Lexi Schnaser—Staff Writer
This year marks the first of many for the Lambertus Verberg Prize for Excellence in Kuyperian Scholarship at Dordt University. The prize, whose winners were announced shortly after spring break, is one of the largest scholarships Dordt students can receive and is funded by an estate gift from Rimmer and Ruth de Vries, in memory of Rimmer’s great-grandfather.
Sophomore Joya Schreurs will receive a $15,000 scholarship for the upcoming school year. Anna Herman, a sophomore and member of the Kuyper Honors Program, will receive $10,000.
The scholarship is available to students of all disciplines and requires a 3,500-4,000-word scholarly essay submission capturing Reformed Theologian Abraham Kuyper’s philosophies, incorporating these ideas with a contemporary issue.
Schreurs, a theology and English major, regularly engages Christian perspectives on contemporary issues. Herman, an accounting major, was familiar with Kuyper through her participation in the Kuyper Honors Program and was excited to have the opportunity to delve deeper into his ideas on a more particular subject through the scholarship opportunity.
Schreurs and Herman, as well as honorable mentions Kara Jasper, Eoghan Holdahl, and Bri Blevins, presented their essays at the Kuyper Conference hosted by Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan in April.
The conference aims to engage Kuyperian theology in contemporary church and culture conversations. At the conference, these Dordt students presented their papers alongside graduate students and notable Reformed scholars. Schreurs and Herman had the opportunity to present a condensed version of their papers to a smaller group of the Dordt community at the end of April. Schreurs also presented at Ideafest.
Schreurs’ essay addresses the sexual abuse crisis in the American Evangelical church and reflects on the idea that a true community requires justice instead of leaders who try to simply “keep the peace.” In Schreurs’ initial research, she came across the following quote from Rachel Den Hollander, an advocate for sexual assault survivors and a survivor herself:
“When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.”
Herman’s essay engaged Kuyper’s thoughts on the lack of interpersonal social engagement that is prevalent in society, primarily due to individualism.
“People have been very welcoming of my topic and are curious to do more research about the implications of my topic, like the role technology can play to either advance or hinder interpersonal engagement,” Herman said. “This is something that I got curious about while researching, and I would like to study it a bit more in depth.”
For many of the participants, their essays have led to further questions and interests to explore within the contemporary church.
“[This paper] has definitely led me into further topics. Obviously, I haven’t exhausted everything on this topic, but it definitely raises new questions,” Schreurs said. “As someone who’s on the pre-seminary track, I want to see how churches, specifically in this area, can work to eradicate the problem of sexual abuse and be proactive against it.”
Donald Roth, professor of criminal justice and co-director of the Kuyper Honors Program, looks forward to seeing how this scholarship opportunity will push students to engage with Kuyper and contemporary issues.
“Our hope is that the Lambertus Verberg Prize serves as a powerful incentive to inspire a younger generation to take hold of and further develop the insights offered by the theological tradition that animates Dordt,” Roth said.