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I’ve kept company with the Reformed Journal for fifty years.

It began when I was a graduate student appreciating a touch of home amid my daunting new circumstances. It went up several notches when the old Journal transmuted into Perspectives. I signed on to the board and then for a three-year stretch as editor. And now it’s continued for a dozen years with me as a (fairly) regular contributor to the blog of the revived Journal’s.

These roles have all given me the chance to work out some of the implications of the big Reformed tradition in specific and various circumstances. This can be a challenge—sometimes the writing is anxious and grinding. More often it’s been gratifying, and I hit the send key with conviction.

The writing process itself often clarifies things. This is not the way I was trained, and sometimes it amounts to working things out in fear and trembling. But in any case, I’m grateful to you, gentle readers, for giving me the chance to think out loud—I hope on matters that matter.

One thing has held true through all these phases. The Reformed Journal has tried to hold forth a beacon of light in a tradition that has some pretty dark recesses. A tradition that can lose its way amid a very powerful nation full of idols and temptations.

The human mind is an idol factory, said John Calvin, and the United States has ramped production up to a T. That, along with my education as a historian, is why many of my posts offer critical commentary on America, past and present. On its failures and shortcomings. On Christians’ complicity therewith. And, by the grace of God and the better angels of our nature, on its better possibilities and the ways Christians might contribute thereunto.

This is not (just) a matter of politics. One of the greatest challenges to my faith came when so many professed Christians around me back in my student days (the late 1960s) stood against the causes that were dear to my heart, and close to the heart of Christian conviction: civil rights and racial equity; a witness for peace against the American war on Vietnam; earth-keeping instead of heedless consumerism.

Thank God for writers at the Journal who, with others, testified that it ain’t necessarily so, that true Christian conviction and progressive policies can go hand in hand. But not in lockstep.

The challenge is even greater today. The witness that Christianists have been making in the name of the faith over the past generation has helped drive generations out of the church into the wilderness of the nones. Seeing those two options I sometimes wonder with Jesus, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on earth?”

Folks, it’s more important than ever to keep lighted our own affirming flame to offer a better way. I hope you’ll contribute to that cause this season, whether by a one-off or (with me) a recurring monthly donation. And don’t forget our special “But wait. . .There’s more!” offer, giving you three books from RJ authors for a gift of $300 or more.

We so value your solidarity with us!

Please, click here to support the Reformed Journal today.
You’re able to give through our special But Wait…There’s More offer, or by giving in any amount, or to find info on giving by mailing a check to us.
Thank you!

But Wait…There’s More!
Your gift of $300 or more by the end of 2023 will not only make us especially grateful, it also means that in the coming months you will receive these three, outstanding, new books.

James Bratt

James Bratt is professor of history emeritus at Calvin College, specializing in American religious history and especially the connections between religion and politics. Starting in Fall 2016 he took a break from blogging on The Twelve to teach in China and on the Semester at Sea, which venues afforded him some welcome distance from the USA’s descent into its current mortal illness. But now he’s back in the States, looking for hope. His most recent book (which he edited and completed for the late John Woolverton) is  “A Christian and a Democrat”: Religion in the Life and Leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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