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"The definitive biography of Abraham Kuyper, giant of Dutch Calvinism" This is the first full-scale English-language biography of the highly influential and astonishingly multifaceted Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)—theologian, minister, politician, newspaper editor, educational innovator, Calvinist reformer, and prime minister of the Netherlands from 1901 to 1905. James Bratt "The definitive biography of Abraham Kuyper, giant of Dutch Calvinism" This is the first full-scale English-language biography of the highly influential and astonishingly multifaceted Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)—theologian, minister, politician, newspaper editor, educational innovator, Calvinist reformer, and prime minister of the Netherlands from 1901 to 1905. James Bratt is the ideal scholar to tell the story of Kuyper's remarkable life and work. He expertly traces the origin and development of Kuyper's signature concepts—common grace, Christian worldview, sphere sovereignty, Christian engagement with contemporary culture—in the dynamic context of his life's story. Based on voluminous primary and secondary Dutch sources, Bratt's Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat will prove to be the go-to biography of this major figure whose ideas and influence extend far beyond his own time and place.


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"The definitive biography of Abraham Kuyper, giant of Dutch Calvinism" This is the first full-scale English-language biography of the highly influential and astonishingly multifaceted Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)—theologian, minister, politician, newspaper editor, educational innovator, Calvinist reformer, and prime minister of the Netherlands from 1901 to 1905. James Bratt "The definitive biography of Abraham Kuyper, giant of Dutch Calvinism" This is the first full-scale English-language biography of the highly influential and astonishingly multifaceted Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)—theologian, minister, politician, newspaper editor, educational innovator, Calvinist reformer, and prime minister of the Netherlands from 1901 to 1905. James Bratt is the ideal scholar to tell the story of Kuyper's remarkable life and work. He expertly traces the origin and development of Kuyper's signature concepts—common grace, Christian worldview, sphere sovereignty, Christian engagement with contemporary culture—in the dynamic context of his life's story. Based on voluminous primary and secondary Dutch sources, Bratt's Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat will prove to be the go-to biography of this major figure whose ideas and influence extend far beyond his own time and place.

30 review for Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat

  1. 5 out of 5

    James Smith

    Really fantastic read. Engaging, dramatic narrative in which Bratt exhibits mastery of archival materials. A sufficiently complex portrait of a conflicted figure. Highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    The publishers have described this as the first full-scale biography in English. Though, it is certainly not the first English biography, it is certainly the definitive one. We have been reasonably served with Kuyper biographies, ranging from the hagiographic (e.g. Frank Van den Berg's 1960 Abraham Kuyper a translation from the Dutch) and under critical (Praamsma's Let Christ be King - another translation) to the over critical (e.g. Koch's yet to be translated Abraham Kuyper: Nu ook voor Kleine L The publishers have described this as the first full-scale biography in English. Though, it is certainly not the first English biography, it is certainly the definitive one. We have been reasonably served with Kuyper biographies, ranging from the hagiographic (e.g. Frank Van den Berg's 1960 Abraham Kuyper a translation from the Dutch) and under critical (Praamsma's Let Christ be King - another translation) to the over critical (e.g. Koch's yet to be translated Abraham Kuyper: Nu ook voor Kleine Luyden!). Bratt steers a middle course. The first biography written in English was by McGoldrick, God's Renaissance Man drew largely upon Van den Berg and Praasma and focuses primarily on Kuyper's theological views. Bratt's perspective is wider. The chapter titles will give some flavour of the scope of Bratt's biography and of Kuyer's life and influence; these include: Political theorist (ch 7); Church reformer (ch 8); Theologian of the church (ch 9); Theologian of culture (ch 10); Christian democrat (ch 11). Inevitably, a 450-page book will have its limitations. I would have liked to have seen a little more on Kuyper as founder of the VU University. The VU and education played a key role in Kuyper's strategy and this seemed to me is slightly played down in Bratt's approach. In his introduction Bratt notes that Putchinger gave him some advice: "First you'll love the man, then you'll detest him, finally you'll understand him. Then you're ready to write" (p. xxv). Bratt has gone through those stages and has a realistic view of the man: a "great man but not a nice one" (p xxi). This puts Bratt in a good place to write about Kuyper. He does an excellent job of placing Kuyper in his cultural and political context. He examines many of Kuyper's influences and explores the parallels between Kuyper and his contemporaries. Bratt draws upon many of the key Dutch works by Kuyper and others. There is a 14 page index and the bibliographic notes stretch to 44 pages. Particularly helpful are the descriptions and evaluations of Kuyper's writings, especially those not yet translated. Bratt is very good at placing these in the cultural milieu. One frustration was the way the references have been done - there are no footnotes or end notes, but a brief bibliographic essay for each chapter at the end of the book, this makes finding the source of a quote rather difficult. Though it does have the advantage of not breaking up the text with references. The book is eminently readable. If you want to know more about Kuyper this is perhaps the best place to start. I shall certainly be returning to it again and again. Bratt notes that it has taken many years to complete - it has been worth the wait!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    You have to give Bratt kudos for such an erudite work on a thinker whose works were legion. However, there were some things that, for an American audience, might seem to be a bit tedious. Thus, some young Calvinists with no Dutch roots might be disappointed at the surprising amount of detail into Kuyper's political life, but that is the genius of Kuyper: his Calvinism was not just soteriological but cosmological. Let the reader understand. You have to give Bratt kudos for such an erudite work on a thinker whose works were legion. However, there were some things that, for an American audience, might seem to be a bit tedious. Thus, some young Calvinists with no Dutch roots might be disappointed at the surprising amount of detail into Kuyper's political life, but that is the genius of Kuyper: his Calvinism was not just soteriological but cosmological. Let the reader understand.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Miroslav Balint-Feudvarski

    Great Works of biography Very Hood overview of Kuyper's thought and life. I heartily recommend it for a student of Kuyper. Worth the time and the effort Great Works of biography Very Hood overview of Kuyper's thought and life. I heartily recommend it for a student of Kuyper. Worth the time and the effort

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Abraham Kuyper is one of those "larger than life" figures. He was a pastor, writer of over 20,000 newspaper articles, multi-volume theological treatises, the founder of a university, a politician and a Prime Minister. He was, in James Bratt's assessment "a great man but not a nice one" (p.xxii). As a young man, he put his fiancee' through a rigorous tutelage to prepare her to be a minister's wife. He often could be more generous to political opponents than to party members who challenged him on d Abraham Kuyper is one of those "larger than life" figures. He was a pastor, writer of over 20,000 newspaper articles, multi-volume theological treatises, the founder of a university, a politician and a Prime Minister. He was, in James Bratt's assessment "a great man but not a nice one" (p.xxii). As a young man, he put his fiancee' through a rigorous tutelage to prepare her to be a minister's wife. He often could be more generous to political opponents than to party members who challenged him on details. He was a shrewd political organizer but a difficult one to wrest control from--really only physical decline and death did this. He was a monumental intellect who drove himself to physical and mental breakdown at several points in his life. Bratt explores this paradoxical man in all his complexity. This biography traces his life from his early pastorates to his entrance into politics, his engagement on the question of the place of church in education and other issues of the day and his establishment of the Free University of Amsterdam. It narrates his leadership of the Doleantie exodus from the Dutch Reformed Church, his political organizing in building up the Anti-Revolutionary Party (Christian Democrats), his Prime Ministership, and loss of power after one term and the gradual decline of his powers. But above all, this is an intellectual biography. We begin with the formation of thought under Johannes Scholten and his studies of Kant and Jan Laski. We see his turn to a warm-hearted Calvinism as his former professor turned more to theological Modernism, and as he had an experience of spiritual renewal at Brighton. The rest of his life was a project of working out the implications of Calvinism, not simply in the church but for all of life. Kuyper practically gave us the language of world and life view that many in Reformed and Evangelical streams use today. He saw that God was Sovereign over all of life, and he expounded this in his inaugural speech for the Free University of Amsterdam in these famous terms: "Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'" Kuyper further extended these ideas through the conception of "sphere sovereignty" in which various parts of life were meant to operate autonomously under the sovereign grace of God -- church, state, education, commerce, the arts, and so forth. The sovereignty of one sphere was not to intrude on others. In Kuyper's thinking this allowed for Christian presence in a pluralistic society as Christians in sphere's of politics, or say education, made common cause with those who held differing beliefs. In each, Christians would bring a Christian mind and perspective, and yet neither state nor church would control any sphere outside its own. So Kuyper could argue for both the existence and funding of church schools and yet see this as part of a comprehensive educational enterprise. To read this biography of Kuyper is to understand the intellectual foundations of much of the Reformed and Neo-Reformed movement in this country. His thought has influenced figures like Nicholas Wolterstorff and Albert Wolters in philosophy, Timothy Keller in preaching, and James Skillen in politics and public life. (See my review of Skillen's The Good of Politics as an example of Kuyperian thought.) It is also a narrative of one who was both an accomplished thinker and a skilled politician. For Christians interested in political life, whether you agree with Kuyper's theology or not, this is an excellent study of Christian political engagement. For those, like myself, who work in higher education, there are two predominant streams of Christian intellectual engagement of the academy. One is the Catholic tradition both of Aquinas and the Jesuits. The other is the Reformed tradition strongly shaped by Kuyper. Both strongly connect the love of learning and the love of God. If we should differ from either of these, we will be unlikely to improve on their contribution to Christian intellectual life unless we learn from them. Kuyper is one good place to begin.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zach Hollifield

    A slog, but very much an enjoyable one if you are interested in Kuyper, his thought, and his potential contributions today. Be warned: it will take a certain level of interest to finish. But if you have such an interest in Kuyper you will enjoy it immensely.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Boyle

    Bratt seems to go out of his way to hit hard on Kuyper for some reason.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laurent Dv

    Complete and academic. Extremely precise (for example in the political and national context, even international) and tough to read. Written by a neutral and critical.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Coram Deo Church

    Abraham Kuyper is not currently available at local libraries.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian Collins

    This is a well-written academic biography of Abraham Kuyper. It does a fine job in setting the context of Kuyper’s life and documenting the intellectual currents which influenced Kuyper. It also is valuable in providing the context for Kuyper’s thought (a particular political situation, for instance). This may affect the evaluation of certain aspects of Kuyper’s thought. Bratt provides a warts and all kind of biography, which is useful when evaluating the thought of an influential figure. The ma This is a well-written academic biography of Abraham Kuyper. It does a fine job in setting the context of Kuyper’s life and documenting the intellectual currents which influenced Kuyper. It also is valuable in providing the context for Kuyper’s thought (a particular political situation, for instance). This may affect the evaluation of certain aspects of Kuyper’s thought. Bratt provides a warts and all kind of biography, which is useful when evaluating the thought of an influential figure. The major weakness of this work, to my mind, is Bratt’s own left-of-center viewpoint. There were several occasions in which Bratt declared Kuyper’s thought to be contradictory (and the part deemed the outlier was the conservative part). I often wondered at these points if a right-of-center biographer would have seen Kuyper as contradictory at these points or whether he would have found Kuyper’s thought more cohesive.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    This is the definitive book on Kuyper, and while the worldview of Kuyper undergirds much of the institutional context from which Bratt writes, its not written in the flattering tones of a fan. What is so impressive is Bratt's knowledge of the context and his ability to summarize and critique Kuyper's philosophy within that context. While the politics and culture of Kuyper is of more concern than his biographical details per se, the book is fairly comprehensive and remains interesting to the read This is the definitive book on Kuyper, and while the worldview of Kuyper undergirds much of the institutional context from which Bratt writes, its not written in the flattering tones of a fan. What is so impressive is Bratt's knowledge of the context and his ability to summarize and critique Kuyper's philosophy within that context. While the politics and culture of Kuyper is of more concern than his biographical details per se, the book is fairly comprehensive and remains interesting to the reader who maintains their curiosity in the big philosophical issues. Sometimes Bratt seems to be too ready to point out Kuyper's contradictions as faults, which I would treat more ambiguously. But the critique comes from decades of patience work, and I would cautiously say it is magisterial in its accomplishment.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sean Higgins

