Abraham Kuyper His Life and Legacy PART ONE: Abraham Kuyper - A Sketch of His Life

Reformed Christians are rightly suspicious when certain persons are singled out for inordinate praise. They can appreciate John Calvin’s insistence that no church should take the name “Calvinist,” since this would detract from the glory that is due alone to God (soli Deo gloria!). “Let him who boasts, boast only in the Lord” — this is a motto that holds true not only with respect to our salvation, narrowly considered, but also for life in general. What we are, what we have, and what we have received all of these are ours by God’s grace alone. Consequently, it will not do to give too much attention or emphasis to the praise of men.

Although this is a genuine and properly biblical suspicion, it can lead to an improper reluctance to acknowledge gratefully what the Lord Himself has given to us in the life and labor of His servants. It is instructive to notice how often in the epistles of the New Testament, the apostles single out by name those who labored with them in the cause of the gospel and for whom they give thanks in the Lord (compare Romans 16). The example afforded us by the biblical writers surely warrants our doing likewise with those through whom the Lord continues to accomplish His purposes and to whom we are indebted in many ways. Indeed, a failure to remember the labor and legacy left us by believers who have gone before us, represents a kind of ingratitude to the Lord for what we have received. It also expresses a sort of inattention to history and its lessons that is inconsistent with the Christian confession of Christ’s lordship in His gathering of His people and establishing of His kingdom.

I mention this as a kind of apology for my readiness, at the invitation of the editors of The Outlook, to write an article or (as the case turns out, DV) a series of articles on the life and contributions of Abraham Kuyper. Actually, I might more accurately speak of my eagerness to do so. No single individual has exercised greater influence or left a more rich legacy to the Reformed churches, particularly those which in God's providence find their historical roots in the Netherlands, than Abraham Kuyper. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Kuyper ranks only behind John Calvin as a figure of influence and significance within the Dutch Reformed tradition. Were it only a matter of acknowledging his importance in the history of this tradition, Abraham Kuyper would deserve our attention and interest.

But it is more than that: Kuyper continues to be a figure of great importance for the present life and witness of the Reformed community, not only in the Netherlands where in many places he has been forgotten, but also in North America. Kuyper’s influence and legacy deserve our careful evaluation. There is much that the Reformed community can continue to learn from Kuyper’s reforming labor.

There is as well an historical occasion for treating the life and contributions of Abraham Kuyper. This year of our Lord, 1998, represents the centennial year of Kuyper’s famous Stone Lectures delivered at Princeton Theological Seminary. Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism comprise a kind of broad-stroked introduction to his distinctive understanding of the world and life view of Calvinism. In these lectures, delivered in English to a North American audience, Kuyper provided a kind of distillation of his central reforming ideas, a distillation that serves as a kind of window into the world of Kuyper’s intellectual grasp and vision.1

In this first article, I will begin with a brief sketch of Kuyper’s life and labors. In subsequent articles, Kuyper’s distinctive contributions and views as a churchman, theologian, statesman and advocate of a Calvinist world-view will be considered.

KUYPER’S EARLY LIFE, EDUCATION, AND “CONVERSION”

Little is known about Kuyper’s early life and boyhood years. What we do know is largely based upon Kuyper’s own recollections in later years.

Kuyper was born in Maassluis, the Netherlands, on October 29, 1837. His parents were the Reverend Jan Hendrik and Henriette Huber Kuyper. Nurtured in the parsonage, Kuyper received his earliest education from his parents before attending grammar school in Middelburg and Leiden, towns to which his father was called as a minister in the Hervormde Kerk, the state church of the Netherlands.
Upon beginning his formal education in grammar school at Leiden, Kuyper began to evidence the kind of extraordinary intellectual gifts and  breadth of interests that would characterize his adult life and labor. On several occasions, he was granted the privilege of presenting a word of thanks (Gratis) to the teachers of his school at the close of the year. During this period of time, he also demonstrated a keen interest in newspapers and politics, an interest that would prove prophetic of his later activities as a journalist and politician. After concluding with excellence his grammar school preparation, Kuyper enrolled in the summer of 1855 as a student of theology at Leiden University, one of the leading schools of theology in the Netherlands. Kuyper’s years of study at Leiden reflected many of the qualities that would distinguish his life thereafter: unstinting dedication to his work, an energetic work ethic that often brought him to the verge of exhaustion and breakdown, and a kind of buoyancy and enthusiasm about his interests and pursuits that was contagious.

By his own account Kuyper’s years at Leiden were ones during which he came under the spell of “modernism.” Though his father belonged to the moderate and more “orthodox” wing of the Hervormde Kerk,2 Kuyper was unable to resist the temptation of modernistic and liberal theology which was so ably and compellingly represented at Leiden during this period by such figures as J. H. Scholten, A Kuenen and L.W.E. Rauwenhoff. By his own testimony later. expressed with regret and sorrow, Kuyper recalled his joining with fellow students in giving Scholten a standing ovation after a lecture in which Scholten had denied the bodily resurrection of Christ. The modernism which Kuyper confronted at Leiden was a form of “mediating theology,” one which was not as openly radical in its denial of the faith as some forms of liberalism. Elements of this theology included: a diminishing of the importance of orthodox doctrine, a corresponding emphasis upon the ethical dimensions of the Christian life, and an acceptance of the principles and practice of biblical criticism.

Though Kuyper’s years of study at Leiden provided much of the intellectual and cultural formation that would undergird his later work as a minister of the gospel journalist statesman, educator and advocate of a distinctively Calvinist world and life view, the period of his studies at Leiden and during his first pastorate in Beesd (1863–1867) would prove to be most decisive because of the “conversion” that he underwent. Though he was enamored for a season with the attraction of modernism and entered the ministry without definite convictions of a distinctively Reformed character, it was during this period, by his own testimony, that a series of events occurred within God's providence that would transform his heart and life.

In a fascinating account of this transformation and his new outlook, Kuyper singled out three events that together brought about under God’s providential working, this shift in his position and allegiance.3

The first of these events was a remarkable and extraordinary providence of God that Kuyper experienced during the preparation and writing of his prize-winning essay on John aLasco, the great Polish Reformer. At the advice of his “loyal counselor and inspiring teacher,” Professor De Vries, Kuyper entered a contest sponsored by the University of Groningen. After a disappointing and largely fruitless search for copies of aLasco's works in the libraries of the Netherlands and Europe, Kuyper reported back to De Vries his findings. Professor De Vries encouraged Kuyper to visit his father, a minister in Haarlem with an extensive library, to inquire whether he had any Lasciana or copies of a Lasco's writings. Upon his first visit to the elder De Vries, Kuyper was informed that he would search his library but did not believe that he had much, if anything, to offer Kuyper to pursue his research. Returning a week later by appointment, Kuyper reports as follows what transpired and how it affected him:

You can imagine my feelings when, upon entering the old preacher’s home and having been welcomed in a most friendly manner, I heard him say as if it were the simplest thing in the world: “Here’s what I’ve found,” pointing to an ample pile of duodecimos waiting for me on a table. Truly, I could hardly believe my eyes. How could this be? To have rummaged through all the libraries in our country. To have gone through the catalogues of the major libraries of Europe. To have found nowhere, not even in some forgotten corner...the slightest collection of aLasco’s works. In all the anthologies, in all the guides to rare works, in all the literary compendia I had read time and again that people had simply recopied the titles of aLasco's works without ever seeing the actual volumes; that his works were considered extremely rare; that most were probably lost for good; and that except for two or three individuals, no one in the last two centuries had actually held them in his hands! Then suddenly, as if by a miracle, to see before me a collection of Lasciana more complete than was—and is to be found in any library in all of Europe...In all honesty you must personally experience such a surprise in your own life struggle to know what it is to encounter a miracle of God on life’s journey.4

Stimulated by the discovery of these works of aLasco, Kuyper went on to write his essay in Latin, as was required, and won the prize. This work then became the basis for his doctoral dissertation on a Lasco. Kuyper’s labors as a student were so intense and exhausting that before completing his doctoral work, he suffered a breakdown and was required to rest for a period of six months.

