Abraham kuyper

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Summary of the book: “Of the making of books about marriage and the family, there is no end. The family is in trouble today―and has been since the sin of our first parents. But the rescue of the family requires more than just good advice, helpful as that can be. It requires more than just a focus on the family. It requires that the family be brought into the church of Jesus Christ. In The Church-Friendly Family, Randy Booth and Rich Lusk set marriage and family in the context of the church, showing how putting the church first enables the family to bear a rich harvest in culture, education, missions, and more.”

On the SCOTUS Decision

On the SCOTUS Decision

To read a few brief thoughts on the SCOTUS decision, see my piece at Kuyperian Commentary.

Why I am proud to be an American

In the best sense of the term, this has been a very patriotic weekend for me. It began on Thursday evening at the Banquet for Life hosted by Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor is a ministry the saints of Providence have invested in for quite a few years. It is more than just another pro-life ministry, it is a labor that saw 162 women this past year choose life rather than live with the blood of the innocent in their hands for the rest of their lives. They provide counseling, medical help, and the environment to best guide confused young women out of their present chaos.

At their annual fundraising banquet they invited Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum was still living off the energy of last year’s election. The Senator from Pennsylvania shocked the nation by losing to Mitt Romney by only eight votes in Iowa and going on to win several other primaries. Though Santorum was no match for the prosperous GOP establishment candidate, the Senator was still able to leave a lasting impression in the GOP Primary.

Santorum observed in his speech that though he had opined continuously on the state of the economy and on other pertinent matters, the media chose not to pursue the Senator’s opinion on these issues, but rather focus on some of his more “extreme” ideas. Ideas like opposition to abortion, which according to the general American public are far from extreme. Yet, we are at such a stage in the civil discourse that when anyone speaks passionately about any moral issue, he is already termed a radical. To hell with logic!

The Santorum event renewed my commitment to the life issue and my support for organizations like Safe Harbor in Pensacola, Fl. May they prosper!

Friday morning then was a continuation to this patriotic weekend. After 17 years in these United States, I have finally made official what many thought had been official for a long time. The reality is, I waited this long because I understood what this meant. In one sense, it meant that my allegiance to my birth country of Brazil would move to the passenger’s seat. Practically it has been that way, but a liturgy was needed to confirm this commitment. Though I love my country’s beauty and culture, I am and will be an American at heart. My commitment to the well-being of this nation is a deep part of who I am. Though my skepticism about our government’s actions will always prevail, I am deep inside an American by choice. I didn’t have to be, but I chose to be.

The naturalization ceremony flowed with all its pomp and persistent commentary by the Judge. Her American pride was gallantly streaming. But in some ways the ceremony had to be slow for I had been waiting for a long time for this moment to come to pass, and the slow and tedious ceremony was just an symbol of how long this entire process took; thousands of dollars, the patience of a loving wife, and the trips…so many trips. So here I am: an American at last.

My religious and political propensity demands that I refrain from exalting too much this nation. But it is hard to remain silent about a nation that has done so much for me. It has nourished me in all the human luxuries imaginable. It has provided for me confirmation of my calling. It has romanced me into its beauty and culture, and then asked me to take part in it. It accepted me even when I declared from the mountain tops that this country needs repentance of the II Chronicles kind.

So this has been a patriotic past weekend. I have tasted officially of the American air with a flag pin to prove it. I indulged in corn dogs and French fries (yes, freedom fries), and no, I still do not have an appetite for country music. I entered into the fine company of what the Judge so repetitively described as the “melting pot.” I enter as one, but hope to impact many.

I am proud to be an American, but in a different way than the obnoxious tune. I am proud to be an American because I know that my loyalty is to the King of America, Jesus Christ. And though this blessed nation has deserted our Lord and Maker, I decided to use my mouth and vote to opine passionately and studiously about why this nation needs to pursue this Lord. She is lost without His care. I don’t want to only glory in her past; I want to glory in the future she will have if she turns, and repents, and bows down before the only One who can make her great.

The Life and Legacy of Abraham Kuyper

The man who changed the face of Calvinism. The man who was “the first Christian in a very profound way to come to grips with the fact that the world has been transformed.”[1] The man who influenced the political, theological, sociological, and educational history of the Western World. His name is Abraham Kuyper.

