De gemeene gratie

If you can’t read the title above, you’re in luck. Abraham Kuyper’s seminal work on common grace is now being translated into English, with the first book being launched tomorrow at Calvin Seminary at 10:00 A.M. If you live near Grand Rapids and the roads improve, consider coming by (Calvin is 5 minutes from the mall, so you can turn the trip into a twofer; a trifecta if you stop for lunch at Seoul Garden).

This long overdue translation project is a joint venture between Kuyper College and the Acton Institute. The first part volume, entitled Wisdom & Wonder, contains Kuyper’s thoughts on science and art.

Wisdom & Wonder contains many provocative statements worth pondering, but I was most interested in Kuyper’s thoughts on the theater. Besides the usual concerns for the “disgraceful performances,” “foul language,” and “low morals” that often accompany the stage, Kuyper also mentions the moral jeopardy of role playing. Is there a moral hazard when actors pretend to be someone they are not?

Kuyper writes:  “In connection with the stage no fine art of performance can be achieved unless the stage performer understands that the art requires him to imagine himself completely immersed in the character and existence of the person whose role he is playing. Now imagine someone who from his twenties to his sixties does nothing else than emphathize with various characters, first this one and then that one, so that he is always appearing as another person and never displaying his own person. Suddenly you begin to see how unthinkable it is that such a person should develop his own personality.”

“If every person seriously agrees that forming one’s own personality is one of the best marks of nobility, then the question cannot be avoided whether it is permissible that for our enjoyment an entire group of people is consigned to such an impersonal existence” (p. 171).

Something to consider on your way to the Redbox.

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5 thoughts on “De gemeene gratie

  1. Is this substantively different from the excerpts contained in Bratt’s Centennial Reader (165-201, 441-460)? If not, is there a different organization? Bratt’s assertion is that the first volume is “‘Historical’, studying mostly the very beginnings of human history as recorded in early Genesis.” I’m just curious if these newly translated volumes contain different content or simply different organization. With this, if the content is the same, do these new volumes significantly increase one’s ability to understand Kuyper’s thinking over and above Bratt’s excerpts? Or is the benefit of these new volumes purely the edification of reading more Kuyper? I suppose these are the first questions for your impending Q and A.

  2. Justin: This project will translate the entirety of Common Grace rather than Bratt’s lengthy excerpts. The translator does say that he benefited from looking at Bratt for those parts.

  3. [...] morning’s event concluded with a panel Q&A with Dr. Bacote, Dr. Michael Wittmer of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and Dr. Nelson Kloosterman, who translated Wisdom & [...]

  4. Hello Dr. Wittmer. I realize that this post is nearly a year old by now, which in blog years is about 200, or something. But I read a short internet piece that jolted me back (silent blog reader/stalker alert: I started checking in on your blog ever since meeting you at this book release, so I remembered you highlighting Kuyper’s quote about an artist’s personality).

    I think you’ll enjoy the parallels between Kuyper’s observations and the personal witness that an actor bears to this exact concern: http://www.focusonlinecommunities.com/blogs/pluggedin/2012/09/25/hello-your-stories-killed-my-soul-prepare-for-me-to-leave

    Take care,
    Lindsay

  5. That is a very good post. Good for him–wish more actors cared more about what they were selling.

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