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Imagine if an opposition-party leader from another country were to visit the United States in 2002. What might he or she do? There might be an appearance on Nightline, a meeting with an undersecretary of state, perhaps a speech or two espousing typical political platitudes. In stark contrast stands the 1898 visit to America by Abraham Kuyper, leader of the opposition Anti-Revolutionary Party in the Netherlands. He came not just to establish government contacts or to build political capital. Rather, his primary purpose was to give a series of lectures at a seminary, taking as his topic the theme of Calvinism as an all-encompassing worldview. These six lectures were collected and published as Lectures on Calvinism, which is available from Eerdman’s and well worth reading.

Each of the six lectures Kuyper delivered at Princeton Seminary comprises a chapter in the book. The first is “Calvinism a Life-system.” He argues that a great war is going on between what we might call worldviews. On one side is modernism, which, Kuyper says, stands “in deadly opposition to [the] Christian element, against the very Christian name, and against its salutiferous influence in every sphere of life.” If Christianity is to hold its own in this battle, he says, “we have to take our stand in a life-system of equally comprehensive and far-reaching power.” That life-system, he declares, is Calvinism, for unlike some “vague conception of Protestantism,” it can “furnish human society with a different method of existence, and . . . populate the world of the human heart with different ideals and conceptions.” Such is Kuyper’s high view of Calvinism.

He goes on in the subsequent lectures/chapters to support this bold assertion by showing how Calvinism finds expression in and affects such realms of life as religion, politics, science, and art. Then, in the final chapter, he explores what must be done if Calvinism is to engage modernism effectively.

Through Kuyper’s words, Calvinism emerges as the best and brightest of all worldviews.

Not One Square Inch

Courage and Kuyper

Keep Reading Abraham Kuyper: A Man for All Spheres

From the October 2002 Issue
Oct 2002 Issue