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Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art by Abraham Kuyper

wisdom & wonder_front.jpgWisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science & Art  Abraham Kuyper (Christian's Library Press) $14.99  It is finally here -- the long-awaited, freshly-translated, newly-produced, collection of newspaper pieces that Dr. Kuyper wrote so many years ago.  Handsomely produced by our friends at Russell Media, published by the Christian's Library Press, this good paperback is a gem of a book, offering insights of the Dutch statesman and reformational theologian Abraham Kuyper to contemporary readers.  This is one of the publishing events of the year, bringing this remarkable old insight to modern light.  As Nicholas Woltersdorff notes, it is "an eloquent theological antidote to the anti-intellectualist and anti-artistic impulses that infect so much of the contemporary church....Though Kuyper wrote these words more than one hundred years ago, they have lost none of their bite and relevance."

You may know that Kuyper wrote, in the early 1900s, a major, three-volume work on what the Reformed call "common grace." These interesting pieces were actually attached as a bit of an appendix to that theological tome (which will itself someday be translated afresh; Wisdom and Wonder is perhaps the first fruits of this translation project, what Richard Mouw has called "a large dream come true.")  These do make an argument that God cares about daily life, and that human flourishing is a good thing (including the cultural activities of those who are not followers of Christ) and they focus specifically on how God's good creation is formed in ways that invite sustained involvement in the arts and the sciences.

I read an advance copy of this months ago, and, in fact, wrote a blurb or two for use on their promotional website.  Given a few other irons we have in the fire here today, I just don't have time to describe the whole book, but you should know that I could hardly be happier than to announce the availability of this historic release.  I think what might be most helpful for our BookNotes fans, now, is just to cite some of the endorsing rave reviews the book has garnered already. 

We are selling Wisdom and Wonder at 20% off, from the regular $14.99 down to just $11.99.  Just click on the link below. You know we'll send it out with a smile, since we've been fans of Kuyperian thinking for quite some time.  (In fact, here and here are two previous pieces I wrote about the lovely book about Kuyper and his thought system that Richard Mouw published with Eerdmans earlier this year.  Again, we highly recommend his book, Abraham Kuyper: A Personal and Short Introduction which we also have on sale, noted at the review page.)

Here are just a few of the glowing endorsements of Wisdom and Wonder:

How do we make sense of the contributions of, say a Steve Jobs, to human culture? How do Christians account for the rather immeasurable amount of good achieved by those presumably uncovenanted with God? Common grace is the answer: His mercies are over all his works. This first-ever English translation of Abraham Kuyper's work on common grace hits the sweet spot for Christians seeking answers to questions about the breadth of the gospel, their own roles in public life, and the beneficial contributions of others, especially in science and art. Highly needed and recommended.

David K. Naugle,  Dallas Baptist University, author of Worldview: The History of a Concept and Reordered Loves, Reordered Lives

The wisdom of Kuyper remains both relevant and necessary for our age. Here we have a public theologian eager to embrace the high callings of artists and scientists, while reminding them that their genius is rooted in the glorious Creator and is meant to be directed towards the ever-increasing revelation of His beauty. Kuyper's ability to show how this does not confine but instead expands these vocational pursuits is brilliant. In Wisdom & Wonder we have a wise and celebratory perspective rooted in the rich theology of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. Truth is timeless, and readers will find the insights from this old book both fresh and refreshing in a contemporary context that so often falls into the extremes of either fearing or idolizing art and science.

Amy L. Sherman, senior fellow, Sagamore Institute Center on Faith in Communities,  author, Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good (forthcoming)

God's redemption is as wide and high and deep as the expanse of his creation. This is the central message of Abraham Kuyper that has been heard anew by a generation of young evangelicals who have a new appreciation for the importance of Christian culture-making. This book is a wonderful way to meet Kuyper face-to-face and hear from him first hand. I look forward to pointing friends and students to this wonderful anthology. It's just what we need.

James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy, Calvin College, author of Desiring the Kingdom and Letters to a Young Calvinist

American evangelicals are deeply influenced by Neo-Calvinist authors who stand on the shoulders of Abraham Kuyper. Thanks to Acton Institute and Kuyper College, we are now able to drink large gulps straight from the man himself. Wisdom & Wonder is essential reading for all of us who aspire to live well in God's world, and these lectures on science and art are a particularly relevant place to begin. Nothing is more hotly contested and confused than these two areas of culture, and nothing stands in greater need of Kuyper's biblical tension between creation and fall and between common and particular grace. Kuyper's deft handling of these worldview themes proves once again that sometimes the way forward begins with a glance back.

Michael Wittmer, professor of systematic and historical theology, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and author of Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God

The wisdom of Abraham Kuyper can be seen in his refusal to fragment reality into isolated domains. In Wisdom & Wonder Kuyper holds together worship and academic reflection, art and science, creation order and redemption, and piety and cultural engagement. Against the forces of his age, and ours, Wisdom & Wonder continues to give voice to the essential insight that creation's unified purpose is to offer praise to its Creator. Kuyper's work remains crucial for those struggling to be faithful in living out the cultural mandate."

Matt Bonzo, director of the Institute for Christianity and Cultural Engagement and professor of philosophy, Cornerstone University, author of  Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life

Well, you get the picture.  Folks we know and trust (and whose books we adore) all exclaimwisdom & wonder_front.jpg how useful and important this mature work is.  You should not take that lightly.  These days there is much talk about evangelical Christians moving beyond old limitations and moralism to embrace a missional Kingdom vision of cultural engagement, transforming the principles and practices of our broken, needy world.  We can rejoice that from all quarters we are reminded of our vocation to care for God's world and to be salt and light in every area of life.  But how in the world do we do that?  How far will be get if we are not carefully attentive to God's directing Word?  Once we get beyond the rhetoric of being social restorers and agents of reconciliation, what do we do?  What principles should guide us?

Abraham Kuyper, limited only a bit by his own day and age, was a wise pioneer in thinking about common grace, Christ's Lordship, and how to engage the worlds of the arts and the sciences.  Here is real food for the journey, insights for cultural transformation, theology packed with implications for living out our vision of cultural witness, the meaty stuff we need for next steps in this day and age.  What a blessing to have these remarkable insights made so readable, to inform us in this new moment of evangelical cultural engagement.  Kuyper is often-cited in recent years but too few have actually read him. Thanks to those who published this volume, that can now be happily remedied. 

  And we can indeed celebrate this for the wonderful way the translators adapted the 19th century prose into relevant, contemporary language and packaged it with a very artful design throughout.   There is a very helpful forward by Jon Tyson and Gabe Lyon and a truly important introduction by a renowned black evangelical, Vincent Bacote, that are themselves very much a integral part of the text and will help give clues what to look for in the text.  This truly is a lovely way to introduce readers to the depth and insight of the great Dutch statesman, itself full of wisdom and of wonder.  Kudos to all involved!


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