icon__search

Biographies

Abraham Kuyper's Anti-Revolutionary Party

March 7, 2021 • Sean Higgins

Selected Scriptures # Introduction I have always believed in the value of naming things well. When we arrived in Marysville in 2001, the name of the youth ministry was "GY" - Grace Youth. I thought we could do better. A website I really liked at the time was called *antithesis.com* (which, for what it’s worth, is where I read “What Would Jesus Drink?” that convicted me about my lack of drinking wine. Not only that, but anthesis turned out to be a major emphasis in Kuyper’s life though I had never heard of him at that point). The antithesis is the opposite, the contrast with something else. At the time I decided that I didn’t want to focus on the negative, to act as if someone else could claim the center, the thesis, to which we had to respond. Did we really want to be known for what we were against? Over the last year we've heard a new push. We are being exhorted with a modern demand (actually with *many* demands, but there’s one in particular). We are told that it's bad to be just not a racist, we are told we must be *anti-racist*. Part of what they mean is that we need to spend more time proactively thinking about how wrong it is, not just dealing with it when it comes up. I don't agree with what "they" mean by anti-racist, but I'm beginning to think there is a lesson for Christians here, a lesson that Abraham Kuyper helps with. I first gave a biographical message about Kuyper at a TECY retreat in 2014, and then shared that biography at an evening service later that year called “[All Thumbs](https://subsplash.com/trinityevangelchurch/lb/mi/+yzm3qfh).” There is real importance in biographies, and history. God’s Word itself makes a certain sort of biography *necessary* for obedience: > Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7) When I started paying more attention to biographies I remember hearing John Piper talk about how he had an instructor who encouraged his students to select one theologian and make that man his mission to know. I haven’t written it down, but I have a tentative goal of reading everything Kuyper ever wrote that gets translated into English. I’ve been reading 5 minutes most days for a few years of something by Kuyper. I’m not even close to finishing what’s been translated, and I’m less close to finishing appreciating what he did. # Kuyper’s Profile He was born in 1837 in Holland, the first son of Jan Fredrick and Henriette Kuyper. (For some world history context, Charles Spurgeon was born three years earlier, Mark Twain two years before, John D. Rockefeller two years after, and Claude Monet three years after.) "Bram" was a preacher's kid, but his pastor-dad did not committed whole-heartedly to orthodoxy. Jan's liberal faith and ministry were typical of the time and Abraham grew up despising the church. > In the years of my youth the Church aroused my aversion more than my affection. … I felt repulsed rather than attracted. … [T]he deceit, the hypocrisy, the unspiritual routine that sap the lifeblood of our whole ecclesiastical fellowship were most lamentably prevalent. ("Confidentiality", 46) The Kuyper family moved to the city of Leiden largely for the grade school that "followed the traditional classical curriculum of immersing students in the humanities and languages" (Bratt), though a recent Wikipedia edit says he was homeschooled. He entered the University of Leiden when he was 18 years old to study theology of the anti-supernatural strain. He graduated when he was 21, started doctoral work, had his first (of three) nervous breakdown in 1961, and then graduated with his doctorate when he was 25. What sort of job did he pursue? A pastorate. But his was an intellectual "faith," a ministry of scholarly sentences and sentimentality until he came to the little town of Beesd. During his schooling at Leiden he met Johanna Hendrika Schaay whom he married in 1863 when he was 26. Throughout their multi-year courtship he felt like Jo was not educated enough, so he kept sending her books to help her be more cultured. In the summer of 1863, newly married and newly bestowed as Doctor of Theology, he moved to Beesd. I'm not sure how large the congregation in Beesd was, but there was a minority group in the church who disliked Kuyper from the start and kept their distance from him. The rest of the members told Kuyper not to worry about "them," but he felt like he needed to serve them. So he started visiting them and, strangely, he said that he found himself wanting to listen rather than speak. These were people who believed the Bible was God's Word and that Christ was Savior and Lord. Kuyper wrote as part of his testimony: > I observed that they were not intent on winning my sympathy but on the triumph of their cause. They knew of no compromise or concession, and more and more I found myself confronted with a painful choice: either sharply resist them or unconditionally join them in a principled recognition of "full sovereign grace" — as they called it— without leaving room for even the tiniest safety valves in which I sought refuge. Well, dear brother, I did not oppose them and I still thank God that I made that choice. Their unremitting perseverance has become the blessing of my heart, the rise of the morning star for my life. ("Confidentiality", 56) As a pastor he finally got *saved*! After his regeneration and reeducation in Reformation theology, it “left him with a daunting personal agenda. Where should he begin? What should he *not* do?” (Bratt, 59). After a while he was called to a larger church in Utrecht (1867), then to even larger Amsterdam (1870). As he labored to exhort the Christians to exert their influence in the city and throughout the nation, he realized that much work was needed inside the church. In 1887 he helped start a new denomination of churches called the Doleerende Kerk, from a Latin term meaning sorrow, so "The Sorrowing Church." His book, _Our Worship_, is a manual for understanding the whys and whats of liturgy. Though he never said it in a single sentence, he believed that culture starts with worship because people are shaped into likeness of what or Who they worship; more than *homo sapiens*, “rational” men, we are *homo adorans*, a “worshipping” species. That book is one of the reasons why I can’t stop talking about the church as an *assembly*. He had also realized that much work was needed *outside* the church. He knew that there is *no neutrality*, there is thesis and antithesis. In particular, a teacher necessarily starts his lesson plans believing that God is central or that man is central. Kuyper began to speak and write for the freedom and support of Christian grade schools. He worked to establish a base of support, then to establish government laws, and also to educate educators. He rallied parents and teachers at school convention meetings. He also realized that Christians needed a place for further more training, a place for research. Christians needed a university. Every subject, not just theology, should be pursued for Christ: philosophy, law, literature, art, politics, medicine, science. So he helped to found the Free University of Amsterdam in 1880 with only eight students and five professors, himself included. Before that, in 1871 he became the editor in chief of a once-weekly paper called De Heraut, "The Herald." But shortly after, he realized that this was not enough. So he founded and edited a daily newspaper, De Standaard, "The Standard," in 1872 in order to inform and rally the Christian public. He wrote his last article in December 1919, ending a 47 year career as a journalist. Notably he was invited in 1898 by B.B. Warfield to give a series of lectures at Princeton University, which became _Lectures on Calvinism_ (and [here’s the link to a free audiobook version](http://trinityevangel.org/kuypers-lectures/) if you’re interested). It is reported that Warfield learned Dutch just so that he could read Kuyper. But the thing I’d like to talk about for just a bit more relates to Kuyper’s life in politics. # Kuyper’s Party - AntiRevolutionary He arrived in Amsterdam (1870) as a pastor but within a short time people persuaded Abraham that he could and should use his leadership in the national government. He served in both the upper and lower houses of Dutch Parliament. He was convinced that the government was a good sphere, as in a sphere established by God. He also believed that government worked best when it recognized