The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “Abraham Kuyper”

Gospel Explosion in the World

By Uri Brito

It appears that God always delights in bringing good news to his children. In whatever season, in whatever phase of human history, God is always actively changing, transforming, re-creating the world by His word. And good news is here. Since the Ascension of our blessed Lord God has taken the few and the humble and transformed them into a multitude. This is the trajectory of the kingdom.

C.Peter Wagner reports that the five gospel hot spots in the world are China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and Nigeria. “Starting with China,” observes Wagner,  the largest nation in the world reports “the greatest national harvest of souls ever recorded in history, beginning in 1976. Although figures differ, I personally am comfortable agreeing with those who claim that 10 percent of the population is Christian, which would mean that there are around 140 million Christians in that country.” The numbers are staggering. The fields are being harvested.

KC contributor, Thomas Kidd, pointed me to a Christianity Today article detailing how despite persecution, the Iranian church marches on. Claiming 0.5% of Christians, the church has not given in to the political dark forces. Melissa Stefan observes:

Yet, there are two bright lights for Christians in the otherwise-dark Iranian context: Elam Ministries reported in its Summer 2013 magazine that 246 Iranian Christians were baptized on April 17—”probably the largest baptism service on record in the Iranian church since the fourth century.” In addition, Iran’s underground house churches—where freedom to attend Persian-language worship services is more likely to be found—do appear to be growing.

The Gospel presses on. After darkness, light.

Uri Brito is the Senior Pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl.

The Abuse of Power and the Power of Abuse: Dealing with an Inconvenient Truth

By Uri Brito

Republicans are the party of small government. Democrats are the party of big government. These distinctions no longer hold true. Reagan’s first term, perhaps, in recent history, is the last to come close to the type of small government Republicans say they envision. But for too long the scenery of the political landscape is replete with big government towers. We, the people, stare hopelessly at those babel-like towers wondering if any of them have read Genesis 11. We are Tolkien’s hobbits wanting to be left alone smoking our tobacco and drinking the finest beer, but alone they will not let us be.

David Shipler’s The Rights of the People: How our Search for Safety Invades our Privacy (2011) detailed some of these abuses. Shipler wrote that the Bill of Rights were “embedded in the first ten amendments to the Constitution…to climb and counter the might state, to keep their speech free, their confessions true, their trial fair, their homes and files sealed from cavalier invasion by police.” We are losing that right as speedily as the government (NSA) is tracking your e-mail or Verizon phone call right now.

What we are seeing today is more than the undermining of the Constitution; we are seeing the undermining of morality. And this implies that we need the objectivity of Christendom. We can no longer amen the actions of any party, because both major parties do not care about the shire. They will make deals with anyone. We need the boldness to assert the foolish actions of our party and then condemn them each election.

Obama’s promise to secrecy and the respecting of civil liberties in 2007 has quickly derailed into a Mordor-like crystal ball. They have looked and accessed every conceivable file. They have found what they wanted and used that information for their own purposes. “We cannot have 100% safety without inconvenience,” the president argues. Inconvenience? An absurdly burdensome tax system,  the waste of our taxpayer money, TSA, a destructive economic policy, reckless wars led by reckless leaders, the murder of the unborn? This is more than inconvenience; this is abuse; and all in the name of an agenda.

What we are witnessing is not the era of inconvenience; those days were relatively comfortable. At least we knew when the inconveniences would come. We are entering the era of abuse. We are in an era where the words “abuse of power” have become redundant. In an abusive society, led by abusive leaders, we do not know what to expect. Power corrupts, but absolute power in the hands of fools leads to abuse.

We are not claiming that this is a distinctly Obama problem. Bush’s Patriot Act opened the doors to this type of infringement. The tyranny of technology began long ago. And we are now recipients of a president who is continuing those policies.

The Economist observed in 2007, that in the past, information was gathered by drawing conclusions about citizens from fragmented reports by party loyalists. They would tap phones, send informers to workplaces, and follow people around. Today, “data about people’s whereabouts, purchases, behavior, and personal lives are gathered, stored, and shared on a scale that no dictator of the old school ever thought possible.”

We are living in a new era. This is an era where privacy is becoming extinct. The security of e-mail exchanges, counselor to counselee phone calls, and a host of other matters are sacrificed at the altar of safety. But are we safe? The answer to that is an inconvenient truth to our president.

Why We Need More Kuyper

By Uri Brito

Dr. W. Geensink observed of Abraham Kuyper that he was ” a man of his time as for his time.” God placed him in an uniquely suitable time for his gifts and wisdom. Kuyper published over 150 works ranging from the Holy Spirit to Art. Kuyper saw life as a display of the artistic nature of the Triune God he worshiped. For Kuyper, creation was God’s art show. He understood the need to wrestle with the needs of his countrymen, who were the beneficiaries of his wisdom. There was nothing left untouched by God. And this presupposition propelled him to not only articulate the Reformed faith in a remarkably comprehensive fashion, but also made it appealing to the common people.

We need more Abraham Kuyper because Kuyper understood that the whole man needs a whole gospel. Every square inch is tattooed with Jesus’ Name, and so every man must also. Though Kuyper understood that the unbelieving man lives a life of inconsistency, Kuyper believed that he too could benefit from the goodness of God. This common grace was the natural outflow of a God who created and who sustains his creation.

It is true we could offer some critiques of Kuyper and his policies. But what Kuyper accomplished was monumental. He was not just a savvy politician and a brilliant theologian, he laid the roots for a consistent Calvinism. His lectures lay out these principles. Calvinism for him was not just a set of theological ideas, but a comprehensive system that exalted Jesus as Lord and called us as servants to declare that reality to the world. The world may be blinded to that truth, but Kuyper taught us that the Holy Spirit is in the business of opening blind eyes. Kuyper was certainly a man of and for his time, but I’d like to argue that he is a needed man for our time.

Uri Brito is the founder of Kuyperian Commentary.

What Kuyper May Have Gotten Wrong: The Certain Future Victory of the Gospel

What does Jesus expect to happen in world history?  We know what he told his disciples to make happen:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”(Matthew 28.18-20).

This is quite clear.  The disciples are to bring all national/ethnic groups (ethnoi) into submission to Jesus by teaching them everything Jesus commands so that they observe it.  This involves not just teaching a moral code, but initiation into a new society through baptism. Read more…

Depravity and Social Cooperation for Christians in Pluralistic Civilization

Abraham_KuyperPost by Mark Horne

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

We all know this Scripture (Matthew 7.9-11). It is part of a famous passage exhorting hearers to trust God and pray to him. What I find interesting about it is that it doesn’t come up more often in questions about human depravity and human virtue. I wish I knew what Abraham Kuyper said about these verses, since he wrote a great deal about “common grace.” As it stands now, what I mainly have is an extensive reading in virtually everything Cornelius Van Til ever wrote. Van Til was a famous Kuyperian, but my reading took place many years ago.

This passage strikes me as interesting because it seamlessly weds a dire verdict on human nature with  incredible optimism. Jesus says:

  1. you are evil
  2. you do good

What do we make of that? Read more…

A Note from the Founder: 700th Post

Greetings Kuyperians,

If you have been following the progress of this humble bunch you know that we enjoy life; more importantly, we enjoy the good life. We treasure angels, we despise angel-killers, we favor truth, and have an intense allergy for falsehood and hypocrisy. Above all, we like a good party! Part of this party-spirit stems from the inspiration to carry on our noble tasks as ambassadors of the Most High God. When we say we believe in God the Father Almighty, we are doing more than creedal recitation, we are challenging the world to a duel. This is why we are Christians. We refuse to give ground to unbelieving thought. Neutrality is one of those words we dare not utter unless we negate it.

Our purpose is to echo Kuyper’s words “Not Once Square Inch,” into every word and argument we make in this endeavor. I realize it’s a noble and difficult task to live so consistently with such a robust vision, but it’s what we aim for around here.

In this 700th post, we celebrate also over 50,000 hits. This may not seem much, but at the very least it says that our labors are not in vain, and that there is a legitimate need to discuss the issues we are discussing in this virtual lecture hall. So as we aim toward the next 50,000 hits, let me encourage you to spread the word! Share our posts on Facebook and Twitter. Leave comments and feedback on how we can better improve your reading experience. We really do believe what we say is worth listening to. And so on behalf of the 16 writers of Kuyperian Commentary, I would like to say thanks for your support and continual encouragement! Party on!

A Note from the Founder: The State of Kuyperian Commentary

Kuyperian Commentary began as an intense political interest of mine. My interest in Kuyper had its genesis in one of my independent papers I wrote under Professor John Frame at Reformed Theological Seminary.  My desire initially was to write a few pieces expressing my opinion over the political turmoil that ensued in the 2006-2008 presidential political cycle. As the 2012 campaign approached, I realized that this project was larger than I could bear, and that I needed additional voices to join my concerns.

As a result, Kuyperian Commentary grew from the fingers of a solitary typist Read more…

A New Conservative Manifesto?

DonQuixoteunhorsed

“How to revive the flagging fortunes of the Republican Party might matter to some people, but it’s not a question that should concern principled conservatives. Crypto-conservatives aplenty stand ready to shoulder that demeaning task.”

Several weeks ago a piece appeared over at The American Conservative touting itself as a manifesto-of-sorts for a re-envisioned and reinvigorated conservatism: “Counterculture Conservatism: the right needs less Ayn Rand, more Flannery O’Connor.” Before the literary among you get excited, I should warn you that author Andrew J. Bacevich interacts with O’Connor nowhere in the article; in fact, by the end, I felt a little like Inigo Montoya (“you keep using that name; I do not think it means who you think it means”). Anyway, Bacevich’s opening lines (quoted above) are one measure consolation, one measure exhortation, and just a splash of knowing self-congratulation

True enough, a lot of people predicted that if and when Republicans lost the 2012 election, the party would attempt to reinvent itself, distancing itself from “loser issues” like the sanctity of biblical marriage, or the fight against abortion (of course, the party had already begun to do this when they put Mitt Romney in the race, but what’s a few months one way or the other to the long memory of history?). ‘Republican’ and ‘Conservative’ might be related terms, but fortunately they are not perfect synonyms, and many of the latter woke up and found themselves too “principled” to remain attached to the former. I followed the author this far because, truthfully, I was in that number and could say, without irony, “thank God for conservatism,” but he (in this case, the article’s author) wasn’t finished yet.