I mentioned this in my Reformation Sunday sermon two years ago, and I want to stress again how history can be summarized. History can be summarized in four stages: “The Church Formed, the Church De-Formed, the Church Reformed, and the Church transformed.” This is how I want you to think of history in this four-fold pattern. This is the view I want you to embrace of the past, present, and future. We are currently in this period of the Church being transformed, and when the Church is transformed, everything else around it is transformed also. The Church’s environment eventually—for the good or bad—becomes the ethos of our culture.

I believe that at the end of history we will look back and see the name Abraham Kuyper as a central figure in this period of transformation. Why? Because Kuyper made Calvinism respectable again. Calvinism, that is the theology that believes in the absolute sovereignty of God over everything, suffered greatly after the death of Calvin in 1564. The trajectory of the disciples of Calvin was not easy as they sought to build a vision based on the Sovereignty of God. There were some abuses, and many great things, but it is safe to say the vision of Calvin was lost some time after the death of Calvin. The missionary revolution of the 18th and 19th century gave new life to Calvinism. The greatest missionary of the last 300 years, William Carey,[2] was both a Calvinist and a Postmillennialism. He brought together these two powerful ideas that God is Sovereign and that the Gospel changes the world. It was during these glorious days that on October 29th, 1837 was born Abraham Kuyper (spelled Abraham Kuijper in Dutch).

Kuyper was Dutch. The Dutch Reformed have been very instrumental in shaping many of our American institutions and seminaries. If you have heard of Cornelius Van Til, Herman Bavinck, Simon Kistemaker, Louis Berkhof, Klaas Schilder, Gerardus Vossius, and others, these are the chief thinkers of the Reformed Tradition, who were all Dutchmen.

I came to seminary as a Presbyterian. But there were also other Dutch Reformed students on campus, and one of my favorite professors at RTS was Simon Kistemaker, a true Dutchman. “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much,” was their slogan. Many of them came from the Reformed Church of America (RCA), which is the oldest Protestant denomination[3] in America. But of course, the Dutch Reformed in this country have fallen on hard times. To give you an example of how far they have fallen, the largest RCA church in America is the Crystal Cathedral, once pastored by Robert Schuller,[4] the father of the Positive Thinking Movement.

Kuyper would have been devasted by the false representation of the gospel in the RCA today.

The Early Education Life of Abraham Kuyper

Kuyper was homeschooled by his father who was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. His father was mildly orthodox. He was orthodox, but he wasn’t the type to push orthodoxy as a way of life.[5]

As an undergraduate, Kuyper studied ancient languages, which were an addition to the languages he already spoke English, French, German, and Dutch. What was unique about Kuyper’s study habits is that he avoided “distractions and pursued his studies with diligence.”[6] At the time of his graduation he became engaged to Henrdrika Schaay, and married her in 1863.

Kuyper’s Conversion and Return to Calvinism

Kuyper was influenced by his father’s training. He became as a result enamored by modernist skepticism. One time he said that he joined others in applauding one of the professors who denied the bodily resurrection of Christ. He later went on to say: “In the academic world I had no defense against the powers of theological negation. I was robbed of my childhood faith. I was unconverted, proud, and open to doubting.”[7]

His doctoral dissertation compared Calvin to a modernist scholar. By the end of his dissertation Kuyper ended up despising Calvin. Later on after re-orienting his life towards God he said that the dissertation was the beginning of his thinking on Divine Providence. He hated the idea that God was sovereign over everything, even the human will, but eventually he came to realize that this was what the Bible taught.

sketch.jpgAfter he was married he took on his first pastorate. His congregation in the Dutch Reformed Church did what I hope any congregation would do: they said his preaching and doctrine were unacceptable because they were not grounded in the Bible. This was a unique Church. While the church scene in the Netherlands was completely overwhelmed by liberalism and abandonment of the Reformed Confessions, which were grounded in the Bible, this little Church challenged Kuyper’s orthodoxy.

