God’s word illumines the darkness of society.
Groen van Prinsterer’s Unbelief and Revolution is a foundational work addressing the inherent tension between religion and modernity. As a historian and politician, Groen was intimately familiar with the growing divide between secular culture and the church in his time. Rather than embrace this division, these lectures, originally published in 1847, argue for a renewed interaction between the two spheres.
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.
Are you a serious Christian alarmed about secularism? Then this volume gives you a powerful example of how it was once successfully met. Abraham Kuyper’s intellectual and cultural crusade against secularism was profoundly indebted to Groen van Prinsterer. This superb publication shows you how and why. You can neither adequately understand nor fully appreciate Kuyper, his associates, or the movement he mounted against the secularism of his era without knowing his mentor and inspiration. This work is vital reading for informed Christians.
—James A. De Jong, President (ret.), Calvin Theological Seminary
Van Dyke offers a well-grounded and stimulating introduction to the insights of the Dutch politician and historian Groen van Prinsterer as laid down in his book Ongeloof en Revolutie. Groen’s ideas are very relevant for today in addressing the issue of the presumed incompatibility between modernity and religious faith. The uniqueness of Groen is not that he wrestled with this problem—many of his contemporaries did so also—but that he defied the times by invalidating this incompatibility intellectually. His arguments against the divide between religion and modernity convinced many and changed the nature of Christianity in modern times from a faith on the defensive into a driving force in our reflection on the interaction between religion and society. Reading Groen is a power breakfast that energizes for a new day.
—George Harinck, Free University Amsterdam
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
Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer (1801–1876), was a Dutch historian and statesman. An evangelical Calvinist, he fathered the anti-revolutionary, Christian-democratic movement in Holland.
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.