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"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.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Kuyper's Common Grace #CG1.1 Preliminaries

In 1895 Abraham Kuyper began a series of newspaper articles on common grace. They were completed in 1901 and were then published in book form as De Gemeene Gratie in 1902.13, 1903.13 and 1905.08. Now in 2013 we have the first part of volume 1 translated into English as Common Grace. In the following weeks I'll be posting a summary/ review of this excellent book.

Kuyper began these at the peak of his career, the books were published when he was prime minister. The first volume of the English translation covers the first third of the first Dutch volume (from Noah to Abraham). The first Dutch volume covers the historical sections. The complete English translation will be in ten volumes - it is proposed that the tenth will be a comprehensive index.

This volume of dedicated to Dr Rimmer De Vries. It is translated by Nelson Kloosterman and Ed M. van der Maas on behalf of the Abraham Kuyper Translation Project and the Acton Institute. There is a foreword by Jordan Ballor and Stephen Graybill the editors, and an introduction by Richard Mouw. The books has 29 chapters in 249 pages.

The editors note that “There is often a temptation, particularly among evangelicals, to engage in social reform without first developing a coherent social philosophy to guide the agenda” (xi) They hope that Kuyper’s idea of common grace will help to provide that social philosophy. They see common grace as the “capstone of of Kuyper’s constructive public theology” (xi).

In his introduction Mouw describes Kuyper as an activist (xxix) as well as churchman (xxiv) and  “multi-tasker” (xxiv) who did “theology on the run”(xxiv). Mouw stresses that Kuyper with his emphasis on common grace does not reject the notion of the antithesis. Kuyper was a good Calvinist and held to the doctrine of “total depravity”. Kuyper saw his common grace project as a development of Calvin, though Calvin never used the term common to preface grace, he seems to prefer the term “peculiar”. Mouw is keen to stress this continuity between Calvin and Kuyper. Indeed this is something that Kuyper acknowledged. Mouw sees Kuyper’s common grace as “a divine strategy for bringing the cultural designs of God to completion” (xxv).

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