The Theology and Legacy of Abraham Kuyper

It is no secret that Providence Church has been largely influenced by Kuyper in this respect: that Kuyper believed vigorously in Christian action on the basis of principles. He “regarded Christianity as far more than a doctrine of personal salvation from sin.”[8] He believed in original sin, but he also believed that the Christian faith needs a comprehensive weltanschauung (vein-to-show), a worldview. In his lectures he emphasized that the Christian faith is more than academic studies, it consumes everything. It was at a lecture to the Free University of Amsterdam that he made his famous statement:

There is not one part of our world of thought that can be hermetically separated from the other parts, and there is not an inch in the entire area of our human life of which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry “Mine!”

There are a host of implications to this statement. Kuyper’s point was that every sphere: Church, Family, and Government do not derive their authority from itself, but rather from God. For Kuyper, this was a way of preventing totalitarianism. No sphere is entitled to rule absolutely. The Church, Government, and the Family had their limitations. The Church could not interfere in the business of the State. The Church, as Kuyper believed, could speak to the issues of the State, but she could not force her hand and have the State in her pocket, and most certainly the opposite is true. The State could not dictate or take away the religious freedom of the Church.[9]

Kuyper believed that a country where spheres operated within the confines of God’s authority, those countries would succeed. He said that in countries where the influence of the Protestant Reformation was present they would flourish, but in France and Russia where there was little trace of Protestantism left they would fall into despotism. James McGoldrick wrote of Kuyper’s vision in the Netherlands: “Kuyper’s desire for the Netherlands was that the nation would revive and persevere its Calvinistic heritage, with its doctrine of limited government that respects the autonomy of all spheres of authority and thereby guarantees the freedom of its citizens.”[10] Kuyper believed that unless a society acknowledges the sovereignty of God they will not be free. You need to acknowledge the freedom of God first before being free yourself.

There are a couple of areas where I think Abraham Kuyper left a lasting legacy:

First, Kuyper re-introduced a very powerful way of defending the faith. Some would call it “Presuppositionalism.” He was at the forefront of defending the faith in his own day, and many of us use his model as a way of communicating and defending the faith against unbelievers. Kuyper’s view was that we cannot argue someone into the kingdom of God. We cannot debate with an unbeliever on his own terms. We cannot assume for a second that God does not exist for the sake of the argument. You cannot assume God does not exist because God would be the author of your assumption of His non-existence. It’s like an orator trying to talk about the nature of the tongue while exhorting you to assume you don’t have one for the sake of the argument. Kuyper said that when believers and unbelievers agree on a particular aspect of creation, they still disagree about principles, such as the doctrine of creation itself, “because they approach the study of the world with mutually opposing assumptions.”[11]

Second, Kuyper was instrumental in thinking about education and culture from a Christian perspective. Kuyper opposed the Anabaptists who believed that we need to retreat from the world. We need to seclude ourselves. Kuyper believed that Christians needed to equip themselves and then to “push the development of this world to constant agreement with God’s ordinancesand in the midst of corruption upholding that which is honorable, lovely, and of good report among men.”[12] Kuyper said that the way to establish a Christian culture is by educating a Christian populace. He said you can’t teach math apart from God, because math implies order, and God is the creator of order. He founded the Free University of Amsterdam as an example of his vision for a holistic Christian culture.

He encouraged the founding of Christian Schools. He would have been very pleased with the rise of some Christian schools that stress a high view of Biblical authority and God’s sovereignty.

Finally, Kuyper taught that our labor is important to God. Whether we paint, preach, or plant trees, Kuyper taught that these things are spiritual activities. The day to day travel to work and home, the diaper change, the duties of children, the playing, the plucking, the plowing, etc. Our labor in the Lord are not in vain, as Paul says. The job of the minister is not more spiritual than yours. Poverty is not to be treasured over riches. Riches is not to be treasured over poverty.

How Now Shall We Then Live?

First, Kuyper believed that isolationism was not an option. That life was not to be divided up into little sections or pockets: “Here is my piety on Sunday, here is my work on Monday, here is my feasting on Friday.” No. Everything needed to be oriented/directed towards the glory of Jesus Christ. Your piety, feasting, and golfing needed to submit to King Jesus. This is still very foreign to our modern culture. We are not used to thinking about life is this comprehensive fashion.

