Abraham Kuyper usually acknowledged as Abraham Kuyper was a Dutch politician, journalist, statesman, and theologian. He initiated the Anti-Revolutionary party and was the prime minister of the Netherlands between 1901 and 1905. Abraham Kuyper’s opening address to the first Christian social congress in Amsterdam in 1891 had an electrifying consequence on the emerging Christian social movement in the Netherlands. It is at this congress that Kuyper with reference to Leo XIII’S Rerum Novarum conveyed his informative and inspiriting address on the social question and the Christian Religion. This paper will attempt to capture some of the leading ideas that Kuyper presented. (Kuyper 13).
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There is a burning need to deal with the mirage that the intervention of the government in the social question is an innovation of our time, yet essentially there has never been a government in any land of the world which did not in different ways control both the course of social life and its relations with material wealth. Since it has never been probable to address an entirely free and instinctive growth of society in any country with a high amount of general development. However, this intervention of human direction has brought us, out of the state of barbarism into a situation of systematic involvement. (Kuyper 20).
There is nevertheless the desire to deal with ethical dishonesty and bogus science, the unjustness of which intensifies the power of the socialist error. The mistake which is regularly committed is that men relate the Christian belief merely with the world of feeling. And undeniably even in this respect its importance for the social question is immense, insofar as extremely much depends on the condition of feeling in wealthy and underprivileged, rulers and subjects, and even a little to advance the feeling does thereby an outstanding work. (Kuyper 21).
We find that according to Kuyper, one dominant trait in the gospel is the attribute of pity, which is stamped on each page of the Gospel, where Jesus comes in contact with the distressed and demoralized. This is demonstrated by the truth that He does not shove aside the unlearnt masses, but draws them to him. We also see that He does not hold back His hand from the touch of leprous flesh. There is a clear image that love of money is the origin of all evil since we are told that ‘those who are vocation merchants and gamblers have no Christianity is self clarifying.’ For the unfortunate, the message is that he must not complain, nor let himself be led to resentment, and not say in his worry. ‘What shall we consume, and what shall we drink, and resources shall we be dressed for all these possessions the Gentiles seek.’ The Bible argues that we should initially seek the kingdom of God and his justice and all other things will be added to us. (Kuyper 14).
A theory that is concurrently for mutually the rich and poor cuts the origin of the sin of our individual hearts. But he as well follows up the assumption with the heart winning practice of devotedness, self-denial, even more of a godly pity which first drops every ointment on which it can lay hands into the wounds of suffering mankind, and then goes on to an intentional massacre for the need and death of all, whether rich or poor ‘like the lamb that is dumb before the shearer.’ Such existence, preaching and demise, would by now have worked out authority for good in social associations. (Kuyper 16).
One must note that there are nowadays, a bunch of money wolves, among those who confess to Christianity, who live magnificently and envisage: that they are not envious, therefore the root of evil do not concern them. According to Kuyper, there is a divergence with the Christian belief in the scripture in that, when it corrects the unfortunate, it does so much more caringly and tenderly; and in disparity, when it calls the rich to account, utilizes much harsher words. And yet our poor also are falling away from their belief, if individually on their father who is in heaven. (Kuyper 18).
It is important that the word continually fought against the greed for money, reassured the poor and oppressed, and in replacement for the suffering of the present time pointed to a never-ending glory. There can only be impartiality by introducing the sameness of brotherhood over against differences in status and situation, by eliminating false demarcations between men, by joining rich and poor in one holy food at the Lord’s supper, in the representation of the unity which bound them together not simply as ‘children of men’ but more prominently as those who have malformed under the same fault and have by the identical sacrifice in Christ. (Kuyper 30)
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And definitely, it is a fact, as an express result of the appearance of the Christ and of the extension of His church among the nations; society becomes noticeably diverse from what it was in the pagan dispensation. The control of the Christian religion on the state and on the social relations soon would have become central. Kuyper presents the enormous disparity amid the apostles who were sent out by Christ with no food and money with the richly gifted princes of the church, housed in wonderful palaces; and as the successors of the Galilean fisherman at the head of the church, a sequence of popes exhibited magnificent pomp, and in a Julius II or an X appeared more bent on paganizing Christianity than on Christianizing the life of the world, therefore the salt lost its flavor.(Kuyper 25).
Kuyper argues that if no fault were made if men did not fall into inaccuracy and selfishness and felony did not hinder while the development of human society could forever follow the course in harmony and successively move forward to a gradually better-off condition. It is then believable that the Christian religion when it went out into the world, should take no stand against a state of affairs so wrong. (Kuyper 60).
New anticipation, not in the intelligence in which men today wish to humiliate the Christ of God to a social reformer; Saviour of humankind was his senior and much richer title. But all the same, the sanctity which he brought to humanity had an assurance not alone for the future but also for the present life. To bring liberate in the social need, Jesus placed truth over and against this miscalculation, and he ruined the power of sin by shedding his blood for our sin and pouring out His Holy Spirit. And under these conditions, the gospel speaks to us of a Redeemer of mankind who, even if He was prosperous became poor for our sake, that he might make us rich. (Kuyper 63).
In conclusion, Kuyper’s address to the first Christian social congress might be said to be a discussion of the question: what we ought to do, as confessors of Christ, do concerning the social desires of our time. He argues that a sincere debate of this social question requires an appreciation that serious doubt has arisen regarding the reliability of the social structure that we live in. And acknowledged that public judgment is at war over the establishment on which a more suitable and consequently more livable social order may be built. (Kuyper 17).
Kuyper seems to have challenged his audience by saying that: just one thing is essential if the social question is to survive for us. We must comprehend the amenability of the present state of affairs, and we have to account for this amenability not by minor reasons but by a fault in the very foundation of our society’s association. If we do not recognize this and think that social evil can be eliminated through friendlier conduct or more liberal charity, then we may consider that we face a spiritual question or perhaps a humanitarian question, but we will apprehend the social question. This question does not exist for us until we execute an architectonic evaluation of human society, which leads to the yearning for a different understanding of the social order. (Kuyper 64).
Kuyper, Abraham. Christianity and the class struggle. 1891. Address to the first Christian Congress.