What that meant for Kuyper is that the state has a responsibility from God to promote justice, but the state has no responsibility or authority from God to establish the family, the church, the university, or business. All these spheres derive their character and responsibility directly from God. Kuyper believed that the authority for educating children was not the domain of the state or even the church, but rather the parents. In terms of church and state, the church is only responsible to God for the job that it’s doing. The state has no competence to tell the church how to do its job. No one can make any church more faithful to God and to His Word than God Himself can. It is the church’s responsibility, then, to be the church.
Kuyper said that the great danger of modern thought is that it becomes tyrannical, so either the state or the individual thinks it has all competence and authority regarding what ought to be done everywhere. And Kuyper said that the only real antidote to tyranny is to recognize that God has called each of the spheres to responsibly serve Him in its capacity.
The history of the West in the last two centuries has involved the struggle to avoid tyranny, to keep power limited, and to ensure that the various institutions of life that God has planted will be what God calls them to be. Kuyper said the way that we as Christians must try to implement these insights is by forming organizations and institutions to advance that cause.
He believed that the Christian cause would be advanced by the establishment of strong Christian institutions. Obviously, the church is the central institution. Secondarily, the Christian family is a critical institution. Beyond that, Kuyper believed that we need Christian schools, Christian labor unions, and Christian political parties. He believed that Christians should organize to advance their cause and to insist that their voices be heard in the public arena. That conviction of Kuyper is important for us today, when we are being told that our faith is a private matter and that we shouldn’t speak in the public arena.
What we as Christians must recognize is that we are a minority. And we, like every other minority, have a right to have our voices heard. We have a right to be listened to. Just as both political parties in the United States have listened carefully to various minority voting blocs, we as Christians should seek to articulate our point of view, to articulate policies we would like to see enacted, to advocate protections for our families, and then begin to lobby for those things and help politicians see that we will not vote for people who are against our interests.
But before we can do that, we must know what our interests are. We must be able to articulate them. And that is not an easy task. It is a confusing new world, and Christians have a lot of thinking to do. As we do so, the life and work of Abraham Kuyper can assist us in thinking through these challenging issues, so that in this day of confusion, uncertainty, and unrest, there might be a Christian voice that our society will listen to. And perhaps, by the blessing of the Spirit of God, that voice will succeed in those areas of life where we hope that truth will prevail.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 30, 2022.