Neo-Calvinism: Wikis


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Neo-Calvinism, a form of Dutch Calvinism, is the movement initiated by the theologian and former Dutch prime minister Abraham Kuyper.



James Bratt[1] has identified a number of different types of Dutch Calvinism: The Seceders—split into the Reformed Church “West” and the Confessionalists; and the Neo-Calvinists—the Positives and the Antithetical Calvinists. The Seceders were largely infralapsarian and the Neo-Calvinists usually supralapsarian.

Neo-Calvinism has been described in the following way:

Neocalvinism is postmodern Calvinism. Neocalvinism is a global cultural movement that is the result of people motivated by the religious dynamic of the Reformation trying to get to grips with the historical consequences and implications of modernity.[2]

Kuyper wanted to awaken the church from what he viewed as its pietistic slumber. He declared:

No single piece of our mental world is to be sealed off from the rest and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’[3]

This refrain has become something of a rallying call for Neo-Calvinists.

Emphases of Neo-Calvinism [4]

  • Jesus is lord over all of creation. Jesus’ lordship extends through every area and aspect of life – it is not restricted to the sphere of church or of personal piety.
  • The idea that all of life is to be redeemed. The work of Jesus on the cross extends over all of life – no area is exempt from its impact. All knowledge is effected by the true knowledge of God through redemption in Christ.[5]
  • Cultural Mandate. Genesis 1:26-28 has been described as a cultural mandate. It is the mandate to cultivate and develop the creation. [6]. There is a historical development and cultural unfolding. Some Neo-Calvinists hold that the Cultural Mandate is as important as the Great Commission.[7]
  • Creation, fall and redemption. God’s good creation has been disrupted by the fall. Redemption is a restoration of creation. [8]
  • Sphere sovereignty (Soevereiniteit in eigen kring). Each sphere (or sector) of life has its own distinct responsibilities and authority as designed by God – for instance, communities dedicated to worship, civil justice, agriculture, family, etc. – and no one area of life is sovereign over another. Hence, neither faith-institutions nor an institution of civil justice (that is, the state) should seek totalitarian control or any regulation of human activity outside their limited competence.[9]
  • A rejection of dualism. Dualisms are (purportedly false) bifurcations, dichotomies, contrasts, or oppositions, such as the dualism between nature and grace that dominated much of Scholasticism. In the Neo-Calvinist view, nature is the God-created and sustained cosmic order, not a "non-supernatural" category, and grace is God's means of renewing the cosmic order, it is not something "non-creational" added onto nature (albeit eschatological in consummated glorification of bodily resurrection to eternal life and cosmic transformation of the new heavens and earth).
  • Structure and direction. Structure denotes created laws and norms for things, and created things themselves. Direction denotes relative deviation or conformity to norms; primarily regarding the central orientation of the human heart toward or away from God in Christ.[10]
  • Common grace. God providentially sustains the created order, restraining of possible evils and giving non-salvific good gifts to all humanity despite their fall into sin, God's curse, and his eventual condemnation of the unredeemed.[11]
  • The antithesis. There is a struggle in history and within every person – between submission to and rebellion against God; between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness; between the age to come (already inaugurated in Christ) and this present evil age (of sin). [12]
  • World views. Neo-Calvinists reject the notion that theoretical thought can be religiously neutral. All thinking and practice is shaped by world views and religious ground motives. For the Neo-Calvinist, life in all its aspects can be shaped by a distinctively Christian world view.[13]
  • The role of law. For Neo-Calvinists, "Law" is more than the Mosaic Decalogue, or even the entire abiding moral will of God. Law is, rather, the order for creation (or creation ordinances) established by God and includes a variety of types of cultural norms including physiological, psychological, logical, historical, linguistic, social, economic, aesthetic, juridical, and faith norms.

Key individuals associated with Neo-Calvinism

Neo-Calvinist institutions and organizations

Key texts

  • Abraham Kuyper Calvinism: Stone Lectures


  1. ^ James Bratt, Dutch Calvinism in Modern America. Wipf and Stock; original Eerdmans (1984)
  2. ^ "What is a Neo-Calvinist" by Gideon Strauss. Retrieved from personal blog October 29, 2005.
  3. ^ James E. McGoldrick, Abraham Kuyper: God’s Renaissance Man. (Welwyn, UK: Evangelical Press, 2000).
  4. ^ Steve Bishop 'Neocalvinst distinctives' An accidental blog
  5. ^ Bradshaw Frey et al. All of Life Redeemed: Biblical Insights for Daily Obedience (Ontario: Paideia Press, 1983)
  6. ^ Gordon J. Spykman Reformational Theology: A New Paradigm for Doing Dogmatics(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,1992) p. 109
  7. ^ Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey. How Now Shall We Live? (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), p.295.
  8. ^ Derek Melleby 'Neo-Calvinism 101'
  9. ^ Abraham Kuyper 1998. 'Sphere Sovereignty' In Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, ed. James D. Bratt. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).
  10. ^ Al Wolters Creation Regained (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) Ch 5
  11. ^ Richard Mouw He Shines in all that's Fair (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002)
  12. ^ Gordon J. Spykman Reformational Theology: A New Paradigm for Doing Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992) p. 65
  13. ^ Paul A. Marshall et al.(eds) Stained Glass: Worldviews and Social Science (Toronto: University Press of America, 1989)


  • James Bratt Dutch Calvinism in Modern America, Wipf and Stock; original Eerdmans (1984).
  • James Bratt “The Dutch Schools” in David F. Wells (ed.) Reformed Theology in America (Baker, 1997).
  • James E. McGoldrick Abraham Kuyper: God’s Renaissance Man (Welwyn, UK: Evangelical Press, 2000).
  • Richard J. Mouw “Dutch Calvinist philosophical influences in North America”, Calvin Theological Journal, 24 (1) (1989): pp. 93-120.
  • Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey. How Now Shall We Live? (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), p.295.
  • Albert M. Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985; 2nd edition 2005), ISBN 0-8028-2969-4

External links



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