Some of Calvin Seminary's academic programs require the completion of a thesis or dissertation. Hekman Library provides access to electronic versions of these resources. The Seminary's Master of Theology (ThM) program is a post-MDiv/post-MTS program designed for advanced study and academic research in a specialized area of the theological curriculum. The program provides the opportunity to extend one's education in a particular field or to prepare for doctoral-level work through a one- to two-year program with a capstone thesis or a major research paper.


CTS ThM Theses from 2021


A Reexamination of Deborah as Prophet and Judge, Brandy Scritchfield

This study aims to set aside gender concerns related to Deborah and the interpretation of Judges 4–5 in order to determine if a clearer portrait emerges of Deborah as a prophet, a judge, or both without gender issues obscuring the picture. Chapter 1 provides a representative summary of Deborah’s interpretive history, which establishes how gender has been historically and incorrectly used as the primary interpretive key for understanding Deborah and other key parts of Judg 4–5. Chapter 2 discusses Deborah’s role as a judge and determines the text supports identifying her with this title, and chapter 3 does the same for Deborah’s role as a prophet. As a result of chapters 2–3, Deborah’s role as a prophet is seen solving many of the interpretive challenges of the text in Judges 4–5. In conclusion, this study claims while Deborah was certainly a woman, the preoccupation with her gender of...

CTS ThM Theses from 2016


Herman Bavinck between scholastic and modern psychology: toward a "reformed psychology.", Joohyun Kim

Bavinck completed his first psychology book, Principles of Psychology (Beginselen der Psychologie, 1897) in the middle of his theological writings from his interaction with the nineteenth century psychologies. In 1920, Bavinck published another psychology book entitled Biblical and Religious Psychology (Bijbelsche en Religieuze Psychologie) on the basis of solid exegesis and biblical principles. In Principles of Psychology, Bavinck intended that his psychological principles would be as worthy as the empirical psychology of his day. Kuyper also stressed the doctrinal value of faculty psychology to Bavinck’s first psychology book in his review. Yet, these two psychology books were virtually neglected both in the field of psychology and in Reformed anthropology. What is more, scholars like Hepp and Jaarsma demonstrated that in his later years Bavinck rejected the scholastic faculty psych...


Hebel' in Ecclesiastes : Abel as symbol referent, Gregory R. Vruggink

This work contends that Abel should be considered as a possible referent for hebel in some contexts in the book of Ecclesiastes. The attempt to rightly understand the usage of hebel has employed several translation philosophies, but the theory of hebel in Ecclesiastes as a metaphor functioning with multiple referents best explains the variety and complexity of its usage in Ecclesiastes. This thesis contends that Abel should be considered an additional referent in cases where the usage of hebel is framed by the concepts of death and transience, a relationship which is made stronger in nearby allusions to Gen 1-4 in Ecclesiastes.


CTS ThM Theses from 2015


Magic and Christianity in the acts of the apostles: the confrontation., Chandra Han

Magic is an intriguing topic in the New Testament but compared to other topics of discussion in New Testament Studies, the significance of the theme of magic has been unjustly undermined as indicated by David E.Aune. From the all eight occurrences of magic in the New Testament, four are found in the Acts of the Apostles. Therefore, the Acts of the Apostles is the most significant source to understand magic. The purpose of this thesis is to figure out the understanding of magic and Christianity in the Acts of the Apostles. Since Christianity flourished in the Greco-Roman era, the understanding of magic with its practices in the Greco-Roman era is significant in order to enlighten the serious confrontation between magic and Christianity in the Acts of the Apostles. The discovery of the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM: Papyri Graecae Magicae) has evidenced the practices of magic which is evil ...


Do not strike hands in pledge: comparative perspectives on surety for debt in Proverbs., Doren G. Snoek

Six proverbs on surety for debt present unique difficulties for interpreters of the Hebrew Bible. Because surety for debt is only occasionally mentioned, the inner-biblical data is hard-pressed to resolve the many differences of opinion. There is a large body of primary texts from the ancient Near East that indicates that surety was a widespread practice in a vast historical period. There is also a large body of secondary literature focused on these texts. The primary and secondary literature is sufficiently robust as to warrant a closer look from biblical scholars. This thesis argues that the extra-biblical texts elucidate the proverbs and presents a methodological framework by which the two sets of evidence may be compared. The bodies of evidence are large and similar enough to warrant a contextual method that assumes a common historical background. Both the proverbs and the ancient...


Elements of cultic prophecy in Psalm 75., Nielsen A. Tomazini

This work defends the thesis that Psalm 75 is the result of the participation of cult prophets in the worship of Israel. We argue that Gunkel’s form critical method and Mowinckel’s cult functional approach provides the necessary features to satisfactory explain the switches in speakers and addressees in this psalm. Additionally, we conclude that cultic prophecy is a valid approach to interpret the so-called “prophetic psalms” in the Psalter and, consequently, to interpret Psalm 75. In search for more arguments in defense of our thesis we use 2 Chronicles 20 as an example of the participation of prophets in a cultic situation in ancient Israel as well as Harry P. Nasuti’s distinction between quoted and unquoted divine speech. After that we apply different exegetical methods in order to execute a close reading of Psalm 75 and thus we substantiate that the unquoted divine speeches in its...

CTS ThM Theses from 2014


The liturgical use of spiritual gifts: discerning next steps in contextual Nigerian practice., Emmanuel Saba Bileya

The use of spiritual gifts is a blessing to the Church today, especially when it functions within the liturgical forms in a worship service. Specifically, the liturgical use of spiritual gifts is a great benefit for the edification of both the mainline and the Pentecostal churches. In Nigeria, the use of spiritual gifts is significantly contextual to the African world view. Some Nigerian theologians suggest that the compatibility of spiritual gifts to the African world view is one of the main factors that contributes to the fast growth of Pentecostal and charismatic churches in Africa. Due to its compatibility with the African world view, charismata has gradually gained acceptance into the mainline churches in Nigeria. The problem is that while the mainline churches refrain from the practice of spiritual gifts in their gatherings and thereby face the consequence, the Pentecostals enga...


God of Friendship: Herman Hoeksema's Unconditional Covenant Conception., Ronald L. Cammenga

This thesis is a study of the doctrine of the covenant of grace as developed by the Protestant Reformed theologian Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965). In the thesis I will focus particularly on Hoeksema's teaching that the covenant of grace is unconditional, both in its establishment and its maintenance. I will demonstrate that already in the early 1920s, while yet a minister in the Christian Reformed Church, Hoeksema's understanding of the covenant was impacted by his convictions concerning election. Throughout his lifetime Hoeksema never wavered from his fundamental view of the covenant of grace in its relationship to God's sovereign, gracious decree of election. Hoeksema formulated his views already in the early years of his ministry, especially in connection with his writing for the rubric "Our Doctrine" in the periodical of the Christian Reformed Church, the Banner. Hoeksema served as e...


A critical examination of Justin Ukpong's inculturation hermeneutics., Matthew Lanser

The interpretation of the Bible in Africa is a broad and rapidly developing field, and also one that has attracted relatively little attention in the academy. While Justin’s Ukpong’s theory and method of biblical interpretation has generated significant discussion in the field, this study offers the first broad, critical examination of the internal coherence of Ukpong’s inculturation hermeneutics and of its broader usefulness for the theory and practice of interpreting the Bible in Africa. I begin by describing the assumptions, method, and practice of Ukpong’s inculturation hermeneutics. I proceed by using Schreiter’s criteria for contextual theologies to evaluate the coherence of Ukpong’s theory, method, and practice of biblical interpretation, and to assess the usefulness of his method and practice. While Ukpong’s theory and practice are largely consistent, his model would benefit f...


"The Loved One Does Not Yet Know All She Shall Become": mysticism as eschatology in medieval writers., John C. Medendorp

New developments in the study of Western Christian mysticism demand that the mystics be interpreted theologically if we are to accept the mystics on their own terms and take them seriously. This study argues that the medieval mystics in Europe up to the 13th century understand their work to be eschatological in nature, interpreting the mystical experience of union with the Divine as an inbreaking or foretaste of the eschaton. Reading Hadewijch of Antwerp, a 13th century Dutch mystic, together with contributions from Augustine of Hippo, Bernard of Clarivaux, and Hildegard of Bingen, this study attempts to demonstrate that the medievals understand the eschatological promise of the visio dei to be a reality already accomplished through the work of Christ, a reality which is thus assured in the life to come and accessible in some limited sense to individuals in this life. The mystical exp...

