God’s word illumines the darkness of society.
Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer’s Unbelief and Revolution is a foundational work addressing the inherent tension between religion and modernity. As a historian and politician, Groen was intimately familiar with the growing divide between secular culture and the church in his time. Rather than embrace this division, these lectures, originally published in 1847, argue for a renewed interaction between the two spheres. Groen’s work served as an inspiration for many contemporary theologians, and as a mentor to Abraham Kuyper, he had a profound impact on Kuyper’s famous public theology.
Harry Van Dyke, the original translator, reintroduces this vital contribution to our understanding of the relationship between religion and society.
For any who wish to trace the ideological DNA that has sired the revival of much of modern Calvinism, the release of this seminal work is long past due and welcome. Paternity is, after all, important. Do you wish to broaden your understanding of the roots of the tradition that arcs back to Schaeffer, Van Til, Bavinck, Dooyeweerd, and Kuyper? Then take up this incredible volume and read. Three decades after its initial publishing, once again readers may access this classic text that provides a prophetic and potent critique of modernity.
—David W. Hall, Ph.D., Sr. Pastor, Midway Presb. Church, Powder Spings, GA
Are you a serious Christian alarmed about secularism? Then this volume gives you a powerful example of how it was once successfully met. Abraham Kuyper’s intellectual and cultural crusade against secularism was profoundly indebted to Groen van Prinsterer. This superb publication shows you how and why. You can neither adequately understand nor fully appreciate Kuyper, his associates, or the movement he mounted against the secularism of his era without knowing his mentor and inspiration. This work is vital reading for informed Christians.
—James A. De Jong, President (ret.), Calvin Theological Seminary
Van Dyke offers a well-grounded and stimulating introduction to the insights of the Dutch politician and historian Groen van Prinsterer as laid down in his book Ongeloof en Revolutie. Groen’s ideas are very relevant for today in addressing the issue of the presumed incompatibility between modernity and religious faith. The uniqueness of Groen is not that he wrestled with this problem—many of his contemporaries did so also—but that he defied the times by invalidating this incompatibility intellectually. His arguments against the divide between religion and modernity convinced many and changed the nature of Christianity in modern times from a faith on the defensive into a driving force in our reflection on the interaction between religion and society. Reading Groen is a power breakfast that energizes for a new day.
—George Harinck, Free University Amsterdam
“Hobbes. He takes his starting point in the state of nature, when men were free, but miserable, because of mutual strife” (Page 62)
“‘The Revolution began with the declaration of the rights of man; it will end only with the declaration of the rights of God.’” (Page 4)
“Revelation outright, is of the opinion that its pronouncements cannot be applied to politics. We, on the other hand, without looking for an encyclopedia in it, as some have done, hold the view that the Scriptures contain the foundation of justice and morality, of freedom and authority for private persons as well as for nations and governments. The Bible, searched sincerely and prayerfully, is the infallible touchstone. Unconditional submission to the Word of God has always been the guarantee both of dutiful obedience and of dutiful resistance, of order and of freedom. No doctrine of prideful self-perfection or wanton libertinism can exist alongside the pronouncements of Revelation. It is written! Here is the axe that cuts off every root of revolutionary misgrowth.” (Page 11)
“The Revolution ought to be viewed in the context of world history. Its significance for Christendom equals that of the Reformation, but then in reverse. The Reformation rescued Europe from superstition; the Revolution has flung the civilized world into an abyss of unbelief. Like the Reformation, the Revolution touches every field of action and learning. In the days of the Reformation the principle was submission to God; in these days it is a revolt against God.7 That is why there rages again today one universal war in church, state, and the world of learning, one holy battle over the supreme question: to submit unconditionally to the law of God, or not.” (Page 8)
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Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer (1801–1876), was a Dutch historian and statesman. An evangelical Calvinist, he fathered the anti-revolutionary, Christian-democratic movement in Holland.
Harry Van Dyke (DLitt, Free University of Amsterdam) is a Professor Emeritus of History at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, and a Fellow of the Dooyeweerd Centre for Christian Philosophy.