Some brand new books mentioned and a review of “Calvinism for a Secular Age: A Twenty-First-Century Reading of Abraham Kuyper’s Stone Lectures” edited by Jessica & Robert Joustra – ALL 20% OFF NOW at Hearts & Minds

Well, here we are in January. Due to lots of orders coming in (thank you!) and a bit of feeling ill-at-ease (about, among other things, learning writing 2022 instead of ’21) I just haven’t gotten out a new BookNotes.

There sure are some good titles coming in day by day. We just got a lovely little Malcolm Guite book, the first in a series of small volumes called “My Theology” from Fortress. His is entitled The Word in the Words (Fortress; $12.75.) (Another new release in this new “My Theology” series is Return from a Distant Country by Alister McGrath also for just $12.75.) We are very excited about a new daily devotional called Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth by Cherokee writer Rev. Dr. Randy Woodley (Broadleaf; $19.99.) I’m eager to read The Facts on the Ground: A Wisdom Theology of Culture by the remarkable William A. Dyrness (Cascade; $27.00) and the eagerly anticipated (thanks for those who pre-ordered it) You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic (Brazos; $24.99.) We’ve got ‘em at 20% off, too.

Of course, we’ve got the brand new book that just came out by Donald Miller, the Blue Like Jazzman turned marketing guru — his first non-business book in quite a while — called Hero on a Mission: A Path to a Meaningful Life (HarperCollins Leadership; $24.99.) For those who like spiritually-aware, self-improvement type resources, there is a brand new enneagram book that is a must: The Story of You: An Enneagram Journey to Becoming Your True Self by an excellent writer, Ian Morgan Cron (HarperOne; $26.99.) I like Cron a lot and his co-authored enneagram book, The Road Back to You is a standard in the field.


There is a brand new Walter Brueggemann called A Wilderness Zone (Cascade; $21.00) which you know I’ll recommend and there is a new David Gushee volume called Introducing Christian Ethics: Core Convictions for Christians Today (Front Edge; $24.99.) Agree or not with the details, it is a magisterial book and looks to be exceptionally useful about core principles of moral theology but deliberately Christian thinking about some 35 hot vital topics. One impeccable evangelical leader called it “a masterpiece!” I highly recommend it.

In the last week we’ve gotten the new book by Hunter Farrell and Baladjiedlang Kyyllep (of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s World Mission Institute) called Freeing Congregational Mission: A Practical Vision for Companionship, Cultural Humility, and Co-Development (IVP Academic; $26.00) which, I predict, is going to be considered one of the very most important books in missiology and congregational life in 2022 and beyond.) Hunter is a remarkable scholar — having studied at the Sorbonne and earned another degree in South America; he has lived all over the world, promoted the cause of world missions throughout the global church, and is a major leader in with the Presbyterian church. (He’s even speaking via Zoom at our own central PA/Donegal Presbytery meeting this February.) We are real boosters of this important new book.

Speaking of Presbyterians, just yesterday we got the memoir by Douglas Brouwer, Chasing After Wind: A Pastor’s Life (Eerdmans; $22.00.) Although he has served churches in several states, as well as in Zurich, Switzerland, he pastored in Harrisburg, PA, for a spell, in the nearby Carlisle Presbytery. With blurbs on the back from the likes of Will Willimon and Winn Collier (and a great preface by Richard Mouw) it is sure to be a winner.

There are so many more; in the next BookNotes I’ll describe the extraordinary volume edited by Comment magazine editor Anne Snyder, published handsomely by Plough ($35.00) — Breaking Ground: Charting Our Future in a Pandemic Year, which includes pieces by authors as vital as N.T. Wright and Marilyn Robinson and Dante Stewart and Jeffrey Bilbro.

Just an hour or so ago we unpacked The Samaritan Woman’s Story: Reconsidering John 4 After #ChurchToo by Caryn A. Reeder (IVP Academic; $24.00) which came a bit early. We are grateful for so many good books.

There are amazing titles coming in February that we are looking forward to and we invite you to pre-order them asap.

Perhaps few are as anticipated as the stunning memoir and analysis by Lisa Sharon Harper to be called Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World — And How to Repair It All (Brazos Press) $24.99. OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99.)

As Jemar Tisby puts it, Fortune is, “Nothing less than an epic and true story of race, religion, history, and identity.” I loved the description by Willie James Jennings who says, “Harper has the rare gift of speaking honestly in ways that remind you of Tom Skinner, and of speaking intimately in ways that remind you of Maya Angelou.”


Coming early next month is the debut memoir This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us by our very dear friend Nicole Arthur Riley (Convergent; $26.00; OUR SALE PRICE = $20.80.) You may know her Black Liturgies instagram account; some of our CCO friends know she serves college students through Cornell University (and her husband serves there through Chesterton House.) The book will have endorsing blurbs from Kate Bowler, Krista Tippett, Dante Stewart, Amena Brown, even the New York Times bestselling novelist, Ashley C. Ford. In any case, this book is going to be big! I hope you recall us writing about it before.

We are taking pre-orders for both at our BookNotes 20% off and can’t tell you how glad we are to have these two women contributing their well-crafted prose, amplifying the voices of black women, good books for us all.


CALVINISM FOR A SECULAR AGE: A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY READING OF ABRAHAM KUYPER’S STONE LECTURES edited by Jessica & Robert Joustra (IVP Academic) $28.00                       OUR SALE PRICE = $22.40

On a snowy day last week we got a brand new book that I’ve been waiting for almost a year to see — it means a whole lot to me and its vision and perspective figures a bit into the backstory of why Beth and I founded Hearts & Minds nearly 40 years ago

It is about one of the most important books you most likely never read. We really hope you’ll read my comments below and if you are persuaded, you can send us an order by using the order form at the end of the column at our sale price of 20% off.  As always, that links to our secure order form at the Hearts & Minds website.

