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Kuyper on “Worldview”

September 13, 2007

Though my biographical sketch on Kuyper has come to a close, we have only begun to explore the depth of Kuyper’s thought. Over the next few weeks, I will offer a post that explores some of Kuyper’s contributions to the concept of a Christian worldview. Lectures on Calvinism will be our primary guide.

Attempting to summarize Abraham Kuyper’s contributions to Christian worldview thinking in such a short amount of space is almost absurd. Due to Kuyper’s commitment to acknowledge and exegete God’s glory in all of life, from science to art, one is hard-pressed to focus on one aspect of his work. His bibliography, numbering 223 items excluding his editorials published in the Standard, towers in mockery at any fleeting attempt to summarize his thought. Kupyer’s thought was robustly integrated and thus presents the reader, or writer in this case, with an overwhelming quantity and quality of material to consider. Nevertheless, in light of the fact that all of Kuyper’s writing followed a principle of integration, it appears only sensible to begin an examination of his thought at its nexus, Calvinism. In order to do so, we will take his famous Stone Lectures on Calvinism, given at Princeton in 1898, as our primary guide.

In his attempt to wage war against the onslaught of the Modernist worldview, Kuyper, who was educated in the Netherlands’s finest Modernist schools, devoted his life to the development, articulation, and implementation of an opposing Christian worldview, that of Calvinism. Kupyer summarizes the conflict between the two worldviews, “Two life-systems are wrestling with one another, in mortal combat. Modernism is bound to build a world of its own from the data of the natural man, and to construct man himself from the data of nature; while, on the other hand, all those who reverently bend the knee to Christ and worship Him as the Son of the living God, and God himself, are bent upon saving the ‘Christian Heritage’”.

It is important to note that Kuyper did not approach worldview contstruction as a purely theoretical exercise, hence his frequent use to “life.” The “life-system” as he sometimes referred to it, is better understood as a worldview or Weltanschauung. There is no English equivalent for the German, Weltanschauung, literally translated “view of the world”; nevertheless Kuyper, under the influence of American colleagues selected the term, life-system.

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