Subscribe to Christianity Today
Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction
Richard J. Mouw
148 pp., $16.00
Ronald A. Wells
Until the Trumpet Blows
Richard Mouw, soon to retire as president of Fuller Theological Seminary, is familiar to many readers of these pages. But, for those who might not know him, Mouw has had a successful career in writing books that—while aware of first-order scholarship—are accessible to what Mary Tyler Moore once called "ordinary people." In this lovely book of 136 pages, Mouw has done it again.
His subject is Abraham Kuyper, a person known to some in the Presbyterian and Reformed community, but perhaps not so much elsewhere. In brief, Kuyper had several careers in an action-packed life (1837-1920): pastor, journalist, author, and politician (in the last he was prime minister of the Netherlands for a while). While Mouw draws on Kuyper's various writings, the one work that makes Kuyper so compelling is Lectures on Calvinism (hereinafter Lectures), which he gave as the Stone Lectures at Princeton in 1898. The main subject of Lectures can be called Kuyper's theology of culture. As Mouw charmingly says, "this was the Kuyper who lured me in." What Mouw discovered in that classic work "was a vision of active involvement in public life that would allow me to steer my way between a privatized evangelicalism on the one hand and the liberal Protestant or Catholic approaches to public discipleship on the other hand."
Since Rich Mouw calls his approach "a personal introduction," I will get personal for a few lines as well. I first read Lectures early in the 1960s as an undergraduate student in a reading group at the Park Street Church on the Boston Common. The then-minister to students, Harold O. J. Brown, later to have a distinguished career at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, gave me the book and guided my thinking. I was excited by the book for the same reasons as Rich, and at about the same time. When I joined the Calvin faculty in 1969 as an avowed Kuyperian (though, importantly at that time, not a Dooyeweerdian), I was greeted as a comrade by Rich Mouw and George Marsden, who ...