zaterdag 7 juni 2014

Groen van Prinsterer: A Dutch statesman who confessed the Gospel of Christ 5

Groen van Prinsterer as a champion a state governed by biblical principles 1

Groen van Prinsterer has been a member of Parliament –the so called Second Chamber the Dutch equivalent of House of Commons or House of Representatives- from 1849 till 1857 (a short interval excepted), and again from 1862 till 1866. There Groen van Prinsterer confessed the significance of the Gospel for all society, as opposed to the principles of the French Revolution. In the 19th century there were not yet political parties as we have them now. But there were two main currents: conservatives and liberals. But for Groen van Prinsterer the differences between them were not fundamental.
When the deepest principles were taken into account, Groen van Prinsterer saw a certain connec­tion between liberalism and socialism. All these currents were connected by their proceeding from autonomous man. In certain aspects Groen van Prinsterer was nearest to the conservati­ves. But their refusal of the principles of the Revolution was more from opportunistic motives, than from good principles, as he saw it.
Only by the light of God’s revelation, and by living in that light can we really hold fast to the essential an immuta­ble norms and values for the organisation of society. So we must interpret Groen van Prinsterer’s saying: ‘in our isolated position lies our strength.’ He meant an isolation as Daniel and his three friends in Babel; being in Babel doing with all the talents God gave you your work in Babel but being at the same time a citizen of the new Jerusalem. A Christian intermingles with other people and tries to win them for Christ but realises always that he sees all things in a completely other perspective: the perspective of God’s revelation.
So, Groen van Prinsterer was an advocate of an isolated position in a spiritual sense. He wanted to the meaning and consequences of biblical revelation, not just for personal and ecclesias­tical life, but also for society at large. Groen van Prinste­rer is the father of the formation of Protestant-Christi­an political parties in the Netherlands. For him the formation of Protestant- Christian institutions however was not an aim as such, but a means to win back to whole nation to God and his Word. Against the principles of the Revolution he emphasised the authority of God and his infallible Word.
The French Revolution had started with the declaration of the human rights, and acknowledging God’s rights could only conquer that position. From the history of the Netherlands Groen van Prinsterer pleaded for the Protes­t­ant character of the Dutch nation. Therefore he could also speak about the anti-revolutionary or Christian-historical persuasion. A Christian ought to reject the principles of the French Revolution. The Bible must be his only rule for faith and practice, his guide for all areas of life. A Christian ought also to think along historical lines.