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Event: A Kuyperian Response to the Crisis in the Public Square

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Every lightning-fast news cycle highlights the turmoil and tension of our current age.

Cultures are clashing both in Europe and in the United States as refugees from the Middle East and Central America seek asylum. Americans are deeply polarized. Political dialogue has become toxic. Sometimes the very foundations of a free and open society are met with deep skepticism in the popular media and throughout the larger culture.

In order to address these significant issues, the Acton Institute is hosting Crisis in the Public Square, a free two-day international conference at the Institute’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, MI. (The event will also be available via livestream for those who cannot attend in person.) This conference will draw upon the work of Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch politician, educator, and theologian to present possible solutions for rediscovering civic virtue and building a society in which all may flourish.

Why Kuyper? What does he have to offer to the twenty first century? Kuyper was one of the early proponents of utilizing the concept of a Christian worldview. Kuyper famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'”

In this quotation, we hear answers or suggestions of answers to five important questions:

  1. Where are we? In God’s world, a creation, claimed by Christ.
  2. Who are we? Those who are claimed by Christ.
  3. What is wrong? The world and we assert an illusory autonomy.
  4. What is the remedy? Recognizing and embracing Christ’s lordship over all of life.
  5. What time is it? It is time to do Christ’s work in his world, to be the functioning body of Christ.

This way of understanding Abraham Kuyper’s concept of a worldview is exceptionally helpful place to start in addressing the significant challenges of our time. Kuyper provides us a framework that encourages us to have an expansive Christian vision and encourages us towards cultural engagement and transformation.

Sometimes it is helpful to employ additional metaphors when thinking about Kuyper’s worldview concept. For instance, we might use the notion of a picture that always keeps God in the frame, succumbing neither to naturalism (ignoring God altogether in our thinking about contemporary challenges) or to a God-of-the-gaps mentality that brings in God as an explanation, or invokes his mystery, when all other explanations fail.

On the evening of November 5, as part of the broader conference, the Acton Institute will confer the Novak Award and its $15,000 prize to the Brazilian academic Prof. Lucas G. Freire of the Center for Economic Freedom at Mackenzie Presbyterian University in Sao Paolo, Brazil. In the annual Calihan Lecture, Professor Freire will speak to the important role churches and intermediary institutions play in promoting free markets and free societies.

Thanks to a generous donor, this event – including meals and parking – is free. Join the Acton Institute in person or via livestream for this exciting conference on November 5 and 6, 2018. Additional information and registration is available here: acton.org/kuyperconf.

Melvin Flikkema contributed to this post.

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Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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