The second of these events was Kuyper’s reading of a famous English novel by Charlotte Yonge, The Heir of Radcliffe. This novel a gift from his fiancee, Johanna,5 was written within the context of John Henry Newman’s Oxford movement and reflects its high-church concept and emphasis reading this novel, Kuyper recounts that he was deeply moved by the spiritual experiences of its hero, Philip de Morville, especially his deep sorrow for his sin and humility of heart:

At that moment—I was by myself—I felt the scene overwhelm me. I read how Philip wept, and, dear brother, tears welled up in my eyes too. I read that Philip knelt and before I knew it, I was kneeling in front of my chair with folded hands. Oh, what my soul experienced at that moment I fully understood only later. Yet, from that moment on I despised what I used to admire and I sought what I had dared to despise.6

Shaken by this experience, Kuyper recognized his own pride and temptation to trust in his own abilities. He also recognized the need for a living church whose ministry and teaching could give birth to and nurture the kind of faith and piety evidenced in the life of Philip, the hero of Charlotte Yonge’s novel.

The third and last of these events was Kuyper’s experience in his first pastorate in Beesd. There he found himself confronted by a number of parishioners who, in protest against the modernism of the church, refused to attend the services. Though Kuyper was warned to stay away from and ignore these “malcontents,” he found himself drawn to them and made it his practice to call upon them in their homes. What Kuyper found among these orthodox believers in the congregation in Beesd surprised and affected him deeply. These church members not only knew the Scriptures, but they were also deeply convicted and committed to their teaching. In their simple, unsophisticated manner, they testified to a profound biblical wealth of conviction, to a “well-ordered world-view.” Again, Kuyper’s own words well express the significance of this experience:

Here was conviction. Here the topics of conversation went beyond the nice weather and who happened to be illand who had dismissed his workman. Here was interest in spiritual matters. Moreover, here was knowledge. With the meager Bible knowledge I had picked up at the university I could not measure up to these simple folk. And not just knowledge of the Bible but also of a well-ordered worldview be it of the old Reformed type... Furthermore — and for me this was the greatest attraction — here spoke a heart that had a history and life-experience, its own observations and emotions, and that not only had them but knew them.7

Undoubtedly, these experiences as well as others, in the working of God’s providence, proved to be instrumental in changing Kuyper from a proud student and gifted pastor, one whose biblical convictions were meager at best, to a more humble servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, one anxious to use his gifts in the service of the kingdom of God. They also helped to form Kuyper’s conviction that the common people with biblical convictions ought to be appealed to and reached with the summons to live before the Lord in obedience to His ordinances. Kuyper’s lasting impression of the orthodox believers in his first pastorate in Beesd prompted him throughout the course of his life to appeal broadly to the ordinary Reformed believers of the Netherlands.

KUYPER AS CHURCH REFORMER AND LEADER

After his first pastorate in Beesd, Kuyper took a call to serve as the pastor of the Domkerk in Utrecht (1867). a city that had been a stronghold of the orthodox wing of the Hervormde Kerk. Kuyper came to Utrecht anxious to fight for the freedom of the church from interference by the state and the restoration of the confessions to their rightful place in the church. He thus embarked upon an ambitious program of reform of the church, something that would remain at the forefront of his interest throughout his life.

