Abraham Kuyper: Theological Integration (Part II)
Kuyper’s convictions regarding the sovereignty of God over all of life pressed him to advocate comprehensive reform in both the public and private sectors. He believed Christian education was essential to sustain the life and purity of the church. As a result he called for the formation of Christian schools that would weed out modernist philosophy and provide Christians with a biblical worldview. The Anti-Revolutionary party perceived an antithesis between secular Modernism and Christian Calvinism and affirmed God’s authority over all of creation. This included civil government, but did not advocate a theocracy. Instead, Kuyper sought a separation of church and state into separate but not alien “spheres of authourity” (more on this in Part III). The party also insisted that God’s moral laws should be the foundation for the governance of the nation. In 1874, with the support of the beloved kleine luyden (common people), Kuyper entered Parliament, accepted a seat in the Second Chamber, and resigned as minister of his church in Amsterdam.
Although Kuyper was required to give up his clerical participation in the Church, he continued to serve as an elder, defender, and teacher during his political career. Shortly after taking his seat in Parliament, Kuyper formed a coalition with the Roman Catholic party in order to gain greater political advantages in moral societal reform. In 1889 the Protestant-Catholic coalition successfully secured the passage of an Education Act, allowing private schools to obtain one-third of their support from public funds. During the same year, they scored another triumph in the Labour Act, which protected women and children from exploitation in the factories. Opposition rose against Kuyper, drawing fire especially from the liberals in higher education. Kuyper had proposed the formation of a Christian University founded on a biblical theology of Reformed orthodoxy, which was to inform and integrate all the disciplines with a view to social, cultural, and ecclesiastical renewal (also known as theological integration). Essentially, Kuyper advocated an educational philosophy that promoted a fully integrated Calvinistic Weltanschauung. Despite opposition, the Free University of Amsterdam opened for classes in 1880, starting with five students, five professors, and plans for five colleges (liberal arts, theology, law, medicine, and natural science).
Kuyper maintained that two main educational models exist. The first is driven by secularists and is committed to the autonomy of man; whereas, the second is formulated by confessional Christians and is committed to the sovereignty of God. Contrary to secularist’s claims, Kuyper asserted that neutrality toward God is not possible and that all learning begins with assumptions of faith, whether positive or negative. As a result he called for academic pluralism, which would require the state to honor both approaches to learning. Kuyper was a professor at the Free University from 1880-1901, during which he was unable to obtain legal recognition and accreditation from the state. However, in 1901 Dr. Kuyper was selected to be the prime minister of the nation and introduced a bill that became a law in 1905, granting full legal standing for private universities and schools.