Jonathan Edwards and Abraham Kuyper

Deciphering the Nuanced Differences between Neopuritanism and Neocalvinism


Thanks in large part to the ministry of John Piper, there is a new generation of Christians turned on by Jonathan Edwards. Of course, Piper isn’t alone in his affections for the man who wants to stir up our affections for God. J.I. Packer and R.C. Sproul has been banging the drum for Puritanism for a long, long time.

It is encouraging that, in a generation that could be overcome by the worst of hyper-modernism and/or postmodernism, young Christians are reading Jonathan Edwards (or at least reading about him. Few actually get beyond Religious Affections, but they certainly read John Piper’s A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of John Edwards and God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards.

Collin Hansen, in Young, Restless, Reformed, says that Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor of Church History Doug Sweeney attributes the attraction of young seminarians to Edwards in part to “the pastor-theologian model.” Hansen writes, “Schools like Trinity have renewed the evangelical commitment to learned clergy by equipping them with theological tools for teaching. Those students have one contemporary model in Piper…With Trinity promoting the pastor-theologian model, it’s no coincidence that the number of Calvinists at Trinity has increased in the last twenty years, according to Sweeney.”


Not since the time when Abraham Kuyper gave his famous Stone Lectures at Princeton in 1898 has his influence been so felt across North America. Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) was the founder of a school of thought known as neocalvinism or Kuyperianism. Kuyper worked as a pastor, theologian, newspaper editor, and politician in the Netherlands, where he ran two newspapers, organized the Netherlands' first political party, started the Free University of Amsterdam, and served as Prime Minister. His action had a tremendous impact on the political and social landscape of the Netherlands, and his writings have shaped a school of thought that has influenced many in not only the Netherlands, but in Europe and North America.

In America, Kuyper’s influence is most felt where the Dutch settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Toronto, Canada. The leading Kuyperian school in North America is not a Seminary, but a college: Calvin College. This reflects a key distinctive of Kuyper's worldview theology: that the key to changing the world is not so much found in the "pastor-theologian model" (as important as that may be), but in a "Christians-in-every-calling model," where believers infiltrate every sphere of society, living out their faith to change the very institutions in which they are called.

The resurgence of Abraham Kuyper is felt in the books being published that reinforce his ideas about worldview, including:

Other posts in this series:

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I have recently added Kuyper's Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology to audio and is available for free download at:


I hope you find this of interest.