Some of the authors in this book are people we have met, a few we count as friends, and all are scholars whose work we very much respect. Besides the Joustra’s who so capably guided this whole project, readers will enjoy hearing from the former President of Fuller Theological Seminary and Kuperianista, Dr. Richard Mouw, the fabulous science professor, author, and astronomer Deborah Haarsma (who also is the President of the faith/science organization, BioLogos), the always fabulous Wheaton prof Vincent Bacote, Jonathan Chaplin (now a professor at Cambridge and fellow at Cardus and the UK think tank Theos) and his wife, Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin (who co-wrote the very excellent Art & Soul.) Jim Bratt, who produced the highly regarded, definitive biography of Kuyper, wrote a lengthy preface that is amazing.

I believe this study and contemporary “reading” and application of Kuyper’s Stone Lectures, which became the book Lectures on Calvinism, is a must-read for anyone in the Presbyterian or Reformed tradition, naturally, but, also, for anyone interested in the (hotly debated) question about the relationship of Christ and culture.

That is, what does it mean to think faithfully and live honorably as a follower of Jesus within our 21st-century, post-Christian culture? Quite specifically, how does the notion of a uniquely Christian world-and-life-perspective shape the way we envision things, how we think about and imagine and engage in the areas of the arts, economics, politics, science, race, (and also the church)? How does the Biblical story of God’s good but fallen world being transformed into Christ’s Kingdom actually influence how we think about poverty, justice, beauty, goodness, science and health? What, really, is religion? What should Christians who sincerely pray “Thy will be done, on Earth” think about the future? How shall we live, then, knowing what we know about the goodness of this wonderful world, and the awful fallenness of its sinful condition and of God’s covenantal promises? How does the message of God’s own rule over history and God’s grace in Christ shape us as we live “in but not of” the world around us? Are these not among the most burning questions for people of faith, living out their discipleship hopefully with some intentional spirituality, even of public life? As Steve Garber puts it, how do we have a “seamless life”?  Or, as Ashely Hales put it poetically in a wonderful new book, can we have a “spacious life”?

Can some old Dutch theologian who became a public figure — a journalist and politico and eventually prime minister over a hundred years ago — be some kind of guidepost for our own very contemporary considerations? Can some set of lectures given at the end of the 1800s in New Jersey — known as the Stone Lectures — be all that important? Really?


If you follow what we do here at Hearts & Minds at all, my hunch is that you know what I’m going to say: yes, yes, yes.

Allow me to tell you what the book is about, how the book is arranged, and what it is like. I’ll name a few different kinds of people who might find this book to be a helpful study. It is an amazing volume for a whole bunch of reasons and would be beneficial to all kinds of folks. Here we go.

To understand Calvinism for a Secular Age: A Twenty-First-Century Reading of Abraham Kuyper’s Stone Lectures, edited by Jessica and Robert Joustra, you have to know just a bit about the original Stone Lectures, a prestigious lecture series still given each year at Princeton Seminary; many of the yearly lectures become books, some of which you may know. The first chapter in Calvinism for a Secular Age, a long preface, really, is by historian James Bratt and is worth the price of the book — it is so interesting, informative, and helpful. Bratt explains the theological traditions, movements, factions, and controversies in the late 1800s (that ended up shaping much of the 20th century, actually) when Kuyper arrived by cruiser from Holland to do these significant lectures at one of the world’s leading theological schools; he crisply shows how his lectures might have been received. (A fascinating appendix explores the various manuscripts, in Dutch and in English, done by Rev. Kuyper, first in Holland, and then, perhaps, translated or edited in the US in that fall of 1898. There is a bit of a mystery still unsolved about some conflicting narratives.) The big point is that this stalwart of Christian orthodoxy was going to break some new ground there at Princeton.

Even though the titanic Kuyper’s movement of faith-shaped cultural engagement (having founded a major university, started a daily newspaper, formed a uniquely Christian political party through which he was eventually elected Prime Minister) was gaining popularity (and some controversy) in Europe, it may be that be the more churchy theological types in Jersey didn’t quite realize what sort of a broadly worldviewish, culturally engaging, public theologian they were celebrating with their honorary doctorate that October. With magisterial Reformed theologians like B.B. Warfield and Geerhardus Vos as his hosts, many thought, or so I imagine, that they understood what sort of sacred theology the good Kuyper would present. Bratt seems to imply that Kuyper shocked his guests, or at least provoked them a bit. Ends up that Kuyper’s Calvinism was more than they bargained for.

The first full chapter in Calvinism for a Secular Age is by Rob Joustra and it, too, is just such a good overview of the history of Kuyper’s impact in North America and the impetus for this project re-visiting the Princeton lectures. Those ten pages are wise and good.

Dr. Jessica Joustra, an associate professor at Redeemer University in Ontario and a researcher for a neo-Calvinist think tank in the Netherlands, also worked to put this book together. Her concluding comments — if I may jump to the end of the volume — are, as you’d expect, a stellar voice reminding us of what she calls “worldviewing.” I have already read her dozen pages twice.  This whole project reminds us of the unique gifts of this Kuyper tradition and why it matters.