CTS ThM Theses from 2013


Christ and the clue of history: Lesslie Newbigin's Christocentric philosophy of history as the central thread of his thought., Kyle Brooks

As early as his 1941 Bangalore Lectures, “The Kingdom of God and the Idea of Progress,” Newbigin took a hard look directly at history itself and its various interpreters. In those four lectures at the age of 32, Newbigin laid the foundation for all of his critical theological thinking for the next half century. While Newbigin scholarship is still relatively fresh, it appears that expositors of his work have neglected a, if not the, central motif in his immense corpus: his philosophy of history. I will attempt provide a systematic account of Newbigin’s incredibly consistent thoughts on the topic of history over the span of more than fifty years, and to show how his epistemology, anthropology, soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology, and missiology find their coherence in this singular vision. Chapter 1 introduces the importance of the topic of history in Newbigin’s life and work as well...


The semantics of Hebrew NA' in the Pentateuch and former prophets., Stephen Kline

Beginning with a discussion of face-based linguistic politeness, this thesis investigates the etymology of the particle נָא as well as its meaning in the Pentateuch and Former Prophets. Though always associated with requests, the function of נָא varies according to its syntactical usage. With the particles הִנָּה and נָא ,אִם indicates that a request is about to be made; the interjections נָא and אַל־נָא are found too rarely to draw certain conclusions, but even in the few attested occurrences, a request follows. With the third-person jussive, נָא indicates that the hearer is being asked to do something, either to engage in an action or to grant permission (redress is offered by the use of the third-person form). With the cohortative, נָא invites input from the hearer, sometimes in the form of permission and sometimes more generally (redress is offered by an appeal to the hearer’s con...


Jeremiah and feelings: a non-identity crisis., Brenda Kronemeijer-Heyink

As indicated by Jeremiah’s title, “the weeping prophet,” the book of Jeremiah is full of a wide range of feelings. The agent of these feelings is not only Jeremiah, but also his community (the people of Judah) and the LORD. These feelings expressed in the book can be seen as part of the prophetic message. In fact, Jeremiah’s feelings are not only his own but are also representative of his community and the LORD. This representational nature of Jeremiah’s feelings is hinted at through the ambiguity of the emotional agent, is shown in the paralleled feelings and incitements thereof for different agents, is displayed through literary means, and is even stated explicitly in the text. These feelings are an integral part of Jeremiah’s prophetic task, in which he represents himself, his community, and the LORD. Responses are given to those who see Jeremiah’s feelings as solely his own or reg...

CTS ThM Theses from 2012


Reexamining the place of public confession of sins in a reformed context., Matthew John Webber

A dangerous tendency plagues the scripturally mandated practice of confession within many mainline Christian churches. The danger is that the theological thrust of the practice has been ignored or compromised in such a way that the manner in which confession is practiced ignores fundamental elements which underlie the need for confession, specifically public confession performed before one's fellow believers. It is especially evident that the confession of one's sins, which once took place in pubic before the ecclesial body, has seen a significant amount of change within the Reformed context. The focus of this essay is to identify the theological reason behind the sinner publically seeking to be reconciled with God and one's faith community, as well as the reason behind public confession as a means through which one may embrace grace and overcome one's sinful behavior. In this work, I...

CTS ThM Theses from 2011


As good as it gets: a review and consideration of "healing prayer", its theological and ministry implications, and the hope for change it evokes., Henry Kranenburg

If healing is possible, and Christian prayer is a means to achieve it, how do Christians 'make it happen'? The answer to this question has had renewed and increasing interest for Christians in Reformed circles (Chapter I). While different healing 'ministries' have claimed to unlock (some aspect) of healing, there has been limited assessment of these ministries in both their methodologies and their claims. This paper reviews four of these ministries, first looking at aspects of their teaching and methodology (Chapter 2). It then reflects on these from a behavioural-psychological perspective by asking a number of questions (Chapter 3) before moving to a behavioural-theological analysis that looks a little more deeply at the foundations, methods and claims of these ministries (Chapter 4). This includes critique of these ministries (weaknesses, lacunae, inconsistencies) but also an recogn...


