We are seeing a renewal of interest in the life and thought of Abraham Kuyper. That aspect of his thought that receives attention is his theory of the Calvinistic Christianizing of society. The Kuyper that is resurrected is the Kuyper of common grace and the Stone lectures on Calvinism.
Religion, Pluralism, and Public Life is part of this Kuyper-renascence. A number of scholars examine Kuyper’s thought with a view to applying it to today’s world. Included are informative explanations of Kuyper’s theory of sphere sovereignty.
Some of the essays are sharply critical of the Dutch thinker. Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen castigates Kuyper for his patriarchal view of women (“The Carrot and the Stick: Kuyper on Gender, Family, and Class”), never noticing that Kuyper’s prohibition of women’s ordination in the church is the Word of God in Holy Scripture. Peter J. Paris roundly condemns Kuyper for racism (“The African and African-American Understanding of Our Common Humanity: A Critique of Abraham Kuyper’s Anthropology”). H. Russel Botman gives a fairer analysis of Kuyper’s influence on the apartheid policy of the Dutch Reformed in South Africa (“Is Blood Thicker than Justice? The Legacy of Abraham Kuyper for Southern Africa”).
Critical as the scholars are of virtually all elements of Kuyper’s social teaching, they uncritically accept Kuyper’s assertion that the foundation of a distinctively Christian worldview is common grace. In the preface to the book, Max Stackhouse writes:
What keeps persons from being pulled apart in this complex world of multiple practices and institutions, and what keeps society from fragmenting into totally autonomous realms where each sphere becomes its own principality or power, is the recognition of a deep moral and spiritual fabric—constituted by a God-given common grace—that undergirds all that is (p. xvi).
The articles that make up the book are the speeches that were given at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1998 in observance of the 100th anniversary of Kuyper’s Stone lectures on Calvinism as a worldview.