There were not that many people in the room those nights of those handful of lectures in Nassau Hall in 1898, even though it was an august group of thinkers (including a former President of the United States)! There were only 10 or so of the pre-printed, leather bound manuscripts; it would be decades until Eerdmans released the full edition, first in hardback and then in paperback as it is available yet today. The importance of the book, Lectures on Calvinism, has been explored in other volumes and its expression of what has come to be called neo-Calvinism (not to be confused with a rise of hip, young, “New Calvinists” often reported on a decade or so ago) cannot be understated.

In many ways, its visions and challenge — relating the tenets of an evangelical, ecumenical, feisty Protestantism to every sphere of culture — is the backstory and foundations of why Beth and I started Hearts & Minds. A Christian bookstore with sections on architecture and mathematics? A Christian view of farming and engineering, a part of the store dedicated to the arts and popular culture, media studies and science and sexuality? When we opened there were rumors that we were not really a Christian bookstore — who features books on environmental science and racism in a mom and pop Bible bookstore, after all? As one book by a disciple of Kuyper put it in those days, we wanted to “prod the slumbering giant” of the Church, encourage a habit of reading and thinking with “the Christian mind” about all areas of life.

You see, that October at the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, Kuyper explained why, in another context, he wrote about Christ claiming “every square inch” of creation and how no area of life can be “hermeneutically sealed off” from the redeeming power of Christian faith. (That famous line from his inauguration of the Free University of Amsterdam, calling for a coherent Christian worldview that shaped higher learning, was not uttered at Princeton as far as we know.)

The Stone Lectures gave a big (and Biblical) basis for a full-orbed vision of the worldviewish power of religion and how classic Protestant themes (from the likes of Augustine, Johannes Althusius, Luther, Calvin and more) could shape how we think about science and art and politics. If God is sovereign and gracious, as Calvinists insist, what does it mean and what might it “look like” (as we say nowadays) to see God’s ordinances fleshed out in the real world? What might it mean if the reformation was not only about a few church matters and key Biblical doctrines, but unleashed a dynamism that we might even call reformational?


Is there such a thing as a distinctively Christian approach — and maybe even theories about — science and art and politics, about business and education and history? Kuyper, I want to suggest, authorized us at Hearts & Minds to find books to resource readers for this very notion, helping Christians think well and serve faithfully in law and nursing and schooling and urban affairs, in counseling and media and finances. We have books on relating a Christian framework to the ideas that inform business and technology and government, helping Christians worship as they work by thinking Biblically about their careers and calling. Sound familiar? It was, chiefly, Kuyper who helped American evangelicals — a century later, almost — talk and think and live like this.

JUBILEE – February 27, 2022.

If you have heard us talk about the annual Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh (which, due to the ongoing danger of the Covid spread, is going to be virtual again next month in February 2022) you know that the conference’s “all of life redeemed” vision, this claim that God wants us to serve redemptively in all spheres of life, that God wants to use us to “transform everything” has this Kuyperian tone. Indeed, the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) who founded the conference in the late 1970s learned it from — get this! — sons and daughters of Dutch immigrants who grew up hearing about Kuyper in their homes and schools and churches and moved to Western Pennsylvania to spread this very good gospel.

(Although the previously announced discounts from the old sale is over, you might get a kick out of my long-winded description fo why we remain so eager to tell people about Jubilee, the premier event for Christian college students in the entire nation by looking at some of these old BookNotes columns of us reflecting on how powerful this gathering is and we we’ve been involved in it for so many years. Be sure to come back here, but sometime check out this, this, or this. (That one features a keynote talk I did a few years back.)

We young Jesus movement evangelicals of the 1970s who were struggling with how to relate Sunday to Monday, so to speak, to read “the Bible with the newspaper in the other hand” and to live — as Campolo put it, in his own head nod to Kuyper, it seems to me — as though it is Friday, but knowing Sunday’s coming, needed a comprehensive vision for making all that real, and, in Pittsburgh, we learned about Dutch neo-Calvinism and Abraham Kuyper. We who had heard about Francis Schaeffer saying we should weep for the city and yet rejoice in the arts and care for the earth even as we grapple with the nihilism of late 60s new cinema and existentialist philosophy, we who had heard Tom Skinner and John Perkins condemn institutional racism, we who knew that the Lordship of Christ meant that we must care about social concerns (even if we hadn’t yet read Merton or even MLK much, we at least had heard of John Stott and Ron Sider) — saw in these old Stone Lectures a sort of robust theology, complex philosophy, a curious take on history, and a hopeful future based on nothing less than Jesus Christ, dead, buried, raised, and reigning over His restored creation.

Years before the word “worldview” got co-opted by the religious right and weaponized against others of other faiths, a buddy of mine swore he was getting a Kuyper tattoo as this kind of visionary, comprehensive, orthodox but highly engaged worldview and allowed for pluralism and public justice had just rocked his world.

And I’ve heard there are a few Jubilee tats out there, too. Kuyper’s vision of Reformed public theology lives out in every detail in every sphere of life has been a driving passion for us. It is fascinating to think of where it all came to North America.

Calvinism for a Secular Age tells us a bit about that set of presentations at Princeton that, a century later, had become so generative for so many, providing a plausible foundation for Christian living that somehow was other than the theologically liberal social gospel movement and the overly dogmatic and personalistic neo-fundamentalism of evangelicalism. With the help of some great authors, the Joustra’s compiled this fabulous book exploring the Stone Lectures and updating them for today.


How it does this is at once brilliant and fairly simple. It is really, really instructive and a great way to get “up to speed” on understanding this seminal work and on learning how those who still stand in this tradition of reformational neo-Calvinism, have worked out the notions Kuyper proposed. 

