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Lectures on Calvinism Tag

The title Abraham Kuyper gave to his third Stone lecture, Calvinism and Politics, could be misleading. While he did have much to say about politics, he emphasised that political authority was just one ingredient in the governance of a healthy society. His key concept, you will remember, was sovereignty. We saw in our first post that Calvinism’s ‘dangerous idea’, according to Kuyper, is the sovereignty of God over all things. This sovereignty is delegated and expressed in various ways in His creation. Kuyper’s second lecture looked at how God’s sovereignty transforms religion, and in the third he explored how it was expressed in human society as a whole. Kuyper wanted to show that it was only the Calvinist who could consistently preserve a healthy tension between the state's desire to order human life, and the determination of people everywhere to maintain their liberties and flourish in the different spheres of free society.  Two key insights guide Kuyper's approach to society: first, the belief that since all authority comes from God, any power possessed by human beings is held ‘in trust’. Second, the observation that there are different types of sovereignty, which belong to distinct spheres of human society. The family is...

Joshua Kellard continues our series introducing Abraham Kuyper’s influential 1898 Stone Lectures on Calvinism. Abraham Kuyper, as we saw in the last post, had an expansive view of what Calvinism was meant to be. Far more than a set of beliefs about salvation, it was a total worldview of its own, standing tall and providing compelling answers to life’s deepest questions. At the centre was its ‘mother principle’: the sovereignty of God over all things. Working from this axiom, it addressed every area of life with a God-centred program for renewal. A skilled vision-caster, Kuyper would use the rest of his Stone lectures to demonstrate the real difference that Calvinism could make in each area of life, and he began, quite understandably, with religion.  In his second lecture, Kuyper set out to answer three basic questions:  - What difference does Calvinism make in the sphere of religion?  - What sort of Church organisation is encouraged by applying Calvinism?  - How does Calvinism transform morality?  We will briefly summarise Kuyper’s answers to these questions, thinking as we go about their relevance to us today.  Religion: Of God, by God and For God  Is religion primarily for people or for God? When Kuyper posed this question, Karl Marx had recently...

To talk about a ‘Christian worldview’ today is to use an already well-worn phrase. Many of us are familiar, perhaps over-familiar, with the idea that Christianity can provide a lens through which to look out on the world and make sense of it. In Abraham Kuyper’s day, however, it was a concept which was far from obvious to Christians in the West. This was partly because many assumed that the Christian faith was in harmony with the mainstream thinking of the day. What need was there to develop a distinctly Christian worldview? Surely everyone had that, right? Kuyper begged to differ. Not only did he reject the idea that the worldview of Christianity and that of the age were the same: he believed they were on a collision course. For this reason, he began his six lectures on Calvinism sounding more like a war-time leader than a professor:  There is no doubt that Christianity is imperiled by great and serious dangers. Two life systems are wrestling with one another, in mortal combat. Modernism is bound to build a world of its own from the data of the natural man, and to construct man himself from the data of nature; while, on...

Few figures of the modern period have shaped evangelical Christianity as profoundly as Abraham Kuyper. Despite this, his legacy is little-appreciated today, even in those circles where his ideas still exert great influence. In the evangelical household he seems to play the role of the mysterious great-uncle who has given the family a wonderful collection of furniture pieces: a great oak dresser, a set of grand bookcases and a couple of ripened armchairs, all of which shape the inside of the house and control its traffic-flow. Although we are vaguely aware that the furniture came from him, and couldn’t imagine the house without them, the details of his life and accomplishments remain fuzzy: after all, we never met him, and the stories about him have often come down to us through, ahem, some of the more ‘colourful’ members of the family. November 2020 marks a hundred years since Kuyper passed into glory, and we could do worse than to treat this centenary as an opportunity to get to know a man who, in fascinating ways, has shaped a tradition which itself continues to transform the world. As an aid in this quest, over the next three weeks we’ll be introducing what...