Josué Reichow – The Reception and Possible Contributions of a Reformational Philosophy on the Theology of Culture in Brazil
The landscape of the religious scenario in Brazil has changed considerably in the last 30 years. From being a major catholic country through different historical periods since the Portuguese colonization it now watches the growth of the protestant church, especially the evangelicals, among which Pentecostals and neo-Pentecostals are worth noticing. The last census, in 2010, pointed out a percentage of 22% self-declared evangelicals, which would be around 40 million people. Alongside the new scenario new challenges are being faced and thought through, such as: how do the Brazilian evangelicals approach fields like politics, social struggles and culture in general? What sort of philosophical view is predominantly among Christians? Has there been any difference so far in terms of a theology of culture in comparison with the catholic approach? Among different groups – from Lutherans to Pentecostals – an awareness of the need of a public articulation of the Christian faith is felt. The aim of this paper is, therefore, to discuss the major view of culture among Christians in Brazil and to reflect how they engage with it. The thesis this paper aims to demonstrate is the one in which their engagement and understanding of the culture could be characterised broadly as a dualistic one, trying to understand how the two mainstream theological approaches, namely Liberation Theology and Missão Integral (Comprehensive Mission),deal with these questions and how would a reformational standpoint might make room for a dialogue among such theological traditions, in terms of a coherent response for the challenge of providing a Christian view of that sphere which could be seen as redemptive. Its goal is also to identify signs of the beginning of a reformational influence among Christians in the Brazilian context, such as the recent publishing of the works of Herman Dooyeweerd and Hans Rookmaaker in Portuguese by well-known Publishers, arguing for the reasonability of a reformational view of culture as potential mind-set for redeeming this sphere, bringing a consistent Christian praxis as a response for cultural challenges. The integrated view of the culture as a locus of God’s sovereignty in the kuyperian sense has been already influencing different groups in Brazil and its possibilities are worth paying attention and analysing in the coming future.
CARVALHO, Guilherme. O senhorio de Cristo e a missão da igreja na cultura: a ideia de soberania e a sua aplicação. In: AMORIM, Rodolfo; CAMARGO, Marcel; RAMOS, Leonardo [orgs.]. Fé cristã e cultura contemporânea: cosmovisão cristã, igreja local e transformação integral. Viçosa, MG: Ultimato, 2009, p. 57-96.
DOOYEWEERD, Herman. Roots of Western Culture: Pagan, Secular and Christian Options. Toronto: WedgePublishing Foundation, 1979.
KUYPER, Abraham. Calvinismo. São Paulo: Cultura Cristã, 2003.
NIEBUHR, H. Richard. Cristo e cultura, Paz e Terra: Rio de Janeiro, 1967.
ROOKMAAKER, Hans. A arte não precisa de justificativa. Viçosa, MG: Ultimato, 2010.
Abraham Kuyper’s journalistic-driven insights of early-twentieth century Islam gleaned from his trip around the Mediterranean Sea treat us to yet another dimension of the mind of this “reusachtige man.” He extensively chronicled and then pronounced on every detail – large, small or apparently unimportant – of the life and thought of the then-contemporary Muslim. In his explorations Kuyper, the journalist, has treated us to an extensive, multi-faceted, highly- interesting, and extremely colorful portrait of the civilization and faith of the Near East and parts of southern Europe of the time.
Employing his recently-translated two-volume work Om De Oude Wereldzee means that I will be drawing exclusively from previously untranslated material. My analytical presentation will approximately be organized according to the PERSIA framework (political, economic, religious, sociological, intellectual and artistic) only because this rubric aligns nicely with Kuyper’s journalism itself. His observations are multi-dimensional and exhaustive. But the heart of the paper will focus on the religious nature of Kuyper’s interaction with and commentary on Islam.
The deeper one travels into Kuyper’s diary, the better the journey. Kuyper as theologian, statesman, and intellectual informs Kuyper, the journalist. In this regard, there are surprising similarities between Kuyper’s method and that of the Apostle Paul as he and Luke recorded his missionary journeys in some of the same territory Kuyper covers. Intellectual centers, political connections, religious orders are observed and recorded by Paul. Kuyper follows similar methodology. And it becomes clear that to Kuyper’s long list of competencies we can add architecture. He comments on the historical, contemporary, religious, and metaphorical meaning of the mosques of Islam, for example, right down to the fine and intricate craft of the manufacture and placement of the decorative mosaic tile. Kuyper’s travelogue tastes very much like a pilgrimage, of sorts, a pilgrimage of a deeply religious and curious man, attempting somehow to come to terms with the reality and implications of the belief system of almost % of the world’s population.
I will tease out implications we might draw from his now century-old insights. How might sources and insights from the broad Christian tradition, as filtered through Kuyper’s reformational prism, be helpful in relating to and with 1.6 billion people, all fellow image- bearers of God? Christianity has a definite track record in this regard, of over one and a half millennia. But it is not an enviable one. Our contemporary challenge is to winsomely engage in shalom-inducing and peace-securing relations in this global village where we are thrust on each other’s doorstep. For the Christian this must rank as the most urgent and pressing need of the day as we transition towards a healthy social and Christian future for our multicultural and pluralistic society.
References (secondary sources only tangentially consulted; primary source bolded)
Bratt, James D. Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013.
________ . Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.
Kuyper, Abraham. Om de Oude Wereldzee. 2 vols. Amsterdam: Van Holkema & Warendorf, n.d. 
________ . Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art. Trans. Nelson B.
Kloosterman. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian’s Library Press, 2013.
The biblical worldview is often summarised by three basic notions: (1) a perfect creation in the beginning, (2) the fall into sin of Adam and Eve and its destructive effect on all of earthly reality, and (3) the redemption through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this workshop I will raise the question whether this short characterisation summarizes correctly the biblical teaching. One reason to ask this question are the results of the sciences. As important are recent biblical studies which suggest that the summary as given needs at least some nuancing.
I will start with the question whether Genesis 1 does teach a perfect creation in the beginning. Connected is the question whether according to Genesis death is entering into the world only as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve. In the second place, in relation to the fall as described in Genesis 3, does the Bible as a whole indeed give the impression that the disobedience of Adam and Eve had such a wide impact as we often connect with it? For one thing, it is remarkable that after Genesis 5 Adam as a person is hardly mentioned in the O.T. and his disobedience most likely not at all. Finally, does the summary as given sufficiently account, on the one side, for the central message of the N.T. concerning the coming of the kingdom of God as connected with the coming of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection and, on the other side, for the strong emphasis on the expectation of the new creation in its fullness which is to come with the return of Christ?
In this workshop I will discuss these questions and try to show that a fresh understanding of the Scriptures may shed some new light on the three basic notions as described in the beginning. I hope to show that in this way their importance is not diminished but rather enhanced.