There are a few extra chapters in Calvinism for a Secular Age besides those explores the chapters of Kuyper’s original, offering good contemporary stuff, but the core chapters are arranged like this: an expert in Kuyper’s thought tell us what he said in each chapter of Lectures on Calvinism (again, that is, the book that is based not he Stone Lectures). I’m not going to lie: this was so much more interesting and helpful for me (who doesn’t have tons of time or patience for some of the primary source real heavy stuff) than only reading the real chapters in the Kuyper original. Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but having authors guide us into and summarize his thoughts is not cheating; it is using the gifts of good teachers to help us understand the importance (and limits) of this older content. Where the older book is a bit dry and complex, the parallel chapters explaining things in this new volume are vivid and clear.

The summarizing of each chapter of Lectures is just the first part of the major chapters of Calvinism for a Secular Age. After this introductory explanation of what Kuyper actually said about religion or the arts, or science, or politics, we then have those authors telling us what Kuyperians, those inspired to work out Kuyper’s compelling challenge, have actually done in the 20th century. Just for instance, the arts chapter explores the aesthetic theory of Nicholas Wolterstorff and even more-so, the colorful writing of Calvin Seerveld. The serious chapter about political theory shows how James Skillen (among others) created the Center for Public Justice (CPJ) with their (Kuyperian) commitments to social diversity and both principled and structural pluralism. To see the work of Skillen and his successor, Stephanie Summers, described in this context almost brought tears to my eyes. 

And that’s not all. After this explanation of what Kuyper said, and what his tribe has done to work out his general vision in distinctive and reformational ways, the given author in each chapter then tells us what is yet to be done. What should we be thinking and doing within each area to work out Kuyper’s legacy — or reform it, if he was wrong about things, as he surely was in some instances?

So there you have it. Each chapter follows this flow, explaining what was said, how it has been enacted, and what more we might do.

Here is a very candid endorsement by Justin Ariel Bailey,  professor of theology at (the Dutch Reformed and intentionally Kuyperian) Dordt University and author of Reimagining Apologetics: The Beauty of Faith in a Secular World. Dr. Bailey says exactly what I want to say:

I have felt ambivalent about Kuyper’s Stone Lectures since I first encountered them. The world and life vision set forth in the lectures are vital to my theological outlook. But Kuyper’s racist asides trouble me deeply, especially when set against tragic appropriations by later interpreters. Calvinism for a Secular Age thus offers a welcome tonic, amplifying my gratitude and acknowledging my grief, making it an essential companion to Kuyper’s lectures. It clarifies his aims, complicates his legacy, and challenges his flaws. When necessary, it moves forward by reading Kuyper against himself. Most importantly, it continues Kuyper’s project, offering a generative and generous vision for all of life, one sorely needed in our secular age.

There are more chapters, too, in the Calvinism for a Secular Age  Kuyper did not tackle the question of race, for instance, and some of his mid-20th century followers used some of his ideas about pluralism (giving social space and freedom for those with different cultures and worldviews) to enact a brutal invention called apartheid in Dutch-colonized South Africa. (That is what Bailey was alluding to, above, I’m sure.) So Jessica and Rob Joustra realized that there needs to be a new chapter as if Kuyper was addressing race today. None other than Kuyper scholar (a black theologian, himself) Vincent Bacote was given the task to create a chapter on what Kuyper thought about race, what Kuyperians (for better or worse) have done in this area, and what we might do to redeem Abraham’s notions to help us think well about race and racism in 21st century. That chapter, too, is one I might say is worth the price of the book. Kudos.

Here are the other chapter titles and authors:

Preface, James D. Bratt
Introduction, Robert J. Joustra
1. Kuyper and Life-Systems, Richard J. Mouw
2. Kuyper and Religion, James Eglinton
3. Kuyper and Politics, Jonathan Chaplin
4. Kuyper and Science, Deborah B. Haarsma
5. Kuyper and Art, Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin
6. Kuyper and the Future, Bruce Ashford
7. Kuyper and Race, Vincent Bacote
8. Lost in Translation: The First Text of the Stone Lectures, George Harinck
Conclusion, Jessica R. Joustra


I was going to be a whippersnapper and say “You should” or “Everybody who likes Hearts & Minds,” but I won’t. 

I think I can safely say this, though. Here are four sorts of readers who should pick this up.

1. Obviously anyone in the Presbyterian and Reformed traditions. Mainline PC(USA) folks — mostly my tribe — may not know of the Dutch leader’s reception at Princeton or his ongoing impact within our heritage. There is a stained glass window in the chapel of Covenant Seminary in St. Louis (which is aligned with the PCA and ECP) of Kuyper and Warfield at Princeton, but many of the more mainline PC(USA) folks, again, may know not this part of their own history.

That there is such a cool, cultural vibe among many city churches in the PCA tradition (or the young, Reformed, Anglican parishes that are springing up) that highlights a sense of place and offers forums on civic culture and wants to bless their multi-ethnic communities comes not only from their convictions based on Jeremiah 29, say, or the Newbigin/missional church planting ethos, but from a Kuyperian strain that has had remarkable impact in some of our best, missional churches. Tim Keller’s Center for Faith and Work in Manhattan — and its many permutations all over North America — may be idiomatic of the Kuyperian influences in conservative Reformed theology these days. The wisdom about vocation and calling and service in the world bears this influence and you rarely see anything like it within PC(USA) circles.

Some Reformed folks are still stuck in seeing Calvinism less as a story to live out of but a set of five key doctrinal points, and they insist on those five points as being nearly the be-all and end-all of the Christian live. Kuyper thought the Reformed tradition was deeper and better than that, and if you are reading somewhat exclusively in that particular tributary, you really need to see this sort of broader application of God’s promise and deliverance, God’s grit and grace.