Kuyper’s first foray into the church struggle occurred in 1867, prior to the beginning of his pastorate in Utrecht, with the publication of a pamphlet on the right of church members to vote on matters such as the appointment of office-bearers. With this pamphlet and a subsequent stream of published pamphlets and sermons, Kuyper threw himself wholly into the struggle to restore the Hervormde Kerk to its original position as a free church (free, that is, from the control and superintendence of state authorities) united by its commitment to the confessional standards of the Reformation. Though Kuyper’s orthodoxy and zeal to defend the faith within the Hervormde Kerk were admirable qualities to many in Utrecht and the congregation he served, Kuyper’s tactics, including direct appeals to the general public and aggressive pursuit of his objectives, were not always appreciated by his parishioners and other members of the church in Utrecht. Many prominent members of the “Ethical” wing of the Hervormde Kerk took strong exception to Kuyper’s efforts and publicly opposed him.

The difficulties he experienced in Utrecht were partly responsible for Kuyper’s decision to take a call to the church in Amsterdam in 1870. Not only was Kuyper involved in the church struggle during this period, but he also was increasingly engaged in the school question and national politics in association with Groen Van Prinsterer and the antirevolutionary movement. Amsterdam provided Kuyper a platform to appeal to a larger and more national audience. This reflected one of the characteristic features of Kuyper’s life’s work: his organizational ability and deliberate attempt to make his appeal to a wide and popular audience among the Dutch people (among the “kleine luljden,” the “little people,” as Kuyper affectionately termed them). Due to his increased involvements and dedication to a variety of educational, journalistic and political efforts, Kuyper took emeritation as a minister in 1874, though he retained his seat as an elder in the Amsterdam consistory.

Though no longer retaining the status of an active minister, Kuyper did not cease his activities as a church reformer and leader. During the 1880’s and 1890’s, he published a great number of meditative and devotional works.s He also served as Rector Magnificus and professor of dogmatic theology at the Free University during this period. However, his most significant involvement in the church  struggle occurred in the years 1883–1892.

In 1883, Kuyper published a substantial treatise on the reformation of the church in which he argued for the maintenance of the church confessions, the freedom of the local churches from synodical hierarchy, and the admission of Free University graduates into the ministry of the Hervormde Kerk.8 In the struggle which ensued, a separation occurred from the Hervormde Kerk in 1886. This separation which started with the Amsterdam consistory and congregation became known as the Doleantie (meaning “Lament” or “Sorrow”) and resulted in the formation of a new federation of churches, the Nederduitscfte Gereformeerde Kerken.

These churches numbered approximately two hundred congregations with 180,000 members by 1889. Though many sympathizers with Kuyper remained within the Hervormde Kerk, most of those who seceded during this period united with those churches which belonged to an earlier secession from the Hervormde Kerk, the Afscheiding of 1834. The joining together of these two federations of seceding churches took place in 1892, forming the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland.

Though some interpreters of Kuyper might be puzzled by the extent of his interest and involvement in this church struggleconsidering the wide diversity and extent of his other involvements during this time — Kuyper was convinced that, unless the church were reformed and preached faithfully the fulness of the biblical gospel, there was no prospect for the renewal of the life of the Dutch people and nation. A strong and faithful church was, in Kuyper’s conviction, the divinely appointed instrument for the granting of new life and the nurturing of faith among the people of God. His other activities — in education, politics and culture — could not prosper without a reservoir of Calvinist conviction born out of the faithful work of a Reformed and Calvinist church.

KUYPER AS CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR, JOURNALIST AND STATESMAN

Concurrent with these church developments and activities, Kuyper was increasingly engaged in various efforts as an educator, journalist and statesman. As noted already, Kuyper took emeritation as a minister in order to pursue his work in these areas.

Already during the period of his pastorate in Utrecht, Kuyper had become involved on the national level with issues relating to Christian education and the school struggle in the Netherlands. In May 1860 he had joined Groen Van Prinsterer, senior.

Though some interpreters of Kuyper might be puzzled by the extent of his interest and involvement statesman and anti-revolutionary, at a conference of the Dutch Society for Christian Education, at which Kuyper presented the opening speech. In his speech, Kuyper articulated his conviction that the school should not be owned and administered by the state but by an association of people adhering to common principles. This meant that Reformed believers should be free to establish schools founded upon principles unique to their confessional position. Other associations could likewise establish schools in keeping with their principles. But, according to Kuyper, it was not the task of the state to establish schools or to determine the common principles which would dictate all statesponsored education. This speech provoked a strong reaction by many of the “Ethical” or middle party of the Hervormde Kerk who advocated state schools whose objective it would be to train all the students in the general principles of Christian culture and morality.

Kuyper’s conviction, that Christian education and schools based upon distinctively Christian principles should be free of state ownership and control, culminated in the founding of the “Free University” in 1880. The founding of this university, the first in Dutch history that was not under the authority and control of the state, began with the formation in 1878 of a Society for Higher Education on the basis of Reformed Principles (Vereniging voor Hooger Onderwijs op Gereformeerden Grondslag). Though fiercely opposed by many leading figures in Dutch society and in the Hervormde Kerk, Kuyper successfully appealed for support to the “kleine luyden,” the little people of the Netherlands who cherished the idea of a school free from state control and free to teach in the line of the historic principles of Calvinism. As the first Rector Magnificus and professor of dogmatic theology, Kuyper delivered, on the occasion of the opening of the Free University, his famous treatise on the principle of what has come to be known in short-hand as “sphere-sovereignty.”10

As a means of communicating his vision and principles to a broad and popular audience, Kuyper wielded his pen in a powerful and persuasive way. I have already mentioned Kuyper’s boyhood fascination with newspapers and his later effective use of published pamphlets and treatises in the context of the church struggle. Each of these was onlya promise of what wouldbecome a long and distinguished labor as a journalist and publicist. Kuyper’s bibliographywhich includes over 200 entries, many of which are multi-volume works is comprised of a large number of works that originally flowed from his facile pen as newspaper or journal articles. Nowhere was Kuyper’s extraordinary productivity and energy more evident than in his labors as a writer.11 Shortly after becoming the chief editor of a weekly religious newspaper De Heraut in 1871, Kuyper founded and became the chief editor of the daily newspaper De Standaard in 1872. By means of his editorship of these publications, Kuyper successfully articulated and communicated to a national audience his convictions with respect to a wide variety of issues. From Kuyper’s pen, articles flowed on such matters as the church struggle, the school question, the formation and principles undergirding the Anti-Revolutionary Party, theological and biblical topics, and a broad range of issues addressed from the standpoint of a Calvinistic world and life view.

Both Kuyper’s involvement in the school question in the Netherlands and his work as a newspaper journalist were closely linked to his political activity and role in forming the Anti-Revolutionary Party. Together with Groen Van Prinsterer, his political mentor and inspiration, Kuyper entered politics initially to fight for the cause of Christian education and schools free from state control. His journalism was also initially dedicated to communicating many of the social and political ideas that inspired Groen Van Prinsterer and eventually were embodied in the Anti-Revolutionary Party. After his emeritation as a minister in 1874, Kuyper presented himself for the first time as a candidate for parliament and won by a large margin. At this time, the one issue that galvanized the followers of Van Prinsterer was the school question. However, they were loosely organized and uncertain of the principles that would guide their policies and statecraft. Kuyper’s leadership inParliament in the successful fight for schools free from state control became the occasion for his role as the founder of the Anti-Revolutionary Party in 1879 as the first, formally organized and modern party in Dutch politics. The formation of this party, including the articulation of its first set of principles and program in De Standaard, were largely due to Kuyper’s unstinting efforts and organizational prowess. As the first chairman and founder of the party, Kuyper served several terms as a member of Parliament and a tenure as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901–1905.

