At the beginning of the twentieth century, famed theologian Abraham Kuyper toured the Mediterranean world and encountered Islam for the first time.
Part travelogue, part cultural critique, On Islam presents a European imperialist seeing firsthand the damage colonialism had caused and the value of a religion he had never truly understood. Here, Kuyper’s doctrine of common grace shines as he displays a nuanced and respectful understanding of the Muslim world. Though an ardent Calvinist, Kuyper still knew that God’s grace is expressed to unbelievers. Kuyper saw Islam as a culture and religion with much to offer the West, but also as a threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here he expresses a balanced view of early twentieth-century Islam that demands attention from the majority world today as well. Essays by prominent scholars bookend the volume, showing the relevance of these teachings in our time.
It would be sufficient to commend this volume to say that it brings to the world the writings on Islam of this extraordinary Christian statesman and intellectual, who treats this great world religion with respect, sensitivity, admiration, and a traveler’s insight, all the while remaining rooted solidly in his deep Christian faith. But it is more: a model of engagement for our world, in which the relationship between Christianity and Islam is critical for the global future. The volume will be invaluable for the Christian engaged with Muslims but also for anyone interested in peace and productive friendship between the world’s great religions.
—Daniel Philpott, Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame
Abraham Kuyper’s travelogue volume written at the turn to the twentieth century is an invaluable time capsule for understanding Islam. The issues and problems Kuyper’s saw in the Muslim world in 1907 are still the major issues of the Muslim world today. Kuyper deals with the ‘fears’ that Christians of the Middle East felt from resurgent Islam. Most of the Christian communities he describes either no longer exist or are in exile. He wrote before the Armenian genocide. He deals with the lack of education of women in Islam and their oppression. He saw in the Mahdi of Sudan the same forces we see today in al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. One might say that his understanding of Islam in 1907 far exceeds that of the reflexive multi-culturalism dominant in Europe of the twenty-first century. His reflections on the Russo-Japanese War and its fallout, particularly Muslim expectations of western weakness, are worth the entire volume. Read this book!
—David G. Cashin, Professor of Intercultural Studies, Columbia International University
Abraham Kuyper took the public power of Islam seriously. He did not reduce the complex global faith to a private spirituality, a medieval superstition, or a battle cry. Nor did Kuyper believe that Islam would be quickly overcome by the power of modernity and Western reason. No, Kuyper understood Islam as a complex, pervasive, and potent global force with profound implications for politics, economics, education, science, and the family. Limited and imperfect to be sure, Kuyper’s insightful reflections represent a fascinating window into how a Christian might take Islam’s public and cultural implications seriously. Throughout this text, Kuyper’s many moments of Christian wonder and curiosity at Islam’s historic influence and future potential all model a posture that contemporary Christians would do well to note.
—Matthew Kaemingk, Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary
Lexham Press is pleased to announce the publication of a major series of new translations of Kuyper’s writings in public theology. Created in partnership with the Abraham Kuyper Translation Society and the Acton Institute, the Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology will mark a historic moment in Kuyper studies, and we hope it will deepen and enrich the church’s interest and engagement in public theology.
Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920) was one of the most extraordinary individuals of his time. A prolific intellectual and theologian, he founded the Free University in Amsterdam and was instrumental in the development of Neo-Calvinism. He was also an active politician, serving as a member of Parliament in the Netherlands beginning in 1874 and serving as Prime Minister from 1901 to 1905.
At this intersection of church and state, he devoted much of his writing towards developing a public theology. His passion was to faithfully understand and engage culture through a Christian worldview. The most famous example is his articulation of the doctrine of common grace. His work has influenced countless others, including Francis Schaeffer, Cornelius Van Til, and Alvin Plantinga.
Jordan J. Ballor (ThD, University of Zurich; PhD, Calvin Theological Seminary) is a research fellow at the Acton Institute and serves as executive editor of the Journal of Markets and Morality. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.
Melvin Flikkema (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is Senior Advisor at the Acton Institute. He coordinated the translation of the Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. He was previously the Provost of Kuyper College.