Kuyper on the Divine Purpose for Education
Among Abraham Kuyper’s many accomplishments was his founding of the Free University of Amsterdam, where he also served as president and professor of theology. This collection of essays and speeches presents Kuyper’s theology and philosophy of education, and his understanding of the divine purpose of scholarship for human culture. Included are convocation addresses given at the Free University, parliamentary speeches, newspaper articles, and other talks and essays on the topic of education. Much of the material deals with issues still being debated today including the roles of the family and state in education, moral instruction, Christian education, and vouchers.
Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920) was one of the most extraordinary individuals of his time. A prolific intellectual and theologian, he founded the Free University in Amsterdam and was instrumental in the development of Neo-Calvinism. He was also an active politician, serving as a member of Parliament in the Netherlands beginning in 1874 and serving as Prime Minister from 1901 to 1905.
At this intersection of church and state, he devoted much of his writing towards developing a public theology. His passion was to faithfully understand and engage culture through a Christian worldview. The most famous example is his articulation of the doctrine of common grace. His work has influenced countless others, including Francis Schaeffer, Cornelius Van Til, and Alvin Plantinga.
"Kuyper’s clear and consistent thinking on education, developed during a challenging time in his country when the negative effects of secularism “eclipsed” (to use Charles Taylor’s term) the Christian worldview, is needed in the twenty-first century. Kuyper articulates a robust, coherent, and consistent biblical framework centered in the Lordship of Jesus Christ to guide and transform culture, including schooling. The modern reader will appreciate how timely Kuyper’s arguments related to family, faith, teaching, learning, formation, and funding are for today as many confront secularism with the grace that restores nature."
– James L. Drexler, Dean of Education, Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia
"We live in restless educational times. People worldwide grapple with questions of identity, social place, technological change, climate, and their futures, all of which spurs their quest for meaningful education. For such a time as this, we are blessed to learn from Abraham Kuyper whose Christian voice about the goals of education still rings true. Kuyper probes a deep theology of creation, human life, motivated learning, and educational purpose. Editors Flikkema and Ballor with their team have given us an immense gift with which to generate effective Christian education in our global context."
– Shirley Roels, Executive Director, International Network for Christian Higher Education
"On Education provides readers with an open door into Abraham Kuyper’s brilliant work on the philosophy and theology of Christian education. Applause and congratulations are in order for the editorial and translation team of Wendy Naylor, Melvin Flikkema, Jordan Ballor, and Harry Van Dyke for their wonderful work in making this superb volume available to a new generation of educators and Christian leaders. It is a genuine joy to recommend this magnificent resource for anyone interested in Christian education."
– David S. Dockery, President, Trinity International University/Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"This valuable collection illuminates Kuyper’s approach to educational policy and practice founded on the conviction that differences in basic beliefs are ineradicable and must be honored in the context of schooling. It allows us a glimpse into the particular commitments and struggles that helped forge Reformed thinking about schooling in its Kuyperian version, and in doing so provides helpful perspective as we consider present-day impasses."
– David I. Smith, Director, Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning