Listen To Article
When I was in seminary, I was very well aware of the magazine the Reformed Journal but had not yet heard much about its Reformed Church in America doppelganger Perspectives.
The RJ, however was a much-respected journal where giants roamed the land. Richard Mouw, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Virginia Stem Owens, Neal Plantinga, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, John Timmerman: this was august company and blessed were those who got to publish alongside of them.
Though one may dream of such things, I never published an article in the RJ before its final issue appeared and before it merged with Perspectives. But I did get a letter to the editor published while I was in seminary and the author of the article on the atonement (with whom I disagreed on some point or another) took the time to reply to my letter. I think I got a final rejoinder printed too. I was thrilled! Maybe I was somebody now!
It was like that moment in the Steve Martin movie The Jerk when the new telephone book arrived at the gas station where Martin’s charming loser of a character worked. It was the first time he had a phone number and so the first time his name appeared in print. “The new phonebook’s here! The new phonebook’s here!” he exclaimed even as he jumped up and down with glee. He located his name in the book and declared “Things will start happening to me now!”
Well, not quite for him nor for me just because I got a letter in the old RJ. Still, it was an honor to appear there and then to begin appearing more regularly in Perspectives where Neal Plantinga often shared his back page column “And For Preachers” with me. Since then I became increasingly involved with the board of Perspectives and was a co-editor for many years before getting in on the ground floor of The Twelve.
And it is still an honor to have something to do with this enterprise, all the more with our return to the Reformed Journal moniker. This is still a place where important matters are broached and discussed. Like the giants of RJ past wrestling with things like the Kennedy assassination, civil rights, women in church office, and Vietnam, this is still a place where we try to parse the Kuyperian “every square inch” thesis with Trumpism, white nationalism, globalization, the plight of refugees, care for the poor, climate change.
It’s an honor to have you all as readers, too. Yes, even those with whom I have sparred on a regular or semi-regular basis. It’s all part of the conversations we need to have as Reformed Christians. In the end it’s as important that we are talking and thinking hard as it is that we coalesce around some basic points of agreement.
So along with my fellow bloggers I ask you to consider a one-time or recurring gift to keep our enterprise going. On this Giving Tuesday, please make a gift today to the Reformed Journal/The Twelve.
It is still an important place to put our names and thoughts out there. And who knows: things might even start to happen to us when we do!
Support The Reformed Journal
Your monthly financial contribution allows us to continue to express the Reformed faith theologically; to engage issues that Reformed Christians meet in personal, ecclesiastical, and societal life.Give Monthly
Click on the box above to donate, or use the blue “Donate” box in the upper right-hand corner. It is there everyday.
Checks may be sent to Reformed Journal, PO Box 441130 #94102, Detroit, MI 48244-1130.
Thank you very much!
Great cinematographic reference! It was such an adrenaline rush the first time I saw one of my comments posted here (it may have even been an inartful criticism of you). Like Naven R. Johnson, I knew that big things were about to happen. Like you, not so much. I’m still waiting for a book offer, or at least an invitation to speak at a prestigious college symposium. Or a Bible study. I should probably hire an agent…
I would like to, somehow, make a serious point. You mentioned the RJ “giants” of the past. As is also true today, they are the institutional thought leaders of the Reformed community. You also mentioned the issues they were addressing: civil rights, women in office, Vietnam. You then mention current issues: Trumpism, refugees, nationalism, climate change. Not (never?) mentioned are topics such as the coursening of the culture (other than Trumptweets), breakdown of the family, abortion, and the pernicious effects of the Welfare State. Might this be a reason (among others) that denominational membership has plummeted in the last 40 years?
But, back to The Jerk. One of my main motivations in being a peanut-gallery commenter here is this: so many of the well-intentioned but noxious ideas espoused in The Twelve are the intellectual equivalent of the Opti-Grab.
The original Reformed Journal gave a voice to progressives in the CRCNA at a time when they felt alienated. Today, based on changes in the denomination, I would submit it is the conservatives in the pews who feel increasingly alienated as the progressive academics have gained more influence over our institutions. One need look no further than debates surrounding the Office of Social Justice. I appreciate concerns regarding Climate Change, it is an important issue. So is society’s changing views of sexuality via LGBT issues, divorce, polyamory etc. I see a lot of concern in GR about the former, little to none on the latter. If the new RJ wants to be relevant, I would suggest that they ought to find a couple more conservative writers.