Kuiper, Frits (1898-1974)
Frits Kuiper, b. 7 December 1898, d. 7 March 1974, was the son of Abraham Kornelis Kuiper and Henriëtte Sophie Muller. His father and grandfather were Mennonite ministers in Amsterdam. He married Maaike Anna Heuvelink in 1927. He interrupted his studies at the University of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Mennonite Theological Seminary (1918-1923), with an 18 month stay in the Soviet Union (1922-1924), sent by the European student relief organization. He was a member of the Dutch Christian student movement executive committee. In 1923 he submitted his graduation thesis on the subject "The Lot of the Russian Church under the Soviets."
He began his pastoral work in Amersfoort in 1925, followed by work in Krommenie-Wormer-Jisp, 1928-1932, and Alkmaar, 1932-1945. From 1945 to 1947 he served as director of the study center Vrij Nederland after which he served as minister in Amsterdam to 1963. At that time he accepted the invitation of the Dutch Reformed mission board to serve as professor of theology at the Mennonite seminary in Montevideo, Uruguay. He returned in 1965 and retired in Krommenie.
Kuiper was an unusual person, a hard worker with great sensitivity to events surrounding him and an ability to develop and defend his own convictions. He did not avoid confrontations. He continued his studies and became particularly interested in the work of Karl Barth. In 1924 he became a member of the Mennonite Task Force against War which affiliated with the annual congregational retreat movement.
Kuiper was conservative and Anabaptist in his faith, but radical in politics. In 1925 he joined the Social Democratic Workers Party (SDAP) and attended the International Socialist Youth Festival in 1929, which was antimilitaristic. While the pastors belonging to the SDAP were largely liberal, Kuiper founded the "Committee for Socialism and Church" with a Christian orthodox emphasis.
During World War II (1940-1945), he continued contacts with the illegal Vrij Nederland (Free Netherlands) paper and published some issues of De vrije Alkmaarder in 1944-1945. Following his call to serve in Amsterdam in 1945 he became involved with a Roman Catholic leader and a Jewish rabbi in the publication of De Stem van Israel (The Voice of Israel). From 1961 on he brought new life into the Mennonite publication in dit Amsterdam (In this Amsterdam) together with A. J. Koejemans and A. Oosterbaan. Kuiper was above all a theologian who struggled for meaning and clarity about Anabaptism, socialism and Zionism. This led him to the publication of three volumes: De Gemeente in de Wereld (The Church in the World, 1941), Leven uit de hoop (Living in Hope, 1958), and Een klein drieluik van onze bevrijding (Baarn, 1974 [posthumously], translated into English as A Small Triptych of Our Liberation, 1980). By liberation he did not mean freedom from the wartime German occupation but the liberation of all people to which, according to Kuiper, Karl Barth, Franz Rosensweig, and Lenin were primary contributors. Kuiper was a Zionist, not only because of Israel but as a Christian with Messianic expectation of the new kingdom. Kuiper was also particularly concerned for the renewal of worship among Mennonites and the rediscovery of spiritual freedom and depth. He understood his calling as pastor to proclaim the message of the Old and New Testament within the context of Messianic expectations. In this connection he meant much to many, both within and beyond the Mennonite boundaries.
Writings by Frits Kuiper:
De Russische kerk en haar lot onder de Soviets. Amsterdam, 1923.
De opstanding Barth on I Corinthians 15. Assen, 1928.
Sovjet Rusland en het christendom. Amsterdam, 1937.
Karl Barth's veroordeling van de kinderdoop. Amsterdam, 1939.
De Gemeente in de Wereld. Haarlem, 1941.
Gelooft het evangelie. Alkmaar, 1944. sermons, 194044.
De ware vrijheid. Haarlem, 1947: on Galatians.
Ontmoeting met het Oude Testament. Haarlem, 1950.
Israel en de Gojiem. Haarlem, 1951.
Het Amsterdams gesprek over Israel. Amsterdam, 1952.
Leven uit de hoop. Amsterdam, 1958.
Twee dienaars van één Heer. Amsterdam, 1961.
Muller, Samuel and Jan de Liefde. "Communism and Our Christian Faith." The Lordship of Christ. Elkhart, IN, 1962.
El designo de Dios para Israel y la iglesia. Montevideo, 1965.
Der Vorrang der Bibel in der Geschichte der Mennoniten. Montevideo, 1966.
Met de gemeente de wereld, 1914-1969: Herinneringen van een theoloog. Amsterdam: Algemene Doopsgezinde Sociëteit, 1969.
Dorst naar recht. Bussum, 1970.
Christen en socialist Frits Kuiper 1933. NCSV Zeist [posthumously], 1979.
Kuiper published articles in:
Algemeen Doopsgezind Weekblad.
In dit Amsterdam.
Theologie en praktijk.
Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift.
In de Waagschaal.
He translated Rosenzweig, Franz. Das Büchlein vom gesunden und kranken Menschenverstand. as Gebruik je verstand. Rotterdam, 1967.
Many printed and duplicated lectures for congregations, ministerial associations, and seminary classes cover topics ranging from the history of grace to messianic Judaism and Mennonite history to Karl Barth and Ernst Bloch.
Memorials to Kuiper appeared in:
In dit Amsterdam, 12, no. 3, (December 1963).
Doopsgezinde Jaarboekje (1975): 712.
Articles about him are found in:
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen. n.r. 3 (1977): 21-32.
n de Waagschaal. 17 (14 November 1981): 391-396.
van der Zee, E. I. T. Brussee. "De Doopsgezinde Broederschap en het nationaalsocialisme 1933-1940." Doopsgezinde Bijdragen n.R 11 (1985): 118-129.
Jansen, Marc. "Frits Kuiper in Kazan: Hulp aan hongerende studenten, 1922-1924." Rusland in Nederlandse ogen. (Amsterdam, 1986): 187-212.
An incomplete bibliography can be found in the English version of Kuiper, Klein Drieluik. (Fritz Kuiper foundation, 1980): 145-146.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 500. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Welcker, J. M. "Kuiper, Frits (1898-1974)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/K84.html.
APA style: Welcker, J. M. (1987). Kuiper, Frits (1898-1974). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/K84.html.