In , Kuyper returned to politics as the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, a post he held until In that lecture, Kuyper lays out what I believe to be one of the most biblically sound models for the relationship among government, church, family and the individual. All governments claim a degree of sovereignty over their people. The question, Kuyper says, is from what source does that authority flow? Kuyper, Abraham. Lectures on Calvinism p.
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The fourth post in a series introducing the thought of Abraham Kuyper. He thought it was the bedrock of creation, as shown previously. We discussed what not to do with diversity and unity and now it falls on us to examine what the proper use of the two realities is. Sphere sovereignty, at its base, is quite easy to understand. Kuyper posited that there are multiple spheres of influence in life. Mouw defines spheres like this: [A sphere] It is an arena where interactions take place, and where some sort of authority is exercised.
Mouw, 23 Kuyper himself did not name all the spheres, as this was not his intent, but he gave examples. Some of these examples include: State, Church, Family, and Work. We all live in these different realms, and can see how they interact and stay separate. We follow different rules in the home, the workplace, and the State.
These sometimes are in contrast, but exert some authority over us. We have an example of having a father working for their son. In the home, the father is the head of the household and can properly tell the son what to do and not to do without overstepping any boundaries. However, when at work, the roles must be reversed. The son becomes the authority over the father and can should dictate what behavior is appropriate for the father. This can lead to tension, but if we respect the spheres properly, there should be no tension.
Photo by nikolayhg Another violation we see in this day and age, is the business world taking over education. Kuyper, in his day, fought a similar battle in the area of education. He founded his own school, called the Free University to combat the influence of the State inside of the University. The schools and colleges are there to educate, not to make money.
We colloquially refer to these as diploma mills. Education in these institutions is not the goal, the making of money is the goal. In allowing these to operate, we lose what the university is for.
Where do these spheres come from? Kuyper does not have any prooftexting that he can do. Kuyper cannot state a particular verse as evidence for the creation of the spheres. Yet, as we showed in the previous article, Kuyper thought that diverse aspects of life are grounded in the act of Creation. Kuyper continues to argue that God has ordained that these diverse spheres have their own places in the creation because they fulfill different creational purposes.
Creation is singular, but it has multiple aspects that all come together to a final goal, but how they execute that goal is different.
We have in the day to day world two main approaches. The first approach which the medieval world tried to instill was on of the church running every aspect of life. Instead of a secular government running the political arena, the Church stepped in and made decision of a political nature. This attitude manifested itself into the church collecting taxes, dictating the ownership of land and regulating the economy.
Further, all art was to be used in service of the church. There ceased to be secular art or music in a sense. We can see this in the re-assignment of drinking songs by Martin Luther and making them into Christian hymns.
The Wesley brothers also followed this practice. Even though this is in a sense redeeming the world and bringing everything into the worship of God, it also puts the Church in a place that it does not belong, according to Kuyper. The church not in essence artistic. Yes, people in the church can create art, however creating art is not the essential job of the church. This overstepping of the boundaries of the church manifests itself today in the turning the church into a business.
One can look around and see that some contemporary churches are dictated not by the creational mandate but by the financial bottom line. What matters in some churches is that there is no debt and that it is turning a profit. The Church in these cases is no longer a church.
It is a business. One only has to look at the practice of selling indulgences in the Catholic church, pre-counter reformation, or Jesus driving the money changers out of the Temple. There is a place for making money and profiting, but that place is not in the institution known as the Church. We see this in our day as trying to remove prayer from all public events, in essence, the reaction was to remove religion from the public square.
Those that hold to this idea believe that the church has no place in making decisions and should not show up in any forms of work, politics, or interactions with each other. Religion, according to some, is fine in the home, but should not leave the home. You can hold to whatever view you want, as long as it does not leave the church building or your private residence. All of the cultural spheres in place coram deo, before the face of God.
However, this is not the case. Yet, they all have their sub-sovereignty, their own authority inside of themselves. What he means by this is that the State should, and in reality, not exercise any power over the Church. The State cannot dictate how the Church operates. The Church is free from the authority of politics. To explain this more, Kuyper would have a problem with the non-profit status given to Churches by the American government.
By the state setting up non-profit regulations for the church, the State is inside the Church dictating how they can run their ministries. It may be subtle, but the influence is still there and felt.
On the opposite side of the coin, the Church should not, and in cannot, run the Political arena. This is not to say that the Church is apolitical. What Kuyper means is that the Church should not dictate the laws that the government puts in place. We see the Church trying to be an authority over the State in many ways. One such way is trying to pass laws against so-called sins, such as Prohibition.
The State is in the wrong by trying to dictate Morality, and the Church is in the wrong by trying to have the State bend to its will in such manners. The Church can preach against drunkenness and taking to strong drink; the State cannot. Why so? The State is not set up to educate us on Morality.
It is set up to ensure the continuation of the Union. As members of the State, we trust those in power to guarantee our money and how it does in the market. We look to the Secretary of Finance to keep the currency stable and operational. God, in a way, has nothing to do with the fluctuations of the stock market.
Yes, overall, God is sovereign over all, but God imparted responsibility to humans for matters such as this. We should not go for the Church to get tips on how to invest. We should go to accountants and stockbrokers for such advice. The Church can and should teach us the concept of stewardship and leave the working out of that to the business professionals.
Electric Sphere by spettacolopuro We then have a world that is structured not in tiers of responsibilities where one arena is responsible for the flourishing of other arenas. They are all before the face of God, yet they all approach differently.
Kuyper’s Sovereignty in the Sphere of Society
Abraham Kuyper Translated by George Kamps The men upon whom rests the administration of this Institution assigned to me the honor of inaugurating their school for higher education by introducing it to the authorities and the people. In so doing, I ask that you grant me an unstinted measure of benevolent listening and charitable judgement. A request, the earnestness of which will be evident if you consider that I am not to deliver an inaugural oration nor a rectoral discourse, but that, barred from the quiet hiding-place of scientific research, the nature of my- task drives me to that treacherous terrain of public life, where nettles and thorns on all hedges burn and wound at every step. For, if a higher criterion could have induced us to acquiesce in the existing conditions, why would we have undertaken this task? Most mildly stated , our undertaking implies a protest against the present environment and a suggestion that something better is available and even that consideration causes a certain embarrassment and diffidence, if only because of the semblance of presumption which 2 - which follows it like a shadow.
Abraham Kuyper - Sphere Sovereignty.pdf
Kam Lost in this arrangement, however, is the purity of the church. Spbere went to the board and drew lines from a circle to each of the boxes. But the question of what exactly that means digs deeper than just the mere presence of religion in American education through the promotion of vouchers and expansion of spherw schools. This gives us a much richer picture of reality. From massive banking, construction, and environmental regulations to the myriad points of intersection between state bureaucracy and the healthcare system, the federal government has far exceeded its role according to sphere sovereignty.
Sphere Sovereignty – Abraham Kuyper
Historical background[ edit ] Sphere sovereignty is an alternative to the worldviews of ecclesiasticism and secularism especially in its Statist form. Ecclesiasticism was widely evident in the arts. Similarly, the politics in the Middle Ages often consisted of political leaders doing as the Church instructed. In both economic guilds and agriculture the Church supervised. In the family sphere, the Church regulated sexual activity and procreation.