Abraham Kuyper had a remarkable vision for mission in the public square in Western life. Let’s review the vision.
- The key to understanding this whole vision is to understand western culture from the standpoint of the gospel rather than the gospel from within the presuppositions of modernity. In other words, the worldview baggage that we all carry from our lives prior to believing the Gospel combined with our daily struggle with competing worldviews cannot supplant the gospel as the foundation for understanding culture. We understand the world through the gospel, not the gospel through the world.
- This vision is centered in the confession of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all of life. There is not one molecule or atom outside the authority and sovereignty of God.
- To understand salvation to be restorative and comprehensive. The Kuyperian tradition has developed over against the Platonizing of salvation. Platonic thought understands salvation to be an escape from this world while the vision laid out by Kuyper and others saw that redemption had come, is coming, and will come to the world.
- To understand the church to be more than a “religious” community, but rather the church as gospel community which represents a new humankind that shares in the comprehensive redemptive purposes of the kingdom of God.
- To recognize the antithesis—the struggle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness—even in this already/not yet time of the kingdom. Since redemption and sin are comprehensive in scope, there is an encounter at every point in creation. Recognizing this reality protects us from running from the enemy as well as the false hope that we can barricade out the darkness. Sin is too comprehensive to run from, redemption is too comprehensive to be walled by tradition.
- The vision holds a high view of Biblical authority. If the church is not to be absorbed into the reigning idolatry of culture, the Biblical story must become the starting line and the finish line. This does not mean a fundamentalist surrender. Rather to recognize that the Bible tells one story about the whole creation (universal history) with a creation, fall, redemption, new creation story line.
- A recognition of the creational good and the distortions of idolatry in the public square lead to an understanding of the missional task of the church. In the public square this means that the people of God are subversive agents who neither pursue revolution nor conservatism. Rather “inner reformation” seeks to preserve what is good (by it’s nature as being created by God) and to oppose what has been distorted by idolatry.
When studying The Kuyperian vision it quickly becomes apparent that the vision stresses the doctrine of creation which has enabled a much more positive and defined agenda in politics, education, art and other areas of public life. And while the original vision is beautiful in and of itself, it has deepened since Kuyper. More thought has been given regarding the Cross of Christ as well as more developed eschatology and a deeper understanding of how both the cross and eschatology influence our daily encounters in the public square. Also the vision has evolved with a greater emphasis on the local church as the primary instrument of the church’s mission in the public life instead of specialized organizations disconnected from the local body. The glaring weakness in the Kuyperian vision was a lack of connection with the local congregation, a weakness that has been recognized and hopefully corrected.
Have you ever heard this vision presented? Thoughts?