Kuyperiana

The main headings on this page are:

Each heading is marked by an * for easy location by means of the Find function (control F).


Introduction*

Readers of my publications listed on both the Boeriana and Islamica pages will notice a certain perspective common to all of it. In most cases it is there as background. In some cases it is more explicitly spelled out as in:

This perspective is known to its adherents by various names, the most common ones being "Kuyperianism," "Reformational," and "Neo-Calvinist." It stands in the Calvinist tradition, but is a further development of it pioneered by a movement in The Netherlands initiated by a man called ABRAHAM KUYPER (1837-1920).


What Others Say about Kuyper: Quotes, Stories, Theories*

In the paragraphs below I reproduce what some leading scholars and social activists have said or written about Kuyper.

A. James E. McGoldrick

In his English-language book on Kuyper, Abraham Kuyper: God's Renaissance Man, (Evangelical Press, 2000), author James E. McGoldrick introduces him as follows:

While common people have always been the backbone and mainstay of the church, exceptional leaders such as Augustine of Hippo..., John Wycliffe, Martin Luther and John Calvin have appeared at crucial times to serve their undistinguished brothers and sisters in the faith. Such a champion... appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century when Abraham Kuyper became the dynamic leader of Protestants in the Netherlands.

Kuyper was a person of massive intelligence, immense learning, terrific energy and zealous faith. He... received great adulation from...the working and lower middle classes, many of whom struggled to survive economically and few of whom could afford a higher education. Throughout his long career as a pastor, journalist, educator and political leader, Kuyper maintained close contact with the common people and communicated with them effectively, even though he was far above them in intellect and formal learning (pp. 7-8).

Goldrick's list of heroes is hardly exhaustive and should certainly have included Thomas Aquinas, but the position he ascribes to Kuyper is clear. He may not be as well-known in English-speaking culture, but that is because of language problems, not because he does not deserve to be there.


B. Charles Colson

Colson was a powerful White House personality who was involved in Nixon's Watergate and landed in prison. His prison experience led him to become a Christian and, before his death, he became a major national spokesman in the US for the Christian community with his radio programme Breakpoint and his Prison Fellowship campaign. He was a popular speaker. I have witnessed him waving Kuyper's Stone Lectures, delivered at Princeton University over a century ago, before his audiences as containing the seed perspective needed for the healing of America. In the Introduction to Colson's A Dangerous Grace we read,

"The great Dutch Calvinist Abraham Kuyper said the battle facing Christians today is between comprehensive life systems--in which principle must bear witness against principle, worldview against worldview, spirit against spirit."

This is the burden of Colson's writings: to develop a bibilically-grounded worldview. The name Kuyper occurs throughout his books. The development of a Biblical worldview was/is a major concern in both Kuyper's writings (Kuyperiana) and my own (Boeriana).


C. Robert Butler

Robert Butler is an Afro-American who sought for a perspective or platform from which to launch a ministry in the inner city. After a long search he settled on the Kuyperian perspective. He explained, "I found the Kuyperian model to be exactly what I was looking for." (Calvin Mosaic, Spring 2000).


D. Richard Lovelace

A much-published American authority on revivals and spirituality. In a recent lecture on Kuyper, he pleaded that Christians should pray for 500 Kuypers with his intellect and Spirit-filled mind.


E. H. Evan Runner

This Irish-German American philosopher who died in March, 2002, wrote the following some decades ago:

After nineteen centuries of history the Church is here for the first time in possession of a worked-out theoretical accounting of the world of culture and of the Christian's relation to it.


F. Joel Carpenter

Joel Carpenter, formerly of Pew Foundation and now at Calvin College, has outlined the way this school of thought is influencing Christian higher education throughout North America and producing leading scholars. It is a world-affirming perspective that is as wide as life itself. As Carpenter put it:

Kuyper's solution to the problem of competing worldviews in his native Netherlands was to embrace pluralism and to emphasize the value-laden, commitment-driven nature of knowledge. He reasoned that people quite naturally formed communities of the like-minded that shared a singular view of reality, a distinctive pattern for living and a socio-political agenda. A just society would recognize this social, intellectual and religious pluralism and encourage the various communities to negotiate the common good.

Likewise, Kuyper insisted, one's knowledge of the world was inevitably coloured and shaped by one's prior commitments-most fundamentally, religious commitments-concerning the nature of reality. Knowing was never value-free; science could not be completely objective. Scientific naturalism thus had no claim to a privileged position over against other worldviews.

Kuyper was not calling for the fragmentation of public life, however. Given God's common grace, he argued, there would be much overlap in human's efforts to understand nature and humanity, and thus opportunities for conversation, debate and negotiation, both in learning and politics. Yet the social-intellectual and religious differences that drove outlooks and agendas were real, and they should not be forced into unitary national establishments, whether religious, intellectual or political. Various communities of faith and values could play public roles, yet not feel compelled to choose between domination, accommodation or withdrawal. They would have the social and intellectual space to work out their particular convictions, but would retain the right to put their ideas into play on an equal basis. (For further details go to my Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations, vol. 1, pp. 16-24, as listed in my Bibliography on the Islamica page of this website.)


