Abraham Kuyper, theology of work

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Let Abraham Kuyper Teach You About the Theology of Work and Economics

God’s business plan.

He founded a university, a political party, and a denomination. He was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church and the prime minister of the Netherlands.

The Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper did a little bit of everything, and somewhere among all that, he wrote reams of profound and lasting works on several subjects. By now, you know he wasn’t without problems. A growing number of Kuyperians grapple with what to do with damaging views Kuyper espoused about the indigenous peoples of South Africa. Still, the ongoing influence of his writings holds. To collect his libraric contributions, Lexham Press and the Acton Institute are in the middle of a multi-year, multi-volume project of republishing Kuyper’s “works in public theology.” The most recent is a 400-plus-page collection of the Dutchman’s writing on business and economics. Here’s the amuse-bouche:

On the working-class social problem:

“That the work of the church, it will perhaps be objected, concerns the soul, and if that is not meant in a narrow spiritual sense I agree; but then allow to ask in turn whether those who work with their hands will not with their whole soul turn their backs on the church of Jesus when warm interest in the conditions of their daily lives is always absent in that church.”

On the sacred order:

“Even at the consummation of the ages, Holy Scripture lets us hear praises for the Lamb that are not sung by one undivided humankind by distinctive nations, tribes, and peoples.”

On work in eternity:

“Some people imagine the state of glory around God’s throne as though all labor will have ended, to taste heavenly bliss in pleasant idleness. These people know neither God nor his angles nor life as it will be in heaven.”

On common grace and commerce:

“Even today the needs in cities and in rural areas differ widely, as they do among peoples of varying income levels, albeit for different reasons. But no matter how different and diverse the need for food, shelter, and clothing may be, it is a need that calls for emphatic and urgent satisfaction and that must be acknowledged as the chief motivational force behind the dynamic of human society. From God comes
the counsel and from God comes the wisdom for all
of this.”

On the means of production:

“God gave [Adam] the soil,
a head to think with, hands to work with, and (besides these) a basic hunger. God stimulated him by means of this drive. God taught him to think about things. And thus he had to try things.”

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