BJ's Reviews > Lectures on Calvinism

Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper
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's review
Mar 04, 2008

really liked it
Read in August, 2008

Lectures on Calvinism is an important book. Kuyper's Calvinism is a product of how the Calvinstic world-view pervades all of life. He shows that Calvinism is a life-system and then goes to show its penetration in religion and politics and science and art and the future. Kuyper argues that Calvinism places one's entire life before God and that all of life is to be lived before the face of God.

Now I must confess this is the kind of book I don't like to get caught reading because of its title. Mainly because of bad caricatures of Calvinism and because of most hating the thought of having a "system" by a man that one follows. After all Christians are to be under Jesus and the word of God not Calvinists under Calvin and his writings. This is true.

However, most, not all, of what Kuyper writes I wholeheartedly embrace as biblical Christianity and, yes, this kind of Calvinism is a good reflection of Jesus and God's word. Parts of the book are dated, after all, they are lectures to a specific time (1898) and place (Princeton) but most of his main points are for any generation. Kuyper's rigorous desire to place his belief as the pervading aspect in all of life is welcomed. His doctrine of Calvinism is intensely doctrinal--massive in scope--but by its very nature it is practical covering the ins and outs of all of life. Many will do well to learn Kuyperian Calvinism--even if not a Calvinsit--for it will challenge you to a big vision of God and a big vision for life. Living all of life before the face of the Sovereign One is the call of the Christian before it is the call of the Calvinist.

Kuyper's common grace is a great help to living in a world full of unbelievers, but nevertheless, a world full of unbelievers graced and gifted by God in all kinds of good works (politics, art, science, etc.). Kuyper's cosmic focus on the restoration of all things in Jesus helps detract from the caricatured Calvinism of individualistic soteriological narrowness and dualism. Kuyper's critique of mysticism and overtly practical Christianity should be heeded today and resonates now as it did at the turn of the century. Christianity is to be doctrinal first before it is mystical and practical, in his words, "Mysticism is sweet, and Christian works are precious, but the seed of the Church, both at the birth of Christianity and in the age of the Reformation, has been the blood of the martyrs; and our sainted martyrs shed their blood not for mysticism and not for philanthropic projects, but for the sake of convictions such as concerned the acceptance of truth and the rejection of error (189)." Much more could be said. There are many gems in this book. Do read it and if you don't maybe the lesson here is not to become a better Calvinist, but to become the kind of Christian who lives life with deep convictions about God, man, and the world.

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