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sphere sovereignty, universities and colleges, theology, Abraham Kuyper, societies


Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) was a leading figure shaping many facets of Dutch culture during and after his long life. In addition to exerting a profound influence on politics, ecclesiastical concerns, journalism, elementary and secondary education, and societal life in the Netherlands, he also founded and was the primary formative influence shaping the Free University of Amsterdam The problem taken up by this dissertation is the discovery and elucidation of Kuyper's concept of the nature, task, authority and role of the university in modern society as it is shaped by significant theological views he held Specifically, this study demonstrates how Abraham Kuyper's emphasis on the goodness of creation which is structured by divine ordinances, the corrupting influence of the fall, and the workings of God's particular and common grace, result in a call for the living all of life "for King Jesus" Kuyper affirms the lordship of Jesus Christ over all of life and argues that he alone holds absolute sovereignty He delegates limited authority to the various spheres of life, enabling them to carry out their God-given tasks Each sphere of life has a task and authority determined by the creation structure, and this sphere must not be violated by any other life sphere The sphere of science, with the university as its primary institution, has the unique task to "think God's thoughts after him " It is to study and understand the structure of creation and the relationships between it's various aspects This scientific task of humanity cannot be the unified effort of all human beings Because of sin and regeneration, there is an antithesis between the new humanity and the old. This results in two kinds of science, each based on different and opposed foundations. Kuyper advocates a confessionally pluralistic approach to science and the university, in which each confessional community is guaranteed the right and funding to establish a university on its unique foundation.


  • A dissertation submitted to the program in the Humanities at Florida State University College of Arts and Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
  • John E. Kelsay, Professor Directing Dissertation
  • © 1993 Wayne A. Kobes

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.