God, submitting to His supremacy and His standards. Again, there is no neutrality. So the state should protect marriage and family, punish those who do evil, encourage Christian worship and morality, and support Christians educating the next generation. Kuyper argued that government should be driven at the local level and that the federal government should be representative, not a bunch of detached so-called experts. Kuyper appreciated the United States in this regard. But the government of Holland was *not* like this; a change was needed. So Kuyper helped form and presided over the **Antirevolutionary Party**. Think Kanye's "[Birthday Party](https://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2020/07/08/kanye-west-says-hes-done-with-trump-opens-up-about-white-house-bid-damaging-biden-and-everything-in-between/?sh=1e4a28b547aa)," but more serious. The book is titled, _Our Program: A Christian Political Manifesto_. It was published as regular features in De Standaard from April 1878 to March 1879, collected into a book later in 1879. An antirevolutionary stood opposed to the ideology embodied in the French Revolution of 1789 (less than a hundred years between). Kuyper had a particular group in mind that were Revolutionaries, but a group prior to the rioters. He mentions a group multiple times called “The Encyclopediests” in multiple works, that I apparently just kept reading over. The leading figures behind the enterprise were Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert, and contributors included Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Voltaire, sometimes known collectively as the Encyclopedists. They worked on this project in France especially between 1751 to 1756. They sought to sever the ties between God and men, God's Word and men. They called for a new humanity to make a new world. Even in the 18th century that included hatred of the nuclear family, and it has metastasized to hatred of heterosexual marriage, the hatred of offspring (through abortion), and the hatred of gender. So an *antirevolutionary* stood against Enlightenment, rationalism, modernism, secularism, humanism. He stood against willy-nilly feelings and topsy-turvy riots. He stood against paganism, and anti-Christian worldviews. These necessarily have moral and political implications, again, as seen in the idea-makers/marketers that led to the Revolution. An antirevolutionary stood for submission to God, not independence from God (contra the cry of the French Revolution: “No God, No masters"). There is **no neutrality** (Kuyper called it "the fungus of _neutrality_" (310)). He saw the sacred in all of life and God as the *only absolute authority*, the one in whom total sovereignty resides. Then that personal faith and worship must be linked to broader work. So the positive name for his party is the "Christian-historical” party. > “If ‘Christian’ therefore stands opposite ‘humanity,’ the addition ‘historical’ indicates that our situation cannot be created by us at will. It is the product of a past that, independent of our will and apart from our input, is fashioned by Him in whom we live and move and have our being." (278) > "We are therefore at heart a __militant__ party, unhappy with the status quo and ready to critique it, fight it, and change.” For what it’s worth, Kuyper has entire sections on contagious diseases and epidemics (around page 246-247), opposed to mandatory vaccination, the "government should keep its hands off our bodies" and referred to it as a "form of tyranny hidden in these vaccination certificates.” > "And if we succeed sooner or later in having a free Christian university for gathering a circle of intelligent law students around professors in antirevolutionary statecraft, then perhaps, by God’s grace, a future generation may be in a position to rely on a group of solid statesmen to inject the marrow of the antirevolutionary confession into the dry bones of our currently lifeless political institutions." (374) He was eventually elected to the position now called Prime Minister, an office he held for one term from 1901-1905. On his Wikipedia page I count 7 significant losses for political offices, not to mention his patience with how many times his policies were rejected. He had his problems. He and Jo had 8 kids, and I’m not convinced he did right by them. As the saying goes, he worked like an Arminian, and his three nervous breakdowns required significant time for recuperation. He did get distracted for a while by a kind of mystic pietism that taught the possibility of Christian perfection in this life, though he turned away from that after a while. # Marrow for Our Bewildered Bones But for his weaknesses, we could use more of his titanic immunity against the virus of man-centeredness. Consider the coronavirus and our culture. Listen to this description of the virus itself: > "corona connects to a specific receptor on its victim's membranes to inject its genetic material. The cell, __ignorant of what's happening__, executes the new instructions, which are pretty simple: Copy and Reassemble. It fills up with more and more copies of the original virus until it reaches a critical point and receives one final order: Self-destruct." Isn’t this a perfect medical metaphor for our cultural destruction? Not just in lungs, but in legislators; ignorant self-destruction is happening. As Christians, we see the virus affecting lungs, we see it affecting our political leaders, but we must not let it infect our hope. A virus cannot survive without a host, and it prefers a *weak* one. A physical virus will die, but the cultural virus will eat the culture until there is no more. Changing analogies, the fire of envy will not die out, it must be opposed. It may not be enough to be *pro*-reformation. You must be that *and anti-Revolutionary*. ## If you would be an AntiRevolutionary: 1. Mediate on God’s Word night and day. Psalm 1, *contra* the fools and scoffers and *for* the hard times . CHAZ are like chaff that the wind drives away. As a politician, Kuyper spoke regularly about “School with the Bible." You must know and submit to God’s Word. 2. Make your calling and election sure. 2 Peter 1:10-11. Submit to the truth of God’s sovereignty. 3. Be a man (“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” 1 Corinthians 16:13). Or be a woman (Proverbs 31). Be an image-bearer of God, male or female. Look, if you can’t identify your gender, you aren’t going to have much luck figuring out anything else. You must know how to submit to God’s will. 4. Read history and literature. They will make you healthy in mind, immune to the rot. You need to have more history in your head than as far back as you can scroll in Instagram. “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set. (Proverbs 22:28, see also Proverbs 23:10) Know where you’re at. You must know God to learn from God’s providence. (By the way, *biography* is good *twice*, once for content of the example and again in the practice of seeing historical examples.) 5. *Rejoice* when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12). Don't be surprised when others mock you for not joining them in their sin (1 Peter 4:3-4). Be prepared even for them to *claim* that you are the revolutionaries, turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6). 6. Let thanksgiving fill the place. Gratitude is the antithesis to immorality and impurity and lawlessness and covetousness. (Ephesians 5:3-5). Thanksgiving is the ultimate anti-Marxist, anti-envy activity. We are awake, but anti-woke. We are ready to submit to lawful authority, and not easy to command. We are against State monopoly on information, ideas, education, and media. We oppose media pressure and refuse to swallow dis-iniformation. We know that The Ministry of Truth is a lie, and we will not serve them. We will be preppers, not mostly hoarding gallons of water and toilet paper, but of books and even more, if they burn our books, in our *memories*. We will not forget our identity, as image-bearers, as Christians, as Protestants, as Americans. Jesus is Lord. Jesus and Him crucified is our world-and-life-memory. > "A nation, too, must __struggle__ for its existence. Its independence does not come free but has to be conquered or defended, and reconquered after losing it." (254) Kuyper died in 1920 (two years after World War I), 101 years ago. The outcome of his way of life is worth considering, and *imitating* as we remember his teaching from the word of God that Jesus is Lord.