Obviously if this is your gig, you get it. But even if this seems aloof from your understanding of what it means to be Reformed, I cannot say enough of how vital this is for those of us in this Reformed tradition to be reacquainted with Kuyper’s impact. All of us Presby and Reformed types should read Calvinism for a Secular Age. (For me, I’ll read it alongside the “Confession of 1967” and Barman and Belhar in our PC(USA) Book of Confessions.)

2. Anyone interested in history or, certainly, in historical theology should snatch this right up. My, my, we are glad that in recent decades we are seeing all sorts of folks — including mainline Protestants and evangelicals — reading Aquinas and Augustine; there is a good rediscovery of Wesley and although I have my issues, I smile when I see those Jonathan Edwards is my Homeboy tee shirts. I love the way folk from various quarters are quoting Luther. From the movement interested in Mercersburg theology to the huge renaissance in the Patristics (not to mention new energy coming out of Barth and Bonhoeffer studies) there is much to be learned from older (granted, mostly white) dead guys. Yet, even many who know church history well are unaware of this chapter of North American protestantism. 

(Here might be a place to insert a plug for Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups so wonderfully edited by Richard Foster, published by HarperOne; [$14.99) which offers excerpts of primary source historical spiritual writers across several broad traditions, men and women whose old works are so very useful today. There’s no Kuyper in here, even though he was famously pious and prayerful, but this remains a fantastic, ecumenical resource.)

A friend of mine studying at an Episcopalian seminary under the extraordinary Dr. Katherine Sonderegger, sent me a picture she snapped, of Dr. S writing on the class blackboard “Abraham Kuyper” and “common grace.” I don’t know if my friend read Richard Mouw’s book about common grace, All That God Cares About (that mentions Beth and me as I tell about how Dutch Kuyperians influenced our early days of Hearts & Minds) but she knew enough to know I’d be tickled and sent the serendipitous shot as a text. Kudos to Dr. Sonderegger suggesting even future Episcopal priests should know this stuff. Enough said.

3. This book is important for those interested in faithful engagement in contemporary issues of race, peace, justice, political discipleship, and public theology. In other words, almost everybody who reads BookNotes and who at least cares a little about some of the “square inches” of God’s good creation or who longs for a renewed public life. Kuyper and Kuyperians are a curious lot, who (whether they lived it out well or not) claim to believe that we are neither right nor left,  neither conservative nor liberal, but quite foundationally, something like a third way

There is way too much destructive and heretical complicity among the religious right with violent populism and white nationalism and the like. All the talk about personal freedom and such strikes me as an idolatrous ideology from the secular Enlightenment and not Biblical or Christ-like. It concerns me a bit less at the moment, but there is often a knee-jerk predictability among even our well-intentioned Christian social justice warriors, too, some of whom oddly seem to appreciate the secular ideologies of Karl Marx.(Of course not all Christian conservatives are part of the Trumpian alt-right and not all Christian progressives are secular Marxists; in fact, most are not, making their alliance with distressing ideologies more covert and thereby maybe more dangerous.) All of us tend to suppose that God thinks like we do and we’ve all sometimes imagined the Kingdom of God in ways that just happen to suit our own dispositions. Kuyper tries to get us beyond that. We all need him to help keep us honest, especially if we are engaged in ministries in the public square.

Just the other day I was reflecting with a friend who noticed that some Kuyperians are really pretty right wing but the ones I most often quote are not. Fair enough. It’s weird to know that nuts like Josh Hawley and Reformed thinkers who nearly gave their lives for liberation for tortured South Africans like Alan Boesak both have quoted Kuyper. How can Edith Schaeffer and Kristen Du Mez both be influenced by the same intellectual movement? There it is, though: like the Wesleyans or the Jesuits or those who take up the BCP, Kuyperianism is a wild and diverse movement. Maybe that is part of why I recommend it at this cultural moment. Left, right, or center, we need some reconsideration and some fresh ideas. Give this a try, please.

4. Those who don’t care. I suppose you are not still reading if this is you, but if so, thanks for hanging in there with me. I’m glad you honor me enough to at least keep reading my reviews.  If talking about a distinctively Christian approach to faith and culture, if drawing on the past to better understand today, if thinking about old stuff to energize us anew in non-ideological ways just doesn’t work for you, I get it. But, come on — lots of people say we should read old books, and this is a painless way into that older, ongoing conversation.

I hope you know one of the very best books of last year, now in paperback, the stunning Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind. Alan Jacobs reminds us there of the value of hearing those from other times and places and while the Joustra’s good work of bringing together contemporary Kuyperian aficionados means that Calvinism for a Secular Age isn’t an old book, it at least explores and works with and talks back to and invites living out of an old book. I don’t know if this counts for C.S. Lewis’s admonition to read plenty of old books, but I think it is “breaking bread with the dead.” Come on! You can do this!


I’m not alone in hoping a lot of folks with take us up on our offer to join this conversation. Here are a few others trying to convince you to buy this book.

How might an ancient faith connect with modern questions of science, politics, the arts, race, religion, and more? This outstanding collection of essays explores the intersection between faith and public life with a rich and profound theological imagination. This book represents a long-awaited gift for readers of Reformed theology and Abraham Kuyper. Some of the best Kuyper scholars in the world are gathered herein to bring new life and new perspective to Kuyper’s groundbreaking Lectures on Calvinism.

–Matthew Kaemingk, chair and director of the Richard John Mouw Institute of Faith and Public Life at Fuller Theological Seminary, author of Work and Worship: Reconnecting our Labor and Liturgy.

