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Tussen modernisme en rechts-modernisme: de remonstrantse gemeente te Haarlem (1901-1939).

By I Leng Tan


The purpose of this master thesis is to describe the theological development and religious convictions of the Remonstrantse Broederschap, i.e., the Remonstrants, in Haarlem during 1901-1939. This is the period of the vicariate of Antonie Hendrik Haentjes ((1876-1968) and includes the turn from modernism to right-modernism of the Remonstrants. \ud The Remonstrants denomination has been founded in 1619 out of a conflict between orthodox Calvinists and the followers of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). The roots of the conflict were the issues of Predestination, the creed and the relation between the church and the government. But the conflict also had a political background as the group of Arminius had support from Johannes van Oldenbarnevelt, the Grand Pensionary, (1547-1619), while the orthodox Calvinists had Maurits (1567-1625), prince of Orange since 1618 and stadtholder of several regions. The political issues were the difference in opinions about the foreign policy and the future configuration of the Republic. \ud After the death of Arminius, Johannes Uytenbogaert (1557-1644) took over the leadership. In 1610 he presented, on behalf of forty-four kindred spirits, a remonstrance (hence the name) to the Estates of Holland, comprising five articles of religion. The remonstrants, with Simon Episcopius (1583-1643) as their spokesman, lost their case at the church assembly held in Dordrecht in 1619 and were banned to the Southern Netherlands. There, in Antwerp, thirty-eight remonstrants founded the Remonstrantse Broederschap. In their constitution freedom en tolerance are important issues. \ud With Antwerp as basis of operation, remonstrants churches were founded in the Northern Netherlands. Probably, there have been Remonstrants in Haarlem as early as from the beginning, but 1619 has been assumed as the year of foundation of a Remonstrant denomination in Haarlem. In 1670, the denomination had about 95 members. Their history in the period between the first decades of their foundation and the second half of the nineteenth century is no head in this thesis. \ud The history of the Remonstrantse Broederschap is continued in the period of modernism. Around 1840, theology in the Netherlands was divided in three theological movements. These were the Old-Liberalism (or Rational Supranaturalism), the Groninger School and the orthodox theology of the Réveil. They can be considered to have paved the road for modern theology which started in 1840, according to K.H. Roessingh (1886-1925). This remonstrant theologian is considered to be the systematicus and historian of modernism in the Netherlands. The period of 1800-1848 was the time in which theologians tried to form principles for this new theology as now theology was seen and should be dealt with as a science like the exact sciences (as physics, mechanics, chemistry, etc., ). J.H. Scholten (1811-1885) together with A. Kuenen (1828-1891) in Leiden en C.W. Opzoomer (1821-1892) in Utrecht, can be considered to be the founders of modern theology. The major issues were intellectualism, optimism and monism. In modern theology the current idea of Christianity could not be held up anymore against modern rational and scientific thinking. It had to be linked to the modern culture to sustain Christian belief. The modern man was now critical towards the Christianity of the bible, and the doctrine and moral of the church. Modern theology set in from about 1850 with three important questions at issue in the field of the Old and New Testament disciplines and the science of religion. They concerned the place of the bible in the religious doctrine and the position of Christianity with respect to other religions. The important historic-critical studies of the Tuebinger school found their way in the Netherlands in 1847. It resulted in the idea of the relativity and the historical limitation of Christianity which now had to be considered to be a religious phenomenon to be studied as object of the comparative sciences of religion. \ud Around 1855, a moderate orthodox course was followed in the Remonstrantse Broederschap with several theological movements. Three events changed this into a modern course. Firstly, the seminary was relocated from Amsterdam to the modern bastion of Leiden in 1872 under the new professoriate of C.P Tiele (1830-1902), one of the first modern vicars of the Remonstrantse Broederschap. Secondly, the acknowledgement of groups of reformed church-members in Arnhem and Groningen as Remonstrants denominations. And thirdly, the change in the General Regulation in 1879 together with the formulation of a modern constitution. The direct bond with the bible is not considered to exist anymore as it can not longer be considered the indubitable source for religion. Further, the word ‘denomination’ is changed into ‘association focused on religion’ which was not bound to the out-of-date forms as christening and the Lord’s Supper. This choice for modern theology resulted in an increase in number of church-members from 2,653 in the year 1845 to over 17,000 in 1919, mainly due to the switch of modern reformed church-members. To the opinion of the Remonstrantse Broederschap, being remonstrants was now considered equally to being modern.\ud But around 1870 a division in opinion got its way among the modern theologians. This had its origin in the breaking of the theological unity, scepticism against the rights and significance of the church and the malaise in the parishes. Towards 1880 there were two groups: the conservatives (related to old-liberalism) and the radicals (related to the modern theology). But from 1890 on, disappointment in science, education and preaching made its way. At the change to the twentieth century the idea that education could change mankind and world for the better was disturbed in literature, arts of design and philosophy. A renewed interest for religion and faith developed as an opposition against the intellectualism, the optimism and the monism of modernism. The first new groups were the so-called mystic youngers and the ethical moderns. The latter opposed against the ‘reasoner-theologians’ from Scholten, the deathly clasp of the modern worldly contemplation and doubt in the authority of science. In 1904, among the modern theologians, a group of so-called malcontenten stands up and declares to be against a common creed but for the maintenance of modernism. For them the essence of religion is redemption. There are three differences between the modernists and the malcontenten. The latter considers firstly that sin is unholiness rather than a prerequisite for development. Secondly, piety and worship are to be the issues and not moral preaching. And thirdly, that there was no want for a vague form of religiousness but for a clear, living religion. But the old-modernists placed the malcontenten in the corner of orthodoxy. In 1912 the remonstrant G.J. Heering (1879-1955) proposes to change the name malcontenten into right-modernists and old-modernists into left-modernists. In fact the malcontenten was a larger movement than the right-modernists. Roessingh and Heering, both former students of P.D. Chantepie de la Saussaye (1848-1939) are considered to be systematici of the right-modernism. \ud The story of the Remonstrants Broederschap in Haarlem is picked up again in 1901 with the superannuation of Bruno Tideman Jzn (1837-1908), a modern vicar. He had served the Remonstrants Reformed parish from 1878 tot 1901 in which period a new church has been built in 1887. The young Haentjens from Meppel was ordained in September 1901 as the new modern vicar. The parish flourishes in the first year of his vicariate, partly due to the switch of modern reformed church-members to the modern Remonstrants Broederschap. Around the end of 1904 and the beginning of 1905 the church-committee has noticed that in his preaching Haentjens does not use terms according to modern principles. His preaching at Eastern morning April 30 in 1905 is the limit for the church-committee. He preaches that ‘The Lord has truly arisen’ according to Luke 24:24, which is considered to be orthodox. It is the start of a conflict which is discussed in this thesis elaborately as the important issue of the constitution of the Remonstrantse Broederschap of freedom and tolerance is at stake. The opinion of the committee of Remonstrantse Broederschap and its professor remain unclear in the conflict. The conclusion is that the essence of the conflict for the church-committee was that Haentjens was a modern vicar as he was presumed to be according to the modernism of the Remonstrantse Broederschap. In doing so the church-committee did not handle according to the first article of their constitution. But now curiosity comes in as what, if not modern nor orthodox, the theological school of Haentjens would be in 1905. It has not been mentioned during the conflict. \ud It appears that Haentjens, together with his friends P. Tideman (1871-1943) and Gustaaf A. van den Berg van Eysinga (1874- 1957), is one of the few followers of Bolland, the so-called. Hegelians and Bollandians. Only with some knowledge of the ideas of the genius Bolland (which are difficult to follow) the Christology and the use of words of Haentjens can be understood. According to Hegel all existence originates from the idea, called Spirit. If the traditional Christian theology is considered to be a thesis, the antireligious thinking of the Enlightenment is its antithesis. Thesis and antithesis will reconcile to a higher plan which is Hegel’s philosophy. For theology this means that God the Father, the Creator is considered to be the thesis with the death of the Son as antithesis. The resurrection of Christ, the Spirit and the congregation thus form the synthesis of the creation and the cross. After Hegel’s death his followers could be divided in so-called left- and right-Hegelians with the latter seeing Hegel as conservative and Christian as possible. In this view Haentjens can be considered to be a right-Hegelian. \ud Bolland taught his students about the rational truth of Christianity, the doctrines of orthodoxy, the trinity and the original sin. Reasonableness was the issue and within this reasonableness religion had its own place and is thus considered to be a full-fledged humanity science. The alienation of man from God due to the original sin was neutralized by the incarnation of God in the person of Christ. In Christ God and mankind have become one, according to Bolland. He considered Christianity to be the religion of the pure reasonableness but it was at the point of death due to non-philosophical, enlightened vicars. To Bolland’s opinion vicars should use more dogmatic formulas of original sin and atonement in their preaching, if necessary with the use of allegory. Further, he advised vicars to use doctrines with ‘a double accent’ that is preaching with mentioning of the eternal truth, and the conformity between what the vicars mean and the meaning of the historic Christianity is made understandable.\ud This is what Haentjens did in his parish but it appeared that it made him a not so popular preacher as his preaching was considered to be difficult to under stand. Haentjens was influenced by the Christology of Bolland in which the living, symbolic Christ is important. The writings in the New Testament ascribed to John ascribed were favourite to Haentjes due to the Logos –idea and the philosophically mystic contemplation. As he explains to his parish: parables were considered to be merely explanations of Evangelic truth. Allegories, however, contain a kind of artificial form of Evangelic truth and can only be understood by initiation. The truth is implied in two- or threefold meanings. An example is given using John 2:14-22. With the cleaning of the temple John means in fact the cleaning of three temples: the one in Jerusalem, the body of Jesus and the glorified body of Jesus which is living on in the congregation. But John has written it like that so that the congregation will believe that Jesus is the incarnation of God and that by belief they will have eternal life. Further, this Johannine belief, described as ‘spirit and love’ is also perfect but no intellectual knowledge. It is based on the miracle as well as it knows to recognize the eternal truth in the miracle.\ud It must be said that Haentjens Hegelian and Bollandian background was a problem for his fellow theologians. He writes two books about dogmatics of which the Introduction into dogmatics (1934) receives a lot of critic as ideas of Hegel and Bolland form mainly the basis of the book. His theological ideas are not current anymore and he is in an isolated position among theologians in the Netherlands. Under Roessingh and Heering the Remonstrantse Broederschap had made a turn from modernism to right-modernism. However, Haentjens does not make this turn and sticks to his Hegelian and Bollandian doctrines. When Haentjens retires in 1939 a memorable period in the history of the Remonstrants in Haarlem has come to an end

Topics: Godgeleerdheid, Remonstrantse Broederschap, modernism, theology, Haarlem, Haentjens, Bolland, Hegel, Tideman
Year: 2008
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