Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought
Perspectives’ purpose is to express the Reformed faith theologically; to engage issues that Reformed Christians meet in personal, ecclesiastical, and societal life; and thus to contribute to the mission of the church of Jesus Christ.
Our twelve bloggers, and a few special guests, engage the world on a daily basis, looking at life through a Reformed Christian lens.
- James Bratt
- Jessica Bratt
- Thomas C. Goodhart
- Scott Hoezee
- Jennifer L. Holberg
- Jes Kast
- Theresa Latini
- Jason Lief
- Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell
- Jeff Munroe
- Debra Rienstra
- James Schaap
- James K.A. Smith (former contributer)
I’ve been a professor of history at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan for more years than I want to count. Before that I taught for nine years in the Religious Studies Dept at the University of Pittsburgh. In scholarship I’m a specialist in American religious and cultural history with a strong side-helping of trans-Atlantic Dutch Reformed studies. Professionally, I’m very concerned about the future of higher education in an age of credentialization, quantitative assessment, and student distraction. My wife, who teaches in Grand Rapids Public Schools, has served as an early-warning monitor of these phenomena for a long time, but brings a lot of joy and zest into our house beyond that. We have four children, all up and doing in their Millennials glory. If you want to get into the weeds regarding my publications, go to http://www.calvin.edu/academic/history/faculty/bratt/.
I am a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, currently living in Nashville, Tennessee, where in fall 2012 I began doctoral studies in Religion, Psychology and Culture at Vanderbilt University, and a fellowship in the Program in Theology and Practice (dear Lilly Endowment, I am forever indebted to you). I am an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America, and in recent years I have served as a chaplain at Boston Children’s Hospital, as a denominational staff member for the RCA, as a resident pastor at Church of the Servant CRC, and as a chaplain at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Through family, church, school, and community, my entire life has been steeped in the Reformed tradition, and I continue to find myself appreciating and understanding that in new ways.
Thomas C. Goodhart
Thomas C. Goodhart is an ordained minister in the RCA, serves as pastor of the Trinity Reformed Church of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to that, he served a congregation in upstate New York’s Hudson Valley and has served in numerous leadership positions in the Classis, Regional Synod, and General Synod level. Originally from northeast Ohio, he grew up on his family’s dairy farm and although he lives in New York City now, he considers himself a simple farm boy at heart. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology (with a minor in biochemistry) and has special interest in all thing ecology related, conservation biology, and agriculture, particularly food—and especially wine, cheese, and beer. Before seminary he lived and worked with a Native American congregation in Oklahoma and was later ordained in a bi-lingual and bi-cultural congregation in Holland, MI. He is incredibly interested in cultural anthropology and pursues it as a hobby. He understands 1 Peter 4:10 as having a significant role in ministry: “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” He understands Christ’s work as being about the gift of grace lived-out in community, and that should move the church to works of justice. He lives in Ridgewood, Queens with his two dogs—Sarii and Prince—and two chickens—Ila and Lisa.
As a past-editor of Perspectives, I remain passionate about the ongoing engagement of culture from a Reformed angle of view and I hope my blog posts–which may range pretty widely over time–will be a reasonably good facsimile of a Reformed worldview in action. Prior to coming to Calvin Theological Seminary in 2005 as its first Director for the Center for Excellence in Preaching, I spent 15 years as a pastor, preaching two sermons most weeks and seeking in also that venue to bring our understanding of God’s Word to bear on God’s world. Today I try to help my students and my peers in ministry do the same thing and I hope postings in The Twelve will contribute in some small way to that same enterprise.
Jennifer L. Holberg
I’ve taught English at Calvin College since 1998–where I get to read books and talk about them for a living. What could be better? Along with my wonderful colleague, Jane Zwart, I am the co-director of the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing, which is the home of the Festival of Faith and Writing as well as a number of other exciting endeavors. Given my interest in teaching, I’m the founding co-editor of the Duke University Press journal Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition and Culture (and yes, I realize that that is a very long subtitle). I also do various administrative things across campus. As an Army brat, I’ve never lived anywhere as long as I’ve now lived in Grand Rapids. I count myself rich in friends and family. I enjoy kayaking and hiking. I collect cookbooks (and also like to cook), listen to all kinds of music, and watch all manner of movies and tv shows. I love George Eliot, Jane Austen, Marilynne Robinson, Dante, E.M. Delafield, Tennyson, Hopkins, and Charlotte Bronte (among others). And I have a bumper sticker on my car that says: “I’d rather be reading Flannery O’Connor.” Which is true.