John Newton: A Life of Lasting Change

October 4, 2020 • Jonathan Sarr

Martin Luther

November 6, 2016 • Sean Higgins

Selected Scriptures # Introduction Every generation throughout church history has seen doctrinal struggles and debates. But perhaps no doctrinal dispute has ever been contested more fiercely or with such far-reaching, long-term consequences as the ultimate issue, the issue of justification. The controversy over the doctrine of justification in the sixteen century focused on the nature of the gospel and, therefore, the essence of Christianity itself. The church must always struggle with errors, but this controversy involved an article of the faith that is fundamental to faith itself. The Bible itself makes justification a hill to die on. The Apostle Paul frequently admonished and instructed Christians not to be quarrelsome, divisive, or combative. He extoled the virtues of patience, love, and tolerance. Yet when it came to a battle over the gospel itself, this same apostle was utterly inflexible. He considered some things intolerable, and one is the distortion of the gospel. He wrote to the church in Galatia: > I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-10) Paul used the strongest speech to condemn perversion of the gospel. He insisted there is only one gospel. And the gospel he preached in his letter to the Galatians is the gospel of justification by faith alone. The Judaizers were corrupting the gospel by requiring works in addition to belief as a necessary for justification. Twice Paul pronounced a curse on this distortion, using the Greek word from which we get the English word *anathema*. But at the Roman Catholic Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, Rome condemned the Reformed doctrine of justification by faith alone and declared *it* anathema. They did this because they were convinced that the Reformed doctrine was "another gospel," a distortion of the biblical gospel. This was undoubtedly the most explosive issue of the 16th century, and the best place to start is probably with the 16th century's most dynamic character. # A Monk Named Martin Luther was born November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Germany, to a copper miner. His father wanted something better for him; he wanted Martin to become a lawyer. In 1505, on July 2 on his way home from law school, he was caught in a thunderstorm and was hurled to the ground by lightening. He cried out, "Help me, St. Anne; I will become a monk." St. Anne was the patron saint of miners. Fifteen days later, to his father's great displeasure, Martin kept his vow. On July 17, 1505, he knocked at the gate of the local Augustinian Hermits and asked to be accepted. On easter, April 3, 1507, he was ordained as a priest. If you've heard anything about Luther, you've probably heard that he was a bit pathological, that is, mentally disturbed. Most of his mental uneasiness grew out of his legally oriented mind which could not escape the relentless necessity for punishment of wrongdoing. Of all the things he knew, he knew that the holiness of God demanded punishment for sin. He also knew he was a sinner. That was bad news. This is why he became a monk. He thought that he could become righteous. > I was a good monk, and I kept the rule of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I. Yet it still didn’t work. This led to one of the most famous incidents in church history when Luther attempted to officiate his first mass. Schooled in proper Roman Catholic orthodoxy, Brother Luther sincerely believed that he was about to perform a miracle by turning the bread and wine into the actual, physical body of Christ. When he came to a particular point in the service he froze. He later recounted the experience: > I was utterly stupified and terror stricken, "With what tongue shall I address such Majesty, seeing that all men ought to tremble in the presence of even an earthly prince? Who am I, that I should lift up mine eyes or raise my hands to the divine Majesty. The angels surround Him. At His nod the earth trembles. And shall I, a miserable little pygmy, say 'I want this, I ask for that'? For I am dust and ashes and full of sin and I am speaking to the living, eternal and true God. It was this deep consciousness of the holiness of God that compelled Luther into his role as Reformer. To his mind the problem was clear: God is holy. Man is sinful. God must, and will, punish sin. Luther was sinful. Luther must be punished. This caused him fits. His spiritual father, Staupitz, arranged for him to take over a teaching role at the University of Wittenberg. So he was transferred from Erfurt to the 2,500 person town to be a Doctor of Theology. Luther himself, and all Reformers that followed, focused on the question, How is a person justified? On what basis or grounds does God ever declare anyone just? As the Psalmist put it, "If you, LORD, should mark iniquities...who could stand?" (Psalm 130:3). The question is rhetorical, because not one of us could possibly stand before God because none of us is righteous. So how does God come to accept a person? Must we first become inherently just before God will make such a declaration? Or does he declare us just/righteous before we are in ourselves actually just? God's justice demands that we be righteous, so how can we be? Luther himself could not get past this point of God's justice: > If I could believe that God was not angry with me, I would stand on my head for joy. One simple biblical truth changed that monk’s life and ignited the whole Protest. It was the realization that God's righteousness could become the sinner's righteousness and that that transaction happens through the means of faith alone. Martin Luther learned this truth from a verse which had previously stumbled over, Romans 1:17. > For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." Luther had always seen "the righteousness of God" (or "the justice of God") as an attribute of the sovereign Lord by which He judged sinners, not as an attribute sinners could possess. He described the breakthrough, his "tower experience," and how his unrelenting study of the historical-grammatical context of that passage was used by the Spirit to bring light to the dark ages: > I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, “the justice of God,” because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant. > Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by his faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven…. Both sides agreed that salvation or justification was impossible apart from grace or apart from Christ or apart from faith. But, Catholic teaching demanded something more, namely, that men must cooperate with grace and Christ and faith. The works that men do join forces (not entirely replace) with God and produce righteousness. All of this is why the *sola* in *sola fide* is so necessary. He was teaching through Psalms and Romans and came to understand: > I also know that in Romans 3, the word "solum" is not present in either Greek or Latin text — the papists did not have to teach me that — it is fact! The letters s-o-l-a are not there. And these knotheads stare at them like cows at a new gate, while at the same time they do not recognize that it conveys the sense of the text — if the translation is to be clear and accurate, it belongs there. (Luther, *An Open Letter on Translating*) But he was too busy at the time to fight much (quoted in Bainton): > In October, 1516, he wrote to a friend: I could use two secretaries. > > I do almost nothing during the day but write letters. I am a conventual preacher, reader at meals, parochial preacher, director of studies, overseer of eleven monasteries, superintendent of the fish pond at Litzkau, referee of the squabble at Torgau, lecturer on Paul, collector of material for a commentary on the Psalms, and then, as I said, I am overwhelmed with letters. I rarely have full time for the canonical hours and for saying mass, not to mention my own temptations with the world, the flesh, and the Devil. You see how lazy I am. # The Criticism of Catholicism The Roman Catholic Church was critical of this teaching. Justification by faith alone would have major consequences, especially if for anyone teaching that people needed to give money, do penance, pay to see relics, etc., if they desired to cooperate with Christ to get the righteousness necessary for justification. Sin was good for religious business. The Church's teaching was that after a person had received the grace of Christ at their baptism (making baptism itself necessary for salvation), if they sinned after that, they could be restored to a state of grace (a state of justification) by following the steps of confessing sin to a priest, making an act of contrition, receiving priestly forgiveness, and then performing what were called "works of satisfaction." It was these "works of satisfaction" that initiated much of the controversy in the sixteenth century. The works of satisfaction earned *merit*, even though the church affirmed it was technically merit rooted in grace. One work of satisfaction a penitent person could perform was to give money to the church and purchase an "indulgence." For example, in the 16th century Rome embarked on a huge building project involving St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Leo X made special indulgences available for purchase to those