The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture


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Here we have Kuyper the theologian. These chapters were originally published in De Heraut over the period June to November The latter articles he wrote while convalescing in the French Pyrenees. The 36 articles cover all aspects of angelogy including their existence, their nature their ministry and fallen angels.

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This is a translation of Het heil in ons ; repr. Kampen: Kok, , pp. This study appeared in thirteen instalments in the Sunday supplement of De Standaard, from Aug. It is available online at www. Another short piece by Kuyper has been translated by James A. This early piece from Kuyper originally published in looks at, as the title suggests, the creation of the service book by Petrus Datheneus, as he does so he places the worship of the Reformed church in its context and looks at John a Lasco and the resources published after the Synod of Dordt.

We now turn to two books which present different sides of Kuyper. Mark Larson PhD Calvin Seminary begins his Abraham Kuyper, Conservatism, and the Church and State Larson, by acknowledging Kuyper's debt to Calvin, but sees that there is a 'sharp contrast between Calvin and Kuyper on the issues of religious liberty and church disestablishment' xi.

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For Larson, Kuyper is a conservative who 'looked to the American constitutional arrangement for his thinking' xi. There can be no denying that Kuyper was enamoured with the United States - as shown in the letters Kuyper wrote to his family during his four-month Stone Lectures visit Kuyper, However, the claim made by Larson is somewhat exaggerated. Larson writes out of a North American context where politics seems to be polarised between Democrats liberals and Republicans conservatives. Kuyper wasn't liberal therefore he was perforce a conservative and this almost seems to be the stance taken.

For Larson conservatism is marked by three traits: the emphasis on God and the moral order; the necessity of limited government; and the commitment to the value of freedom. Kuyper, according to Larson, agreed with these three traits, therefore Kuyper was a Conservative.

Kuyper did advocate limited government, but it was not from any conservative impulse, it was derived from his notion of sphere sovereignty. It is sphere sovereignty that gives a specific and limited role to the state, but not only the state, the church, family, business and so on all also have limited roles.


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The state does have an important role to play in Kuyper's view - the state's role is to intervene in relations between institutions and people to ensure that the interactions between them are just. This is not a position derived from conservatism. Larson doesn't draw upon Kuyper's Ons Program see above. If he did then it would become clear that Kuyper was neither left nor right in his politics, neither Democrat nor Republican, neither liberal nor conservative.

The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture by L. Gordon Graham

Kuyper endeavoured to be Christian in his politics. Larson attempts to shape Kuyper in the image of conservatism, Friesen maintains that it is Franz von Baader who has shaped and influenced Kuyper. This is a theme that Friesen has developed over a number of years see for example Friesen, He has now utilised that work and expanded on it in his new book. Although the book primarily focuses on Dooyeweerd, Kuyper is also discussed. This has certainly been evidenced in discussions regarding his supra-temporality of the heart. Here Friesen claims that the idea of a supra-temporal heart, among other ideas of Dooyeweerd, originates not in Kuyper, Groen van Prinsterer or even in Jean Calvin but in the work and writings of the Christian theosophist Franz Xavier von Baader Friesen, This book is the result of much more research.

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It is in three parts. The first looks at the reception of Christian theosophy in neo-Calvinism, the second the development of reformational philosophy and the third a detailed comparison of Dooyeweerd's philosophy with Christian theosophy. It should be mentioned that the theosophy of Baader is far removed from the theosophy of Madame Blavatsky. Von Baader was a Catholic and presents a Christian version of theosophy.

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In the first section Friesen prevents a helpful overview of the theology and philosophy of von Baader, Daniel Chantepie de la Saussaye , J. Gunning Jr.

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Friesen contends that Kuyper's ideas of 'religious antithesis, social organisms, sphere sovereignty, the centrality of the heart, and his opposition to the dogma of theoretical thought are all ideas that are first found in Baader' Friesen, This book will no doubt promote controversy - that may not be such a bad thing. It is well-researched treatise and a surprisingly a good read. In a review Nijhof writes that 'Friesen too easily turns similarities into historical relationships, too rashly ignoring other possible sources' but that 'Friesen's research is a steppingstone towards further investigation of similarities and differences between neo-Calvinist philosophies and the broader tradition of Christian thought' Nijhof, Each year the Kuyper Centre holds a Kuyper Conference.

