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Abraham Kuyper, Common Grace 12

In this chapter, Kuyper details both the continuities and the distinctions which take place before and after the Flood. Kuyper’s understanding of common grace underscores his understanding of the flood.

First, the fact of saving the entire human race – even though the race only consisted of one family – was an act of common, not special grace. Eternal salvation was not conveyed, only temporal. Moreover, it was not only human beings but animals and plants which were saved. Thus, it was common to all living creatures on the planet.

It is not that the church was saved in order to abandon everything outside the church to general ruin. But the grace shown here extends to the entirety of human life. Most surely the purpose was so that God’s church could find a place to set its foot, and also so that the church of the new covenant would gather together believers from all peoples and nations. But its purpose was also so that in a proper sense God the Lord would continue his work in that broad sphere of human life, not unto the saving of souls but no less unto the praise and glory of his great name.

Abraham Kuyper, Common Grace: God’s Gifts for a Fallen World: The Historical Section, ed. Jordan J. Ballor, Melvin Flikkema, and Stephen J. Grabill, trans. Nelson D. Kloosterman and Ed M. van der Maas, vol. 1, Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press; Acton Institute, 2015), 107.

Second, Kuyper notes some distinct physical discontinuities which took place at the Flood. The globe itself was changed, ground and atmosphere. The relationship between human and animals changed.

The nature of human life likewise changed. Following the flood, human life span significantly decreased. A fascinating observation, which is wholly consistent with this observation, is the problem of genetic entropy.

Kuyper explains this decrease in lifespan as a blessing because it limited the ability of the wicked to increase in skill. Likewise, the elect no longer need wait eight centuries until they can be with the Lord.

This new state of affairs would maintain regularly until the return of the Lord. And in this state of common grace, with the reordering of the world, the change in the relationship to the natural world, the decrease in life span as well as the institution of government, would permit the continued existence of the human race for the ultimate benefit of the Church and God’s glory.