What is Kuyperian Calvinism?

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) was a Dutch pastor, theologian, journalist, educator, and Prime Minister of the Netherlands.[1] Though we don’t embrace all of Kuyper’s doctrine, we do recognize his indispensable contributions to Calvinism as an all-encompassing worldview.

Many Christians are familiar with the Doctrines of Grace, the Five Points of Calvinism, or T.U.L.I.P. In other words, many Christians are familiar with the soteriological emphasis of Calvinism. While eternal salvation is certainly the ultimate concern for every man, Kuyper sought to reacquaint men with the cosmological implications of Calvinism as well. God’s redemptive story happens in time on earth among people and His people should study the whole drama: the plot, the characters, and the theater.

The sinless Christ who died on the cross to save men is also the eternal Word who created the world for men. All things were made by Him, are sustained by Him, and bring glory to Him. In fact, Christ’s reconciling, redeeming work extends to all the world. Therefore, men should examine His special and general revelation, they should learn celestial and terrestrial realities. Jesus is Lord over the entire universe, theology and geometry, hermeneutics and history, church and state. Perhaps Kuyper’s most famous quote says it best:

There is not one thumb’s width in the whole domain of human life which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, “Mine!”[2]

To speak about Kuyperian Calvinism then, is to speak about God’s sovereignty in salvation and in everything. In other words, Kuyperian Calvinism is just an explicit insight about Calvinism, and Calvinism itself is just a nickname for the Biblical truth that Christ is Lord over all.[3]

Kuyper started many movements and institutions but he rallied uncommon efforts to cultivate this Christian worldview in education, including the establishment of Christian schools at the primary, secondary, university, and graduate levels. Kuyper’s work was often a struggle and regularly resisted but, as George Grant said, “He was just bullheaded and joyous enough to enjoy failure.”[4]

At Evangel Classical School we educate from and toward a Kuyperian view of the world (or, simply stated as a comprehensive Christian worldview), seeing every subject as the Lord’s and studying in order to be more faithful image-bearers and worshippers of Him.

  1. For more about Kuyper’s life, see his Facebook, read his Wiki, download an audio biography by George Grant, or get a copy of God’s Renaissance Man by James McGoldrick.
  2. Although often translated: “there is not a square inch,” the Dutch phrase Kuyper used is een duimbreed which is a common Dutch idiom for one thumb’s width, or, a very small distance.
  3. For more on Kuyper’s understanding of Calvinism as a “Life-system” and how it affects religion, politics, science, art, and the future, download a free PDF of Lectures on Calvinism, purchase a hard copy, or get the audio book for free.
  4. We suspect Kuyper would have appreciated our motto.