Looking to Abraham Kuyper as a guide who can help us navigate the complexities of this cultural and political moment, this timely volume provides an accessible introduction to Kuyper’s thought as it probes ways that we can continue to learn from Kuyper’s contributions. Each essay, from one among an exceptional lineup of contributors, invites us to consider what faithful Christian engagement looks like in such important areas as politics, science, and the arts. These essays not only mine the wisdom of Kuyper’s thought from the past, but they urge us to imagine what it means that God is renewing and redeeming all things today. This volume will be of interest to all who believe that the gospel involves both personal devotion and public engagement.

–Kristen Deede Johnson, dean and vice president for academic affairs, professor of theology and Christian formation, Western Theological Seminary, author of The Justice Calling

In an age when doubt as to the public usefulness of Christianity is precisely the point at which its private obeisance is bleeding out, this primer on an imperfect but magisterial social thinker will grant a compass once more for all those Christians who desire to serve the whole of their society with integrative courage, creativity, and smarts.

–Anne Snyder, editor in chief of Comment magazine and editor of Breaking Ground: Charting Our Future in a Pandemic Year

What does Abraham Kuyper have to offer to our fractured, twenty-first-century world? With one eye on Kuyper’s own context and another on the challenges facing Christians attempting to bring their faith to bear on public life today, this volume of essays offers an essential guide to the relevance — and limitations— of Kuyperian thought in our contemporary moment.

–Kristin Kobes Du Mez, professor of history, Calvin University,  author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation

I have felt ambivalent about Kuyper’s Stone Lectures since I first encountered them. The world and life vision set forth in the lectures are vital to my theological outlook. But Kuyper’s racist asides trouble me deeply, especially when set against tragic appropriations by later interpreters. Calvinism for a Secular Age thus offers a welcome tonic, amplifying my gratitude and acknowledging my grief, making it an essential companion to Kuyper’s lectures. It clarifies his aims, complicates his legacy, and challenges his flaws. When necessary, it moves forward by reading Kuyper against himself. Most importantly, it continues Kuyper’s project, offering a generative and generous vision for all of life, one sorely needed in our secular age.

–Justin Ariel Bailey, associate professor of theology at Dordt University and author of Reimagining Apologetics: The Beauty of Faith in a Secular World

In recent months, Kuyper has been misquoted and co-opted by some to justify nefarious political agendas and misinterpreted by others who have argued he should be ‘canceled.’ The Joustras provide a timely resource for those seeking to be honest heirs of Kuyperian thought while being committed to refining, at times renouncing, and finally innovating out of this tradition. It is a creative engagement with the complex man whose blatant sins stand alongside the many gifts he offers to those who seek to live all of their lives in light of the gospel of Christ.

–Cory Willson, associate professor of Missiology and Missional Ministry, director of the Institute for Global Church Planting and Renewal, Calvin Theological Seminary, co-author of Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy


Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction Richard J. Mouw (Eerdmans) $15.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.00

This is our favorite introduction to the remarkable Father Abraham. Mouw is one of his very best interpreters (and his chapter in the Joustra’s Calvinism for a Secular Age is my favorite.) This is a great little book.

Many of our customers have come to appreciate Jamie Smith and have read many of his books. He was shaped by this Kuyperian tradition and he knows this stuff well. Listen to this:

This marvelous little book pulls off an astounding feat: though it is both compact and accessible, it also gives us the whole Kuyper. Too often we get Kuyper in slices: folks gravitate to a ‘side’ of Kuyper, adopting his theology of culture but neglecting his emphasis on the church, or picking up common grace but neglecting antithesis. But Mouw, with typical wit and warmth, introduces us to Kuyper in all his multifaceted richness. A gift for the next generation.  

—James K.A. Smith, author of You Are What You Love and On the Road with Saint Augustine

Engaging the World with Abraham Kuyper Michael Wagenman (Lexham Press) $12.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39

This is short and sweet, one particular take on who Kuyper was, his spirituality, his public theology, his ambition and (what Nic Wolterstorff called his “volcanic energy.”) All of this solid bibliography content with some guidelines or how to engage our world today in light of this Reformed all-of-life-being-redeemed worldview. This is part of a recent series of “Engaging our World with…” by Lexham, done in handsome, small paperbacks. Nicely done.

I like how Mike Goheen describes itL

Abraham Kuyper still speaks powerfully to our day. The battle he was fighting to confess the Lordship of Jesus over all of life and the public truth of the gospel in the face of the powerful currents of modern humanism that sought to privatize the Christian faith is as important to the church today as then, if not more important! Michael Wagenman has given us a great popular introduction to Kuyper’s thought on the mission of the church in the public square set in his original context but with helpful reflection on its contemporary significance. Michael W. Goheen, Director of Theological Education, Missional Training Center, author of The Symphony of Mission: Playing Your Part in God’s Work in the World

Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat James Bratt (Eerdmans) $43.50 OUR SALE PRICE = $34.80

This is without a doubt the definitive, serious biography of the magisterial Dutch leader who lived from 1837-1920) Professor Bratt (recently retired from Calvin University) is a very fine historian and excellent writer and knows this material as well as anyone alive. The book is in the prestigious “Library of Religious Biographies” and has garnered nothing but rave reviews. This really is an astounding work.

The reviews are fun to read, too. Check these out:

Abraham Kuyper was such a titanic figure in the Netherlands during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, such a volcano of prodigious energy and imagination in so many areas of life, that I have long assumed that his genius would elude capture by any biographer. James Bratt’s biography, Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat, proves that I was mistaken. This is Kuyper — not always likable, but always astounding. And it’s a page-turner besides. — Nicholas Wolterstorff, Yale University, author of United in Love: Essays on Justice, Art, and Liturgy

At last! This is what many of us have been waiting for — a careful, detailed, and highly readable (!) biography of Kuyper in all of his human complexity. Jim Bratt has given us the comprehensive study of ‘Father Abraham’ that will serve English speakers for years to come. — Richard Mouw, former President, Fuller Theological Seminary, author All That God Cares About and Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction.