supported this work with their money. These particular indulgences were for people already in purgatory where they were working off the temporal consequences of their sin. The pope was granted the authority (through apostolic succession) to draw on the "treasury of merit" and apply it to the needs of those in purgatory. This "treasury of merit" was in heaven and was filled by those who had already died whose merit was above and beyond the merit required to enter. So an indulgence could be purchased and the merit applied to the account of a departed loved one. “They were the bingo of the sixteenth century” (Bainton). One man in particular, Johann Tetzel, scandalized Luther by his crass method (unauthorized by Rome) of peddling indulgences. Tetzel marketed indulgences with the ditty, "Every time a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs." He gave peasants the impression that they could purchase salvation for departed friends and relatives simply by giving alms, with or without the spirit of penitence. It was the selling of indulgences that provoked Luther's Ninety-Five Thesis which he nailed to the Castle Church doors on October 31, 1517. However, > Luther took no steps to spread his theses among the people. He was merely inviting scholars to dispute and dignitaries to define, but others surreptitiously translated the theses into German and gave them to the press. In short order they became the talk of Germany. (Benton) Luther caused quite an uproar. He began to attract attention and found himself with some powerful enemies. Though he was gaining popularity among many lay people who were reading his German pamphlets, the Church's officials rightly saw his protest as a threat. Newly elected Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V summoned Luther to Worms in 1521 where he was demanded to renounce or reaffirm his views. When he appeared before the assembly on April 16, Johann Eck acted as spokesman for the Emperor. He presented Luther with a table filled with his own books. Eck asked Luther if the books were his and if he still believed what these works taught. Luther requested time to think about his answer. On the next day, Eck countered that Luther had no right to teach contrary to the Church's tradition and interpretation, and asked again, would Luther reject his books or no? Luther replied: > Since your Majesty and your Lordships ask for a plain answer, I will give you one without horns or teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture or by right reason (for I trust neither in popes nor in councils, since they have often erred and contradicted themselves) - unless I am thus convinced, I am bound by the texts of the Bible, my conscience is captive to the Word of God, I neither can nor will recant anything, since it is neither right nor safe to act against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen. Before we move on to the final point, let me add just a few more biographical things about Luther. Luther was not only the father of the Reformation, he was also the character of the Reformation. We don't have enough time to talk about how he loved talking theology over beer and pretzels (brewed by his wife). We haven't talked about how he would pass gas at the devil. We haven't talked about his book on _The Bondage of the Will_, written in response to Erasmus, filled with references calling Erasmus' book a “girl.” On Sundays in Wittenberg there was the 5AM worship with a sermon on an Epistle. At 10AM there was a sermon on a Gospel, and then an afternoon message on the Old Testament. Monday and Tuesday lectures were on the catechism. Wednesdays on Matthew; Thursdays and Fridays on the Apostolic letters; and Saturday on John. Between 1510 and 1546 Luther preached approximately 3000 sermons. For example, he preached 117 sermons in Wittenberg in 1522 and 137 the next year. His average was one sermon every two and a half days. He was a family man; at least from age forty-one to his death at sixty-two. Katie von Bora, a converted nun, bore him six children. As one of his biographers wrote, “Katie cleaned house.” She did so in more ways than one. His translation of the Bible helped to develop a standard version of the German language and added several principles to the art of translation. His hymns sparked the development of congregational singing in Christianity. One more thing about Luther's temperament. Luther said of himself: > I own that I am more vehement than I ought to be; but I have to do with men who blaspheme evangelical truth; with human wolves; with those who condemn me unheard, without admonishing, without instructing me; and who utter the most atrocious slanders against myself not only, but the Word of God....A mind conscious of truth cannot always endure the obstinate and willfully blind enemies of truth. I see that all persons demand of me moderation, and especially those of my adversaries, who least exhibit it. If I am too [hot], I am at least open and frank; in which respect I excel those who always smile, but murder. # The Problem in Protestantism One of the problems we see today is an emasculating (take away what makes it faith; deprive of strength or vigor) faith, cutting away at the content and removing any expectation for fruits of faith. A few years ago this was called “cheap faith.” Of course, when Luther declared that justification is by faith alone, serious questions arose about the nature of saving, living, true faith. The one Scriptural argument Rome had appealed to James 2 to repudiate the doctrine of *sola fide*. *Sola fide* has never meant that a person could be, as Luther said, "justified by a barren, dead faith that is not Spirit-borne nor accompanied by all the rest of the work of God in His redeemed people.” The “alone” has always referred to the denial of any additions to faith that speak to merit, but it has never meant works don't flow from faith. Roman view: faith + works = justification Protestant view: faith = justification + works There is another problem that we *sola*-loving Reformed Christians need to guard against, and that is acting as if a man who confesses “justification by faith alone” is a better Christian. It is wickedly ironic that we would use *sola fide* as a measuring stick of spirituality and as a defense for dualism. Justification by faith alone *is itself* the doctrinal battering ram against the dualism of secular and *sacred* work. If *sola fide* is true then there is no such thing as *sacred* work, sacred in the sense of earning special favor from God. God does not justify any man according to the biblical doctrines he holds, but by faith alone. God does not justify any man according to his “spiritual” works, and certainly not according to his “religious” vocation. Being “Reformed” doesn’t justify us. Avoiding earthly relationships like marriage or earthly responsibilities like making profit doesn’t justify us. Being a pastor or missionary or orphan worker doesn’t justify us. Those are attempts at modern monasticism, but they cannot make us *better* believers. We cannot save our souls by anything we do. The gospel frees us from defining our righteousness by depth of quiet time, length of praying, frequency of fasting, percentage of money given as offering, consistency of church attendance, let alone pursuing a particular vocation. We are saved by faith alone. *Sola fide* doesn't mean that faith is the only important thing about a man, it actually allows for *every* thing to have meaning, just not in a saving way. # Conclusion Luther had problems. He condemned the Anabaptists to death. He counseled a prince to lie. He spoke too harshly against the Jews. But he is not condemned for any of these things, he is justified by Christ. We must fight for *sola fide* today. 1. If justification is not by faith alone, then justification is not possible because no man lives perfectly. 2. If there is no justification by faith alone, then God is dishonored. If men are able to accomplish even 1% of their salvation then Christ does not get all the glory, the cross is robbed of its full significance, and Scripture is wrong to attribute all things (including salvation) as from Him and through Him and to Him. 3. If justification is by faith alone, then we must not define our righteousness before God by external standards. Here is Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” in a different translation than most of us know. A mighty bulwark is our God A doughty ward and weapon. He helps us clear from every rod By which we now are smitten. Still our ancient foe Girds him to strike a blow. Might and guile his gear. His armor striketh fear. On earth is not his equal. By our own strength is nothing won. We court at once disaster. There fights for us the Champion Whom God has named our Master. Would you know his name? Jesus Christ the same Lord Sabaoth is he. No other God can be. The field is his to hold it. And though the fiends on every hand Were threatening to devour us, We would not waver from our stand. They cannot overpower us. This world’s prince may rave. However he behave, He can do no ill. God’s truth abideth still. One little word shall fell him. That word they never can dismay. However much they batter, For God himself is in the fray And nothing else can matter. Then let them take our life, Goods, honor, children, wife. We will let all go. They shall not conquer so, For God will win the battle.

