Abraham Kuyper was a man who tried to live his whole life by these teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He took the teachings of Jesus seriously and tried to live this all-of-life discipleship as a theologian, as a journalist, as an education reformer, and even as the Prime Minister of the Netherlands (a position he held 1901-1905).
In this interview, Brant Himes, who wrote For a Better Worldliness: Abraham Kuyper, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Discipleship for the Common Good, helps us understand who Abraham Kuyper is and how his life is an example of the kind of discipleship to which all of us are called.
THIS EPISODE’S HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
- Brant Himes is the Assistant Professor of Humanities at Los Angeles Pacific University (a part of the Azusa Pacific University system) and Managing Editor of Resonance Journal (which you can learn more about in Episode 8 of Spiritual Life and Leadership).
- Brant recently published his book, For a Better Worldliness: Abraham Kuyper, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Discipleship for the Common Good.
- Brant’s book is meant to focus on holistic discipleship. Our discipleship can and should be making a difference in the world around us.
- The sovereignty of Jesus Christ is key to Abraham Kuyper’s theology.
- Key quote from Abraham Kuyper:
- “No single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence in which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
- Abraham Kuyper lived from 1837-1920. He was the Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901-1905.
- Kuyper always ran his politics from a very Calvinist perspective.
- Kuyper’s Calvinist party joined with the Catholic party, which was very controversial at the time.
- Kuyper started the Free University in Amsterdam. It was the first university that was free from state control and from church control.
- “Sphere sovereignty” refers to Kuyper’s position that every aspect of life has its own functions and purposes; its own sphere. Over every sphere of life, tying it all together, is the sovereignty of God.
- Kuyer recognized that each sphere was meant to flourish in its own way. He advocated a kind of pluralism and wanted the marketplace of ideas to flourish.
- Kuyper partnered with Catholics on education reform. He believed that every family should be able to send their child to whatever kind of school they wanted to (state school or religious school), and cost should not get in the way of that. He succeeded in implementing state funding for all schools, regardless of their philosophy or ideology.
- Brant Himes believes Kuyper would want us to have robust theological convictions for all of our beliefs and actions in the world.
- Brant structures his theology of discipleship around four movements: 1) The revelation of God, 2) the reality and sovereignty of Jesus Christ, 3) belief and obedience, and 4) the possibility and potential of discipleship.
- We need to cultivate not only the inner spiritual disciplines in our lives, but also our theological convictions about how and why we are to engage in the world.