THE KEY TO KUYPER’S LIFE AND LABOR

No one reading a brief sketch of the life of Abraham Kuyper can avoid the question — what explains this prodigious effort and activity in such wide and varied areas? What thread could tie together or explain Kuyper’s interests in the gospel, the church, and theology, on the onehand, and education, politics, and culture, on the other hand? Why was Kuyper so keenly interested in so many things? And why did he labor in so many areas from the standpoint of what he so characteristically called “Calvinism as a life-system”? Kuyper’s own answer tothis question will occupyour attention in subsequent issues in this series on his life and legacy, so I will not attempt togive anything like an adequate or full answer to it here. However, it should be noted that the common thread tieing together all of Kuyper’s activities was his conviction regarding the world and life view he preferred to term “Calvinism.”12 This world and life view left no arena untouched or issue unaddressed. Nothing fell outside of its range of vision. Nothing was exempt from its scrutiny, criticism or interest.

Rather than begin to explain this world and life view in this sketch of Kuyper’s life, I will close with two well-known statements of Kuyper that express concisely his answer to this question. The first of these is taken from Kuyper’s inaugural address on the subject of sphere-sovereignty on the occasion of the founding of the Free University. The second is taken from an editorial in De Standaard on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Kuyper’s editorship in 1897.

No single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ. who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!”13

One desire has been the ruling passion of my life. One high motive has acted like a spur upon my mind and soul. And sooner than that I should seek escape from the sacred necessity that is laid upon me, let the breath of life fail me. It is this: That in spite of all worldly opposition, God’s holy ordinances shall be established again in the home, in the school and in the State for the good of the people; to carve as it were into the conscience of the nation the ordinances of the Lord, to which Bible and Creation bear witness, until the nation pays homage again to God.14

In these statements, Kuyper gave expression to his conviction that God is the Sovereign Creator and Redeemer of all things in Christ. God’s sovereignty is the basic principle of Calvinism, not only in matters pertaining narrowly to salvation but also in all matters relating to His creation-kingdom. Christ redeems His people for a purpose: that they might serve Him as King, being restored to their office as servant-stewards within the arena of the creation.

Having filled out the years assigned to him by the Lord he so energetically served throughout his life, Abraham Kuyper fell asleep in the Savior, October 29, 1920. “‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ ‘Yes’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them’” (Rev. 14:13).

SELECTED ENGLISH SOURCES ON KUYPER’S LIFE

The following sources in English provide good surveys of Kuyper’s life and work, and form the basis for much of my brief sketch of Kuyper’s life in this article:

• Bratt, James D, Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader. Grand Rapids: Eerdroans, 1998. Known for his study Dutch Calvinism in North America, Bratt has brought together a number of Kuyper’s important writings in English translation. This anthology, introduced by a fine essay on “Abraham Kuyper: His World and Work” is an outstanding resource for English readers who wish to sample Kuyper’s works (and, hopefully, find their appetite whetted for more), many of which have not been available in English translation. Bratt provides
a useful annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources on Kuyper.

• Heslam, Peter S, Creating a Christian Worldview: Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998. Heslam’s study is a revised version of his doctoral dissertation. He provides a careful study of Kuyper’s Stone Lectures, placing Kuyper in historical context. Heslam’s study is of special interest, since Heslam writes as a curate in the Anglican church.

• Kuyper, Abraham, Lectures on Calvinism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1931. The best single summary of Kuyper’s thought available in English.

• Kuyper, Abraham, To Be Near Unto God. Trans. with an introduction and biographical sketch by John Hendrik De Vries. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans & Sevensma, 1918. A classic example of Kuyper’s meditative writing.

• Praamsma, Louis, Let Christ Be King: Reflections on the Life and Times of Abraham Kuyper. Jordan Station, Ontario: Paideia, 1985. A sympathetic but not uncritical treatment of Kuyper’s life.

• Vanden Berg, Frank. Abraham Kuyper: A Biography. st. Catherines, Ontario: Paideia, 1978.

Aimed at the general reader, this is the only book-length biography of Kuyper available in English. Vanden Berg writes as an admirer and advocate of Kuyper's position.

FOOTNOTES

1. Peter Heslam’s new study, Creating a Christian Worldview, is an outstanding source on these lectures. The lectures themselves are perhaps the best single statement of Kuyper’s views available in English. They were first written for and presented to an English-speaking audience and represent. according to Kuyper’s own intention, a summary of his understanding of Calvinism as a life-system.