Second, Kuyper believed Jesus was king. He said that we need to nurture cultural patience. We can’t change the world overnight, but we need to slowly plow. We need a faithful presence in this world.

Third, Kuyper was a localist. He believed in limited government. And the reason he believed the government was to be limited was because he believed that freedom is exercised best at a local level. Change is tangible locally. He certainly wanted to see things changed nationally. He started his own political party: The Anti-Revolution Party. He believed that socialism and totalitarianism were a threat to the well-being of a society. Kuyper said that the kingdom of God is present in those local activities. Changing the world does not demand running for politics or becoming a priest, changing the world begins in your own home. Kuyper was referred to as the “bell-ringer for the common people.”[13]He advocated the “theology of the laity.”[14] Kuyper wanted the Church to be a sending out station. He wanted the Church to be the place from which men and women were trained to go forth and change their communities.

Finally, stressing this point at another level, Kuyper was a theologian of the people. His young disciple, Herman Bavinck[15] pursued a scholarly agenda. Some people do need to reach that group. Some people are called to reach a specific intellectual elite that common people and pastors cannot reach. But Kuyper had a different agenda. He wanted to reach the masses. And as a result he ran as the leader of a political party, a founder of a denomination, and a newspaper editorialist. [16] If Kuyper were alive today he would start a Christian version of the Drudge Report. He would run for office. He would be engaged in local activities, and He would be faithful to our Protestant Reformed heritage. I commend to you the life of Abraham Kuyper as a model for civil and cultural discourse in a day when Christians have given up on the world. Abraham Kuyper would say: “No, this world belongs to Jesus, and I will give my every breath to see the world submit to him.”


[1] Robert Godfrey, Heroes of the Faith #07: Abraham Kuyper

[5] The thought crossed my mind that his father’s mild orthodoxy may have influenced Kuyper’s pluralistic tendencies at times.

[6] James McGoldrick, God’s Renaissance Man, 16.

[7] Ibid. 17.

[8] Ibid. 62

[9] A topic that is much discussed in our day.

[10] McGoldrick, 69.

[11] Ibid. 216

[12] 220.

[13] Richard J. Mouwl, Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal History, 95.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Perhaps the greatest Dutch Reformed Systematician.

[16] Though it is also true that Bavinck was more irenic in his engagements, while Kuyper was a true polemicist.

Unbelieving Apologetics

Kuyper’s presuppositionalism was clear when he stated that even when Christians and non-Christians agree about a particular aspect of creation, they still approach the study of the world with mutually opposing assumptions. They disagree on the doctrine of creation itself.

Chuck Colson on Abraham Kuyper’s Influence

In one of Colson’s last recorded interviews, he speaks of the influence of Abraham Kuyper on his own life:

The Life and Death of Abraham Kuyper

David Koyzis found a couple of rare videos regarding the late Dutch Prime Minister/Theologian, Abraham Kuyper.

The first is one of his funeral. The description in Portuguese reads that the number of people present reflect a little of the magnitude of Kuyper’s importance:

This last one shows Kuyper speaking to the Mayor of Amsterdam shortly before he died:

Finally, here are several posts I have written on Kuyper and here is a short paper I wrote on Kuyper under the direction of Professor John Frame.

Betraying the Lordship of Christ

My faithful Kuyperian friend, Jake Belder, offers a great quote from David Bosch’s December 1979 issue of the Journal of Theology for Southern Africa. The quote is lengthy, but here is the concluding paragraph:

If we forget this we commit the same mistake as those Christians who argue…that we had better withdraw from the world into a religious enclave. The terrible thing these Christians are doing is to grant legality to the spurious claim of the enemy that this world belongs to him, not to God! And when Jesus said to Pilate, ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’, his words should not be understood as meaning that his Kingdom is entirely other-worldly. It should rather, within the context of John’s gospel, be understood to mean, ‘My Kingdom does not operate according to the rules of this world which have been adulterated by Satan. My Kingdom is unique. But this does not make it other-worldly.’ Did Jesus not, after all, teach his disciples to pray, ‘Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?’ Therefore, if we Christians surrender this world to Satan, we play right into his hands. And we betray the Lordship of Christ.

