I wrote this to a friend:
As far as transforming the culture, I agree with what you said: gospel first. However, I think Kuyper's emphasis on transforming the culture very quickly can turn into a kind of Pharisaism. I am a testimony to this fact. And I think many evangelicals and Reformed folks are as well.
On the surface, Kuyper's idea of "there is not one single square inch of creation where the Lord Jesus does not say 'it is Mine'" sounds good. But the way it comes off I think is incorrect. It sees the natural order or the civil kingdom as essentially redemptive, instead of ruled by common grace/natural law. Natural law is quite akin to the covenant of works, so I think it is no surprise that many who deny the two kingdoms view end up with a social gospel and a kind of moralism. They conflate the covenants of works and grace, and they conflate justification by faith alone with justification by faithfulNESS alone.
I am truly beaten down by the Law. Indeed, we are told to strive, but this is the standard. The Law is a guide for sanctification, but only a guide. Only the gospel can truly sanctify. The Law will only rouse sin.
I found myself confessing sins to God and to Angela only so I could feel better about myself, and not because "against You and You only have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight." It was not a true love of neighbor, and it was not a true love of God. I was a Pharisee (and of course we all are in many ways).
I think the normal Christian life is one that keeps our sinfulness always at the forefront. The normal Christian life is Romans 7. Paul calls it the law of sin, and he says that when he wants to do good, evil is right there with him. A law is a norm. In Romans 8, he discusses our sufferings with Christ, which in context are our struggles with sin. And he dares to say that if you struggle with sin, ***that's because you are saved!*** Hallelujah!
This glorious gospel is foolishness to the world. You mean we are completely passive in our justification? You mean we do nothing? It is sovereign, free grace? Free? Amen! Yes, and Amen!
Kuyperianism, I think, is dangerous because it leads to a works-righteousness and does not see just how sinful we really are.
I am worn out by the Law. Give me the gospel! Give me more of Christ!