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HTS Theological Studies

On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Print version ISSN 0259-9422

Herv. teol. stud. vol.64 n.3 Pretoria Jul./Sep. 2008





Van Ruler, A A 2007 - Verzameld Werk, deel I: De aard van de theologie (Besorgd door Dr D van Keulen)
Publisher: Uitgeverij Boekencentrum
Reviewer: Dr J P (Kobus) Labuschagne (University of Pretoria)

Arnold Albert van Ruler (1908-1970) is regarded by many as one of the three great Dutch "Hervormde" (Reformed) theologians of the 20th century - that is together with O Noordmans and KH Miskotte. It is his theological depth and insight, his widely accepted theological influence and his whole-hearted involvement in church-life that earned him this high regard. In spite of contemporary postmodern disinterest in systematic theology, many still admire and appreciate Van Ruler for his kind of theology that is deeply rooted in the tradition of the catholica - the Christian church through the centuries - and more specifically the Reformed tradition with is origin in the 16th century Reformation.

As a result of what can be seen as an ongoing interest in Van Ruler's work and additionally even as a renewed interest in the works of Van Ruler, a group of concerned scholars in 2005 finally decided that Van Ruler's work should be recompiled and published. Dr Dirk van Keulen was appointed as editor and he was assisted by a commission, which included the following members: Dr WJ van Asselt, Dr P van den Heuvel and Drs J Stelwagen. De Aard van de Theologie is the first of 7 volumes, and was published in July 2007. The others, which are to follow in due

course, are:

Volume 2: Openbaring en Heilige Skrif
Volume 3: God, schepping, mens, zonde
Volume 4: Christus, de Geest en het heil
Volume 5: Kerk, sacramenten en de laaste dingen
Volume 6: Cultuur, samelewing, onderwys, politiek
Volume 7: Reformatie, oecumene en gesprek met anderen

Volume 1 - De Aard van de Thelogie - has a lengthy introduction of 54 pages and deals with the "nature of theology". The book of 550 pages comprises 4 parts:

(i) University and science - This part gives an insight into Van Ruler's understanding of university and science, and focuses on an explanation of truth and on the presuppositions for scientific study.

(ii) Theological science - This part includes his views on the relationship of science and faith, his views on the relationship of philosophy and theology (which clearly shows Karl Barth's influence), his views on the methodology of dogmatics, his teachings on the importance of a Trinitarian theology (which reflects his connections with the Reformation), his emphasis on Christocentricity, and his explanations concerning science in theology (in which his deviation from Barth comes to the fore).

(iii) The study of theology - This part includes some unknown Van Ruler-texts, which reflect on the place theology takes in the university context, and also explain his understanding of and preference for the duplex ordo structure of the theological faculties at the universities of Utrecht, Leiden, Groningen and Amsterdam. The duplex ordo system is known for the distinction it makes between scientific disciplines and church subjects in theological studies.

(iv) Theology 1930-1970 - In this section the attention is drawn to the status of theological science and theological studies in the Dutch culture from 1930 to 1970, and also to new questions and developments in theology.

The book is important and recommended for the understanding of Dutch Reformed theology in the 20th century, and is certainly a valuable contribution. Van Ruler was indeed one of the great Dutch theologians of the 20th century.

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