An Analysis of Kuyper’s Lecture: Calvinism a Life System, Part 3

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How Shall We Then Live: Concluding Remarks on Predestinarianism and Christian Living from Kuyper’s Lectures

The Calvinistic world-and-life-view is undergirded by one principal theological dogma: God is sovereign over the affairs of men. This dogmatic assertion carries over to the realm of Soteriology. It is in the doctrine of salvation that Calvinism is mostly known. Far from a mere abstract doctrinal proposition, the sovereignty of God in election and predestination furnishes the Kuyperian worldview with plenty of theological ammunition. Since God is the protagonist in the Calvinistic worldview, then He must be preeminent in developing any approach to living the Christian faith.

Kuyper wishes to emphasize that Calvinism is not to be confused with an ethereal doctrine left for the armchair theologian. Rather, as he asserts, “Calvinism has everywhere left…its trace in social and political, in scientific and aesthetic life…”[1] Calvinism belongs to the people, not simply to the magistrates. It is a doctrine oriented around Christian living. It is the beginning and the end of Christianity. It is the beginning because God initiates a work of grace in each of His chosen ones and it is the end because God in His sovereignty carries His own people through life and to ultimate glory. As Kuyper notes:

This all- embracing predestination, the Calvinist places, not in the hand of man, and still less in the hand of a blind natural force, but in the hand of Almighty God, Sovereign Creator and Possessor of heaven and earth.[2]

This sovereignty over all can only serve as a motivating factor in the Christian activity. The Christian is to defend boldly his Apostolic Creed in an immoral society, lest it loses it honor.[3] Calvinism served as an inspiring call to missiological zeal in previous centuries and must continue to encourage and embolden the Church to march forward as Christian soldiers and ambassadors of her King. The great Dutch theologian well understood the consequences of a weak Church when he wrote: “…Christianity that does not prove its worth in practice, degenerates into dry scholasticism and idle talk.”[4]

Let Calvinism and its world-view suffer a million deaths if it is not quickened by the work of the Holy Spirit. In Kuyper’s own words: “Unless God send forth His Spirit, there will be no turn, and fearfully rapid will be the descent of the waters.”[5]


[1] Lectures on Calvinism, pg.192.

[2] Lectures on Calvinism, pg.197.

[3] Lectures on Calvinism, pg. 195.  “Such a Church does not dishonor Calvinism, but itself.”

[4] Lectures on Calvinism. Pg. 187.

[5] Lectures on Calvinism, pg. 199.

An Analysis of Kuyper’s Lecture: Calvinism a Life System, Part 2

im000337_1.jpgIn light of this comprehensive view of the Christian life, it is natural that another strong feature of Kuyperian thinking is an opposition to “escapism.” The Roman Church had abandoned any interest in a Biblical transformation of culture thus the holy life was equated to a monastic life,[1] since anything outside the Church was considered to be under possession. Kuyper opposed this dualism and emphasized that God is redeeming the world, thus “serving him in the world becomes the inspiring impulse,”[2] and the Church provided the strength to fight worldly temptations. Indeed there was no need to hide within the confines of the Church.

Unlike any other religious expression, only Calvinism urges God’s people to invade the streets of civilization with the message of the triumph of Christ over all things. It is in the people of God, through the Divine Presence, that Calvinism surges as the “required condition for the advancement of human development to a higher stage.”[3]

Strengths and Weaknesses

Richard Mouw once observed that “Calvinists specialized in cleaning up sewers-not only in the spiritual sense, but sometimes also quite literally!”[4] Indeed, Kuyperianism[5] offers the Christian ways to live in a society, rather than merely tolerating it. Ecclesiastical engagement has its limitations and sooner or later, people will begin to ask questions pertinent to their responsibilities at home and at work. This is Kuyper’s greatest strength.

There are certain areas of concern, which would be deemed areas of weakness in Kuyper’s thesis. Absent from Kuyper’s development of Calvin’s ideas is a high view of the sacraments. Kuyper summarizes the role of the Church as a place where God’s people can garner strength to face the evils of the world’s temptations.[6] Indeed, it may not have been in Kuyper’s interest to add positive thoughts on Sacramentology (though he often appears to chastise Rome’s sacerdotalism).[7] Nevertheless, it is hard to conceive of a more nurturing experience for the Christian in the world, than to embrace the fullness of Christ’s New Covenant sign given for His people in bread and wine. In Kuyper’s lecture on Calvinism and Religion,[8] he castigates Roman Catholic priestly intervention, claiming that it interrupts communion with God.[9] Kuyper’s reaction to Rome’s ecclesiastical practices and to a lesser extent Lutheranism seems to have diminished his interest in a Calvinistic view of the Lord’s Supper.

Another weakness in Kuyperian or Neo-Calvinistic thought refers to its understanding of Old Covenant revelation. Kuyperianism does not believe in an immediate application of civil penalties in modern society. In fact, some Kuyperians, like many other evangelicals, find the idea of Old Testament civil application immoral.[10] Instead they opt for a Democracy, where pluralism is embraced. Kuyper was concerned that if one religion ruled, the Church would become tyrannical. Thus, government was to rule not according to God’s revealed word in Scripture, but God’s revelation in nature. Pluralism-the refusal to accept any religion as the ultimate standard-was the ultimate consequence for denying an explicitly Christian society.[11] On the other hand, and ironically, Kuyper argues for certain Christian principles to be established in a society.[12] Kuyper does affirm that “all ethical study is based on the Law of Sinai,”[13] but never develops the application of the Moral Law to a society. This is a great weakness in Kuyper’s thought. If Kuyper had followed Puritan thinking more closely, perhaps the idea of a pluralistic society would have vanished from his writings. Pluralism is diametrically opposed to the exclusive message of Christianity. Van Til argued that epistemologically one begins either autonomously or theonomically. This same principle applies to ethics. A society either derives its ethical standards from Biblical Law or some variation of Natural Law. Though Kuyper dismissed Natural Law as an epistemic foundation, nevertheless, he implicitly leaves the door open in the area of ethics, since he did not connect the Law of Sinai with its corresponding laws-civil/judicial laws.[14] This is made clear in Kuyper’s outrage over the death of Michael Servetus in the 16th century. According to Kuyper, Servetus’s death was unwarranted. The blame is in the “unanimous and uniform advice of Calvin and his epigonies, who demanded intervention of the government in the matter of religion.”[15] Kuyper seems opposed to state intervention in religious matters, but again, what can be considered non-religious in a society? There may be a legitimate dispute over what form of government is best-whether federalism, where certain issues such as capital punishment are left to the individual states or if this authority rested in the Federal government alone–but the question of whether the state may interfere in public blasphemy or other forms of open rebellion is an issue addressed clearly in the Older Covenant.[16] The killing of a man, who openly blasphemed the Trinity and mocked the Orthodox Faith, is certainly justifiable in Biblical terms and thus to be punished by death. Kuyper further notes disapprovingly of Servetus’ death when he writes:

Notwithstanding all this, I not only deplore that one stake, but I unconditionally disapprove of it; yet not as if it were the expression of a special characteristic of Calvinism, but on the contrary as the fatal after-effect of a system, grey with age, in which Calvinism found its existence, under which it had grown up, and from which it had yet been able entirely to liberate itself.[17]

Kuyper sees the death of Servetus as a lasting bad seed from the Calvinistic tree that needs to be purged. Calvin tried in vain to persuade Servetus to recant of his heresies; in the end, Calvin was unable to change Servetus’ mind.[18] Finally, it seems plausible to make one more critique of Kuyper’s ideology: Though honorable in his intentions, Kuyper failed to see the vast implications of Biblical revelation for modern society. In Oliver Woods’ article Abraham Kuyper: God’s Renaissance Man, he observes the following:

Kuyper’s commitment to pluralism betrayed his poetic dedication to affirm God’s holy statutes in church and state, in home and school. The third article of the Anti-Revolutionary Party platform, Ons Program, exposes the frailty of the tactics Kuyper employed for achieving this end: ‘…the authority of the state is bound by God’s ordinances, not directly…but only via the consciences of persons in positions of authority.’ It should be self-evident that such a tactic explicitly removes civil authority from the Word of God and posits it in the vacillating conscience of the civil magistrate.[19]

The conscience of the civil magistrate is unstable in all its ways. When the government submits to some general guidelines of pluralism and libertarianism, the future of such enterprise guarantees the demise of the state and its turning over to the very systems Kuyper opposed-Humanism and Modernism.

 


[1] Ibid. 29.

 

[2] Ibid. 30.

[3] Ibid. 38.

[4] Mouw’s Musings. Blog Page. http://www.netbloghost.com/mouw/?p=26

Richard Mouw is president of Fuller Theological Seminary. He also makes a few distinctions between Kuyperianism and John Yoder’s Anabaptist theology of life.  He recently delivered several lectures at The Abraham Kuyper Consultation at Princeton 2007.

[5] I am using “Kuyperianism” and “Calvinism” as synonymous terms, unless otherwise noticed.

[6] To my limited knowledge, Kuyper did not develop a robust view of the Church in any of his writings. For instance, Kuyper spoke little, if at all, concerning the role of the Sacraments in preparing Christians to face the onslaught of the world’s philosophies.

[7] Professor Frame argues: “Kuyper seems to have thought of the church as one among a number of equal agencies, including family, state, university, etc. I don’t think he gave adequate attention to the centrality of the church in biblical theology.” (Personal correspondence).

[8] Kuyper, 49.

[9] Ibid. 49.

[10] Professors from Calvin College and Seminary are little concerned about the application of Biblical Revelation to modern society. They are more interested in applying natural law than revealed law. Neo-Calvinists think it is immoral to apply Biblical law because we no longer live in a theocracy such as Israel did.

[11] It appears that Kuyper confused the rule of God in society (theocracy) with the rule of the Church (ecclesiocracy). No advocate of Theonomy embraces the latter. The ideal Biblical picture is that Church and State work side by side submitting to one Lord.

[12] In his third lecture, Kuyper speaks about the duty of a government to stop blasphemy from taking place. However, what is his Biblical basis for this? You cannot establish this much from Romans 13. Why did he not make the next move and ground it in Biblical case laws? Professor Frame answers these questions in the following manner: Kuyper’s exclusion of blasphemy was on the ground that God is the foundation of the state. So K. thought that to exclude blasphemy was not to impose the theology of any sect on the state. He resisted imposing other biblical teachings on the state, because he thought that (apart from the Urim and Thummim) the state was not competent to decide what theology was right. (Personal correspondence)

[13] Kuyper, 72.

[14] Though Professor Frame disagrees with some theonomic authors, he has done the most superb exegetical job in combining Kuyperianism with a robust view of Biblical law. Also, for an excellent and fair treatment of Theonomy’s theses, see Vern Poythress’ The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses. Poythress offers a 50 page critique of Greg Bahnsen’s theonomic theses. He gives particular attention the exegesis of Matthew 5:17. Whether he succeeds is another question. In my assessment, once one accepts the idea of the application of Biblical Law, he has by default become theonomic in his viewpoint, though there may be varying nuances. Perhaps my former professor Dr. Mark Ross distinguishes best when divides the theonomic camp into soft and hard Theonomy. If this distinction stands, then Frame and Poythress would be soft; Bahnsen and Rushdoony would be hard. I would find myself in the latter camp most of the time.

[15] Kuyper, 99.

[16] Deuteronomy 21:18-2. The example of the disobedient son is portrayed as a public death penalty. One may argue that this was not a state-level execution, since the local community and the parents were involved in this execution. But the principle is that God has authorized the state (however defined) to use the sword accordingly (Romans 13).

[17] Kuyper, 100.

[18] There is a false notion that Calvin ruled Geneva with an iron fist. This is erroneous. Calvin did not ultimately make decisions of life and death. This was left to the city rulers. It was by their hand that Servetus was put to death, though Calvin never tried to stop it.

[19] Woods, Oliver. Online. July/August 2002. The Christian Statesman.

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