Interview with Evert Jan Broekhuizen

Evert Jan, you’re one of the new doctoral researchers at ETF Leuven working on the exciting new ILSE research projects about ‘technology’ (like you do) and ‘hope’. Could you introduce yourself and share a bit about your background?

Like you said, my name is Evert Jan Broekhuizen, 34 years old. I am married. Together we have three children and live in Zwolle (NL). A year ago I moved here from Dronten, the place where I lived for 25 years and therefore consider my hometown. I am still a little proud of Dronten. It exist due to wonderous Dutch ingenuity that allows us to live on land claimed from the sea (Dronten lays 6 meters below sea-level and is solely dependent on dikes for dry feet). Dronten has a university for applied science that focusses on agriculture. On a bleu Monday I even considered attending the university. However, I believe God called me to study theology. So I did. First in Zwolle (VIAA), thereafter in Kampen (TUK), Apeldoorn (NGP) and finally I did my master in Leuven (ETF). Now I am back in Zwolle, where my theological journey began. But now as an ordained minister in the Nederlandse Gereformeerde Kerken (NGK Zwolle – De Ontmoeting).

You told that you’re a minister in the Netherlands. What drew you to pursue research in theology? Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired this path?

I have a family and therefore always studied part-time, whilst also working part-time in church. What started as a necessary combination between work and study, started to feel like the most ideal situation where I can flourish. I experience that research makes me a better pastor and being a pastor makes me a better researcher. In 2019 I followed a summer colloquium at the ETF about theology and technology, given by dr. Steven van den Heuvel. That week inspired me so profoundly, that technology became the focus of my desire to continue doing research.

Who are some of the theologians or thinkers that have influenced you the most so far, and why?

Egbert Schuurman is a Dutch engineer, philosopher and politician who showed me how much work there is to be done considering the reflection on technology. He also opened my eyes to how our Christian tradition can (and must) contribute to the ongoing dialogue. Henk de Jong is a Dutch theologian that also inspired me. He is an example of how to balance faith, the biblical sciences with whatever is happening in the world and make it fruitful for faith in everyday life. Both Schuurman and De Jong stand in the same neo-Calvinistic tradition that I feel affiliated with.

How do you hope your research might contribute to or impact the field of theology or society in general?

It is my hope that my research will contribute to an ethics of technology that exceeds being a sermon from a pulpit. But instead can influence engineers, Christian and non-Christian alike, to find ways to guide technological developments in a responsible way. I believe that God is the source of our responsibility. With creation God gave human-beings the initial command to make life flourish on earth and so bring glory to its Creator. I want to respond to that initial calling and contribute to it through research.

Outside of your academic work, what hobbies or interests do you have that help you maintain a work-life balance?

Luckily working in the church and doing research is a blessing, as it leaves little time for extensive hobbies. However I do like to play games, read and take time to speak with the people I hold close. Twice a week I exercise. But that is more necessary care for myself, than an actual hobby.

(photo by Rozina Schouten)

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