G. Isaac Mutua

During a 2011 international conference dealing with the Kuyperian perspective, the Kenyan scholar Isaac Njaramba Mutua said,

What touched me was the heartfelt desire and the wholehearted determination to establish a relationship between faith with all sectors of life and society. This rich… (Kuyperian) tradition in which… Christians everywhere are interested, as this conference clearly indicated, contains the challenge to develop and protect….

This has forced me into the…work of Herman Dooyeweerd…. Others who have motivated me include Naugle, Plantinga, Goheen and Bartholomew, Wilkens and Sanford’s, Sunshine’s, Skillen, Kuyper, Newbigin,…Wolters and a host of important Western Scholars who offer a good critique of the Western thought. Fowler has continued to be an inspiration together with BJ van der Walt whom I am critically evaluating in my study. As I reflect on this during my study journey, I am strongly motivated by Abraham Kuyper’s confessions in Lectures on Calvinism… (http://www.cpchea.org/).

All the people mentioned in that above paragraph are either overt Kuyperians or heavily influenced by that tradition.


H. James Bratt

Bratt is a historian at Calvin College with specialization in the Kuyper tradition. In reaction to a Kuyper conference held at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1998, Bratt pointed to Kuyper’s notion of

…how to handle a plurality of religious convictions in public life. He wanted people of all faiths to be vocal in public life, in the public sphere. He said a person is one whole person; whether Christian or Islam or Marxist that set of beliefs will affect your point of view and cannot be separated.

You look at North America today, you look at Africa today … those are burning questions. How do societies deal with plurality of religious beliefs? Kuyper had some thoughts on such questions and I think we would do well to pay attention to him.

Bratt compared Kuyper to “such modern-day Americans as Martin Luther King, Jr., Pat Robertson and Jesse Jackson, all of whom possess(ed) Kuyperian qualities such as intellect, persuasion, mass organization and political savvy.” Asked about Kuyper’s relevance today, Bratt said, “He was asking questions 100 years ago that Evangelicals and Mainline Protestants are asking today.”

More important, Kuyper answered those questions in ways that could be useful to soldiers in today’s culture wars. How to remain true to one’s faith in a multi-faith society? How to blend faith and politics coherently? How to be Christian to the core and avoid either dropping out or giving in? He makes you think about the question more and come up with your own solution…. That’s what makes him really valuable now.


I. Kwama Bediako

The Ghanian scholar Kwama Bediako, during a visit to the campus of Calvin College and Seminary in Grand Rapids MI, participated in a discussion that featured a heavy emphasis on Thomas Jefferson, a major father figure in the political formation of the USA. One Calvin scholar asked Bediako whether West Africa was not badly in need of their own Jefferson, to which he responded, “What Africa needs even more today is its own Abraham Kuyper.” The person who had raised the question confessed to being “stunned, delighted and mildly embarrassed as the room broke out in applause.”


J. Iskander Saher

I have in front of me a letter from an Indonesian brother, Iskander Saher, a social activist in his own (Islamic) country, who wrote, “I found that it is what we need in Indonesia,” the “it” referring to the wholism of the Kuyperian tradition.


K. John Vriend

The late John Vriend – he died suddenly in February, 2002 – was a professional translator of Dutch literature that came out of the Kuyperian movement. He told me that he was getting enough letters of inquiry from all over the world that he came to the tentative conclusion that the real Kuyper century was not the 20th but the 21st. Well, the world could do worse. (For further details on Mutua, Bratt, Bediako, Saher and Vriend, go to my Every Square Inch—A Missionary Memoir, vol. 4, pp. 45-52, as listed in my Bibliography on the Boeriana page of this website.)


L. Gerald Vanderzande

For close to 50 years Gerald Vanderzande, Toronto, has worked for social justice under the auspices of Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). He did this very deliberately from a Kuyperian perspective. In 2001, he was awarded with the Order of Canada by the Governor General of Canada. See CPJ website www.cpj.ca.


M. Josiah Idowu-Fearon – Bishop of Kaduna Diocese (Anglican Communion), Nigeria

In a prepared introduction to a lecture I was to deliver, he wrote:

“He (Boer) has also introduced another term “Kuyper(ian), a term I came across in the year 2000 while reading up for my research at Ahmadu Bello University. As he has said and I agree with, for Nigeria to develop evenly and make any progress, we have no option but endorse this concept as the only safe future for us as a country and those coming after us.”


N. Jan/John H. Boer (myself)

In the list of Boeriana, there are two titles directly related to Kuyper:

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Dr. John H. Boer
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