Christ declares “Mine!” over every square inch of creation.
In his well-known quote, Abraham Kuyper expressed the defining characteristic of his public theology: Jesus’ sovereignty extends over all things. He believed Christians should engage the whole world in all of its various spheres. But what does that comprehensive calling practically look like for us today?
In Engaging the World with Abraham Kuyper, Michael Wagenman explores the practical application of Kuyper’s public theology. Using Kuyper’s own life as an example, he shows us how the gospel can permeate all aspects of society: our identity, public discourse, education, the church, politics. Ultimately, this means engaging the world with perceptive truth that’s mindful of the dynamics at work in our time and place.
With faithful Christians in North America coming under attack as never before by the implacable proponents of secular modernism, Dr. Michael Wagenman has written a timely book on the remarkable success of Abraham Kuyper, the eminent Calvinist theologian and former prime minister of The Netherlands, in addressing much the same challenge toward the end of the 19th century.
–Rory Leishman, Columnist, The Interim: Canada's Life and Family Newspaper and author of Against Judicial Activism: The Decline of Freedom and Democracy in Canada
Abraham Kuyper still speaks powerfully to our day. The battle he was fighting to confess the Lordship of Jesus over all of life and the public truth of the gospel in the face of the powerful currents of modern humanism that sought to privatize the Christian faith is as important to the church today as then, if not more important! Michael Wagenman has given us a great popular introduction to Kuyper’s thought on the mission of the church in the public square set in his original context but with helpful reflection on its contemporary significance.
–Michael W. Goheen, Director of Theological Education, Missional Training Center
A wonderful introduction to Kuyper as a resource for our troubled times.
–John Hiemstra, Professor of Political Studies, The King’s University, Edmonton, Alberta
Michael Wagenman has written the introductory book on Abraham Kuyper I wished existed when I was a college student trying to figure Kuyper out.
–Shiao C. Chong, Editor in Chief, The Banner
“Kuyper believed two things about the church. First, the church has a God-given role to play in the civic marketplace of cultural institutions. And, second, this role cannot be carried out faithfully if the church retreats into the private sphere and adopts a defensive posture against the world or accepts the sacred-secular dualism and engages in a restricted ministry of only saving souls for heaven.” (Page 6)
“A theme that will be repeated often in the chapters ahead is Kuyper’s foundational conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord of all things. And because Jesus is Lord of all things, Christians must follow him into all areas of human life to display that lordship.” (Page 8)
“There were many Dutch Christians who, in the face of social change, wanted to legislate a return to an earlier, more seemingly faithful time. Kuyper vigorously and vocally opposed this particular logic. Attempts to romanticize past periods and then freeze time were inherently doomed to fail. Rather than maintaining a Christian veneer on society, Kuyper believed that God called each generation of Christians to discern how to apply the truth of the gospel to the present. Kuyper believed that the central truths of the Christian faith were unchanging and that Christians always need to authentically articulate these unchanging truths in new cultural moments.” (Page 14)
“He found that it had moved the center of authority from the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in authoritative Scripture to individual human judgment revealed through the authority of science, politics, and cultural trends. Inherent in this substitution, Kuyper discovered that Modernist Christianity limited Jesus’ sovereign and comprehensive lordship to only the spiritual or religious or ethical realms, leaving Jesus merely an inspirational model or compelling example for the rest of life, which was subject to a rival authority (for example, science).” (Page 16)
The Lived Theology series explores aspects of Christian doctrine through the eyes of the men and women who practiced it. Interweaving the contributions of notable individuals alongside their overshadowed contemporaries, we gain a much deeper understanding and appreciation of their work and the broad tapestry of Christian history. These books illuminate the vital contributions made by these figures throughout the history of the church.
Learn more about the other titles in this series.
Michael R. Wagenman (PhD, University of Bristol) is the Christian Reformed Church chaplain at Western University (London, Canada). He also teaches theology at Western and New Testament at Redeemer University College (Ancaster, Canada). He is author of Together for the World.