Abraham Kuyper "Sphere of Soventry"

Discussion in 'Free Speech Alley' started by Kikicaca, Jun 11, 2022.

  1. Kikicaca

    Kikicaca Meaux

    Sep 4, 2016
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    The Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper is well-known for his articulation of sphere sovereignty, and the following passage from the third volume of his Common Grace trilogy is a clear and balanced summary of this doctrine, particularly as it relates to the limits of government action.

    In this chapter he is addressing the question of whether the common grace that impacts social life and society is exclusively mediated through government or not:

    There can therefore be no disputing the independent character of the life of the people. Society, family, and household lead their own independent existence—an existence that is neither created, nor maintained, nor regulated by the government. We can go even further by stating that the individual in that society also possesses his own realm of existence in terms of his own mind and heart, to which he is fully entitled. Anyone who has his own convictions, his own confession, his own voice, his own sensibilities, and his own calling, and who possesses this in summary form in the sacred sphere of his conscience, can and in fact should be said to possess his own life sphere which must also be distinguished from society. That sphere, in fact, lies beyond the reach of the government. It is therefore simply not true that government encompasses our entire life and that on its own authority it must regulate our entire lives. On the contrary, we lead our own personal lives independently; the same is true for households and for society as a whole. Over a particular people that possesses a life of its own, government fulfills a limited and specific role that it has been assigned. Therefore, government absolutely may not be permitted to do whatever it wants. There are things it must and may do. But there are also things it does not have the freedom to do. There exist boundaries between the institutional life of government and the life of society, and government must respect those boundaries. Thus, whatever the people—and individuals within the population—possess as their own private sphere constitutes the rights and liberties of that people, which must be defended tooth and nail against every abuse of power on the part of the government. (CG 3.11.3)

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