What Hath W-w Wrought?

One of our southern correspondents sent us this, which must be causing some embarrassment to Grand Rapidian neo-Calvinists:

After graduating from high school in 1975, Betsy [DeVos] enrolled at Calvin College, her mother’s alma mater. Calvin’s mission, as stated in the 1975–1976 course catalog, was “to prepare students to live productive lives of faith to the glory of God in contemporary society—not merely lives that have a place for religion … but lives which in every part, in every manifestation, in their very essence, are Christian.”

Once w-w is out of the bottle, gate keepers can’t control the gate. W-w can go Left or Right. The neo-Calvinist with the most money decides seemingly:

The DeVos family is Dutch, thoroughly so. All four of Richard DeVos’ grandparents emigrated from the Netherlands, and today, the family continues to observe the tenets of the Christian Reformed Church, a Calvinist denomination. Calvinism believes in predestination—that God has decided whether our souls are saved before we are born—and emphasizes an “inner worldly asceticism” in its practitioners. Historically, in avoiding ostentatious displays of wealth, Calvinist Protestants have instead turned their economic gains into savings and investments. One of the bedrock texts of sociology, Max Weber’s 1905 Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, is expressly about the links between Calvinism and economic success. (“In the place of the humble sinners to whom Luther promises grace if they trust themselves to God in penitent faith,” Weber wrote, “are bred those self-confident saints whom we can rediscover in the hard Puritan merchants of the heroic age of capitalism.”)

In this, Dick and Betsy DeVos’ familial roots serve as an object example. Dick is the eldest son of Richard DeVos, who co-founded Amway in 1959, and grew it from a meager soap factory into a multinational colossus with $9.5 billion in annual sales, enlisting his children to manage and expand the company. Betsy hails from a dynasty of her own. In 1965, her father, Edgar Prince, founded a small manufacturing company that came to be worth more than $1 billion on the strength of Prince’s automotive innovations, which include the pull-down sun visor with a built-in light-up vanity mirror.

Not to mention, that Christian day schools become a threat to public schools (the CRC beats the RCA):

In the 1960s and ’70s, Ed and Elsa Prince advanced God’s Kingdom from the end of a cul-de-sac just a few miles from Lake Michigan. There, they taught their four children—Elisabeth (Betsy), Eileen, Emilie and Erik—a deeply religious, conservative, free-market view of the world, emphasizing the importance of self-reliance and sending them to private schools that would reinforce the values they celebrated at home, small-government conservatism chief among them. . . .

In 2001, Betsy DeVos spoke at “The Gathering,” an annual meeting of some of America’s wealthiest Christians. There, she told her fellow believers about the animating force behind her education-reform campaigning, referencing the biblical battlefield where the Israelites fought the Philistines: “It goes back to what I mentioned, the concept of really being active in the Shephelah of our culture—to impact our culture in ways that are not the traditional funding-the-Christian-organization route, but that really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run by changing the way we approach things—in this case, the system of education in the country.”

Dick DeVos, on stage with his wife, echoed her sentiments with a lament of his own. “The church—which ought to be, in our view, far more central to the life of the community—has been displaced by the public school,” Dick DeVos said. “We just can think of no better way to rebuild our families and our communities than to have that circle of church and school and family much more tightly focused and built on a consistent worldview.”

I understand that Right neo-Calvinists find private schools reassuring, the antithesis and all. But Left neo-Calvinists don’t have the stomach for such partisanship.

Will the real neo-Calvinism stand up? Calvin and the CRC or their daughter, Betsy DeVos? Faced with that choice, the spirituality of the church looks pretty appealing.

10 thoughts on “What Hath W-w Wrought?

  1. But… “she is not a member of a Reformed Church. She is, in fact, a member of Mars Hill Bible Church, founded by Rob Bell. Smith explained that DeVos is a member of the Christian Reformed Church, regarded by some evangelicals as liberal (his language) and that she does not question the separation of church and state.”

    I’ve also heard that she was head of the ELDERS board when Bell left.



  2. From link:
    “As secretary, it’s likely DeVos will pursue a national expansion of school choice and charters. “
    “There’s no failed policy more in need of urgent change than our government-run education monopoly,”
    I do believe they have a deep-seated belief in quality education for all children,” says Matuzak.


  3. I believe Dick and Betsy, at one time, were members of a large CRC in downtown Grand Rapids. Being politically minded, going to Mars Hill was a likely a strategic move to add more millennials to their sphere of influence.

    “There, they taught their four children—Elisabeth (Betsy), Eileen, Emilie and Erik—a deeply religious, conservative, free-market view of the world…”

    Erik Prince is the founder of the former mercenary group “Blackwater”, which has been and is currently in hot water for murdering civilians in Iraq, and for money laundering.


  4. Indeed, faced with these choices the Spirituality of the Church is very appealing.
    But hey, you have to hand it to them …from soap and car visor sales to power brokers.
    Go Diamond baby, go Diamond!!!!


  5. As we all knew, w-w has its own orthodoxy (and it’s not the Three Forms of Unity):

    Thousands of alumni of DeVos’ alma mater, the private Christian liberal arts school Calvin College in Grand Rapids, recently signed a letter opposing her nomination, and a number of prominent Christians and Christian publications have written or spoken out against her. A faith-based Washington advocacy organization sent a petition to Trump and DeVos asking them to consider Matthew 25 in the Bible, when Jesus enjoins his followers to care for “the least of these.”


  6. For some reason, DeVos’ Dutchness isn’t muchness:

    Other evangelicals worry that as some in their faith community become more socially liberal, DeVos will set them back. Calvin College alumna Sara Moslener—a religion professor at Central Michigan University who no longer considers herself evangelical but still has deep ties in the community—wrote the January 23 alumni letter opposing DeVos. She did so, she told me, because DeVos’ nomination reminded her of the religious right’s heyday as a powerful force in American politics. “I suddenly feel like I’m 15 years old again … and Jerry Falwell is in charge of everything,” Moslener says, a reference to the fundamentalist powerbroker (and father of Jerry Falwell Jr.) who was also president of Liberty University himself. Moslener’s letter ended up with more than 2,700 signatures—many of them from younger alumni, she says: “Their generation has reacted against what Betsy DeVos represents.”


  7. When was “Jerry Falwell…in charge of everything”? What world are these wokevangelicals living in? The Gospel Allies are going have tons of fun dealing with their left vanguard in the coming years.


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