Saturday, October 10

Kuyperian Renaissance

Abraham Kuyper was one of the most remarkable men of the twentieth century. A true poly math, the Dutch statesman made his mark as a pastor, theologian, journalist, educator, orator, publisher, politician, and reformer.

He was born in 1837, just seven years after Belgium and the Netherlands separated. Though his pious family background, quiet rural community, and meager local schooling combined to afford him only very humble resources, he was a bright student and was early on marked out for great things. He attended the university at Leiden and quickly demonstrated an aptitude for serious scholastic work.

Following his postgraduate work, he pastored a succession of churches—first in Beesd, then in Utrect, and finally in Amsterdam. He became the leader of the theological conservatives who were working hard to hold at bay the encroachments of modernists and liberals.

By 1872, he had begun publishing a daily newspaper, De Standaard. He was already the editor of the inspirational monthly magazine, De Heraut. In addition, he had founded a new legal organization to protect the concerns of private Christian schools and had spearheaded the reorganization of the political conservatives into the Anti-Revolutionary Party. He was elected to the lower assembly and quickly became the leading exponent and spokesman for spiritual orthodoxy, fiscal restraint, and judicial tradition.

As if all these activities were not enough, he continued the serious academic research he had begun at the university, he wrote a flurry of books, pamphlets, and broadsides, and he managed a heavy speaking schedule at home and abroad. In later years he would also establish the Free University of Amsterdam, give vision and direction to the new Dutch Reformed Church, and lead a coalition government as the Prime Minister. He was a genuine renaissance man in every respect.

He first entered politics as a member of the lower chamber of the Dutch legislature, at the head of a new Conservative and Christian coalition party. After breaking with the national church and forming the Free Reformed Church in 1886, he united the Calvinist and Catholic parties and in 1901 formed a reformed Christian Conservative ministry, serving as minister of the interior until 1905 and Prime Minister until 1907. He served in the upper house of the legislature from 1913 to 1920.

Beginning on this day in 1898, he gave an influential series of lectures at Princeton University in New Jersey in which he developed the idea of a comprehensive and universal Christian woldview—rooted in the Reformation doctrines pf Calvinism. Before his death in 1920, he was able to successfully mobilize the ordinary citizens of the great Dutch nation to do the difficult work of societal transformation—through the consistent application of the Christian worldview he so articulately espoused.


Unknown said...

And those speeches resulted in the Calvinistic classic LECTURES ON CALVINISM, which is the foundational work for every book since then that has furthered the idea of a Christian Worldview (which Kuyper called a World and Life System). Kuyper has many spiritual children and grandchildren, and I am one of them and so are you....

gileskirk said...

Ben: Indeed we are! Thanks be to God!

D Patrick Cassidy said...

And ironically AK remains under attack from many quarters within the Reformed world today. Claiming a renewed dedication to 'the spirituality of the Church', Kuyper's critics offer a Church which appears (to me) to be ahistorical and even deeply gnostic and platonic. I thank God for Kuyper and all his work has meant to so many. May he adopt many more sons!

Wallace said...

My husband would like a biography of Kuyper - do you have any suggestions?

Always enjoy your blog.

gileskirk said...

Wallace: The one I most often recommend is "God's Renaissance Man: Abraham Kuyper," by James Edward McGoldrick.