An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Kuyper's Common Grace #CG1.1 Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Introduction

Kuyper had recently completed a series of articles in De Heraut, on particular grace. Here he compares particular and common grace. Particular grace deals with the individual person being saved, it is saving grace. Common grace is neither individual nor saving. 

Individuals are also “part of a community, member[s] of a body, … enclosed within an organism” (8) and thus particular grace must be understood within the context of the covenant. There are three aspects to be considered: 
first, our personal life; second, our incorporation into the body of Christ; and third, our existence as human beings (i.e., our origin by human birth, our membership in the human race) (9)
There is then a trinitarian aspect: the Spirit is concerned with our sanctification; the Son with our redemption; and the Father with our creation. There is also a threefold aspect to grace: covenant grace expands into particular grace and common grace which expands into covenant grace.

Common grace is not then saving grace. It is “the touchstone of a general human grace, coming to you because you are among the children of humanity, yours together with not only all God’s children but in common with all the children of humanity” (p 11).
Kuyper chose common rather than general to modify grace in order to prevent misunderstanding that he was undermining particular grace, and hence his efforts here to stress that common grace is not saving grace.

“In itself general grace carries no saving seed within itself and is therefore of an entirely different nature from particular grace or covenant grace. Since this is often lost from view when speaking about “general grace,” to prevent misunderstanding and confusion it seemed more judicious to revive in our title the otherwise somewhat antiquated expression, and to render the phrase communis gratia, used formerly by Latin-speaking theologians, as common grace” (12).

Bavinck’s address “Common grace” (translated in Calvin Theological Journal 24(1): 35-65) is mentioned as well as the hints in Calvin, yet Kuyper maintains that common grace has not received the attention it deserves and he hopes this volume will go some way to provide a  "degree of coherence and completeness" (13).

He concludes with a summary of common grace:
outside the church grace operates among pagans in the midst of the world, this grace is neither an everlasting grace nor a saving grace, but a temporal grace unto the restraint of ruin that lurks within sin

No comments: