Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, ed. James D. Bratt. Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans/Paternoster, 1998. xiv + 498 pages. $29.00 (paper). [Reviewed by the editor.]

Most of the sixteen pieces by Abraham Kuyper that are the content of this book have never before been translated into English. They are either published speeches by the great Dutch theologian and politician, shorter articles, or excerpts from longer works. Among them are Kuyper’s account of his spiritual conversion (“Confidentially”); his critique of theological liberalism (“Modernism: A Fata Morgana in the Christian Domain”); a well-chosen selection from Kuyper’s still untranslated three-volume work on common grace (“Common Grace”); a great analysis of the Boer War (“The South African Crisis”); Kuyper’s penetrating exposures of pantheism and of evolution (“The Blurring of the Boundaries” and “Evolution”); and his famed inaugural address at the Free University (“Sphere Sovereignty”).

The articles come from all periods of Kuyper’s life and cover all the amazing Dutchman’s interests: theology, politics, and culture.

All of the articles demonstrate the brilliant mind of a great scholar. Many shine the light of biblical, Reformed truth upon vital issues in church and society. Some display disquieting weaknesses in the influential thought of one who claimed in all things to be a Calvinist.

Editor James D. Bratt introduces each piece, setting it in historical context and offering pointed analysis. The introductions are helpful. Bratt acknowledges Kuyper’s personal, political motive in writing the series of articles on common grace: with his writings on common grace Kuyper wanted to bring the Reformed people in the Netherlands “back in touch with the larger society and culture—also for immediate political purposes. He completed the series simultaneously with his election as prime minister” (p. 165).

Adding to the value and pleasure of the work are the pictures, editorial cartoons from newspapers of the time, and short quotations from Kuyper’s church paper and newspaper. Outstanding is the meditation on death written by Kuyper on the occasion of the death of his wife (pp. 408-415). One of the quotations sprinkled throughout the book is Kuyper’s response to criticism from some of his own followers, that wine was served at the banquet attending the inaugural of the Free University: “… the Reformed are not the sort to water down their wine…. From the chocolate kettle and the milk and water bottle rises no race of bold Calvinists” (p. 489).

There are some memorable lines, e.g., “From … Scripture (we have) learned that those can live who are prepared to die and that where God is with us no bully can make us crawl” (p. 44).