    Impressive work about one of the most industrious workers in history. Bratt's final sentence: "There is much we can all learn from a person who asked the right questions and gave enduring methods for seeking, and finding, their answers." I would have liked to read what he learned, a summary from the author's perspective, not only at the end of the book but throughout the whole. Kuyper was a legend in his own country by the end of his own times, full of weaknesses and strengths. This book reports Impressive work about one of the most industrious workers in history. Bratt's final sentence: "There is much we can all learn from a person who asked the right questions and gave enduring methods for seeking, and finding, their answers." I would have liked to read what he learned, a summary from the author's perspective, not only at the end of the book but throughout the whole. Kuyper was a legend in his own country by the end of his own times, full of weaknesses and strengths. This book reports many of his gains (temporary and lasting, institutions and ideologies) along with many losses (personal and political). Valuable pages on a difficult man.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Kane

    I am proud to say that I have finished this book! It is an excellent piece of history, Bratt is one of those uncommon academics who lectures exactly how he writes. No frills and the occasional joke or splash of irony. It is not easy to get through, or it was not for me--an avid fan of Father A and his numerous books, articles, and devotions, his personal life, and crusading political life leaves me disappointed, and the slightest bit angry. We are all human after all, and Calvinists/neocals woul I am proud to say that I have finished this book! It is an excellent piece of history, Bratt is one of those uncommon academics who lectures exactly how he writes. No frills and the occasional joke or splash of irony. It is not easy to get through, or it was not for me--an avid fan of Father A and his numerous books, articles, and devotions, his personal life, and crusading political life leaves me disappointed, and the slightest bit angry. We are all human after all, and Calvinists/neocals would do good to take this book as a grain of salt next to the all inspiring Princeton lectures, Common Grace, what-have-you.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    The books is consistent with my belief that Constantine did not do any favors to the Church when he gave it political power. Ever since then the Church, or a set of its members, cannot help themselves and get into whatever the politics of the then current government consists, whether monarchy, despotism, or democracy. Inevitably the Church is damaged. I was familiar with Kuyper through his writings, which are useful even today. I would have preferred for the book to focus more on his theology, an The books is consistent with my belief that Constantine did not do any favors to the Church when he gave it political power. Ever since then the Church, or a set of its members, cannot help themselves and get into whatever the politics of the then current government consists, whether monarchy, despotism, or democracy. Inevitably the Church is damaged. I was familiar with Kuyper through his writings, which are useful even today. I would have preferred for the book to focus more on his theology, and not his politics, since politics comes and goes, but the issues of theology remain.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barry

    An interesting and thorough biography of a fascinating and important figure in Dutch history and in Reformed theology. Perhaps a little too thorough. I've been slowly chipping away at this doorstop for four months. I would have preferred a biography like Paul Johnson writes-- all the highlights of his life and some insightful commentary, all in 150 pages. Oh well. At least I learned a lot. It was also interesting to read about how he spoke at Hope College during his trip to America in 1898. An interesting and thorough biography of a fascinating and important figure in Dutch history and in Reformed theology. Perhaps a little too thorough. I've been slowly chipping away at this doorstop for four months. I would have preferred a biography like Paul Johnson writes-- all the highlights of his life and some insightful commentary, all in 150 pages. Oh well. At least I learned a lot. It was also interesting to read about how he spoke at Hope College during his trip to America in 1898.

  16. 5 out of 5

    James Calvin

    If you're anywhere near to being a descendant of the Kuyperian tradition, then reading Bratt's bio of Father Abraham is like being given a lens to see more clearly into your own soul and heart and mind. Nothing but praise for this huge effort and accomplishment by Prof. Bratt. If you're anywhere near to being a descendant of the Kuyperian tradition, then reading Bratt's bio of Father Abraham is like being given a lens to see more clearly into your own soul and heart and mind. Nothing but praise for this huge effort and accomplishment by Prof. Bratt.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Polanski

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Huggins

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Den Hartog

  20. 5 out of 5

    Calvin College

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Deeter

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stegokitty

  23. 5 out of 5

    Raully

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  25. 4 out of 5

    Justin Ariel

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Enoch Kuo

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marc Jagt

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

  30. 5 out of 5

    Extreme

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