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On Islam (Kuyper)

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Lexham Press

At the beginning of the twentieth century, famed theologian Abraham Kuyper toured the Mediterranean world and encountered Islam for the first time.

Part travelogue, part cultural critique, On Islam presents a European imperialist seeing firsthand the damage colonialism had caused and the value of a religion he had never truly understood. Here, Kuyper’s doctrine of common grace shines as he displays a nuanced and respectful understanding of the Muslim world. Though an ardent Calvinist, Kuyper still knew that God’s grace is expressed to unbelievers. Kuyper saw Islam as a culture and religion with much to offer the West, but also as a threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here he expresses a balanced view of early twentieth-century Islam that demands attention from the majority world today as well. Essays by prominent scholars bookend the volume, showing the relevance of these teachings in our time.


Table of Contents: 

  • Editor’s Introduction by James D. Bratt
  • Volume Introduction I by Douglas Howard
  • Volume Introduction II by George Harinck
  • The Asian Danger
  • Constantinople
  • Asia Minor
  • Syria
  • The Holy Land
  • The Enigma of Islam
  • Egypt and Sudan
  • Algeria and Morocco
  • Spain
  • Conclusion
  • Afterword by Diane B. Obenchain



Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920) was one of the most extraordinary individuals of his time. A prolific intellectual and theologian, he founded the Free University in Amsterdam and was instrumental in the development of Neo-Calvinism. He was also an active politician, serving as a member of Parliament in the Netherlands beginning in 1874 and serving as Prime Minister from 1901 to 1905.

At this intersection of church and state, he devoted much of his writing towards developing a public theology. His passion was to faithfully understand and engage culture through a Christian worldview. The most famous example is his articulation of the doctrine of common grace. His work has influenced countless others, including Francis Schaeffer, Cornelius Van Til, and Alvin Plantinga.



Jordan J. Ballor (ThD, University of Zurich; PhD, Calvin Theological Seminary) is a research fellow at the Acton Institute and serves as executive editor of the Journal of Markets and Morality. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

Melvin Flikkema (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is Senior Advisor at the Acton Institute. He coordinated the translation of the Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. He was previously the Provost of Kuyper College.



"Abraham Kuyper took the public power of Islam seriously. He did not reduce the complex global faith to a private spirituality, a medieval superstition, or a battle cry. Nor did Kuyper believe that Islam would be quickly overcome by the power of modernity and Western reason. No, Kuyper understood Islam as a complex, pervasive, and potent global force with profound implications for politics, economics, education, science, and the family. Limited and imperfect to be sure, Kuyper’s insightful reflections represent a fascinating window into how a Christian might take Islam’s public and cultural implications seriously. Throughout this text, Kuyper’s many moments of Christian wonder and curiosity at Islam’s historic influence and future potential all model a posture that contemporary Christians would do well to note." — Matthew Kaemingk, Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary