Common Grace, 1.20

Common Grace, 1.20 October 29, 2019

This post is part of a series walking through the first volume of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace

Kuyper begins this chapter by finishing his argument against Bellarmine and the traditional Roman Catholic view of original creation. Kuyper argues that because God is Himself the goal of creation [insert Edwards/John Piper quote here], we can see that man must have been a perfect mirror of God’s character. The fact that there is later tension after the Fall doesn’t negate the idea of a perfect creation. Again, contrary to Catholic doctrine, we were not made flawed and then perfected by grace. We were made perfect and then Fell.

Kuyper then turns to the question of the time of creation. Just how long did it take anyway? Certainly Genesis says one day, or one “light change.” But we’re unclear as to exactly what that means through at least part of the process (prior to the distinction of the sun from other heavenly lights). Without getting into specifics, Kuyper points out that the time period may have been long enough for plants to grow. But then again, perhaps God just created plants and then supernaturally accelerated their maturity rates.

The same question comes up with the animals, which are brought from the earth (whole?) We are simply not told the details about the creation of plants and animals or the conditions under which this creation happened.

What we are told is that God speaks to God and makes man:

“Here, unlike with the animals, it is not said, ‘Let the earth bring forth a man.. and God made man.’ Nothing is said here to the earth. The earth does not do anything here; it remains altogether passive. Not to the earth, but to the persons of the Triune Being the voice goes out: ‘Let us make man,’ and from the dust of the earth Adam’s body is fashioned, and in that body a soul is created until the spirit of life causes him to breathe.” (175)

Man’s creation is different from that of plants and animals, and Adam’s creation is different than the creation of all subsequent human beings. When it comes to the plants and animals we can see that they may have had a sped-up growth rate (depending on how we read a “day”), but with Adam we stick closer to Scripture’s presentation of his creation as unique if we say “immediate” rather than “sped-up.” We don’t know for sure of course, but it does seem supported by the fact that Adam appears not to have had a childhood…

The bigger question for us is the question of Adam’s spiritual existence. This is hard, because we know so little about the nature of the soul. All we can do is observe its outer actions. With regard to these, at least, we can see that the soul matures–and this we see in ourselves (we hope) and in children. But how much of our observation of ourselves applied to Adam? Kuyper thinks he was created as an adult, with adult capacities given the charge laid on him in Eden. Likewise, Adam’s religious and moral state appears to have been that of an adult. A perfectly holy and righteous adult, but an adult nonetheless.

More on Adam’s creation in the next post.

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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