2. It is customary to speak of three broad parties of conviction and approach that existed within the Hervormde Kerk. One party was the modernistic or liberal wing of the church. Another was the conservative or orthodox wing. Between these two there was a broad middle or moderate party known as the “Ethicals.” This last party, though not abandoning some of the historic convictions of the Christian faith, was marked by an emphasis upon the greater importance of Christian experience and morality than doctrine or confession. Kuyper’s father probably belonged to the more conservative party within the Hervormde Kerk. but it was a conservatism moderated by the attraction of the Ethical position.

3. Bratt includes a portion of this article in his anthology. Abranam Kuyper: A Centennial Reader (pp. 45–61), with the title “Confidentially” originally, Kuyper entitled his treatise, Confidentie: Scflrijven aan den Weled. Heer J. H. van der Linden (Amsterdam: Hoeveker & Zoon, (873). and it went on to 114 pages! My references in what follows are to the translation in Bratt’s anthology.

4. “Confidentially,” pp. 50–51.

5. Kuyper married Johanna Hendrika Schaay on July 1, 1863, a marriage that was blessed with eight children. This marriage occurred just prior to his first pastorate in Beesd where he was ordained on August 9 of the same year.

6. “Confidentially,” p. 54.

7. “Confidentially,” pp. 55–56. Among these believers in Beesd, Kuyper later recalled one young woman in particular, Pietje Baltus, whose stubborn resistance to his modernistic sympathies made a profound impression upon him.

8. The collection of meditations, To Be Near Unto God, is a good example of Kuyper’s meditative ability. Written in a style that reflects Kuyper’s literary ability and interest (too richly embroidered by our contemporary tastes, I suspect!), these meditations belie any attempt to say that Kuyper was too “worldly” in his interests and inattentive to the cultivation of a true Christian spirituality. Kuyper was many things, chief among them a devout believer who found his comfort in life and in death in belonging to his faithful Savior, our Lord lesus Christ.

9. Tractaat van de reformatie der kerken, aan de zonen der reformatie flier te lande op Lutner’s vierde eeuwfeest aangeboden (Amsterdam: Hoeveker, (883).

10. Souvereiniteit in eigen kring. Rede ter inwijding van deVrije Universiteit, den 20sten October 1880 genouden in net Koor der Nieuwe Kerk te Amsterdam door Dr A. Kuyper (Amsterdam: Kruyt, (880). Bratt includes an English translation of this important address in his anthology (pp. 463–490).

11. Perhaps this is the place to note that it was during this period that Kuyper suffered his second and last breakdown due to overwork and the stresses of his involvements in church and state struggles. Complicating and perhaps contributing to this breakdown was Kuyper’s involvement with and initial enthusiasm for the revivalist and Christian perfectionist movement associated with the names of Dwight L. Moody, Ira D. Sankey and Robert Pearsall Smith. Kuyper, during a particularly stressful period of time (summer of (875). vacationed in England and attended a series of evangelistic meetings, including a mass rally in Brighton. Though initially enthused with this experience and what he had heard, upon his return to the Netherlands disillusionment with this movement and other pressures led Kuyper to a second breakdown. Thereafter Kuyper sought to discipline his work habits more carefully to avoid exhaustion. He also became a critic of the dangers of the pietism and subjectivism of what he called “methodism.”

12. Kuyper preferred this term to “Reformed,” since the latter term is more restricted in its reference to a particular ecclesiastical confession and communion. Calvinism served his purpose better because it was more easily useful to describe a world and life view that was broader and more embracing than any ecclesiastical confession and communion.

13. “Sphere Sovereignty” (in John Bratt, Abranam Kuyper A Centennial Reader). p. 488.

14. As translated and quoted by J. H. De Vries (“Biographical Note” in Lectures on Calvinism), p. iii.

Dr. Venema teaches Doctrinal Studies at Mid-America Seminary in Dyer, IN.

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