Friday, September 2, 2016

Wisdom and Wonder by Abraham Kuyper

I'd have to write a very long post to do Wisdom and Wonder justice, but I'll be as brief as I can. 

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) was a Dutch theologian and political leader who wrote tirelessly on the necessity of integrating faith and life. One of his most famous themes was common grace: 

Common grace responds to the question: "How does the world go on after sin's entrance and how is it possible that 'good' things emerge from the hands of humans within and without a covenant relationship with God?" Common grace is God's restraint of the full effect of sin after the Fall.

Because of common grace, secular scientists and artists can honor God in how they pursue their fields. Kuyper's definition of science is broader than our present day view because in that term he includes all reason, knowledge, and truth. Divine thinking is embedded in all of creation. All things have proceeded from the thinking of God, from the consciousness of God, from the Word of God. God created in human beings, as his image-bearers, the capacity to understand, to grasp, to reflect, and to arrange within a totality these thoughts expressed in creation. The essence of human science rests on these realities.

Kuyper is occasionally dry, but he is never boring. He asks thought-provoking questions such as, "Would there have been art without the fall?" (Since the fall made a strong contrast between the beautiful and the ugly.) He breaks beauty down into three types: the perfect beauty of Eden, the marred beauty of this present world and the glorious beauty of Heaven. He says we get glimpses of all three kinds in our lives. Have you ever wondered why some things are so beautiful that it hurts? That is a glimpse of heavenly beauty that our human bodies can't adapt to yet.

In writing about art, he writes that it cannot be disconnected from specific standards, disproving the adage that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." According to Scripture, beauty cannot be separated from God. Glory is, in fact, nothing other than the highest degree of beauty. Art cannot be excused from following God's law, and art disgraces itself by seeking that freedom.

On the danger of less noble forms of art (in plays, books, music, or paintings) he says, Repeated exposure to such surface sensations leads our emotions into a discordant condition, weakens our capacity for genuine sensations, and ultimately damages our emotional life.

Not an easy read, but worth the effort to wrestle with these important ideas. Though $15 for the hardcover, it's only 99 cents for Kindle.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hmmm...some very thought-provoking questions. Thanks for the review!