Two books, both originally PhDs have now been published.
Park, Jae-eun 2018. Driven by God: Active Justification and Definitive Sanctification in the Soteriology of Bavinck, Comrie, Witsius, and Kuyper. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Gmbh & Co.
Brant Himes 2018. For a Better Worldiness: Abraham Kuyper, Dietrich Bonhoffer and Discipleship for the Common Good. Eugene, OR: Pickwick
Vincent Bacote is interviewed by Gregory R. Perry here: http://thirdmill.org/podcasts/episode.asp/id/37. He discusses positive and negative views on Kuyper:
Now, Vince, I know that you have studied deeply and written about a famous Christian politician, Abraham Kuyper, a Reformed Christian theologian that served as the prime minister of the Netherlands at the beginning of the twentieth century. Does Kuyper offer us some guidance about how to engage politically with integrity as a Christian? I’m sure there are some positive and maybe some negative examples from his life.
Bacote: Yes. So, among the positive examples, actually, are the surprise to many that, though he was prime minister, Kuyper was not after some idea of a totalitarian Christian society. I think there are people who think that because he was prime minister it must have meant, “Oh, I get it. Christians taking over.” Or sometimes that word that winds up being really a slur to get people to think that you’re trying to take over the world: “Oh, a theocracy.” You can’t read him and ever think that that’s the case. So, what Kuyper was after was certainly the view that Christians uphold the ordinances of creation, that these things when put into practice led to a society that was the best for everyone, but there was nothing about coercing people who were different from him, excluding or coercing them into having the same beliefs. So, really, what he wanted to say was that Christians ought to be participating, participating distinctively in politics, but also being willing to work with other people. So, he never would have become, for example, prime minister if he’s not … He was a part of a Christian political party in the Netherlands at the time called the Anti-Revolutionary Party, which was anti-French Revolution. Well, he’s not going to become prime minister if he doesn’t make a coalition with the Catholic political party. And you’ve got to understand this was way before Vatican II, so it’s not like Catholics and Protestants were always going out to dinner or something. So, I think we have to keep in mind that he recognized that you have to make these coalitions to make things happen. It doesn’t mean that you agree about everything, but you perhaps agree about enough where you have enough common goals. And I think there has to be that kind of willingness to work with others when we’re thinking about accomplishing political ends or political goods.
Listening to their views.
Now, I know, as an African-American man — I’ve read Kuyper, I know that he has some views of race that are not in accord with Scripture — and yet you chose to study his life. You chose to stay engaged with his views, to listen to his views. Could you just share a little bit about that on a personal level?
Bacote: Yes, even his picture is framed and in my office, actually, which may really sound amazing. But he’s how I became a critical thinker because I had to deal with language of his that was clearly showing that he had nothing positive really to say about people of African descent. I had to ask myself, were the things that were attractive to me about his thought intimately tied to, intimately connected to the judgments that he’s making, the value judgments he’s making about people of African descent? My conclusion was then, and is now, that that’s not the case. In fact, I think those are reflective of the fact that he could not overcome what I like to call “the gravitational pull of his cultural assumptions.” He couldn’t live up to where his theological commitment should have taken him. Right? Because even in his theology, there’s this way he’s talking about how Calvinistic Reformation theology emphasizes all of us as a priesthood of believers and all people are made in the image of God, how this elevates people and how this, you know, means you can’t have slavery and a caste system and so forth.
So he’s inconsistent.
Bacote: Exactly. But he doesn’t live up to that when you see some of the value judgments that he makes. So, to me he’s just a great example of a person with clay feet, but a person who had a lot to say that I think is helpful about Christians engaging public life. For me, I think it was the gateway to saying, look, whatever figure you deal with who’s not Jesus, it’s only a matter of time before the day of reckoning happens and you have to deal with the failures of that person. And sometimes those failures will be things that you find really lamentable.
So it goes back to what Calvin said about human beings that were glorious ruins, right?
Bacote: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.
If we know about ourselves and our own sinfulness, we can expect to find these things about our heroes.
Bacote: Exactly. Exactly. And so I think with any figure you’ve got to basically always be in an act of discernment and decide, alright, I can find these things helpful and these other things not so helpful, and I’m just willing to be truthful about those things. It’s hard for people to do that when they want to make people into heroes. We have to be careful about what it means to make people into heroes, and then we can admire them without making them heroic.
Acton Institute is hosting a unique, two-day international conference at Acton Institute’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, MI. Details here. This conference will draw upon the work of Dutch politician, educator, and theologian Abraham Kuyper to present possible solutions for rediscovering civic virtue and building a society in which all may flourish.
On the evening of November 5, the Acton Institute will confer the 2018 Novak Award and its $15,000 prize to the Brazilian academic Prof. Lucas G. Freire of the Center for Economic Freedom at Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo. Prof. Freire will present the Calihan Lecture based on his doctoral research in this area.