman Catholics and his 1880 inaugural address at the Free University of Amsterdam, Kuyper’s public theology is expressed by highlighting some of his most significant addresses during his zenith, the 1890’s, which culminated with his ascendancy to Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Speeches such as “Maranatha”, “The Blurring of the Boundaries”, the Address to the Christian Social Congress, and the Princeton Stone lectures reveal Kuyper as one who wanted Christians to maintain their confessional identity while recognizing their responsibility in the entirety of the public domain. Is Kuyper’s public theology more confessional or apologetic? The answer is that he reflected tendencies of both approaches depending upon the situation at hand. This leads to the proposal that Kuyper’s is a “rhetorical” public theology which was publicly expressed by addresses and lectures primarily, and which aimed to get Christians in the public square with their distinct confessional identity. He never resolves the tension between the two approaches.

The third chapter focuses on common grace, the non-redemptive grace that preserves the creation and prompts public engagement in it. Was this doctrine, central to Kuyper’s theological rationale for engagement, an unhelpful innovation in the Calvinist stream? No, because Calvin himself articulated the key ideas of the doctrine, though Kuyper gave it a fuller development. The chapter’s biggest move is the link that is made between Kuyper’s doctrine of common grace and his doctrine of the Spirit’s work in creation. Though Kuyper never links them, the chapter reveals that Kuyper used the same language for the function of common grace and the Spirit’s work in creation. This leads to the conclusion that “behind” Kuyper’s public engagement lies the Spirit’s common work in creation.

The fourth chapter aims to contemporize Kuyper’s view of the Spirit in creation through a dialogue with Arnold A. Van Ruler, who wrote about the uniqueness of the Spirit’s work. The dialogue yields the development of categories for the Spirit’s cosmic work, such as ongoing immanence in creation, reciprocity, and imperfection to highlight the unique features of this area of pneumatology. The chapter next asks how we “see” the work of the Spirit in creation and proposes that we can only make provisional affirmations that cultural, social, or political developments are “of the Spirit.” We know better when we look back than when we look ahead. The chapter concludes by proposing a public theology construed as the responsible stewardship of the entire created order.

Purchase Dr. Bacote's book on Amazon.com