Abraham Kuyper’s Our Program was originally written to inform people participating in the Dutch general elections of 1879. The French Revolution was long over, but not its ideas. The influence of modern life and its secularizing influence was growing and reshaping the minds and hearts of Europeans and the rest of the Western world. What should the Dutch people believe and understand on the basis of Scripture, sound reason, and common sense?
Kuyper reminded them of their Dutch Calvinist heritage and the legacy left to them by the freedom fighters against Spanish tyranny in the sixteenth century. But Kuyper wisely concluded that they should not strive for a “Calvinist utopia” but rather for a pluralist state, one in which all groups enjoy a level playing field as they try to enlist support for their vision of a just society. So he laid out the intellectual architecture of what we now call “sphere sovereignty,” an ordering principle that takes on new and contemporary relevance as globalization reorganizes governmental and nongovernmental jurisdictions.
Kuyper’s antirevolutionary (or Christian-historical) vision attempts to remedy the failure of modernity to satisfy the human spirit and its propensity to establish monstrous tyranny. As the emancipator of the then still disenfranchised middle and lower classes in his country, Kuyper in this English translation of his seminal foray into political theory and practice takes his 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.
“Although Kuyper’s context differs from those of present-day readers, his practical wisdom, infectious passion, and sparkling intellect continues to inspire and illuminate.”
Max De Pree Center for Leadership Fuller Theological Seminary
"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
“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!”
Praise For Guidance For Christian Engagement In Government
“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...