Kees Van Til als Nederlandse-Amerikaanse, Neo-Calvinistisch-Presbyteriaan apologeticus: an analysis of Cornelius Van Til's presupposition of reformed dogmatics with special reference to Herman Bavinck's Gereformeerde Dogmatiek., Laurence R. O'Donnell III

The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that Cornelius Van Til’s (1895–1987) presupposition of Reformed dogmatics is largely a presupposition of Herman Bavinck’s (1854–1921) Gereformeerde Dogmatiek. The argument proceeds in three steps. First, by situating Van Til’s life and work in the neo-Calvinist intellectual milieu within which he operated throughout his career, the prevailing Copernican interpretation of Van Til’s thought is challenged on the grounds of historical abstraction. Second, his formal, material, and polemical appropriations of Bavinck’s Dogmatiek are analyzed in order to show not only that Van Til appropriates Bavinck’s thought pervasively, but also that his apologetics cannot be properly understood apart from Bavinck’s dogmatics. Third, Van Til’s criticisms of the alleged scholasticism in Bavinck’s thought are analyzed in terms of their originality and their vali...

CTS ThM Theses from 2010


"You alone are God" a canonical reading of Psalm 86., Elizabeth Kao Holmlund

Canonical readings of the biblical psalms have become increasingly popular of late and represent a positive trend away from fragmentation of the Psalter into its "original" and component parts and towards greater recognition of the value of the Psalter's final form and its theology. However, the methods and parameters of a canonical approach to the psalms require further definition. An exegetical methodology incorporating a wide variety of methodological tools alongside a canonical approach was thus proposed and subsequently tested on Psalm 86. The unique features of Psalm 86—its attribution to David (in a book of the Psalter with no other Davidic psalms), its use of language found in many other psalms, and its Exodus-Sinai background—make it a particularly fitting composition to be read in light of other canonical texts. Application of the proposed holistic methodology to the interpr...

CTS ThM Theses from 2009


Grace to You and Peace: An Analysis of the Pauline Letter Openings., João Paulo Thomaz de Aquino

This thesis argues that the Pauline letter opening has an anticipatory function alongside its relational role. This anticipatory function is a development of the epistolary features found in the ancient Greek letter openings. After the introductory chapter, is provided an analysis of form and function of ancient (III BCE to III CE) Greek letter prescripts. Chapters 3 and 4 provide a formal and functional analysis of the Pauline letter prescripts. The conclusion is that the anticipatory function works in two ways in the Pauline letters. First, Paul encapsulates his theology in the expression ‘grace to you and peace’ and uses it in the beginning of his letters, as did Plato and Epicurus who also coined their own greetings to communicate their philosophies. Second, Paul changes elements in the prescripts of all his undisputed letters to anticipate specific themes developed in the letter ...


What the Korean Presbyterian Church can learn from contemporary debates about infant communion among Reformed Christians in North America., Hwa Rang Moon

Can children participate in the Lord’s Supper? This practice was prohibited at the fourth Lateran Council; however, at the end of the 20th century, among Reformed churches in North America and some Europe Churches, debated the validity of infant communion or children’s communion. Is, then, infant communion or children’s communion biblical? What was the practice of the early New Testament church? Can infants or children have faith and enough cognitive ability to discern the body of Christ? Many biblical scholars, systematic theologians, church historians and local church pastors participate in this debate. Both the Christian Reformed Church and Reformed Church in America deal with this theme as their denominational agenda. While studying at Calvin, this theme gave me a great motivation to study worship theology more deeply. I especially came to feel that this study requires interdiscip...

CTS ThM Theses from 2008


A helper of thy faith and joy: Elnathan Parr as a pastoral teacher of predestination in early Stuart England., David H. Kranendonk

This thesis demonstrates that Elnathan Parr‟s (1577-1622) treatment of divine predestination in his homiletical commentary on Romans and in his catechism entitled Grounds of Divinity evidences a pastoral approach in which the scholastic precision characteristic of the era does not lead to speculative aridity but serves positive spiritual purposes. Parr was neither afraid of nor obsessed by this part of the “whole counsel of God.” While his popular teaching incorporated detailed theological argumentation, including an extended examination of the supralapsarian-infralapsarian issue, his concern was to apply this doctrine through multiple types of “uses” to his spiritually diverse readership with the desire they would be led to experience, be assured of, live out of, and glory in God's electing love. The thesis focuses on the early seventeenth-century teaching of predestination as it rel...