Q What is the source of Abraham Kuyper’s slogan on Christ’s lordship (“every inch . . . mine”)? I recently read the Stone Lectures of 1898 and couldn’t find it. What part does it play in Kuyper’s contribution to Calvinism?
A I have asked Calvin Seminary professor John Bolt to respond to your question. He writes:
Kuyper’s famous “square inch” slogan accurately reflects his vision of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It comes from his inaugural address, “Sphere Sovereignty,” at the opening of the Free University of Amsterdam in 1880. When we consider the entire sentence in which this phrase appears, we can see how big Kuyper’s vision was. Kuyper is rhetorically responding to potential “scoffers” who will allow for theology as a Christian discipline but reject the idea of a Christian university in which science, medicine, law, economics, and other fields are also considered from a biblical point of view. He then says: “Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!” (from Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, James D. Bratt, ed.).
Compare this to Kuyper’s definition of his beloved Calvinism in Lectures on Calvinism, the Stone Lectures delivered at Princeton Seminary in 1898. Unlike the Lutheran vision, which was about salvation and justification by faith, the Calvinist vision, according to Kuyper, had in view “the sovereignty of the Triune God over the whole cosmos in all its spheres and kingdoms, visible and invisible” (p. 79). Abraham Kuyper definitely had big eyes!
About the Author
Henry De Moor is professor emeritus of church polity at Calvin Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich. He’s the author of Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary