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Church, Sacrament, and Society: Abraham Kuyper's Early Baptismal Theology, 1859-1874

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This article considers the development of Abraham Kuyper's theology of baptism during his early life, from 1859 as a theology student at Leiden University through 1874, the conclusion of his pastoral career in the Netherlands Reformed Church. After initially rejecting the institutional church, Kuyper began to develop a theology for a free church in order to bring Calvinism into rapport with modern times. This paper argues that Kuyper's theology of baptism developed as part of this vision of a modern Calvinist church, one that was both a voluntary institution and an objective, divinely sanctioned institution. The fluctuations of Kuyper's early baptismal theology reflect the tensions of this proposal for a modern church, but by the end or his pastoral career Kuyper had settled on the primacy of the institutional church in baptism.


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Affiliations: 1: Doctoral Candidate in Historical Theology; Saint Louis University


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