All Thumbs

August 3, 2014 • Sean Higgins

# Introduction I first remember hearing the name Abraham Kuyper almost ten years ago. Late in 2004 I listened to a [conference message by John Piper][piper] who mounted a series of doctrinal portraits to display the glories of Christ. The climax of his exhibition was a quote by Kuyper: > [T]here is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine! I even used that quote at the 2005 Snow Retreat in my message on *Solus Christus*. It's amazing what can happen in a decade. Now I know enough Latin to know why, among so many *solas* of the Reformation (*sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia*), it isn't *Sola Christa*. I also have a much better grip on how narrowly I perceived in the expansive application of Kuyper's quote. I agreed with the quote, loved it, proclaimed it, and still was mostly oblivious to it. The quote is great, but it could be better. In fact, it could be translated more accurately. Kuyper was from Holland so he spoke Dutch. The standard English translation (from [_A Centennial Reader_][reader]) renders the "square inch" figure, but I asked two sisters from the Netherlands about the phrase *een duimbreed*. I showed that phrase to one of the ladies and, without words, she pointed back and forth from one side of her thumb to the other. *Een duimbreed* refers to one "thumb's width, a common Dutch idiom for a very small distance" (Harry Boonstra, Introduction to [_Our Worship_][worship], xx). What Kuyper said is that "there is not one *thumb's width* in the whole domain of human existence" where Christ is not Lord. Every Christian confesses that Christ is Lord. "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is *Lord*…you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). When Thomas saw the risen Christ he cried, "My *Lord* and My God" (John 20:28). But what sets Abraham Kuyper apart, what made his salt smack so many lips, is that he spent his life trying to apply the ramifications of Christ's rulership to absolutely everything, no exceptions. Kuyper was *all thumbs*. We usually say that about someone who is clumsy with his hands, a man who isn't handy. I mean it to describe him as a man who measured everything by thumbs. Kuyper couldn't keep his hands off of everything. If Little Jack Horner sat in a corner, eating a Christmas pie, put in his thumb and pulled out a plumb, then every sphere of life was a pie that Abraham Kuyper kept sticking his thumbs into. In one sense I've been preparing for this message for three and a half years (after a conversation with a pastor who recommended Kuyper's book on worship). I may have read more pages written about and written by Kuyper than for any other person I've prepared a biographical message for. Every page has been like licking salt. I wish I had read more, and plan to do it. Theologian B.B. Warfield apparently learned Dutch just so that he could read Kuyper. I feel like I've only tasted a teaspoon of his saltiness. I also know that Kuyper barely meets the criteria for this year's youth retreat topic: full-time Christians, not Christians in full-time vocational ministry. Kuyper was a pastor for about a decade, but I put him on our list because many of his most salty contributions came from work he did outside the pulpit and after his pastoral work proper. Besides, he didn't get saved until he was a pastor, so that's different than the usual order. Tonight my goal is to provide a thumbnail sketch of his life, then show the major sphere's that Kuyper stuck his thumbs into, and then finish with what I think made his thumbs so salty. # Kuyper's Thumbnail Bio A thumbnail is even smaller than a thumb's width, and I am trimming it to the quick. As with anyone's life, summarizing is subject to the editor. Kuyper was a hero, a villain, a visionary, a hard worker, a crank, an eccentric, and a man who loved the Lord Jesus. ## Childhood He was born on October 29, 1837 in Maasluis, Holland, the first son of Jan Fredrick and Henriette Kuyper. (For some world history context, Charles Spurgeon was born three years earlier, Mark Twain two years before, D.L. Moody the same year, John D. Rockefeller two years after, and Claude Monet three years after.) "Bram" was a preacher's kid, but his pastor-dad did not commit whole-heartedly to orthodoxy. Jan's liberal faith and ministry were typical of the time and Abraham grew up despising the church. > In the years of my youth the Church aroused my aversion more than my affection. … I felt repulsed rather than attracted. … [T]he deceit, the hypocrisy, the unspiritual routine that sap the lifeblood of our whole ecclesiastical fellowship were most lamentably prevalent. ("Confidentiality", 46) ## Schooling The Kuyper family moved to Leiden largely for the grade school that "followed the traditional classical curriculum of immersing students in the humanities and languages" (Bratt, [_Abraham Kuyper_][bratt], 19). Even though he detested the life of his dad, he entered the University of Leiden when he was 18 years old to study theology of the anti-supernatural strain. He studied more languages, in addition to his fluency in English, French, German, and Dutch (McGoldrick, [_God's Renaissance Man_][mcgoldrick], 16). He graduated in 1858, started doctoral work, had a nervous breakdown in 1961, and then graduated with his doctorate in 1862. What sort of job did he pursue? A pastorate. But his was an intellectual faith, a ministry of scholarly sentences and sentimentality until he came to the little town of Beesd. ## Courtship During his schooling at Leiden he met Johanna Hendrika Schaay whom he married in 1863 when he was 26. Throughout their multi-year courtship he felt like Jo was not educated enough, so he kept sending her books to help her be more cultured. ## Conversion She sent him [_The Heir of Redclyffe_][yonge] by Victorian writer, Charlotte Yonge. He later wrote that this fictional novel changed his life as he saw himself in the main character, an ugly and proud character. > This masterpiece was the instrument that broke my smug, rebellious heart. ("Confidentiality", 51) In the summer of 1863, newly married and newly bestowed as Doctor of Theology, he moved to Beesd. I'm not sure how large the congregation in Beesd was, but there was a minority group in the church who disliked Kuyper from the start and kept their distance from him. The rest of the members told Kuyper not to worry about "them," but he felt like he needed to serve them. So he started visiting them and, strangely, he said that he found himself wanting to listen rather than speak. These were people who believed the Bible was God's Word and that Christ was Savior and Lord. They learned from Calvin, even though most of them didn't know his name. One young lady was most memorable to him: Pietje Baltus who once said to him, "You do not give us the true bread of life" (quoted in McGoldrick, 36). "For the rest of his life Kuyper kept of photo of Pietje Baltus on his desk" (ibid, 37). > I observed that they were not intent on winning my sympathy but on the triumph of their cause. They knew of no compromise or concession, and more and more I found myself confronted with a painful choice: either sharply resist them or unconditionally join them in a principled recognition of "full sovereign grace" — as they called it— without leaving room for even the tiniest safety valves in which I sought refuge. Well, dear brother, I did not oppose them and I still thank God that I made