Common Grace 1.14-15

Common Grace 1.14-15 October 8, 2019

Whatever our views of evolution and the speed in which the earth was created (and Kuyper dances around those specific questions), the Christian simply must believe that Genesis is history if it is to be authoritative. We cannot simultaneously deny its accuracy while trying to hold to its authority. It must be word-for-word accurate if it is to be considered the Word of God.

And the Word of God is critical to know, because it is how beings communicate and know each other. Speaking is the means of consciousness-to-consciousness communication. We must not scale God’s words down to an inner sense of revelation, his words are authoritative and powerful in a way other forms of revelation are not:

“We can still say that God speaks in nature, that there is a voice of God in the thunder and the lightning, in the howling of the hurricane and in the whispering of the soft coolness, and also a voice of God in the moving of the Spirit in the heart and in the language of conscience, but all of this is metaphorical. It is not speaking in the proper sense of the word. True, all these voices engender a feeling of reverence and worship, or stimulate an urge in us, or keep our foot from the wrong path. But all such speaking reveals nothing to us, communicates nothing to us, and does not let us know God’s will.” (120-121)

That God speaks is central to and definitive of Scripture, as he speaks to us now only through his Word. Our ability to receive this communication is based on the image of God in us.

All of this is critical for today, given the rise of unbelief. We must be able to answer core questions about where life comes from. Genesis tells not only this, but the beginnings of all things. Specifically, Kuyper is going to focus on what Genesis has to say about common grace and how we may here find the philosophical answers we all long for. Of course, here in Genesis the heretics and sectarians also find their origins, so we must be especially careful as we walk through the text.

For example, the three states of man (created righteous; fallen; redeemed) are well-known, but too little attention has been paid to the “external condition” of man (though condition and state are woven together–just as the soul and body). We must remember that there is a divine harmony to the relationship between state and condition:

“To human beings in the state without sin belongs a body without pain or illness. To fallen human beings belongs a body subject to pain and affliction. To the utterly fallen human being belongs a body of damnation. And to human beings in the state of perfected holiness belongs a glorified body.” (129)

So, what then was our pre-fall condition? It wasn’t exactly ‘paradise’, that’s a later word in Scripture. Instead, the Garden of Eden was limited in scope, good, planned, in need of care, and provided for mankind in terms of physical and aesthetic needs. It was overflowing with God’s good love.

Now, on the other side of the fall, instead of this abundance we fail to desire as we ought and instead merely settle for the absence of pain (and how can we not think of C.S. Lewis’s mud pies when reading this bit of Kuyper?). Because we’ve lost Eden, we no longer even know what we’ve lost and don’t know how to know it.

In Eden the only lack Adam suffered was from being alone, and this was only because the work of creation was incomplete. In this fact we see our similarity and dissimilarity from the animals. We are similar because we are social, but dissimilar because we are body and soul, and do not come from them. Animals, instead, are made in man’s image. So we can understand why Darwinism is appealing. It is simply wrong–our real unity with the animals is in God’s mind, not our biological origins.

Eve was the completion of creation, not a wedding but a finishing. Reproduction, therefore, is not post-fall. Reproduction is a part of the overabundance of God’s blessing. This will lead into the next post and the discussion of the original human lifespan.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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