The Kuyperian Commentary

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

Archive for the category “Abraham Kuyper”

Why Kuyperians Won’t Secede

You say you want a secession; well you know, we all want to change the world. Hopefully, your reaction to the recent post-election secession petitions included at least a little laughter—after all, asking the white house for permission to secede is pretty funny. However, considered as acts of symbolical protest, the petitions are another significant indication of the deep dissatisfaction and division within our nation. And while the authors of some of those petitions may have conceived of them as nothing more than protests, there was and is a seriousness among some of the folks involved—a “wouldn’t it be nice if we could secede” kind of sentiment. The reality of state secession in the near future is probably very slim, especially considering the responses of some governors, but the principle may still warrant some consideration.

I call this little essay—or foray, or attempt, or what-you-will—“Why Kuyperians Won’t Secede” because Kuyperian thought seems to offer one of the more obvious challenges to the remarks I’m about to make. I want to claim that secession is at odds with the religious duty of a Christian. Immediately, the notion of sphere sovereignty could be invoked in order to argue that, in fact, secession is a question for the civil/political sphere while Christian duty is a question of the religious sphere; that our civil citizenship should be considered distinct from our (religious) Kingdom citizenship. This is only a problem on the surface, though. The important (Kuyperian) distinction between those two citizenships is precisely what makes the possibility of justifiable secession so unlikely.

Only when we begin to conflate our Kingdom citizenship with our civil citizenship can we seriously conceive of guarding the former (and the privileges thereof) with the intensity we ought to reserve for guarding the latter (and the privileges thereof). The discussion gets a little awkward, however, when we realize that our own nation was conceived out of something very closely resembling that conflation. A conviction that the state ought to safeguard life, liberty, etcetera is right and good, but our particular formulation of those goods as certain “inalienable rights” is a formulation that smacks of Deism—a belief system in which the political sphere takes on a truncated importance because God is not an immanent deity interested in defending or vindicating His Church. If the privileges safeguarded by our civil citizenship come to encompass not only life, liberty, etc. but the life of the soul, the liberty of the spirit, etc. then secession—trading a government that safeguards those privileges poorly for one that safeguards them well (we’re still assuming, for the sake of argument, that any civil govt. could safeguard them at all)—is not just an option, it’s an imperative. However, keeping the sphere-distinction in mind like good Kuyperians, we realize that civil citizenship only confers the kinds of privileges we are called to hold loosely.

Our civil citizenship is the gift that allows us to serve and bless the city. We don’t see St. Paul making use of his civil citizenship to hold property or to vote, but to get to Rome with the Gospel. And it’s no good nodding in agreement and then maintaining that secession is simply there as a “last resort,” because that does as much good for fostering good statesmanship as keeping a divorce attorney on retainer does for fostering marital cooperation. God is faithful; bless the city (excellent practical guidance for doing so can be found here) and the city will become (or return to being) a place worth living.

The Life and Legacy of Abraham Kuyper

Note: Readers of Kuyperian Commentary should be well informed with the thinking of Abraham Kuyper. I offer a broad overview of his life and legacy.

The man who changed the face of Calvinism. The man who was “the first Christian in a very profound way to come to grips with the fact that the world has been transformed.”[1] The man who influenced the political, theological, sociological, and educational history of the Western World. His name is Abraham Kuyper.

I mentioned this in my Reformation Sunday sermon two years ago, and I want to stress again how history can be summarized. History can be summarized in four stages: “The Church Formed, the Church De-Formed, the Church Reformed, and the Church transformed.” This is how I want you to think of history in this four-fold pattern. This is the view I want you to embrace of the past, present, and future. We are currently in this period of the Church being transformed, and when the Church is transformed, everything else around it is transformed also. The Church’s environment eventually—for the good or bad—becomes the ethos of our culture.

Read more…

A Christian Party?

In reviewing the life of Abraham Kuyper who started his own political party in the Netherlands, McKendree R. Langley observed:

In America today, a Christian political party would not be viable because of our two-party system, but there is always a need for believers to get involved in Christian organizations of all kinds for witness and positive influence. But above all, we should be encouraged to discern the clash of unbelieving influences in society with the holy standards of our Lord. This will help us make God-honoring decisions affecting ourselves, our children, our schools, our churches, and our country.

Do readers of Kuyperian Commentary agree?

Kuyper’s Covenantal Theology

To know how Kuyper would apply his thinking to all areas of life (politics, economy, etc.) one must be familiar with his theology. In particular, one must know that Kuyper had a very distinct Trinitarian theology. According to Ralph Smith, Kuyper’s “trinitarian covenant is the true prototype of every covenant.” Therefore, to understand Kuyper demands a prior knowledge of Trinitarian covenantal theology.

Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper

Yon can read Kuyper’s lectures for free.

Abraham Kuyper and the Secularization of Society

Kuyper did not believe in the churchification of the Dutch society. He believed that the various spheres are independent of one another, though all spheres submit to the authority of Christ. He did not attempt to form an ecclesiastical bureaucracy, but he strove to obey God in whatever capacity he was in. Kuyper believed in a voluntary society of Christ’s followers who revolutionized society through example.

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