Abraham Kuyper is possibly one of the most influential of the reformed faces of the 19th and early 20th centuries, but as I am finding out, on of the least spoken of. Why have we not taken up Kuyper as a more prominent figure of history and used his writings to further our own studies? Many have and I am thankful for them. Books like Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science & Art (Russell Media, 2011) is a huge step forward in the translation and presentation of the vast scope of Kuypers work.
Kuyper had a keen intellect and wrote about subjects not often dealt with in today’s literature. We have an overwhelming list of books written on Christ, and rightly so, but what about those areas which are an essential part of life and culture? It’s hard to find a recent piece of literature examining the arts and the sciences. We get theology but do we understand beauty? We can grasp the meanings of various texts of the Bible but how often do we think of wonder or creativity? These subjects and more flowed from the mind of Kuyper and spilled out in a text which has immense importance for the church today.
This study in common grace begins with Science and discovers the areas of Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Sin and Education. Kuyper calls Christians to take back these areas from the state and to use them as God has intended them, namely, for his Glory. He subtly slips in the calling with quotes like this, “Science is not the personally acquired possession of each person, but gradually increased in significance and stability only as the fruit of the work of many people, among many nations, in the course of centuries”, Kuyper even goes as far as calling the lack of study in science by Christians a sin when he explicitly says, “Sin is what lures and tempts people to place science outside of a relationship with God, thereby stealing science from God. The flower of true science possesses its root in the fear of the Lord, grows forth from the fear of the Lord, and finds in that fear of the Lord its principle, its motive, its starting point.”
The second half of the book is just as intriguing as the first and chock full of the same practical, yet deep, application. In the second half we discover the arts with new grandeur when Kuyper delves into Wonder, Beauty, Glory, Creativity, and Worship. It’s not hard to see how the subjects in both sections of the book fit so well with each other and build off the others. Kuyper builds up excellent foundations and paths which lead from one part of the book to the next.
Let us not in the first place, then, say that Scripture ascribes to the Devil no creative capacity. The world of beauty that does in fact exist can have originated nowhere else than in the creation of God. The world of beauty was thus conceived by God, determined by his decree, called into being by him, and is maintained by him.
This study has awakened my mind to some weighty subjects that I had not previous considered. Along with the apologetic method of Kuyper I am finding that his love and passion for the glory of God is found to be evident in his words and his sermons. His role in history has not matched up his prominence in the church today and I am thankful for the translators who thought it necessary to put into the hands of readers the mighty and powerful anointing which found itself in Kuyper. The book is an easy read and footnotes are used to clarify and point to various meanings in the text. I would recommend that all Christians take up this book for no other reason than that the passion found in Kuyper is contagious and should be spread through the halls of Christendom today.