Continuing a series about Abraham Kuyper and his influence.
Missionary theologian Lesslie Newbigin commented in 1996 that the “Reformational, Kuyperian tradition has obviously been at work long ago spelling out concretely in the various spheres of society what it means to say, ‘Jesus is Lord.’” So what is the Reformational Kuyperian tradition?
Some today have called this tradition neo-Calvinism. While I don’t necessarily agree the Kuyperian tradition is a new version of anything, but perhaps more of an emphasis on the issues of daily living out of the faith. It originated many years ago as a response to the secularization of culture, as represented in the French Revolution and introduced in the Netherlands after 1795. Reformational Kuyperian tradition became a powerful force in the Netherlands led by Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) who was influenced by a host of men prior. Distinctive to the Kuyperian tradition was departure from theological liberalism and scholastic orthodoxy seeing each of them as accommodations and surrenders to the Enlightenment. In other words the tradition began to see that the conversation and daily life of Christianity was being lived in response to something rather than distinct itself. The tradition evolved and embraced a commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His kingdom as a foundational point for understanding and living in the world. Its chief concern was to incarnate/embody the comprehensive claim that Jesus is Lord in all of life, including societal life. This emphasis is seen in one of Kuyper’s most quoted statements, “There is not a square inch within the entire domain of human life of which Christ, the Sovereign of all, does not claim: ‘Mine’”. It’s with this presupposition that the Kuyperian worldview is built.
From Holland, this worldview grew to influence much of the world. Kuyperian tradition identified with the struggle of being a witness to the gospel in the public square, whether it be art, politics, business, farming, or education. Its influence upon higher education is perhaps it greatest influence as noted by George Marsden who spoke of “the triumph of Kuyperian presuppositionalism” in the North American evangelical scholarly community. By the invitation of B.B. Warfield, Kuyper delivered the Stone Lectures at Princeton titled, “Lectures on Calvinism” which launched the Kuyperian tradition to an American audience and and marked the beginning of his influence in the States.
Next Post: What is the Kuyperian Vision?