What, then, is Bacevich’s vision of conservatism in the coming epoch?

“The conservative tradition I have in mind may not satisfy purists. It doesn’t rise to the level of qualifying as anything so grandiose as a coherent philosophy. It’s more of a stew produced by combining sundry ingredients. The result, to use a word that ought warm the cockles of any conservative’s heart, is a sort of an intellectual slumgullion.”

His recipe for this mess of pottage includes, among other thinkers, heavy doses of Flannery O’Connor (he drops her name a second time, but by now I’m even more skeptical that he could explain satisfactorily why she belongs in the discussion) and Wendell Berry (who recently came out in support of gay marriage, which will seem more relevant in a minute)—“don’t skimp” he writes.

Next, there are the sweeping, inspirational value statements about the human responsibility of stewardship—“preserving our common inheritance and protecting that which possesses lasting value”—the importance of community—“ Conservatives understand that the most basic community, the little platoon of family, is under unrelenting assault”—awareness of pain and suffering—“conservatives also believe in Original Sin, by whatever name”—and patriotism—“America is amber waves of grain, not SEAL Team Six.”

Bacevich finally descends to the level of clear details in outlining the task that is before the next generation conservative.

“The key to success will be to pick the right fights against the right enemies, while forging smart tactical alliances. (By tactical, I do not mean cynical.) Conservatives need to discriminate between the issues that matter and those that don’t, the contests that can be won and those that can’t….So forget about dismantling the welfare state. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and, yes, Obamacare are here to stay. Forget about outlawing abortion or prohibiting gay marriage. Conservatives may judge the fruits produced by the sexual revolution poisonous, but the revolution itself is irreversible.”

He warns against a Quixotic tilting at windmills, while adopting for himself the conciliatory tone of the Don on his deathbed, claiming that there are no birds in last year’s nests. I mention Don Quixote, but the reader may also be reminded of the first-century Sadducees with their “smart tactical alliances.” This conservatism begins to sound less countercultural and more concultural or syncultural. One could hope that the author simply intends the Church to play a larger role than the State in transforming culture, but churches are mentioned as a kind of afterthought in the close of his manifesto and largely as a sheepish concession that they all “may be flawed.” The piece reads instead, as if conservatives simply have bigger (largely financial) fish to fry.

More recently, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman wrote an article (also for The American Conservative) entitled “Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause,” arguing,

“There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship [a happy marriage] with the person they love.”

But his essay’s final remarks strike a now familiar chord that complicates the simplicity of that emotional appeal:

“We are at a crossroads. I believe the American people will vote for free markets under equal rules of the game—because there is no opportunity or job growth any other way. But the American people will not hear us out if we stand against their friends, family, and individual liberty.”

Neither Bacevich nor Huntsman is the force behind this shift, but they are both good indications of where the winds are blowing. Both outline a strategy that feigns compassion (or possibly misunderstands real compassion as a secondary end) in order to gain influence, especially in financial/economic arenas. These Conservatives are simply maneuvering to become the new Republicans and making moderate the new conservative.

Fortunately, the Christian remains more conservative than the Conservative. Kuyper would remind us that the state is meant to restrain sin out of love for the nation and concern for its culture; love and concern based in and upon the truly charitable, Gospel-oriented mission of the Church, where liberty and equality truly abide.

So, how to revive the flagging fortunes of the conservative movement might matter to some people, but it’s not a question that should concern principled Christians. Crypto-conservatives aplenty stand ready to shoulder that demeaning task.

 

Sean Johnson is a graduate student of Literature at the University of Dallas (TX) and husband to a beautiful pregnant woman.

The Fire of Your Faith

“When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.” —Abraham Kuyper

Tyranny’s Bane

“Abraham Kuyper was one of the most remarkable men of the twentieth century. A true polymath, the Dutch statesman made his mark as a pastor, theologian, journalist, educator, orator, publisher, politician, and reformer.” ~ Grantian Florilegium

Be enheartened and encouraged  this day by listening to this two-part lecture series delivered, by Dr. George Grant before an audience at the 2007 ACCS Conference in Atlanta, as a primer on the reformer of Dutch culture.

The Kuyperian Vision of Christ’s Lordship
(made available for free download or streaming by WordMP3)

Part 1 of 2
Part 2 of 2

“…Six months in to the German occupation of the Netherlands, Hitler issued a command that every single student who had ever graduated from Abraham Kuyper’s school, the Free University of Amsterdam, was to be hunted down, arrested, and treated as a Jew…high praise indeed.” ~ Dr. Grant

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