In this chapter, Kuyper considers the issue of original righteousness in Adam when created. To explain man as the image of God, Kuyper uses the language of a mirror (as Lints in Identity and Idolatry). When God created humanity, at the moment of creation, the reflection was there: “In creating man, God makes for himself a mirror in which he wants to see his own image as clearly as the nature of the creaturely makes this possible.” This was not an addition to Adam, but was inherent in Adam.
Here is a critical distinction between the Reformed and Roman positions. The original righteousness of Adam was not a gracious addition to nature. The importance of this doctrinal distinction was addressed in the previous chapters, here and here.
Kuyper next contends that the matters of creation can be in a state of maturity: particularly with respect to the formation of Adam. That is, God did not create a baby and then wait 20 years for the baby to be an adult.
Having considered the creation of the body, Kuyper turns to the soul, Adam’s spiritual existence. He makes mention here of the relatively new discipline of psychology as a “soul science” (this volume was originally published in 1902). He then asks the pointed question, What do we really know about the essence of the soul – beyond what is said in Scripture? We can look at effects, but what is happening there in the soul is a kind of mystery.
As an aside, it would be difficult to say that we know all that much more than Kuyper. Certainly there have been behavioral observations and untold thousands of college freshman have been duped into disclosing their willingness to lie or their preference for this or that in response to graduate students’ experiments. Yet, what is really happening, what is the essence is still a mystery.
Thus, as Kuyper says we should be thankful for anything God has told us of ourselves. We know there is a development of sorts. And here he begins to make observations.
There are elements of our maturation which begin “inside” if you will. There are native abilities, dispositions, and such which mature as the child interacts with his environment and matures. Now Adam’s body was matured, but what of his soul? Was he born with a fully matured soul? To make sense of what we are told of Adam, we must conclude that he a fully matured soul.
This then raises an issue. While I could understand a fully matured body – because the growth of a body comes from the body itself; a fully matured soul is more difficult to understand, because the maturity of the soul comes about through interaction with the environment. Again, Adam must have been fully matured in his intellectual and emotional capacity.
Then finally what of his religious capacity—and this brings us to the question of original righteousness from a different direction. And here we must contend he was in a state of maturity and holiness. But this is not to say that he was incapable of further growth or maturation. Just as an old scholar can still learn, despite having obtained to righteousness, even so Adam was able to further mature.
And so when we speak of original righteousness, we mean that he not defect of morality nor inclination away from the law of God. He was no double-minded but rather of full accord with his position as a creature before, created for God’s glory, to display God as in a mirror. This is what is meant by “original righteousness.”
“Thus in paradise there was spiritual perfection, though not yet the final consummation, in the three spheres of intellect, morality, and religious life.”