“Abraham Kuyper was trained as a theologian and self-trained as a political thinker and organizer. This comprehensive Program, which Kuyper crafted in the process of forming the Netherlands’ first mass political party, brought the theology, the political theory, and the organizational vision together brilliantly in a coherent set of policies that spoke directly to the needs of his day. ‘Ons Program’ / Our Program served for decades as an inspiration to Kuyper’s followers and set a high standard for his opponents to match. For us it sets out the challenge of envisioning what might be an equivalent witness in our own day.”
James D. Bratt
Professor of History
Author, Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat
“It is a scandal and a disgrace that we have all read Burke’s response to the French Revolution, but few in the English-speaking world have read the equally profound and equally consequential response of Abraham Kuyper—a response that has at least as much to say to twenty-first-century readers as Burke’s. It has been truly said that America never produced a really great political philosopher and has had to borrow them from Europe; Kuyper deserves a place beside Locke and Tocqueville as a titanic European intellect whose thought can help us understand the American experiment in religious liberty and constitutional democracy.
“In this book Kuyper lays out the intellectual architecture of what we now call ‘sphere sovereignty,’ staking out a democratic and republican alternative both to aristocratic traditionalism and to the implicitly totalitarian logic of secularism. Kuyper’s rare talent for simultaneously giving due weight to the claims of both revelation and human culture uniquely equips him to explore the central paradoxes of modern politics: that religious freedom can be justified only on the assumption that we are responsible to God and that the state can rightfully rule over its subjects as individuals only if it acknowledges that it is in turn ruled by them in their social capacity as an organic community and culture. Kuyper’s application of his political theology and philosophy to the particular situation of his own country in his own time illustrates how these paradoxes play themselves out in practice in ways that cast an invaluable light upon the problems of our own time and place.”
Program Director, Faith, Work, and Economics
Kern Family Foundation
“Though Our Program is a work of its time rather than a work of enduring theological significance, this translation is to be warmly welcomed because of the new insight it gives English readers into the extraordinary mind and times of Abraham Kuyper. Kuyper’s ‘antirevolutionary’ vision, worked out here at length, provides an illuminating historical lens through which to see contemporary debates between Christianity and secularism.”
Henry Luce III Professor of Philosophy and the Arts
Princeton Theological Seminary
“This early work of Abraham Kuyper was the intellectual basis for the first Christian political party in modern democracy and presented a new, modern way of doing politics. Our Program illustrates how Kuyper turned politics from an elite business into a public affair, how he changed the public involvement in politics from a single issue activity into permanent action, and how he challenged liberal politics based on reason and consensus by introducing a debating culture in parliament based on conflicting worldviews. It is amazing how relevant this monument in political history still is. Read it and you will be encouraged to make your voice heard!”
Professor of History and Archivist
VU University Amsterdam
“Abraham Kuyper ranks as one of the most important Christian intellectuals of the modern era, not least because he represents an unusual blend of theological orthodoxy and cultural progressiveness. His writings cover not only the church but spheres such as politics, education, scholarship, journalism, and the arts. He was also actively involved in these spheres, sparking developments that have long outlasted him. His influence continues to grow worldwide as more of his works are translated from Dutch. An English translation of Kuyper’s political manifesto Our Program is long overdue and will be welcomed by scholars and practitioners alike. It unlocks some of the key ideas of Kuyper’s creative genius.”
Peter S. Heslam
Director, Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative, University of Oxford
Senior Member, Trinity College, University of Cambridge
"It has been common for a hundred years now to speak of “the crisis of the west” and “the crisis of modernity.” In this 1879 manifesto, Kuyper offers a biblically Christian understanding of political life that attempts to remedy what is still our crisis: the failure of modernity to satisfy the human spirit and its propensity to establish monstrous tyranny.
"If modernity, despite by common grace its merciful insights, has discredited itself morally, Kuyper outlines a biblically Christian alternative, or at least the beginning of one, for those who are searching down various post-modern trails and finding only greater despair and false promises. We can be grateful to Harry Van Dyke for making this translation of Our Program available to our generation."
D. C. Innes
Associate Professor of Politics
The King’s College
“Coming so soon after the publication of James Bratt’s magisterial biography of Abraham Kuyper, readers will welcome this new translation of the great Dutch statesman’s seminal foray into political theory and practice. Although some elements of the Anti-Revolutionary Party’s Program are obviously dated and culturally specific, there is much here that is surprisingly current, given the striking parallels between Kuyper’s world and our own. Christians in the English-speaking world seeking wisdom for their own political efforts would do well to read Our Program.”
