Dr. Kuyper served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901-1905. It was often said that there was no department of human knowledge that was unknown to him. With all his duties of teaching, preaching, ruling, and exploring many other fields of knowledge, he wrote a daily devotional that became an instant classic. Abraham Kuyper died in 1920 at the age of eighty three.
Main building of the Free University as seen from Campus Square
In 1898 Dr. Kuyper visited the United States and delivered the “Stone Lectures” at Princeton University, entitled Lectures on Calvinism. The publication of those lectures became an instant classic in the Reformed Church, explaining the thorough-going nature of biblical application to every area of life, faith and practice. The subjects covered in the lectures demonstrated the broad application of “Calvinism”: Calvinism a Life System, Calvinism and Religion, Calvinism and Science, Calvinism and Politics, Calvinism and Art, Calvinism and the Future.
Abraham Kuyper in 1912 in his office in the Kanaalstraat
After defining all the ways the term “Calvinism” had been used by its opponents and adherents he settled on the statement by the great American historian George Bancroft, for the sense in which his lectures examined its influence, that Calvinism “has a theory of ontology, of ethics, of social happiness, of human liberty, all derived from God.” As the purest form of Christianity, it reached its greatest influence in the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Switzerland and North America. Kuyper showed how Calvinism demonstrated a “unity of life system,” in which its principles apply to every area of thought and endeavor and in antithesis to “Paganism, Islamism, Romanism, and Modernism.”
We are currently celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. No reformer had a greater impact on world history than John Calvin, and his theological descendants shaped the direction of history, civil government and culture in the United States. Abraham Kuyper reminded the students at Princeton of their magnificent heritage and we should do no less by reading or re-reading Lectures on Calvinism.