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"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

McKendree R. Langley on the Anti-Revolutionary Party

Here is a brief piece by McKendree Langley on the Anti-Revolutionary Party. The party that Abraham Kuyper helped to shape.

It is taken from Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Politics edited by Roy Palmer Domenico and  Mark Y. Hanley (Greenwood publishing 2006)

ANTI-REVOLUTIONARY PARTY (THE NETHERLANDS). The Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP) in the Netherlands was a significant political movement among evangelical Reformed Protestants from 1827 to 1980. 
The worldview foundations for the party were laid by the parliamentarian Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer in his important book Unbelief and Revolution (1847). Based on a principled rejection of the secularist worldview of the French Revolution in its liberal and radical forms, Groen argued for a Christian worldview on Augustinian/Calvinist lines as the basis for all of life including politics. Groen believed that if democratic voting procedures were divorced from biblical moral values and the national heritage, the result would be the end of true constitutionalism, with a pragmatic secularism as the final norm. Around this ARP worldview Groen began to gather a national following, especially on the issue of full freedom for Christian schools. His slogan was "The Gospel versus the Revolution" (or the Bible's principles versus secular humanism). Theocracy was rejected in favor of constitutional democracy. 
The ARP's organizer was Dr. Abraham Kuyper. He popularized Groen's worldview and emancipatory reformism in about ten thousand editorials in De Standaard daily newspaper between 1872 and 1918. He also led more than a dozen national parliamentary campaigns during that period. For example, during the 1873 campaign he wrote, "The other parties campaign for parliamentary seats, more or less. We campaign for our principles!" Between 1872 and 1879, Kuyper organized the ARP around the program of principles, a central committee under his chairmanship, and scores of local voters' clubs. It was Europe's first nationally organized Christian Democratic party. The ARP's most basic principle was that state authority derives from divine institution, not popular consent. Kuyper deepened the ARP worldview with the concepts of sphere sovereignty; common grace; the ordinances of God for family, church, and state; and the Kingship of Christ over all of life. Kuyper adopted a principled pluralism and saw the complete equality of Christian schools with all others funded by a voucher system as a key ingredient of that pluralism. Parity was achieved in the constitutional reforms of 1917. At elections between 1937 and 1972, the ARP received over 200,000 votes on average and was a major governing party with 16 percent of the national vote.

After World War II, the ARP persisted in carrying on with its worldview in spite of secularist pressures to introduce only pragmatic parties. During 1945-1952 the party stayed out of the government in protest against the surrender of Indonesia. At the same time, the party endorsed European federalism, NATO, and a provisional welfare state. By 1968 the party leaders decided to merge with two sister parties (one Catholic) with moderate policies to bring greater stability to governing coalitions. The public debate between the Catholic "open party" concept of all people of good will and the AR "closed party" of self-confessed Christians grabbed headlines during 1973-1976. The open party won, with no official place for the ARP worldview. 
The formal end of the ARP came in 1980, when it merged with the Christian Democratic Appeal party. While the party could be credited for supporting social emancipation, educational pluralism, a benevolent colonial policy, and a responsible governing record, it also tolerated triumphalism, imperialism before 1949, and some poor judgments in crisis situations. 
Bibliography. Langley. M. R. "Emancipation and Apologetics." Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Services, 1995. Langley, M. R. The Practice of Political Spirituality. Jordan Station, ON: Paideia Press, 1984.
McKendree R. Langley

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