James Bratt has written what can only be called the definitive biography of Abraham Kuyper. With engrossing scholarship and style, Bratt provides indispensable reading for anyone interested in postindustrial Christian social thought. . . . Will undoubtedly become a classic. —Anthony Bradley, The Kings College, New York City, author of Why Black Lives Matter: African American Thriving for the Twenty-First Century

Bratt has done a marvelous job of setting Kuyper’s multifaceted interests, activities, and ideas in their historical contexts. With wit and insight Bratt depicts Kuyper not only as a great man but also as a real person of his times, complete with faults and blind spots that Calvinists recognize as inevitable even among their saints. — George Marsden, University of Notre Dame, author of Fundamentalism and American Culture and The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship 

All That God Cares About: Common Grace and Divine Delight Richard J. Mouw (Brazos Press) $21.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $17.59

I have reviewed this at BookNotes and mention it often; it is one of my favorite theological books of the last several years and while it is more than just about Dutch Reformed neo-Calvinism and Kuyper’s call to engage the culture, to celebrate the goodness of art and science, work and education, play and politics, is does, indeed, help us understand the importance of this lively tradition for all of us. Mouw judiciously explores the controversies (even church splits) about this stuff and nicely suggests ways that non-Dutch and non-Calvinists can appropriate some of the best of this reformational tradition.

In this winsome book, Mouw takes readers on an enlightening tour of the theologies of creation, redemption, and eschatology undergirding his hopeful theology of common grace. Irenic but never shy to respond to critique, Mouw gives us a book that will engage and inform readers from a wide range of theological standpoints. A delight to read!  — J. Todd Billings, Western Theological Seminary

God takes delight! Mouw has given many of us the gift of that truth through his writing and speaking and very being! In this clearly written book he engages many thinkers to help us know that redemption is cosmic in scope and to help us appreciate the work of the Holy Spirit beyond the boundaries of the Christian community.  — Katherine Leary Alsdorf, senior advisor, Global Faith & Work Initiatives, Redeemer City to City

While this book is a thoughtfully crafted exploration of the doctrine of common grace, it is also a fascinating piece of theological autobiography. In it, one of our era’s great irenic Christian thinkers shares his exploration of his Calvinist tradition, centered on his richly textured view of the distinctly Calvinistic idea of common grace. Although this book has an autobiographical quality, its point is not that we look at its author; rather, All That God Cares About invites us to look through Mouw’s eyes as he shows us Calvinism, which, like Mouw himself, proves to be both firm and generous, systematic but never dull, clear yet mysterious. And because Mouw shows us his Calvinism through the lens of common grace, he lets us see how he views God and God’s world. What a thing to share. — James Eglinton, New College, University of Edinburgh

Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition: A Systematic Introduction Craig G. Bartholomew (IVP Academic) $40.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $32.00

This is, without a doubt, the premier, scholarly survey of what we mean by the Kuyperian tradition, written in a way that is significantly ecumenical — that is, it isn’t just for those already loyal to this redemptive neo-Calvimism. There is nothing like it in print, a serious, vibrant, study. It is a bit above my own pay grade, so listen to these scholars and public intellectuals who recommend it:

This book provides a welcome introduction to a memorable Christian statesman who also happened to be a formidable theologian, a pious devotional writer, an ever-active journalist, and an important theoretician concerning Christian life in the world. Those who do not yet know Abraham Kuyper will find Craig Bartholomew a reliable guide, while those who have already encountered this ‘flying Dutchman’ will be pleased with the range and depth of Bartholomew’s insights. — Mark Noll, author of The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

Abraham Kuyper began the neo-Calvinist movement in the Netherlands in the late 1800s as a way to make classic Christianity speak with fresh relevance to the modern world. Now, over a century later, Craig Bartholomew has given us this clear, thorough overview of Kuyper’s original insights, their further development, and their relevance in the postmodern world. Both veterans of the movement and those new to it will find here a concise presentation of the distinctive Kuyperian themes–creation, worldview, and sphere sovereignty–as they characteristically unfolded in Christian education, philosophy, and political and cultural engagement. Best of all, Bartholomew lays out where Kuyperians can learn from others–and how they might (and must) recover the spirituality and saturation in Scripture that animated Kuyper in the first place. Agree with Kuyper or not, this is the place to go to learn, in brief, what he said, did, and wrought.   — James D. Bratt, author of Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat

Craig Bartholomew numbers among the consummate insiders of the Kuyperian tradition, but he has written an accessible guide for the new and curious. Bartholomew presents the distinctive features of neo-Calvinism, such as its emphasis on worldview, sphere sovereignty, and structural pluralism, while also highlighting neglected dimensions such as its spirituality, concern for the poor, and focus on mission. Writing from a South African perspective, Bartholomew also does not shy away from criticizing the tradition when necessary. We’ve needed a contemporary theological introduction to neo-Calvinism for a long time, and Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition will undoubtedly become a standard textbook in this burgeoning field.                                                   — Clifford B. Anderson, associate university librarian for research and learning, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

