We live in a world that compartmentalizes life. I’m not the same person at work as I am at home, as I am with my friends – or on social media. This is, sadly, often true in the church as well. While the excuse many people give for avoiding church, because it’s full of hypocrites, is just that, an excuse, there is some truth in the accusation. Our faith is often not in evidence past the threshold of the church on Sunday.
Abraham Kuyper would have had none of that. For him, Christianity impacted all of life. This is the second in a series of posts that looks at his Lectures on Calvinism. You can read the introduction here.
In this first lecture, Kuyper’s point is that belief systems have consequences. It is our actions and reactions Monday – Saturday that show what we really believe, not what we claim on Sunday. We all operate out of what he calls a life-system (we’d probably say world-view) that is grounded in our beliefs. Taken to a cultural level, the life-system adopted by a culture, influences how that culture is governed, views religion, art, science and all of life.
According to Kuyper, life-system is revealed by answers to these three questions:
- How does man relate to God?
- How does man relate to man?
- How does man relate to the world?
Every belief system answers those questions somewhat differently.
Lecture one is an overview of how five major belief systems answer these questions:
- Romanism (Roman Catholicism)
Kuyper saw the struggle of his day being between the life-systems of Christianity and modernism. This modernism sprang from the soil of the French Revolution in 1789 and was fertilized by Darwin some 70 years later – a crop which continues to bear fruit in our day. France after the revolution was the first nation in the western world to adopt a consciously anti-God philosophy. Kuyper, rightly I believe, attributed the tyranny of the French Revolution to this godlessness and he believed that tyranny in general resulted from having an incorrect view of God. He argues that the best counterbalance to tyranny is found in the Christianity of Calvin which he credits with being responsible for the expansion and embrace of liberty and constitutional statesmanship in the western world – something he explores in more depth later in the lectures.
How would you answer Kuyper’s three life-system questions?
Next time: What is paganism and how does Kuyper say it answers the three life-system questions?
- Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper – Part I (larryfarlow.com)
- Paganism – Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper – Part III (larryfarlow.com)