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Abraham Kuyper’s Public Theology Today

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AKSWPTYesterday was Abraham Kuyper’s birthday, and tomorrow is Reformation Day, so it seems appropriate to note once again in this space that we have launched a new 12 volume series of Kuyper’s works. The title of the series is Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology, and the goal is to bring more of the primary source materials from this virtuoso theologian and statesman into circulation in the Anglophone world.

Mel Flikkema and I are serving as general editors of the series, and I am also serving as a volume editor for the three volumes on Common Grace. You can read more details about the origins, contents, and goals of the series in the General Editors’ Introduction that I have posted here. As Mel and I write, “The church today—both locally and globally—needs the tools to construct a compelling and responsible public theology. The aim of this translation project is to provide those tools—we believe that Kuyper’s unique insights can catalyze the development of a winsome and constructive Christian social witness and cultural engagement the world over.”

The first volume to be made available in the series is Our Program: A Christian Political Manifesto, translated and edited by Harry Van Dyke. This remarkable text is a commentary and elaboration of the principles and convictions of the Anti-Revolutionary Party in the Netherlands, of which Kuyper was a key leader.

Kuyper has a powerful legacy that has most often been noted explicitly within the context of the Reformed tradition, and particularly Dutch Reformed churches. But it is my conviction that Kuyper has important lessons, many positive and some negative as well, perhaps, to teach us today and to communicate more broadly to the evangelical and even ecumenically Christian world.

As Tracy Kuperus reflects on just the political aspects of Kuyper’s diverse legacy,

Serious, sustained conversations about the importance of cultural, and especially political, engagement are still needed today. Evangelicalism has come a long way in the last twenty years, moving beyond the single-issue, instrumentalist view of political involvement that was prevalent a few years ago. And maybe the ‘square inch’ quote has lost its ‘revolutionary appeal.’ Still, it’s an uphill battle for Christians to see that political institutions might be touched by God’s grace or that political life is part of our humanity that God is redeeming through Christ.

As part of his last recorded interview before his death, here’s what Chuck Colson had to say about Abraham Kuyper and his influence and relevance today:

The series publisher, Lexham Press, has produced a new website: AbrahamKuyper.com. This website will become a resource not only for information directly related to the series, but also to broader information about Kuyper and related resources. So bookmark it and check back or sign up via email for additional updates.

And if you are looking to become more familiar with Kuyper before committing to the whole set, check out the complimentary excerpts that are available on Logos Bible Software. These include 2 convocation addresses (“Scholarship”); a sermon on the church as institute and organism (“Rooted & Grounded”); and essays on common grace in science and art (“Wisdom & Wonder”).

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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