What are the political and social implications of the gospel?
In Our Program, Abraham 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.
Our Program served for decades as an inspiration to Kuyper's followers and set a high standard for his opponents to match. For us it sets out the challenge of envisioning what might be an equivalent witness in our own day.
—James D. Bratt, professor of history, Calvin College
Kuyper deserves a place beside Locke and Tocqueville as a titanic European intellect whose thought can help us understand the American experiment in religious liberty and constitutional democracy.
—Greg Forster, Program Director, Faith, Work, and Economics, Kern Family Foundation
Abraham Kuyper’s Our Program has been much quoted by those who share his convictions about the lordship of Christ over all times, places, things, people, and societies. It is, therefore, a real advantage to see a capably translated and helpfully introduced edition of the whole document appear in English. For those concerned about Kuyper’s own historical situation, as well as about contemporary social and political controversies, this edition should be a real boon.
—Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
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.
“In the face of these fictions and monstrous theories we resolutely maintain the following three propositions: (1) political authority, like every other form of sovereign authority in life, flows from the living God; (2) for the transfer of this authority in the course of history the Lord uses both lawful and unlawful deeds of men; and (3) the transfer takes place to single individuals, to dynasties, to institutions, or to the nation as a whole.” (Page 23)
“Sovereignty in an absolute sense occurs only when there is an authority that has no other authority over it, that always commands and never obeys, that does not admit of restrictions or allow competition, and that is single and undivided for all that has breath.” (Page 16)
“In sum, sovereign political authority that is exercised among the nations of the earth has to cooperate with the laws that govern the life of mankind; with the laws that regulate air and soil and the life of animals in their development; with the laws that have guided the history of our nation and other nations. And only when this entire complex of laws—including the laws for thinking (logic), willing (morality), feeling (aesthetics), and eternal life (religion)—interacts and works together in good order and harmony, does the wheel of life revolve majestically around sovereignty.” (Page 19)
“In this way it severs the ties that bind us to God and his Word, in order to subject both to human criticism. Once you undermine the family by replacing it with self-chosen (often sinful) relationships, once you embrace a whole new set of ideas, rearrange your notions of morality, allow your heart to follow a new direction—once you do this the Encyclopedists will be followed by the Jacobins, the theory by the practice, because ‘the new humanity’ requires a new world. What the philosophers, whose guilt is greater, did to your minds and hearts with pen and compass and scalpel (and would like even more boldly to do to your children) will be carried out by the heroes of the barricades with dagger, torch, and crowbar.” (Pages 2–3)
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.