I just finished an incredible book, a classic, by Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism. The book forced me to think about Christianity in relation to a number of things I don’t typically think about – politics, science, and art. It’s not that I don’t think about them, but Kuyper makes you think not just about current events or trends, but about how Christianity gave rise to democracy, modern science, and inspires true beauty. Here is an excerpt I found particularly profound.
The starting point of every motive in religion is God and not Man. Man is the instrument and means, God alone is here the goal, the point of departure and the point of arrival, the fountain, from which the waters flow, and at the same time, the ocean into which they finally return. To be irreligious is to forsake the highest aim of our existence, and on the other hand to covet no other existence than for the sake of God, to long for nothing but for the will of God, and to be wholly absorbed in the glory of the name of the Lord, such is the pith and kernel of all true religion. “Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done,” is the threefold petition, which gives utterance to all true religion. Our watchword must be, “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and after that, think of you own need. First stands the confession of the absolute Sovereignty of the Triune God’ for of Him, through Him, and unto Him are all things. And therefore our prayer remains the deepest expression of all religious life. This is the fundamental conception of religion as maintained by Calvinism, and hitherto, no one has ever found a higher conception. For no higher conception can be found. The fundamental thought of Calvinism, at the same time the fundamental thought of the Bible, and of Christianity itself, leads, in the domain of religion, to the realization of the highest ideal.