Every Inch for Christ: Abraham Kuyper on the Reform of the Church -- By: James Edward McGoldrick

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 03:4 (Fall 1994)
Article: Every Inch for Christ: Abraham Kuyper on the Reform of the Church
Author: James Edward McGoldrick

Every Inch for Christ: Abraham Kuyper on the Reform of the Church

James Edward McGoldrick

When the Free University of Amsterdam opened in 1880, its founder, Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), declared in his inaugural address: “There is not an inch in the entire domain of our human life of which Christ, who is sovereign of all, does not proclaim ‘Mine!’” 1

In making this assertion, Kuyper committed himself and his colleagues to operate Europe’s only truly Christian university on the principle that all truth is God’s truth and that every area of human endeavor must submit to Christ, the King of Kings. Kuyper founded the Free University as a major means to promote the reformation of church and society, i.e., to achieve the “restoration of truth and holiness in the place of error and sin.” 2 The evils he had in mind had permeated the Netherlands broadly and deeply, hastened by the French Revolution of 1789. The Dutch nation, that had once been a bastion of biblical faith, had largely succumbed to the secular humanism that French intellectuals had generated in the eighteenth century and Napoleon’s armies had disseminated in lands they occupied.

By the time the French occupation of the Netherlands ended (1814), the French dictim ni dieu ni maitre (neither God nor master) had become a common point of view among the country’s academic and intellectual elite which controlled the universities, where ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church obtained their education. A vague sueprnaturalism existed which was agreeable to the tastes of reason portrayed as an example of love and kindness but ignoring sin, guilt and God’s gracious provision to save sinners.

Even before the arrival of the French rulers, some powerful forces had been leading the Dutch Reformed Church away from its historic allegiance to Scripture. Modernists had been attacking the Bible and the traditional confessions of faith derived from it, while ethical theologians depreciated

supernatural features of Christian belief and stressed moral principles as the essence of faith. Skeptical university professors denounced John Calvin and extolled Renaissance humanists such as Desiderius Erasmus.

In November 1814 William, Prince of Orange, returned to Amsterdam, ending eighteen years in exile. City officials welcomed him jubilantly as “Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands.” The former Dutch republic became a constitutional monarchy by action of the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), which restored legitimate rulers in lands liberated from Napoleonic contro...

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