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Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat (Library of Religious Biography) Paperback – May 1, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Library of Religious Biography
  • Paperback: 499 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (May 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802869068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802869067
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Richard J. Mouw
-- Fuller Theological Seminary
"At last! This is what many of us have been waiting for -- a careful, detailed, and highly readable(!) biography of Kuyper in all of his human complexity. Jim Bratt has given us the comprehensive study of 'Father Abraham' that will serve English speakers for years to come."

Nicholas Wolterstorff
-- Yale University
"Abraham Kuyper was such a titanic figure in the Netherlands during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, such a volcano of prodigious energy and imagination in so many areas of life, that I have long assumed that his genius would elude capture by any biographer. James Bratt's biography, Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat, proves that I was mistaken. This is Kuyper -- not always likable, but always astounding. And it's a page-turner besides."

Anthony B. Bradley
-- The King's College, New York City
"James Bratt has written what can only be called the definitive biography of Abraham Kuyper. With engrossing scholarship and style, Bratt provides indispensable reading for anyone interested in postindustrial Christian social thought. . . . Will undoubtedly become a classic."

George Marsden
-- University of Notre Dame
"Bratt has done a marvelous job of setting Kuyper's multifaceted interests, activities, and ideas in their historical contexts. With wit and insight Bratt depicts Kuyper not only as a great man but also as a real person of his times, complete with faults and blind spots that Calvinists recognize as inevitable even among their saints."

About the Author

James D. Bratt is an award-winning professor of history at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. His other books include Dutch Calvinism in Modern America and Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jim Fann on September 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For outsiders, Dutch Calvinism is surely an acquired taste. And Abraham Kuyper, one of it's historic leaders, was - let's just say - complex. I'd read several of Kuyper's translated works and nearly as much about him before I picked up this book. So I thought I knew what I was in for. To my surprise, however, James Bratt's biography turned out to be an unexpected treat. Not only does Bratt write interestingly and well. He has the welcomed ability to navigate his readers through unfamiliar territory (e.g., late nineteenth, early twentieth century Netherlands). The result is a thoroughly engaging portrait of Kuyper the politician, the journalist, the statesman, the theologian, and the man. If your goal is to better understand either Abraham Kuyper or Dutch Calvinism, this is an excellent resource. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daniel DeVries on September 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
At 382 pages of main text, Bratt's biography is simultaneously full and quick. On the one hand, this book is rich with contextual detail regarding the theological and political climates Kuyper lived and worked in. On the other hand, Kuyper accomplished so much that I felt I was quickly rushing past.

It would be helpful if someone reading this book had a basic knowledge of Kuyper's key ideas: sphere sovereignty, antithesis, common grace, (neo)Calvinism, etc. While Bratt talks about all these, he doesn't take time to spell out the basics. For most reading this book, Kuyper is probably already a familiar figure and so the groundwork is set. For those who aren't, it might be helpful to read Richard Mouw's short book on Kuyper. All the same, Bratt holds the reader's hand for the ride, and some chapters on Kuyper's thought are especially engaging, such as "Theologian of the Church", "Theologian of Culture", and "Culture Critic". Bratt also does a nice job summarizing Kuyper's travels in the United States, as well as his subsequent influence there.

Bratt writes, "the final test of a thinker might be whether her critical method can be used to expose and correct her substantive mistakes--whether, in Kuyper's language, his principles can work through unhappy iterations to reach a better application." The example Bratt appeals to is dark stain of apartheid, during with many of its proponents were quick to appeal to Kuyper for support. However, Allan Boesak also appealed to Kuyper in decrying apartheid as heresy: "'Not a square inch of human existence,' not even the system of racial hierarchy and exclusion that South African authorities has set beyond religious critique, stands apart from the sovereign claims of Christ.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mathew Sims on January 18, 2015
Format: Paperback
“Son Herman struck the tonic note of Reformed piety in bringing the ceremony to a close: ‘We his children know that he was redeemed as a poor sinner who by faith had found peace in Christ’” (374).

That eulogy by Kuyper’s son Herman struck me as summing up the life of Kuyper and the way in which Bratt successfully conveyed his life. There’s a complexity to Kuyper’s life in the way he was raised in a religious home, pursued liberalism for his young adult life, converted to Calvinism and Orthodoxy before taking his first pastorate. How he sought to soak ever square inch of life in Christ, yet for a time stopped attending church (129). Or how he, as Bratt says, “was a great man but not a nice one. He was immensely talented, energetic, and driven to great exploits. He appeared always confident, partly to quiet his own insecurities” (xxii).

You can see there briefly that Bratt’s biography is a complex portrayal of an even more complex Abrahan Kuyper. That complexity and depth make for a good biography. Often they fall into the categories of hagiography or simplistic. Bratt avoids all of this and sketches a very careful portrait of Kuyper with all his grandeur and all his sins and failures on display. Truly Kuyper “was redeemed as a poor sinner who by faith had found peace in Christ.”

Another feature of Bratt’s biography that stands out is the way he connects what’s happening in the Dutch Netherlands during the life of Kuyper to the rest of world history. We see how the overtones of racism in the Netherlands affect South Africa apartheid (285-96). We see how Kuyper influences American Calvinism and how his approach to culture contrasts with the Presbyterian tradition of Warfield and company.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brant M. Himes on June 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This biography is a compelling read and is a necessity for engaging the growing field of Kuyper and neo-Calvinist scholarship. It is both highly readable and highly informative and fills the need for a definitive English-language biographical account of this influential theological and political figure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Schaap on February 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked it greatly. It taught me all kinds of things that I'm glad I now know and understand. It showed me exactly why Abraham Kuyper was such an important mind in my life, even though I was in college before I knew his name. It's an academic history, written with wit and charm and impeccable style; but it's not always easy going. It's no page-turner, but then Kuyper wasn't just some celebrity. My people--those who are Dutch and Reformed or Dutch and Calvinist--would be much be much better off if it were required reading; and we all owe Prof. Bratt a ton for giving us this huge and memorable portrait.
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