Saturday, October 2, 2010

Alfred Hahn, Abraham Kuyper and Common Grace

Albert Pieter Hahn (1877-1918), Self Portrait, 1915. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Dordt College has named its newest residence hall on campus the Kuyper Apartments.

In honor of Abraham Kuyper it’s interesting to see how artist Albert Hahn portrayed him when Kuyper served as prime minister of The Netherlands in the early twentieth century. Hahn was a very versatile artist, graphic designer, illustrator, political cartoonist, and satirist. Pictured above are various Kuyper caricatures by Hahn, which were published in c.1905 and ironically have become endearing symbols of Kuyper’s indomitable spirit and oratorical exuberance.

While John Calvin developed the foundation and basic concept of the doctrine of common grace, Kuyper worked to expand the idea. The following passage by Kuyper biographer Frank Vanden Berg adequately summarizes the doctrine of common grace:

“In the September 1, 1895, [De Heraut] issue he [Kuyper] began a series on Common Grace, on which he was writing in 1899, which would run to July 14, 1901, a period of nearly six years, and which would appear in three volumes from 1902 to 1905.

What is common grace? Let us describe rather than define it. ‘God’s common grace must be sharply distinguished from His saving grace, inasmuch as it is of an essentially entirely different nature. It does not save unto eternal life. God has made His common grace the portion of all individuals, mankind as a whole, and the cosmos. Even the evil and the reprobate are included. By His common grace God bridles the evil of fallen human nature, restrains the ruin which sin has produced and spread, and enables even unregenerated men to do good, the true, and the beautiful which remain, in spite of sin, in human life which has not been regenerated. It operates in the family and the State, in science and art, in education, society-at-large, in fact in every area, even in the life of men and humanity who have not been renewed by regeneration, although human nature has been corrupted by sin and although nature outside of man lies under the curse. It will endure to the end of time. In the future eternity there will be no common grace of God.’ (This explanation is taken from the Christelyke Encyclopedie, published in The Netherlands.)”
Vanden Berg, Frank. Abraham Kuyper. First ed. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1960. 206-07. Print.

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