Recently an interesting blog has been started by Dr. Jochem Douma, former professor at the Theological University (TU) in Kampen, seminary of the Gereformeerde Kerken Vrijgemaakt (GKV). Here Dr. Douma expresses his concern about developments in the GKV, particularly at his former seminary.
The prime issue is biblical authority. In 2009 the TU appointed Dr. Stefan Paas as professor. Dr. Paas seems to promote the modern documentary hypothesis, which stipulates that Moses did not write the Pentateuch.
On March 18, 2010 the TU awarded a doctorate to Koert van Bekkum for a dissertation on Joshua. Dr. van Bekkum denies that in Joshua 10 the sun actually stood still or that the day was actually lengthened. According to him, this is just a literary device celebrating a great victory; the story reflects beliefs about the heavenly bodies that we no longer share. Van Bekkum contends that there are other events in the book of Joshua that we cannot accept as historical.
Dr. Douma is justly concerned about the direction of the TU and the GKV.
Nevertheless, one can only wonder how much of this is to be attributed to Dr. Douma himself. In 2004 Dr. Douma published his book Genesis, wherein he declared himself to be open to big bang cosmology and evolution. In 2008 the General Synod of the GKV defended Dr. Douma against the charge that he promoted the Framework Hypothesis view of Genesis 1. According to General Synod, this was within the bounds of Reformed Orthodoxy. In an interview on April 3, 2009 Dr. Douma related that, although he had wanted to read Genesis 1 in a childlike fashion, astronomy with its many lightyears led him to another reading of Genesis 1.
But if modern secular science leads Dr. Douma to embrace a non-literal reading of Genesis 1, how can he object if that same science leads Dr. Van Bekkum to embrace a non-literal reading of Joshua 10? After all, Dr. Douma has already adopted the hermeneutical principle that it is sometimes permissable to let secular science trump the obvious (historical) reading of a biblical text. At issue now is merely the extent of its application. Since Douma advances no definite, biblically justifiable criteria, any limits on the application of this new hermeneutic are purely subjective.
According to the Reformed confessions, the Bible trumps all human writings--including scientific theorizing. Once we let go of that gold standard, as Dr. Douma has, anything goes.
In sum, although Dr. Douma raises valid concerns regarding the direction of the GKV, he would do well to re-examine his own writings and to return to a reading of Genesis consistent with the Reformed confessions. His objections would carry much more weight if they issued forth from a solidly biblical basis.