What do you get when one of the world’s most masterful contemporary theologians engages in constructive and critical dialogue with one of history’s most powerful and relevant theological traditions? You get Craig Bartholomew’s Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition. Bartholomew’s interaction with Kuyper, Bavinck, Prinsterer, Plantinga, and others is smart, accessible, and relevant to a broad range of interests, including public theology, systematic theology, philosophy, political science, education, and biblical theology. Highly recommended.                                                                                  — Bruce Riley Ashford, provost and professor of theology culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Craig Bartholomew’s study offers one of the best English-language interactions with Abraham Kuyper and neo-Calvinism that I know of. He transcends the often repeated and stereotyped key slogans and concepts. As he often relies on his personal fresh and independent observations, he addresses the reader with the persuasiveness of the established theologian. He succeeds in really connecting this tradition, which already existed in the nineteenth century, with today’s world and problems, proving neo-Calvinism to be still very much alive. Everywhere the reader tastes Bartholomew’s lively and appealing enthusiasm for the Kuyperian tradition, which he discovered already some time ago. At the same time, however, his book offers much more than just an overview or summary of that tradition. On the contrary, we receive an independent contemporary engagement with it that does not hesitate to generously use related accents from other traditions. Bartholomew’s book illustrates the importance of Kuyper and neo-Calvinism but also offers an important and creative continuation of that tradition.  — A. L. Th. de Bruijne, professor of ethics and spirituality, Theological University Kampen

Reformed Public Theology: A Global Vision for Life in the World edited by Matthew Kaemingk (Baker Academic) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

Don’t believe me that this neo-Calvinist tradition of thinking Christianly about contemporary public issue can yield amazing fruit, that some of the most cutting edge, reliable, thoughtful, public intellectuals are, indeed, in the line of Kuyper and his vision of Calvinism as a robust life-system? Don’t believe my opening comment way up at the start of this colomn that those old lectures at Princeton changed how faith and life are understood among many?  Check this out.

In a way, this book is a continuation of the program that the Joustra’s call for in Calvinism for a Secular Age (and what Kuyper himself hoped for in his pious heart of hearts — a public theology that honors the reigning Christ and hopes for charity and justice for every topic of modern life.) This.; yes, this!

This amazing book (that I celebrated more thoroughly in BookNotes last summer) is actually a tribute to the mentoring and vision-casting (worldviewing?) of Dr. Richard Mouw. Many of these writers from around the globe had connections with Mouw and many were PhD candidates that he supervised. Kudos to Matt Kaemingk who is the next best thing to Mouw himself, these days, deeply committed to his generous Reformed worldview, compassionate towards others, ecumenical and gracious, and very committed to thinking well about ways to solve perplexing international problems. If this is the sort of scholarly (and practical) fruit contemporary Kuyperians are offering, and these are the stories they are telling about their vocations in the world, then I think the tradition is well worth honoring, learning about, and carrying forward.

Join these global visionaries in honoring Mouw, and, in a way, standing in the heritage of the best of Kuyper and those world-changing lectures given in 1898 about religion in the modern world.

Here is just an excerpt of my BookNotes review from last July:

…maybe Kuyper’s strictest followers would cry foul —  conscientious Reformed scholars writing about the aesthetics of fashion (as Robert Covolo does) or work (as Katherine Leary Alsdorf does) or about political activism (as Stephanie Summers does) or how to think about what poetry is and does (as James K.A. Smith does) are not, in fact, theologians or, technically, doing theology, as such. But yet, these scholars are informed by great theology and (my hunch is that they most likely know more bone fide theology than your typical church pastor.) These extraordinary global scholars apply theological ideas and insights to their given field, be it the study of “modern political ideologies” (by Bruce Riley Ashford & Dennis Green channeling David Koyzis) or critical race theory (which Jeff Liou handles adroitly) or the great chapter by Presbyterian Eric O. Jacobsen urbanist called “Streets of Shalom: Reformed Reflections on Urban Design.”

Yes, this is theological, but it is “public theology” and in most cases, very public in scope as the chapters examine (and offer Christian insights about) workers rights in China (Agnes Chin) and Japanese aesthetics (Makoto Fujimura) or questions about navigating political pluralism (by way of a great case study in Indonesia by N. Gray Sutanto) and a great piece about engaging pluralism on modern (postmodern?) college campuses by Veritas Forum spokeswoman, the fabulous Bethany Jenkins.

From the study of populism to the ethics of euthanasia to a chapter about the sorts of prayerful piety needed for those in public life (a truly fantastic piece by Jessica Joustra) this work in Reformed Public Theology is vivid, if scholarly, and very much about the issues of the day, concerns and topics about which we should know a bit, at least.

Naturally, there is also rigorous wisdom about the church itself. Editor Matt Kaemingk, you know, did that stunning book called Work and Worship so he is deeply interested in how the local church can shape and motivate congregants for taking up this project of shaping  and living out a coherent, healthy public theology. There are chapters such as a great one by Kyle Bennett on  confession as a practice for civil public discourse; there is a must-read chapter called “A Migrant at the Lord’s Table: A Reformed Theology of Home” by Alberto La Rosa Rojas; the great John Witvliet (of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship) has a much-needed piece called “Public Trauma and Public Prayer: Reformed Reflections on Intercession.” Nico Koopman has one that is equally vital called “Sexism, Racism, and the Practice of Baptism in South Africa: A Reformed and Transformative Perspective.”

You see? This is a breathtaking collection of very thoughtful and faithful chapters inspiring us to get busy in our own particular fields of the Lord. This book is amazing. Thanks be to God.




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There are generally two kinds of US Mail options, and, of course, UPS. If necessary, we can do overnight and other expedited methods, too.

  • United States Postal Service has the option called “Media Mail” which is cheapest but slow and may be delayed. For one book, usually, it’s about $3.50 – $4.00
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