The Case for Kuyper
Two Redeemer faculty members have taken a refreshed approach to the work of prominent Neo-Calvinist theologian Abraham Kuyper.
6 min. read
September 29, 2022

Most Reformed theologians will describe Abraham Kuyper as one of the Netherlands’ most formative thinkers of the 19th century. However, his reception at Princeton Theology Seminary in New Jersey was decidedly lacklustre.

“Kuyper’s lectures in the United States were not terribly well attended,” says Dr. Robert Joustra, associate professor of politics and international studies. “Now, we think that there must have been a soccer stadium full of people. But there were only a few dozen.”

Nevertheless, his legacy persevered, and both Robert Joustra and Dr. Jessica Joustra, assistant professor of religion and theology, intend to help keep it alive. Together, they released Calvinism for a Secular Age, a compilation of insights on Kuyper from theologians, historians and scientists, in February 2022. The book revives Kuyper’s key teachings for a 21st-century audience with a focus on his Stone Lectures, which were delivered at Princeton and explain the necessary role of faith in the public sphere.

“The Stone Lectures are an important piece of his contributions, but they’re becoming increasingly archaic in language and reference,” says Jessica Joustra. “We wanted to help a new generation get a sense of Kuyper’s all-encompassing worldview claims.”

These claims provide much of the backbone of Redeemer’s mission. Like all of us, though, Kuyper was still prone to error.

The Stone Lectures are an important piece of his contributions…We wanted to help a new generation get a sense of Kuyper’s all-encompassing worldview claims.”

“He made major mistakes, some with tremendously sinful consequences,” says Robert Joustra. “On the other hand, he teaches us a lot about the good news. Those in the Dutch Kuyperian tradition are, in the mission of Redeemer, our spiritual and intellectual forebears. As with our own parents, we need to honour them while still recognizing that they’re people who fail.”

Complicated history aside, the book’s central goal is to communicate the truth of Christ’s dominion in all aspects of life and work. While it’s still early to say, this volume may join the ranks of Redeemer’s foundational publications.

“The contributors we brought together affirm Kuyper’s teaching as guideposts for how we should live,” says Jessica Joustra. “Faith is comprehensive because God is sovereign over everything, and that’s what we hope to tease out in this book.”

Founding Words: A look at some important texts and publications by Redeemer faculty.

Throughout the past 40 years, Redeemer’s distinctly Reformed Christian worldview has been upheld and strengthened by a foundational group of texts that, alongside numerous other faculty contributions, have reached a wide audience and shaped the university’s curriculum.

The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story by Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen

By presenting the Bible as an unfolding drama in six acts, Bartholomew and Goheen encourage believers to “find their place in the biblical story and thus be more faithful.” It’s the primary text for the core course The Drama of Scripture.

Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings by Dr. James R. Payton Jr.

Quite a few details of the Reformation are often misunderstood. Professor emeritus of history Dr. James Payton confronts these challenges by placing the Reformation within its original context and investigating how an informed perspective on the past can help make a difference in today’s churches.

Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview by Albert M. Wolters

Through breaking down human history into the categories of creation, fall and redemption, Wolters unpacks how Christians are called to take part in God’s redemptive plan for creation. Since 1985, Creation Regained has been translated into 12 languages and studied globally by Reformed believers and thinkers.

Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer by Derek C. Schuurman

Derek C. Schuurman, a former professor of computer science, offers a view of the ever-present nature of technology that advocates it as both a product of humanity’s fallen nature and a tool that can still be used in God’s plan for peace on earth.

The Cross and Our Calling

The Cross and Our Calling is a publication that explains Redeemer’s identity, ethics and founding vision as a Reformed Christian institution. It can be viewed in its entirety on Redeemer’s website.

These titles, including Calvinism for a Secular Age, are available at 21Five, Redeemer’s campus bookstore.

Visit the 40th Anniversary website to view a historical timeline and a special video presentation celebrating 40 years of Redeemer.

Resound is Redeemer’s online, multi-faceted publishing hub for the wide variety of stories coming out of Redeemer year-round. It is also offered in a print edition.