that choice. Their unremitting perseverance has become the blessing of my heart, the rise of the morning star for my life. ("Confidentiality", 56) Kuyper was converted and more than his ministry was changed. ## Career After his regeneration and reeducation in Reformation theology, it > left him with a daunting personal agenda. Where should he begin? What should he not do? (Bratt, 59) After a while he was called to a larger church in Utrecht (1867), then to even larger Amsterdam (1870). As he labored to exhort the Christians to exert their influence in the city and throughout the nation, he realized that much work was needed outside the church. So he began working for a newspaper (1871). He also taught a variety of classes at university and even got involved in politics. He had three breakdowns that required long time off. Even then, his "collapses from nervous exhaustion…seemed only to bring him back with larger ambitions for longer agendas" (forward by Mark Noll to _Abraham Kuyper_, ix). He and Jo had 8 kids. Jo died in 1899 at 57 years old. As one sort of funny anecdote (with a [cartoon image][cartoon] image to boot), > On September 21, 1911 (so he was almost 74 years old), Reuters reported that Kuyper had been arrested for “pacing back and forth stark naked” before an open window in his room at the Hotel Métropole in Brussels. … Kuyper himself hastened to explain: he was following the mandate of Dr. Lahmann to exercise naked every day to respire the whole body , had not realized that his fourth-floor room was visible to the street, and in any case had not (as Reuters reported) been marched to police headquarters under arrest, much less been led there (as caricatured by Albert Hahn) covered with only a strategically held Bible and a top-hat. (Bratt, 354) He died in 1920, two years after World War I ended and nineteen years before World War II began. He left Holland different than he found it. # Kuyper's Nosey Thumbs Kuyper never met a nail that didn't need hammering, a pie that didn't have a plumb for his thumbs. Books were for reading, blank pages were for filling, subjects were for studying, men were for leading, institutions were for building or reforming. There are four spheres especially where he spent his energies and shaped the culture. ## Church: New Denomination Kuyper started a new denomination in order to provide a refuge for the Reformed Church. In Kuyper's day, much like in ours, the church was weak. Its pastors, let alone the sheep, cared little for soul-passionate worship and more about tradition, intellectualism, and being comfortable. The Dutch Reformed Church also had an additional problem: The *Hervormde Kerk* (Dutch Reformed National Church) was intertwined with the State and had been for a century. Kuyper came to realize that the church was too important for the nation to be tied to the nation's government. The church should be free from political pressure and money, both in giving and receiving. While he worked hard to care for people on an individual basis, he ultimately realized that he needed to do something at a corporate level. He also recognized the theological weakness in the church as an attempt to make Christianity more palatable to the scientific world. > Just because your church is sick or crippled, you may not withhold from her your love. Just because she is sick, she has a greater claim on your compassion. Only when she is dead and has ceased to be your church, and when the poisonous gases of the false church threaten to kill you, do you flee from her touch and withdraw your love from her. (quoted in McGoldrick, 93) So Kuyper broke off from the national church in 1887, and a number of other pastors followed him (at the expense of their financial security, paychecks and retirement program). Their new group was called *Doleerende Kerk*, from a Latin term meaning sorrow, so "The Sorrowing Church" or *De Doleantie*, "grieving churches." Because so many of the churches were weak and their pastors untrained in the Bible, Kuyper argued for better pastoral education. He spoke and especially wrote to educate them. His book, [_Our Worship_][worship], is a manual for understanding the whys and whats of liturgy. Though he never said it in a single sentence, he believed that culture starts with worship because people are shaped into likeness of what or Who they worship. > The goal of all worship services must be to let the assembled congregation taste that fellowship with their God. Otherwise there may be learnedness, there may be profundity, there may be deep earnestness, but there is no religion and therefore no divine worship. (_Our Worship_, 15) He served as a pastor, then as an elder and teacher and devotional/theological writer for the rest of his life, seeking to restore dependence on the Holy Spirit and submission to Scripture. But he did so much more. ## School: New University Kuyper organized a network of Christian elementary schools and started a new university in order to educate Christian scholars. He truly believed that Christ is sovereign over all. He was no dualist, dividing the sacred and the secular, because Christ is not divided in His interests. Christian education is not just safe, it is *superior*. > To put it mildly, our undertaking bears a protest against the present environment and suggests that something better is possible. ("Sphere Sovereignty", 463) It grieved him that the state schools promoted a godless education and did not allow Christians, or any other religious group, to have support for their world- and life-view. > As truly as every plant has a root, so truly does a principle hide under every manifestation of life. ([_Lectures on Calvinism_][lectures], 189) There is *no neutrality*. Either a teacher starts teaching believing that God is central or that man is central. "Christian and non-Christian world-views begin with mutually exclusive assumptions which lead necessarily to a contest for dominion in all areas of life" (McGoldrick, 143). > [T]he only two mighty antagonists that plumb life down to the root [are God's sovereignty or man's sovereignty]. And so they are worth people risking their own lives for and disturbing the lives of others. ("Sphere Sovereignty", 469) Non-Christians have "lost the gift to comprehend the true context, the proper coherence, the system of the unity of things" ("Common Grace in Science and Art"). > If we console ourselves with the thought that we may without danger leave secular science in the hands of our opponents, if we only succeed in saving theology, ours will be the tactics of the ostrich. To confine yourself to the saving of your upper room, when the rest of the house is on fire, is foolish indeed. … Everything astronomers or geologists, physicists or chemists, zoologists or bacteriologists, historians or archeologists bring to light" must be done for Christ. (_Lectures_, 139) So he began to speak and write for the place and support of Christian grade schools. He worked to establish a base of support, then to establish government laws, and also to educate educators. He rallied parents at school convention meetings. He also realized that Christians needed a place for even more training, a place for research. Christians needed a university. He believed that true scholarship would not be hindered by faith, but that worship of Christ enabled better scholarship. It makes a difference if you believe man is created in the image of God or if he came from monkeys. What kind of medicines and treatments will you provide? Will they respect image-bearers? It makes a difference if there are objective morals or not for law. Every subject, not just theology, should be pursued for Christ: philosophy, law, literature, politics, science. So he helped to found the ["Free University"][free] (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) in that it was free from the controls of state and church. It was in his opening address for the Free University in Amsterdam that he gave his thumb's width quote. He knew that they were mocked, that they didn't have many resources, and he knew that they must work and sacrifice for it anyway. > As surely as we loved Him with our souls, we *must* build again in his name. And when it seemed of no avail, when we looked upon our meager power, the strength of the opposition, the preposterousness of so bold an undertaking, the fire still kept burning in our bones. ("Sphere Sovereignty", 489). > Could we permit a banner that we carried off from Golgotha to fall into enemy hands so long as the most extreme measures had not been tried, so long as one arrow was left unspent, so long as their remained in this inheritance one bodyguard—no matter how small—of those who were crowned in Golgotha? > To that question—and with this I conclude, ladies and gentlemen—to that question a "By God, Never!" has resounded in our soul. ("Sphere Sovereignty", 490). In 1880 there were only eight students and five professors (Bratt, 123), but the school is still running today (though it has abandoned Kuyper's core convictions). ## Journalism: New Paper Kuyper founded and ran a new newspaper in order to inform and rally the Christian public. In 1871 he became the editor in chief of a once-weekly paper called *De Heraut*, "The Herald." This Saturday edition was usually a devotional or theological article with about 5,000 readers (Bratt, 116). He turned this old magazine devoted to "Jewish evangelism…into an organ devoted to 'a free church and a free school in a free Netherlands.'" (Bratt, 61). But shortly after, he realized that this was not enough. So he founded and edited a daily newspaper, *De Standaard* ("The Standard") in order to rally the Christian public. I have been most surprised by Kuyper's full court press. More than another other single thing, it was Kuyper's steady drip through over 20,000 newspaper articles in which he informed, educated, and rallied Christians in Holland. Most of these articles were later sown together into books. These are no lightweight subjects either. He wrote and edited while teaching in the University, while doing some traveling, and while doing a lot of this from his home office. Some of his enemies were bitter about this publishing platform. But through the pressures of deadlines and critics and a full schedule, Kuyper helped create categories and terms for the public. "By this means he shaped an audience and a cause" (Bratt, xxvii). > The Standaard editorship was the one post Kuyper would hold for the rest of his career, and the role where he could combine all the others through which he passed in the meantime — preacher, teacher, and politician. The paper was the only place where most of his followers ever heard him, but there they heard him to great effect. For many it provided a post-elementary school education, a sustained induction into politics, culture, and social affairs. In the process Kuyper not only promoted a party but organized a movement and shaped a people. (Bratt, 83-84) He wrote his last article in December 1919, ending a 47 year career as a journalist. ## Politics: New Party Kuyper founded a new political party in order to mobilize the Christian citizenry. He arrived in Amsterdam as a pastor but within a short time people believed that Abraham could and should use his leadership in the national government. He served in both the upper and lower houses of Dutch Parliament. He was convinced that the government was a good sphere, a sphere established by God. He also believed that government worked best when it recognized God, submitting to His supremacy and His standards. Again, there is no neutrality. So the state should protect marriage and family, punish those who do evil, encourage worship, and support Christians educating the next generation. Kuyper argued that government should be driven at the local level and the federal government should be representative, not a bunch of detached so-called experts. Kuyper appreciated the United States in this regard. But the government of Holland was *not* like this. So Kuyper helped form and presided over the [Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP)][arp] in 1879, named because they did *not* want to be anything like the French Revolution. The French Revolution was God-denying, self-exalting, and nation-destroying. Kuyper knew that things needed to be changed, but not according to the principles of humanism. Instead, life should be shaped by Scripture. He was eventually elected to the position now called Prime Minister, an office he held for one term from 1901-1905. A new denomination, a new school association and University, a new daily paper, and a new political party. Most of these were "baby institutions" (George Grant, ["The Kuyperian Vision of Christ's Lordship"][grant]). # Kuyper's Salty Thumbs One of the words associated with Kuyper is *worldview*. He used the term *weltanschauung*, which he always translated into English as "world- and life-view." After he became a Christian, Kuyper started paying attention to, and submitting to, God's Word. He found much help in the works of John Calvin, especially with Calvin's relentless emphasis on the gracious sovereignty of God. This affected not only personal salvation, but everything, his entire world- and life-view. One of the reasons that Kuyper's ministry was so fruitful is that it started with God and aimed for God's glory and depended on God's wisdom and power for its effect. There are two reasons why I think his worldview was/is so salty. ## His Calvinist Convictions Were Exhaustive and Unrelenting If God is sovereign, that means that He controls *and cares about* all things 24/7. In his famous "Stone Lectures" given at Princeton University in 1898 (in [book form][lectures] and [audio book][audio]), Kuyper argued that Calvinism is the only system of thought that enables progress in the visible and invisible realms, the physical and the spiritual spheres, the things of earth and the soul. > [T]he persuasion that the whole of a man's life is to be lived *in the Divine Presence* has become the fundamental thought of Calvinism. By this decisive idea, or rather by this might fact, it has allowed itself to be controlled in every department of its entire domain. It is from this mother-thought that the all-embracing life system of Calvinism sprang. (_Lectures_, 26) Every thumb's width belongs to Christ, so is all craft and industry, architecture, agriculture and horticulture, science, economics, employment, entertainment, ethics and law, medicine, national and foreign policy, schools. > The dominating principle [of Calvinism] was not, soteriologically speaking, justification by faith, but, in the widest sense cosmologically, the *Sovereignty of the Triune God over the whole Cosmos*, in all its spheres and kingdoms, visible and invisible. ("Sphere Sovereignty," 488) ### Against Evolution Evolution offers a world- and life-view that promises progress but only to the strong and without providing any good