I began my religious journey when I was baptized in the Catholic Church and later migrated into a Lutheran confirmation class where I discovered Charismatic Evangelicalism. I began my seminary career in a hip, non-denominational church believing that denominations were the downfall of Christian unity. One year into Western Theological Seminary and I fell in love with Reformed Theology and the Reformed Church in America. I graduated in May 2011 as a loyal voice for all things Reformed now believing that denominations may be the best conduit for Christian unity. I serve the beautiful people of West End Collegiate Church as their Associate Minister.
Besides looking at practically everything in my life through a Reformed theological lens, I also love: Malbec wine, Tattoos, New York City, music/poetry, and people who are courageous. You can find me on twitter @jeskast.
I am a professor of practical theology and pastoral care at Western Theological Seminary (Holland, MI) and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). My spiritual background is somewhat eclectic, with my earliest formation in the Roman Catholic Church, followed by the charismatic movement, and then mainline Protestantism. I research, teach, and offer consultation on transforming conflict, vocation, and helping churches to become communities of compassion. My most recent added vocation has been motherhood. Parenting has become the greatest joy of my life and supplies much fodder for theological reflection, to say nothing of providing moments of great wonder along with opportunities for learning true humility.
I teach Religion and Youth Ministry at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. Much of my research explores the intersection of faith and popular culture, with a particular interest in Heavy Metal music. I’m married to my wife Tamara, and we have three children: Naomi, Christian, and Savannah.
For the past fourteen years, my wife, Sophie, and I have served as the pastors of Second Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa. Whether or not something earthshaking appears on The Twelve, I’m looking forward to the comments and contributions of the other “eleven” very much. In my experience, Reformed people are thoughtful, funny and perceptive. I think I blog because I process by writing. My own thoughts become clearer when I put them into words. So thanks for allowing me to process with you.
Dr. Lynn Japinga and her husband, Rev. Jeff Japinga filled in for Steve from August to October of 2012. Thanks, Lynn and Jeff!
Jeff Munroe is the Vice President of Operations and Advancement at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, an ordained RCA minister and the only guy on his block who knows Hack Wilson’s shoe size.
It’s a good thing there are places in the world for bookish people who would otherwise be fairly useless to society. I’ve found such a place as a professor of English at Calvin College, where I teach early British literature and creative writing. Born and bred in the Reformed tradition, I’ve been unable to resist writing several books about theological topics: beware the writer doing theology without a license.
I’m married to Ron Rienstra, who does have a license, and we have three children, ages 14, 18, and 20. Besides books and theology and worship, I love classical music, science fiction, cheesy Arthurian romance, baking, and teaching myself useful skills like painting, gardening, and–maybe someday–drywall repair.
Northwest Iowa has been my home–ours, my wife and my own–for the last 40 years, with only occasional absences. We have now concluded a tenure that began forever ago, for me a career in the English department at Dordt College, and moved out to rural Alton. My wife, Barbara, and I have two grown children and one elderly cat. I was born on Lake Michigan’s west coast, where the water temps are almost always sub-human, but through the years I’ve grown to love the lake-less plains, whose big skies just outside my window are painted gloriously almost every morning. I’ve blogged for way too long at http://siouxlander.blogspot.com/, where I’m nearing 2000 posts. Sheesh. Idiotic really, but it keeps me here at the keys.
James K. A. Smith (former contributor)
I am professor of philosophy at Calvin College where I also teach in the ultra-cool, totally-hip Department of Congregational and Ministry Studies. A Gen Xer in a Millenial world run by Baby Boomers, I blog as a compromise between my love of books and my fear of Facebook.