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Worldview Teaching of Abraham Kuyper

QUESTION: Worldview Teaching of Abraham Kuyper


Abraham Kuyper, in Lectures on Calvinism (the published form of his 1898 Stone Lectures at Princeton University) stated, “Two life systems are wrestling with one another, in mortal combat. This is the struggle in Europe, this is the struggle in America …”1 To Kuyper, these two systems were modernism and Christianity, and if modernism were a comprehensive system, then Christianity ought to be conceived of as comprehensive as well. If non-Christian worldviews were marked out across the spectrum of society, so too should Christianity be worked out and applied to every area. When fully applied and compared, Christianity would naturally prove to be the “more brilliant” and “the more capable of taking us to a higher level as a civilization.”2

This approach, Kuyper thought, would be more effective than traditional apologetics, which, “has not advanced us one single step.”3 For Kuyper, the goal was the transformation of all of culture, at every level, to recognize God’s authority. Key to Kuyper’s approach, and legacy, are the following themes: (1) a cosmic understanding of salvation, that grace restore nature as well as souls; (2) the sovereignty of God over all of life and order; (3) the cultural mandate as prior to, and unlocking the meaning of, the great commission; and (4) a spiritual antithesis characterizes the relationships of believers and unbelievers.4

Worldview – The Influence of Abraham Kuyper
Kuyper exerted significant influence on future worldview thinkers through the founding of the Free University of Amsterdam, as well as through his considerable success in Dutch politics. This influence continued through the work of Dooyeweerd, who emerged as Kuyper’s heir at Free University and has been called “the most creative and influential philosopher among neo-Calvinists in the 20th century.”5

Dooyeweerd followed up on Kuyper’s concept of worldview early in his career, altered it later in his career, and became a key individual in the academic discussion of worldview. His influence can be especially seen through Calvin College and the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, Canada.6 Writers on Christian worldview that have followed in the Kuyperian tradition include Albert Wolters, Arthur Holmes, Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh, Charles Colson, and Nancy Pearcey.


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism, 11.
2 Ibid, 41.
3 Ibid, 11. Cf. Naugle, Worldview, 18-19.
4 Naugle, Worldview, 22-23.
5 Naugle, Worldview, 25. See also, Nash, Dooyeweerd and the Amsterdam Philosophy (Grand Rapids,Mich.: Zondervan, 1962).
6 See Naugle, 25-29; Also, Paul Marshall, Sander Griffioen, Richard J. Mouw, eds. Stained Glass: Worldviews and Social Science (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1989) and James Sire, Naming the Elephant (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2004).

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