These lectures are then usually published in the annual Kuyper Centre Review. The conference is on 'Religion and journalism'. In the conference was on 'Philosophy, worship and art' and in on the 'Church and academy', many of the papers delivered at the conference were subsequently published in The Kuyper Centre Review volume 5 Graham, Not all the papers, however, were on or about Kuyper. Those that were include:. Harnack, Schlatter, and Kuyper on theology in the university'. Schelling: a philosophical influence on Kuyper's thought'. It is no surprise then that several articles published this year look at his notion of common grace see, for example, Skaff ; van Oorschott, ; Heslam, , Kuyper's sphere sovereignty and its application to pluralism and politics is also examined in several papers Kennedy, ; Hiemstra, ; Rathbone, In his 'Common grace and the ends of creation in Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck' Skaff, he sees much good in Kuyper's common grace and doesn't want to dismiss it, but asserts that Kuyper's view of the relationship common and special grace is irreconcilable.

He posits that separates special and common grace risks introducing a dualistic understanding of creation, a bifurcation in the work of Christ, and there can be no articulation of an 'evangelical ethics'. He draws on Bavinck and Barth in an attempt to see common grace as being ordered to special grace to avoid some of the issues in Kuyper's approach.

Also on the theme of common grace is van Oorschot's 'Common grace as a hermeneutical approach to globalization? She maintains that 'Stackhouse's theological assessment of globalization processes is rooted in his reading of Kuyper's doctrine of common grace' van Oorschot, and that 'Stackhouse's search for a shared global ethical orientation in a "global ethos" is based on Kuyper's thoughts on the sensus divinitatis and common grace epistemic dimension ' van Oorshcot, Though like Skaff - who she doesn't cite - Zuidema , Anderson and Kaltwasser she has an issue with common grace and special grace being rooted in Christ as it 'leads to an imbalanced understanding of the common and special soteriological dimension of God's work' van Oorschot, He is more Van Tillian than Kuyperian but writes out of a respect and admiration for Kuyper in 'Rooted and grounded?

Strange explores Kuyper's distinction between church as organism and as institute. He begins by placing Kuyper in his context and then sketching his use of the distinction.


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Strange then poses the important question is the distinction valid? He contends that Kuyper is being 'more speculative and less scriptural in his distinction'. It is 'overly neat and simplistic'. He thinks that the church is a whole and that Kuyper is attempting to separate it. He argues that Kuyper sees the organic nature of the church as having some sort of supremacy; the organic is prioritised over the institute. This, following Zwaanstra , Strange claims is due to his switch from pastor to politician and to the influences of Idealism and Romanticism. He prefers as a distinction the church 'gathered' and the church 'going' or perhaps: '"church gathered"' and "church dismissed" but never dismissed!

Though I'm not clear as to how these are better than Kuyper's institute and organism.

The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture

While Strange and Skaff debate the finer nuances of 'institute and organism' and 'common grace', Heslam applies these Kuyperian principles to business. In 'The spirit of enterprise: Abraham Kuyper and common grace in business' Heslam, he explores the implications of Kuyper's ideas for business. Heslam, whose doctorate was on Kuyper's Stone Lectures Heslam, , is now focusing on the interface of business, faith and development as a director of Transforming Business, based at Cambridge.

In this paper, he draws on Kuyper's common grace to explore this relationship. He notes that Kuyper's common grace ideas are well known, but his ideas on business have been overlooked. This paper is a first attempt to address this issue and to provide an overview of what Kuyper saw as the 'positive potential of business'.

He argues that Kuyper could be seen as a social entrepreneur. Although Kuyper did not address business issues directly he did speak out against sinful activity in finance, consumerism and the desire for wealth above all other concerns. Kuyper also addressed, as Heslam points out, issues of socioeconomic justice.


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  7. But it was his theme of common grace that provides a basis for 'the positive contribution that business makes to human and social flourishing'. Heslam then focuses on the latter three. This paper provides an excellent overview of Kuyper's positive view of business. Three other papers present an overview of Kuyper's work. Kennedy and Hiemstra focus on his politics and Beeke on a broader more introductory view.

    The latter is a republishing and refreshing of an article that first appeared in Beeke There is short bibliography that supplements what is largely the text of the article. He shows how these were shaped by his Christian faith and more specifically the idea of sphere sovereignty.

    The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture
    The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture
    The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture
    The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture
    The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture
    The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture
    The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture
    The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture The Kuyper Center Review, Vol 3: Calvinism and Culture

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