God’s word illumines the darkness of society.
Dutch politician and historian Groen van Prinsterer’s Unbelief and Revolution is a foundational work addressing the inherent tension between the church and secular society. Writing at the onset of modernity in Western culture, Groen saw with amazing clarity the dire implications of abandoning God’s created order for human life in society. Groen’s work served as an inspiration for many contemporary theologians, and he had a profound impact on Abraham Kuyper’s famous public theology.
In Challenging the Spirit of Modernity, Harry Van Dyke places this seminal work into historical context, revealing how this vital contribution still speaks into the fractured relationship between religion and society. A deeper understanding of the roots of modern secularism and Groen’s strong, faithful response to it gives us a better grasp of the same conflict today.
Groen van Prinsterer’s classic text,Unbelief and Revolution, is one of many attempts of nineteenth-century European intellectuals to come to terms with the French Revolution and its aftermath. Harry Van Dyke deftly situates the book in its political, religious, and historiographical contexts, thereby doing readers a great service. Could it be, Van Dyke asks, that Groen’s struggle with emerging forms of secularism is of utmost relevance in a world in which religion and secularism are still competing forces?
Herman Paul, Professor of the History of the Humanities, Leiden University
Van Dyke is not only a skillful translator of these lectures, but also a meticulous biographer, an adept intellectual historian of an important Dutch political theorist, and a literary critic engaged in exacting textual analysis. Even as he recounts the history of Groen’s world, Van Dyke is in the position of a historiographer—critically evaluating Groen’s own historical writing. The result for the reader is that Groen van Prinsterer comes to life—his education and political career, the reason for his focus on the French Revolution, and his conviction that Christianity is a guide to all of life.
—David S. Caudill, Professor and Goldberg Family Chair in Law, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
Groen van Prinsterer’s Unbelief and Revolution deserves to be better known in the English-speaking world. Harry van Dyke’s fascinating introduction to this seminal work had been out of print for decades, but I am pleased to see it available once again for a new generation of readers. I pray that it will stimulate the needed communal reflection on the relationship between our faith commitments and the current condition of our civilization.
—David T. Koyzis, St. George's Centre for Biblical and Public Theology, Hamilton, ON
Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology is a peer-reviewed series of contemporary monographs exploring key figures, themes, and issues in historical and systematic theology from an evangelical perspective.
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Harry Van Dyke (DLitt, Free University of Amsterdam) is a Professor Emeritus of History at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, and a Fellow of the Dooyeweerd Centre for Christian Philosophy.