Christian Social Teaching

By Grabill, Stephen J. | Journal of Markets & Morality, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview
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Christian Social Teaching


Grabill, Stephen J., Journal of Markets & Morality


To mark the centennial anniversary of Abraham Kuyper's Stone Lectures at Princeton University and to commemorate his lifetime achievements, three large gatherings were convened at different points throughout the year 1998. The first and largest (nearly 500 people) took place at Princeton Theological Seminary in February of 1998, the papers presented at which have since been published under the title Religion, Pluralism, and Public Life: Abraham Kuyper's Legacy for the Twenty-First Century (Eerdmans, 2000), edited by Luis Lugo. The second took place in the Netherlands at the Free University of Amsterdam in June of 1998. The third (over 300 people) took place at Calvin College in October of 1998 and was titled "A Century of Christian Social Teaching: The Legacy of Leo XIII and Abraham Kuyper." The year 1998 also witnessed the publication of two landmark texts on Abraham Kuyper: The first, Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader (Eerdmans), edited by James Bratt, was a collection and translation of his most seminal essays; the second was Peter Heslam's Creating a Christian Worldview (Eerdmans), which analyzed each of Kuyper's six lectures delivered at Princeton in 1898. John Bolt's A Free Church, A Holy Nation: Abraham Kuyper's American Public Theology (Eerdmans, 2001) is the latest contribution to the growing body of literature on Abraham Kuyper's intellectual legacy.

Of the three conferences held that year the one at Calvin College was unique not only because of its cosponsors--the Acton Institute and Calvin Theological Seminary--but also because of the ecumenical atmosphere that surrounded it. (That conference, incidentally, took place almost one hundred years to the day from Kuyper's historic visit to Grand Rapids.) The goodwill that Kuyper sought to build among his Roman Catholic countrymen in 1898 was reflected in October 1998 as conference participants reminisced over the past century of Christian social teaching and pledged to develop areas of mutual collaboration between Reformed and Catholic social ethics. The conference was an international gathering of scholars and included prominent representatives from Protestant and Catholic intellectual circles, including Templeton Prize winners Charles Colson and Michael Novak; the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Francois-Xavier Nguyen Cardinal Van Thuan; and several theologians, philosophers, and economists of international repute.

This issue of Markets and Morality contains the proceedings from that conference, including the presentations by plenary speakers, the responses by panels of scholars, and the keynote addresses by Mark Noll, Rev. Maciej Zieba, O.P., and Charles Colson. In publishing these papers, we wanted to preserve the conference format, progressing as it did from the opening remarks to the various plenary sessions with keynote addresses interspersed between.

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