Calvin, Modern Calvinism, and Civil Society

Cornelis van der Kooi

in Calvin and His Influence, 1509–2009

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751846
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199914562 | DOI:
Calvin, Modern Calvinism, and Civil Society

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The important neo‐Calvinist movement that developed in the Netherlands in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries appropriated Calvin's theology in a highly selective way. This chapter analyzes the thought of the two key figures of this movement, Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920) and Herman Bavinck (1854–1921). For these men Calvinism was a faith capable of guiding modern man's actions in every sphere of life that had unfolded organically in the centuries since the Reformation. Presenting Calvinism as the fruit of a long‐term historical development, they judged that Calvin himself had only glimpsed some of its essential features. This enabled them to maintain that other ideas such as sphere sovereignty and participatory democracy were also intrinsic features of the faith even though scant foundation for them could be found in Calvin's own writings. The chapter also suggests that the neo-Calvinist idea of sphere sovereignty retains value as a potential basis for interreligious coexistence in Europe today.

Keywords: Dutch neo-Calvinism; Abraham Kuyper; Herman Bavinck; Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer; sphere sovereignty; religious coexistence

Chapter.  7716 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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