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Two Convocation Addresses on University Life
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51 pages
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More than one hundred years ago, Abraham Kuyper and his followers recognized that knowledge (curriculum) and behavior (pedagogy) are embedded in our core beliefs about the nature of God, humanity, and the world. In the two convocation addresses included in this volume, Kuyper outlines his views on this reality to the students of the Vrije Universiteit (Free University) in Amsterdam in 1889 and 1900.

Kuyper, who acted as rector of the University during these years, believed the task of Vrije Universiteit was to be an "Opposition School," having "based itself on a centuries-old worldview and stood for a viable alternative to the reigning paradigms of the day," as Nelson D. Kloosterman describes it.

Indeed, these addresses came at a time when Christians had finally begun to earn a place in the public square and in the halls of the university. Vrije Universiteit was to be a place of religious liberty and rigorous scientific study, Kuyper believed — where the "divine purpose of scholarship for human culture" could be fulfilled. Kuyper offers these views with his typical incisive analysis, but also with good humor and common sense that are likely to inspire us today .


"Religious liberty has long been considered one of the hallmarks of modern constitutional democracies. In order to promote and preserve this, many nations intentionally seek to foster religious tolerance among their youth via publicly funded education. Hence, in the United States most public schools intentionally ignore all religious perspectives about the topic of instruction, and thus model for young people how to set aside particular beliefs when participating in public conversation. This method promotes religious tolerance by privatizing religion. Still other schools seek to promote religious tolerance within the overarching narrative that all religions are valid and true. This second method promotes religious tolerance by denying any significant conflict between religions.

For more than one hundred years now, the Netherlands school system has actively fostered religious tolerance in a very different manner. Instead of privatizing religion, the Dutch have recognized that knowledge (curriculum) and behavior (pedagogy) is embedded in core beliefs about the nature of God, humanity, and the world. Hence, Abraham Kuyper and his followers began a decades-long struggle for the establishment and the government financing of confessional schools on the primary and secondary levels."

-from the Foreword by Mel Flikkema

About Abraham Kuyper

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) is a significant figure in the history of the Netherlands and modern Protestant theology. A prolific intellectual, he founded a political party and a university, and served as the prime minister of the Netherlands (1901-1905). His enduring passion was to develop a theology for the general public and was seen in his extensive elaboration of the doctrine of common grace.

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