Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920) was one of the most extraordinary individuals of his time: the founder of a political party, a university, and a Reformed denomination, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and an incredibly prolific author on a dizzying array of subjects. Despite these accomplishments, his importance and contribution have not been widely recognized in North America.
This is beginning to change.
A resurgence of interest in Kuyper, his life, and his writings is taking hold as Christians search for ways to faithfully understand and engage culture.
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.
Want a preview of some of the volumes in the Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology? Get these three excerpts for free!
In Our Program, Kuyper makes a comprehensive effort to engage the secular politics of his day with a Christian alternative. In an era where the church usually either controlled or was controlled by the state, Kuyper showed that it was possible to frame a political program where church and state engage each other but remain separate. Though bound to its time, Our Program is timely for Christians looking for examples of faith working in the political sphere.
In Common Grace Abraham Kuyper presents a constructive public theology of cultural engagement rooted in the humanity Christians share with the rest of the world. He addresses a gap in the development of Reformed teaching on divine grace, and he articulates a Reformed understanding of God’s gifts that are common to all people after the fall into sin. This first volume contains Kuyper’s demonstration of common grace in its origin and operation.
Common Grace is often considered Abraham Kuyper’s crowning work, an exploration of how God expresses grace even to the unsaved. Kuyper firmly believed that though many people in the world will remain unconverted, God’s grace is still shown to the world as a whole. The second volume of Common Grace contains Kuyper’s doctrinal exploration of the impact and implications of this aspect of Reformed theology.
In this third and final volume of Common Grace, Kuyper brings his argument to its logical completion by turning to practical implications. With detailed explorations on matters of church and state, family, upbringing, and society, Kuyper provides practical guidance for all who desire to flourish within the created order, a world in which God’s grace is generously given to all.
In Pro Rege, Kuyper shows how the kingship of Christ affects all areas of life, building upon the work he began in Common Grace. In his view, seeing Jesus as King is foundational to bridging the gap between the believer’s life inside the church and outside the church. In this first volume, Kuyper examines how the kingdom of Satan opposes, undermines, and obscures the kingship of Christ. He follows this by laying out the Scriptural foundation for the kingship of Christ and beginning to uncover its implications for all of creation.
In the second volume of Pro Rege, Kuyper continues his work of explaining the scope of Christ’s kingship by examining how Jesus’ rule functions in the regenerated human heart. He then begins to explore how Christ’s authority should manifest itself —beginning with the life of the church and the Christian family.
In previous volumes of Pro Rege, Kuyper examined Christ’s universal kingship and its implications for the life of the church and the family; in this third volume, he extends his analysis of Christ’s kingship and rule to areas of society not encompassed by the family and the church—specifically, culture and the arts, civil society, and government.
On the Church contains seven of Kuyper’s most important essays and speeches on the nature of the church. These newly translated works show Kuyper’s conviction that Christians must take an active role in the world, a world upheld by God’s common grace but standing in need of God’s particular grace in Christ. Christians must neither hide within the doors of their church buildings nor give in to the temptation to be active in earthly institutions alone.
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.
This anthology of significant pieces presents Kuyper’s thoughts on education. His important essay entitled “Bound to the Word,” which discusses the topic of what being bound by the word of God means within the entire world of human thought is the core of this volume. Also included are extracts from important parliamentary speeches by Kuyper on the subject of education; a translation of Kuyper’s sixteenth article about schooling that appeared in his daily newspaper in 1880 under the title of “Antirevolutionary Also in Your Household”; and Kuyper’s view of the divine purpose of scholarship for human culture.
In this anthology of essays, speeches, and reflections, we see Kuyper’s attempts to think positively and creatively about the calling and potential of business. Included are his ideas about economic freedom, the eternal value of earthly work, stewardship and philanthropy, economic globalization, the workings of God’s grace in business, and the social function of money.
In this anthology of articles and reflections, Kuyper articulates a Christian vision for engaging with society. Though his analysis was intended for his late-nineteenth-century Dutch context, his thoughts remain strikingly relevant for Christians living in the modern world. For Kuyper, God’s law preserved civil justice, making humane life possible. However, the law itself could not save society—only the gospel can transform the heart. But the gospel is for all of life. Kuyper elaborated a social Christian approach to politics, resulting in a distinct perspective on property, human dignity, democracy, and justice.
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.