David T. Koyzis
Professor and Chair of Political Science
Redeemer University College
“Great thinkers and great doers populate our great Christian heritage. Seldom does one find that rare combination of great thinking and doing in one person. Abraham Kuyper stands as one of those rare individuals whose relentless pursuit of God integrated the mind, heart, hands, and feet. Harry Van Dyke’s translation of ‘Ons Program’ provides a new generation of Kuyper scholars and students with an important example of Kuyper’s mind and actions at work. Here one sees the whole of Kuyper—his towering intellect, his Christian zeal, and his human fallibilities. Van Dyke’s translation is a welcomed addition to the ever-growing Kuyperian renaissance.”
Associate Professor of Government, History, and Criminal Justice
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
“Abraham Kuyper’s Our Program has been much quoted by those who share his convictions about the lordship of Christ over all times, places, things, people, and societies. It is, therefore, a real advantage to see a capably translated and helpfully introduced edition of the whole document appear in English. For those concerned about Kuyper’s own historical situation, as well as about contemporary social and political controversies, this edition should be a real boon.”
Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History
University of Notre Dame
“Harry Van Dyke’s new translation of Abraham Kuyper’s Our Program offers a fresh treatment of the Dutch statesman’s attempt to frame a Christian politics distinguished from the programs of the modernists who took their cues from the French Revolution and of the ultramontane Catholics who looked to papal pronouncements alone.
“If the reader requires some acquaintance with the nineteenth-century circumstances in which Kuyper pursued his Program—which the helpful footnotes supply—one quickly becomes aware that Kuyper was no romantic. ‘None of us,’ he wrote emphatically, ‘dreams of visiting the museum of antiquities to bring back the old, clumsy, rusty state machine that had begun to creak on all sides.’ As a number of scholars have noted, Kuyper transcends his own time and place. As globalization reorganizes governmental and nongovernmental jurisdictions, the principle of sphere sovereignty in particular and the antirevolutionary Program in general take on new and contemporary relevance.
“But it is as a communicator that Kuyper emerges from the pages of this new translation. A case in point is his argument that political principles derive from the conscience of government. Here we witness the care with which Kuyper articulates the Christian’s core dilemma—formulating principles of obedient public justice in a fallen world that denies direct access to those principles.
“A century, a culture, and a language removed from our own circumstances, Kuyper’s remains the voice of a practical Christian guide to wresting just political service from the issues of his day. With the help of this new translation, he may become such a guide for our own.”
Professor of Political Science
“The longest tradition of serious Christian engagement in modern politics began in the Netherlands almost 150 years ago. The work of program articulation and political campaigning in that country was organized by Abraham Kuyper in the 1870s, and it prompted Catholics and other groups to follow suit. For more than a hundred years Dutch Christians argued with one another even as they worked together for a more just polity. What a benefit it would have been if Christians in North America and other parts of the world had been able to listen in and learn from their efforts that continued for decades. Now, through Harry Van Dyke’s fine translation of Kuyper’s second edition (1880) of his Program, we can get a feel for the beginning of that movement. However outdated parts of the document may be today, Our Program is stunning for its depth and breadth when compared with the empty chatter and cheap sloganeering that constitute so much of our politics today.”
James W. Skillen
Center for Public Justice
Center for Public Justice
“Here, at last, we have in Our Program an English translation of the document that launched the national political career of pastor, theologian, journalist, and educator Abraham Kuyper. This document not only provides important insights about Kuyper’s political perspectives but, more importantly, sheds light on his approach to practical politics, with its attention to both theology and culture—an approach that can serve as a helpful methodology for the political thinking and action of contemporary American Christians.”
Corwin E. Smidt
Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics
“The publication of Harry Van Dyke’s excellent translation of Abraham Kuyper’s ‘Ons Program’ by Christian’s Library Press is a most welcome addition to the growing number of Kuyper’s works available in English.
“Wonderfully reminiscent of both Publius’s Federalist and Tocqueville’s classic study of American democracy, Kuyper’s argument moves with elegance and grace from abstract principle to concrete policy. With a surgeon’s skill, he meticulously dissects both revolutionary and liberal thinking, exposing the false reality underlying them both: the revolutionary’s delusion of malleable human reality and the liberal’s delusion of isolated and ‘independent’ individuals. Examining a remarkably wide array of policies, he builds a strong and sensible case for the superiority of the ‘antirevolutionary’ cause, one grounded in divine authority and natural—thus inherited—organic community.
“While his specific policy prescriptions focus on the late nineteenth-century Dutch context that he confronted and thus do not always resonate with the political and cultural language of our day, his sharp eye and philosophic bent nonetheless shine through with essential lessons for our time and place.”
William R. Stevenson, Jr.
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus
“Our Program details what it looks like when Abraham Kuyper’s deep commitment to the gospel and the glory of God intersects with the practical realities of European politics at the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. Although Kuyper’s context differs from that of present-day readers, his practical wisdom, infectious passion, and sparkling intellect continue to inspire and illuminate.”
Max De Pree Center for Leadership
Fuller Theological Seminary