This post is the first part of a series walking through the third volume of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace
In Volume 1, we looked at the doctrine of common grace historical. Volume 2 explored the doctrine of common grace. Yet, some have suggested that Kuyper goes too far, even to the point of denying saving grace (especially in what was being taught at the university he founded). Kuyper admits there is a legitimate fear to be had here: we do not want to collapse the line “between the sacred and the profane.” (2)
Yet, the real threat to this line is either 1) the denial of “regeneration as absolute” and 2) universal atonement. Particular grace undermines both of these, as Kuyper has argued elsewhere. The point is that we must properly understand that common grace is central to a healthy church. We see this both where the Reformed Church has flourished and where it has withered.
In the Netherlands, theology has been separated from the life of the church, and consequently both theology and church life began to wither. The institutional church began to crumble, and vibrant spiritual life moved into “fellowship” outside of the gathering of the church and good teaching began to come through “lay preachers” rather than through ordained ministers. Unity between the churches in the Netherlands began to collapse–even the “Reviel” (revival) of the 19th century didn’t rebuild the Dutch church–except insofar as it resulted in a reinvigorated theology. Still, it ignored the life of the church in the world, and so the world continued to dominate society, politics, and the academy.
Then along came Groen van Prinsterer and the fight over education. Prinsterer began the movement that resulted in the creation of Kuyper’s political party, a new university, and the return of theologically conservative Christians into political and social life. The goal now is to rearticulate old truths of the Reformed confession–here, especially those concerning common grace–in response to the challenges of modernism.
In this volume, Kuyper will look to practical applications of common grace. More on this in the next entry.