The Justice System: A Kuyperian Commentary

What follows are select extracts from Abraham Kuyper’s political party’s manifesto, Our Program, Article 13 on the justice system, with commentary by Daniel Mason.

The highest and most sacred attribute of the sovereign is that he upholds justice…Even then, it is God himself who upholds justice. He does so in three respects without involving people and in just one respect through the intermediary of people.

Kuyper goes on to explain that God rules directly through providential punishment of the wicked, and through not allowing peace of conscience in their hearts, and finally, God upholds justice on the Last Day. Yet, indirectly, God upholds justice through the father in the home, the police on the streets, and the judges in the courtrooms.

Kuyper elsewhere has written that government is a product of the Fall. He does not explain how he came to this. But his counter intuitive position can be defended by a look at Christology.

Christ’s mediatorial offices are only necessary, by definition, due to the Fall of Man. We would need no savior, no prophet or sacrificial priest, had Genesis 3 been written differently. Presumably, the same thing applies to the mediatorial office of king.

However, this view might be reconcilable with the standard position that government is a natural outgrowth of the family. Perhaps a distinction similar to what we use for the church, the government as institution and government as an organic entity would bring these two ideas into a single harmonious system.

The sovereign is not to please his will but to uphold justice. He does not have to invent law or establish right, because law and right were there before he started. It exists even now outside of him. It is so little subject to him that the sovereign himself is under the law–unconditionally.