reason. Modernity, with its machines and technology, makes many things better but only for a few more days, not for any spiritual or greater cause, and the side effects gut the soul. Kuyper may have been the first person to use the word Modernity. He believed that modernity was just a mirage, a temporal reflection of what is true (argued in his address, "Modernism: A Fata Morgana in the Christian Domain"). It offered nothing substantial, sort of like opening a 7-11 with no merchandise. With enough advertising it might seem cool to hang out there for a while. He "argued that belief in evolution leads to a materialist view of life in which people demand *panem et circenses* ('bread and circuses', i.e., sustenance and entertainment)" (McGoldrick, 105). ### Common Grace He did recognize that unbelievers could learn and produce helpful things. He called this *common grace*, though perhaps we could call it God's kind providence. There is grace—freely given favor—that God gives to all men (like in the sun and rain, breath and brains and new babies). In fact, there are, sadly, some unbelievers who think better and work harder than believers. But even the credit for non-Christian work must go to God. ### Explains World Problems Calvinism especially explained why and where from for all. Calvinism also explains what is wrong with the world: sin. Kuyper relentlessly returned to the need for regeneration, for personal discipleship to Christ. ### Particular Grace Instead of *natural selection* Kuyper argued for *divine election*. Everyone needs redemptive grace, the effectual call of the Spirit out of spiritual depravity because of the sacrifice of Christ for sake of enduring worship and obedience. Calvinism is the Synod of Dort, and also the sword that cuts down dualism. > [N]ot only *the church*, but also *the world* belongs to God and in both has to be investigated the masterpiece of the supreme Architect and Artificer. A Calvinist who seeks God, does not for a moment think of limiting himself to theology and contemplation, leaving the other sciences, as of a lower character, in the hands of unbelievers; but on the contrary, looking upon it as his task to know God in *all* his works, he is conscious of having been called to fathom with all the energy of his intellect, things *terrestrial* as well as things *celestial*. (_Lectures_, 125) ## His Application Attempts Were Exhausting and Unflinching In some ways, Kuyper lost more than he gained. Because of his commitments he lost friends, he lost positions (including reelection to the Prime Minister position in 1905), he lost respect, he lost influence. Sometimes the taste he left was bad. We was *wrong* on a variety of issues. He was wrong on *race* as an explanation for culture, arguing too closely that biology affected the development of a people more than the presence of the gospel. He was wrong on *Germany's threat* to Holland, to Europe, and even to the world. He took internal party affairs public (see Bratt, 356). He "insisted on delivering the last word on everything" (Bratt, 356). I believe, based on the biographies I've read, that he could have been more patient. I believe that he should have been more personal, in that he could have cared for more individuals, even some that could carry on the work after him. I also believe this can be demonstrated by his family. His three adult daughters didn't marry, three married sons with only seven kids, one less than he himself had with Jo (Bratt, 363). In other words, Kuyper did *not* enculturate much of a family heritage. Yet he seasoned every room he ever entered, left salt on every page he ever penned. He cared for orphans (McGoldrick, 42), he spoke with world leaders, and *attempted* to shape the world- and life-view of every image-bearer in between, even when the cost was great. > When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy with all the fire of your faith. (quoted in McGoldrick, 39). There can be no denying that he was a man of conviction and love for Christ. He fought and taught and wrote and wrote and wrote. He gave up ease and esteem from many because he wanted something more: the exaltation and implementation of Christ as Lord. He gave himself, win or lose, to that endeavor. He died to bring life to a nation. His life salted the world. # Conclusion He died in 1920, a man of "titanic energies" (Bratt, loc 163) and a "skilled agitator" (loc 379). We have no Kuypers among us. We do not have his insight, his foresight, or his persistence. But we do serve the same Lord as Kuyper. We do have the work of his thumbs to learn from and enjoy. God doesn't call us to be Kuypers, even if we ought to be Kuyperian Calvinist Christians (whether we use those terms or not). What would that look like? First, *we would love Jesus Christ*. We would repent from sin, submit to Scripture, and walk in the Spirit for the sake of His glory. We would keep believing and loving and worshipping the God of the gospel. Second, *we would worship God in His sovereign grace*. We would worship our infinitely powerful yet personal, patient, loving, sacrificing, glorious Triune God. We would work on our theology from the Bible and never tire of lifting up His name. The church plays a starting and sustaining role for Christians. The church is the only group with roots and fruit. We are light! We are leaven! We are salt! So what if we are planted in a field of unbelieving, pluralism? Love it! The rest will fail. We have a public role, a cultural role. So what if the White House and the movie studios *think* they can make meaning? Third, *we would see everything as a way to honor the Lord, and we would not deviate or even bend away from using our giftedness*. You have thumbs. God gave you thumbs. You put your thumbs on a thousand things every day. That means that you put your thumbs on a thousand things Christ created. Give Him thanks! It also means that you put your thumbs on a thousand things that Christ cares about. What are you doing with your thumbs? Are you turning pages of a book? Read by His light. Scratching your pen across paper? Write to reflect Him. Texting or tweeting or updating your social status? Starting a business? Teaching? Feeding kids? Interested in politics? Making art? Sewing, knitting, playing piano, writing a song? Let us stop sucking our thumbs, whining that we don't know what to do. Let us stop sitting on our thumbs. Let us wipe the malaise off our thumbs. Ordinary work is fine, not working is not. Christ cries, "Mine!" over it all. What are you doing with *His* stuff with your thumbs? [piper]: http://www.desiringgod.org/conference-messages/sex-and-the-supremacy-of-christ-part-2 [reader]: http://www.amazon.com/Abraham-Kuyper-A-Centennial-Reader/dp/0802843212 [worship]: http://www.amazon.com/Worship-Institute-Christian-Liturgical-Studies-ebook/dp/B002VWK4HE/ [bratt]: http://www.amazon.com/Abraham-Kuyper-Library-Religious-Biography-ebook/dp/B00JJ1RIOM/ [mcgoldrick]: http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Renaissance-Man-Abraham-Kuyper/dp/0852344465/ [yonge]: http://www.amazon.com/Heir-Redclyffe-Charlotte-M-Yonge/dp/1490383549/ [cartoon]: http://personal.vu.nl/a.f.de.vos/images/Blz25.gif [lectures]: http://www.amazon.com/Lectures-Calvinism-Abraham-Kuyper/dp/080281607X [free]: http://www.vu.nl/en/ [arp]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Revolutionary_Party [grant]: http://www.wordmp3.com/details.aspx?id=5482 [audio]: http://trinityevangel.org/kuypers-lectures/