11 The Institution of Government Authority
In three ways humans have attempted to ground government in “voluntary human action”. (99)
The first was in the right of the conqueror to subject to himself those conquered: might is right.
The second in the free will of man. We have a right to determine our own fate. If we wish we can of our own free will call a government into being. This, Kuyper notes, was the foundation of the system of the French Revolution’s notion of social contract. (100) It leads to an unstable situation.
The third is by spontaneous development. There is a “natural impulse” where: “a certain power of the one group arises over the other group, which ultimately is consolidated in the supremacy of an individual person.” (101)
God’s common grace is at work, a “ gracious arrangement whereby he created order amid the chaos of a sinful world and arrested the disruptive destruction of sin.” (101) He organises government and ordains his “providential administration”.
Government authority is different to a father’s authority over his children:
“In a sinless situation there would have been no government authority proceeding from people, even as in the kingdom of glory there will be no more government from people over people. “ (103)
Kuyper then poses the question “Where is the authority of God instituted and validated? (104) To answer that he goes back to Genesis 9:6. He stresses that humans have no authority of their own, all authority belongs to God. In Genesis 1 we are given dominion and authority. Power and control only exists if God grants it.
“that in Genesis 9:6 both government authority is validated and capital punishment is instituted, not only for that time but for all times, for all of Noah’s descendants, and thus also for us and for our descendants, until the coming of the Lord on the clouds.” (107)