Acton Notes - May/June 2011 Notes

Translating Kuyper's Common Grace

In April, the Acton Institute announced a collaboration with Kuyper College in Grand Rapids for the translation of Abraham Kuyper's Common Grace into English for the first time. "Dr. John Bolt, a theology professor at Calvin Theological Seminary, will serve as a theological advisor. Dr. Nelson Kloosterman of Worldview Resources International and translator of numerous Dutch works will translate the texts. The Grand Rapids Press interviewed Stephen Grabill, director of programs at the Acton Institute who is also serving as the general editor of the translation project.

Dr. Grabill explained the current relevancy of Kuyper's work:

In terms of the way Christians have brought their faith into the public sphere in the last 30 years, Kuyper represents a much more thoughtful and reflective way of building a constructive public theology."

He wasn't a policy wonk but an idea guy who sought to synthesize a lot of movement and point to various economic political trends that integrated the Christian faith and did it in a way that didn't politicize the faith, which is a breath of fresh air to people today.

Volume one of Common Grace is scheduled to appear in the fall of 2012 and will be published by Christian's Library Press.

Expounding and distributing Kuyper's holistic approach to declaring God's dominion over the world, the human person, business, and the church will be a rewarding and fruitful endeavor for Acton.

Dr. Grabill added:

I think Kuyper would say both the left and the right have polarized the gospel in ways that may have been unintentional in the beginning of the process. They need a better understanding of culture, and what Kuyper does is he provides the foundational theological and philosophical thought to understand culture in a way that's constructive and not ideological.

Thanking our Chicago Network

Mr. Jim Healy is happy "spending the rest of his life as a missionary for the Acton Institute" as he describes it. He has taken that mission to heart and helped to build a vital network of supporters and volunteers to promote the Acton message and offer help with Acton events in Chicago.

Mr. Healy explained how he has spent a lot of time attending meetings among like-minded organizations. "We are trying to make people familiar with Acton and comfortable with its message," he said.

The vast network of support in Chicago has grown tremendously under the leadership of Mr. Healy. "Our events in Chicago continue to grow each year thanks, in large part, to the tireless efforts of Jim Healy and our Chicago volunteers. We are so grateful for all they do for Acton," said Elly Barnett, Acton's director of development.

This networking effort by our supporters and volunteers here has been blessed. "Just witness the increase in attendance at our Spring and Fall events as one example," Mr. Healy declared.

Mr. Healy doesn't like to talk about himself or give himself much credit for his efforts in Chicago. He believes the growth comes from friends and the power of the Acton message. On page 6, readers will find a list of people Acton would like to thank for their commitment and help in Chicago.

R&L Interviews Wayne Grudem

Dr. Wayne Grudem, who is the research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona, was interviewed for the Spring 2011 issue of Religion & Liberty. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for 20 years. His new book, Politics According to the Bible, is an essential resource for thinking through political issues in light of Scripture (Zondervan, 2010).

Dr. Grudem, the author of many theological works, also wrote Business for the Glory of God (Crossway Books, 2003) which has been a valuable resource to Acton researchers and staff.

In the interview, he discussed the topic of evangelicals and politics, the economic climate, and God's purpose for government among other topics. R&L managing editor Ray Nothstine commented on the importance of the interview with Dr. Grudem:

Dr. Grudem is a leading authority on Biblical and systematic theology. He is widely known among evangelicals and has written a serious and thorough book about the bible and politics and how they are connected. It is a book any Christian researcher or writer will want to have on their bookshelf. We were fortunate to discuss many issues with him and are thankful for his insights.

The issue also includes a feature story on the charitable response by Christian churches to the recent tornadoes in the American South and Midwest by Ray Nothstine.

Acton Institute and RefoRC

The Acton Institute sponsored a panel on the 9th of June at the first Reformation Research Consortium (RefoRC), hosted by the Institute for Swiss Reformation Studies at the University of Zurich. The consortium is the academic section of Refo500, the international platform focusing on the contemporary relevance of the reformations of the sixteenth century. The theme of the conference was "The Myth of the Reformation," and addressed various questions, including: Is the Reformation a 'German event'? Did the Reformation really have such a European dimension and influence that should be celebrated today? Is it not just something that happened in the spirituality of the church? Or should the Reformation be regarded from a political or cultural perspective? How are theological reflection and the cultural consequences of the Reformation related to each other? Is 'the catholic Reform' of the 16th century in fact, after all, a 'Counter-Reformation'?

In a panel on "The Reformation of Law, Politics, and Society," the Acton Institute convened a session addressing various aspects of the 16th and 17thcentury approaches to critical social questions. Todd Rester, a doctoral candidate at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, dealt with the interrelations between divine law, natural law, and human reason in the work of the Leiden theologian Franciscus Junius. Rester has also translated a work by Junius, "On the Observation of the Mosaic Polity," for the newest issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality. Acton Institute research fellow Jordan J. Ballor read a paper exploring "The Reformational Roots of Subsidiarity," a teaching typically associated with Roman Catholic social thought. And David Sytsma, a doctoral candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary, addressed the influential 17th-century Puritan Richard Baxter and his doctrine of natural law.

The panel was a well-received success said Ballor, who organized the panel. "This session is indicative of the kinds of productive and positive interaction the Acton Institute expects to achieve through its engagement in the Refo500 project," he said. For more information on the Acton Institute's partnership with Refo500, visit