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Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction Paperback – June 10, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


James K. A. Smith
— Calvin College
"This marvelous little book pulls off an astounding feat: though it is both compact and accessible, it also gives us the whole Kuyper. Too often we get Kuyper in slices: folks gravitate to a 'side' of Kuyper, adopting his theology of culture but neglecting his emphasis on the church, or picking up common grace but neglecting antithesis. But Mouw, with typical wit and warmth, introduces us to Kuyper in all his multifaceted richness. A gift for the next generation."

John Bowlin
— Princeton Theological Seminary
"Part introduction to the principal loci of Kuyper's theology of culture, part personal reflection on the legacy of neo-Calvinism, part Kuyperian aggiornamento for the twenty-first century, Rich Mouw's book is a gem. Its engagement with Kuyper's work is thoughtful and sympathetic, but also questioning and critical, a combination that makes this book a perfect entryway into Kuyper's social thought."

John Stackhouse
— Regent College
"Richard Mouw's book does just what it is supposed to do: stimulate our thinking on subjects of consequence, quicken our interest in a mind many of us ought to know better, and improve already great concepts into ideas even better suited to our circumstances. That's a lot to accomplish in a small book — of which genre Mouw must now be acknowledged a master."

Books & Culture
“The genius of Mouw’s take on Kuyper is the way he also ‘lures in’ a Christian reader to a vision so compelling that, once a person sees it, she can’t un-see it, and life changes. . . . A splendid book. . . . If readers are not deeply moved by Mouw’s conclusion, I declare them here and now to be hard-hearted people! . . . We are much in Rich Mouw’s debt, again”
Christian Scholar’s Review
“Those seeking an overview of Kuyper’s thought from someone who has been personally transformed by this theology and who thus believes that Christians should care deeply about the broader culture will be indebted to Mouw’s work.”
Journal of Reformed Theology
“The importance of this book is that Mouw introduces the Kuyperian tradition to the Evangelical world, and there is no better ambassador for this work than he is. As a real ecumenical writer, he is able to discern the strong points in other Christian traditions and to acknowledge the weaker parts in his own.”

About the Author

Richard J. Mouw is president and professor of Christian philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. His many other books include Uncommon Decency, Praying at Burger King, and Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (June 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802866034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802866035
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By David Kim on July 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Whether you've never read a book on or by Kuyper or are a professing "neo-Kuyperian", Richard Mouw has done us a great service in writing this enjoyable and palatable book. It is a must-read for those who wrestle with the question what does Christianity have to do with life outside the church? Rarely do you find a book on Abraham Kuyper that is so readable and relevant to our world today. Because of his command over Kuyper's writings, Mouw gives us a "best of Kuyper" in this book, simplifying concepts and doctrines which have been the topic of tomes. In the short hours that it takes to read this book, you will find yourself growing from a lifetime of wisdom and scholarship.
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This "short and personal introduction" to Abraham Kuyper is a bit too short and too personal. Kuyper was not only a theologian but a political figure. He served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands and was a founder of the Anti-Revolutionary Party, a forebear of today's Christian Democratic Appeal in the Netherlands and of European Christian Democracy. Mouw's book shortchanges Kuyper's place as a politician and political theorist.

Kuyper's theological conception of "sphere sovereignty" is inextricably bound to his opposition to the radical Enlightenment vision of the French Revolution. The French revolutionary government "issued decrees against the religious orders and passed laws abolishing trade unions and other social bodies, pressing further and further into the corporate and communal structures of religion, work, and family life. In this context, labor associations and religious associations were similarly excluded from the law and denied communal sovereignty in their respective realms [spheres] of work and spiritual development." {Lew Daly, "The Church of Labor," Democracy Journal, Fall 2011} Kuyper rejected such an all-encompassing role for the state. Instead, he promoted a corporatist structure in which social groups such as churches, trade unions, and employer associations would have assigned legal roles.

In this brief volume Mouw touches on all these issues, but he does little to connect Kuyper's political activities and his theological views. Mouw's introduction to Kuyper is excellent as far as it goes but seems incomplete. For a more thorough introduction to Kuyper, choose Religion, Pluralism, and Public Life, a collection of 20 essays, including one by Mouw.
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Format: Paperback
This book does exactly what the title indicates. Mouw's writing is easy to read, and in this book we all benefit from his years of experience thinking about and applying Kuyper's thought. The book is separated into two sections. In the first part Mouw summarizes Kuyperian thought in a series of short digestible (dare I say, classroom ready) chunks. In the second half he addresses some of Kuyper's shortcomings, blind spots, and applies his thinking to some contemporary issues.

As might be expected given Mouw's background and interests, Kuyper sounds like a theologian of culture and politics in this volume, which of course he was. His views on many other topics are alluded to, but with less attention. Given my interests, I thought that this was a good thing, not a weakness. The real strength of a book like this is that it is long enough for a serious engagement with Kuyper's thought and context, but short enough to give a reader a birds-eye view of Kuyper's theology. The sections on creation, sphere sovereignty, and antithesis are all close enough together in the volume that it is easy to remember that Kuyper held these together.

Mouw also does us a service by being forthright about Kuyper's weakness, indicating that we need to embrace a "neo-kuyperian" framework. (Does this make him a neo-neo-Calvinist?) And as one who was immediately turned off by some of Kuyper's blind spots (i.e. race) Mouw gives an important reminder that, in any tradition, we must build on the best that the past offers, and make amends for the worst. Most importantly, Mouw has a way of pointing to the ways in which Kuyper can be mis-used, but without a hint of polemics, inviting us to the most helpful and charitable interpretations.
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