Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)
Abraham Kuyper was an extraordinary figure uniquely capable of wearing several hats throughout his long public career as pastor theologian scholar journalist educator and statesman. Although he began in the parish ministry he moved on to become editor of two periodicals; to found the Antirevolutionary Party the first Dutch political party and the first Christian Democratic party in the world; and to establish the Free University a Christian university established on Reformed principles. He was first elected to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament in 1874 and eventually served as Prime Minister from 1901 to 1905. Kuyper's thought was introduced to North America in 1898 when he delivered the Stone Lectures at Princeton Seminary.
Although Kuyper was not an academic political theorist he nevertheless laid the foundations for a highly original approach to politics that would come to be labelled "Kuyperian." Its originality consisted in the fact that he sought to articulate a consistently Christian view of the place of politics in God's world free from the distortions of various nonchristian ideologies.
The most characteristic feature of Kuyper's political thought is the principle of soevereiniteit in eigen kring usually referred to in English as "sovereignty in its own sphere" "sovereignty in its proper orbit" or simply "sphere sovereignty." Sphere sovereignty implies three things: (1) ultimate sovereignty belongs to God alone; (2) all earthly sovereignties are subordinate to and derivative from God's sovereignty; and (3) there is no mediating earthly sovereignty from which others are derivative. Current efforts at rehabilitating what is often called "civil society" owe something to this principle.