Men of God

Abraham Kuyper


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Abraham Kuijper (29 October 1837 – 8 November 1920), generally known as Abraham Kuyper, was a Dutch politicianjournaliststatesman and theologian. He founded the Anti-Revolutionary Party and was prime minister of the Netherlandsbetween 1901 and 1905.

Early life

Kuyper was home schooled by his father, Jan Frederik Kuyper, who was a minister for the Dutch Reformed Church in HoogmadeMaassluisMiddelburg and Leiden. He had no formal primary education, but received secondary education at theGymnasium of Leiden.

In 1855, he graduated from the gymnasium and began to study literaturephilosophy and theology at Leiden University. He received his propaedeuse in literature in 1857, summa cum laude, and in philosophy in 1858, also summa cum laude. He also took classes in ArabicArmenian and physics.

In 1862, he was promoted to doctor in Theology on the basis of a dissertation called “Disquisitio historico-theologica, exhibens Johannis Calvini et Johannis à Lasco de Ecclesia Sententiarum inter se compositionem” (Theological-historical dissertation showing the differences in the rules of the church, between John Calvin and John Łaski). In comparing the views of John Calvin and Jan Łaski, Kuyper showed a clear sympathy for the more liberal Łaski. During his studies Kuyper was a member of the modern tendency within the Dutch Reformed Church.

Religious life

In May 1862, he was declared eligible for the ministry and 1863 he accepted a call to become minister for the Dutch Reformed Church for the town of Beesd. In the same year he married Johanna Hendrika Schaay (1842–1899). They would have five sons and three daughters. In 1864 he began corresponding with the anti-revolutionary MP Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer, who heavily influenced his political and theological views (see below).

Around 1866, he began to sympathize with the orthodox tendency within the Dutch Reformed Church. He was inspired by the simple reformed faith of Pietje Balthus, a farmer’s wife. He began to oppose the centralization in the church, the role of the King and began to plead for the separation of church and state.

In 1867, Kuyper was asked to become minister for the parish in Utrecht and he left Beesd. In 1870 he was asked to come to Amsterdam. In 1871 he began to write for the De Heraut (The Herald).

In 1872, he founded his own paper, De Standaard (The Standard). This paper would lay the foundation for the network of reformed organization, (the reformed pillar), which Kuyper would found.