The entire nation of The Netherlands celebrated the seventieth birthday of Abraham Kuyper on this day, October 29, 1907. By proclamation the nation recognized that the history of the Netherlands, in Church, in State, in Society, in Press, in School, and in the Sciences the last forty years, could not be written without the mention of his name on almost every page, for during this period the biography of Dr. Abraham Kuyper was to a considerable extent the history of the Netherlands.
Who was this man who had such a deep impact on his nation? Abraham Kuyper was born on this day, October 29, 1837. At first his teachers thought he was dull, but at the early age of twelve he entered the Gymnasium (roughly equivalent to an american senior high school). Later he graduated with highest honors from Leyden University. He went on to receive his doctorate in sacred theology and was a minister at Breesd and Utrecht before going to Amsterdam in 1870.
In Kuyper's earlier years, the religious life of the nation was almost dead. The church was largely cold and formal. There was no Bible in the schools and it had minimal influence in the life of the nation. Kuyper did much to change this by his involvement in the Anti-Revolutionary Party.
The Anti-Revolutionary Party derived its name from its opposition to the ideas of the French Revolution; the party was basically the Protestant contingent of the Dutch nation. In 1872 Abraham became Editor-in-chief of De Standard, the daily newspaper and official organ of the Anti-Revolutionary Party. Soon after taking the helm of De Standard, Kuyper also became editor of De Heraut, a weekly Christian newspaper. He continued as editor of both newspapers for over forty-five years.
In 1874 Kuyper was elected to the lower house of Parliament, and he served there until 1877. Three years later he founded the Free University of Amsterdam, which took the Bible as the foundation of every area of knowledge.
As leader of the Anti-Revolutionary Party, Abraham was summoned by Queen Wilhelmena to form a cabinet and become Prime Minister of the nation. He was Prime Minister until 1905. Some party members were dissatisfied with their leader, however, because he would not keep his church and political activities separate. To him, they were identical interests since he saw Christ as king in every department of human life. Abraham believed that Christ rules not merely by the tradition of what He once was, spoke, did and endured, but by a living power which even now, seated as He is at the right hand of God, He exercises over lands, nations, generations, families, and individuals.
Abraham Kuyper had a tremendous aversion to wasting time when there was so much to do. A man of tremendous versatility, he was a noted linguist, theologian, university professor, politician, statesman, philosopher, scientist, and philanthropist. In spite of his many accomplishments and his tremendous urgency to redeem the time, Abraham was also a man of the people. Like the Savior whom he served, he always had time for people and never turned any away who needed his counsel.
In 1897, at the 25th anniversary of his editorship of De Standaard, Abraham described the ruling passion of his life:
That in spite of all worldly opposition, God's holy ordinances shall be established again in the home, in the school, and in the State for the good of the people; to carve as it were into the conscience of the nation the ordinances of the Lord, to which Bible and Creation bear witness, until the nation pays homage again to God.
Abraham had the rare combination of being both a great theologian and a great, warm Christian. Every week he wrote a devotional meditation-- over 2000 in his lifetime. Some of these were collected into his book To Be Near Unto God. In it he wrote,
The fellowship of being near unto God must become reality, in the full and vigorous prosecution of our life. It must permeate and give color to our feeling, our perception, our sensations, our thinking, our imagining, our willing, our acting, our speaking. It must not stand as a foreign factor in our life, but it must be the passion that breathes throughout our whole existence.
- Adapted from an earlier Christian History Institute story.
- Gordon, Ernest. A Book of Protestant Saints. Chicago: Moody Press, 1946.
- Kuyper, Abraham. To Be Near Unto God. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979.
- McGoldrick, James E. Abraham Kuyper; God's Renaissance man. Auburn MA: Evangelical Press, 2000.
Last updated July, 2007.