Thursday, January 10, 2008
Bavinck and Common Grace
I've been reading about Common Grace lately. It's a distinctive of reformed theology though it has other Protestant and Catholic parallels, such as Natural Theology, Natural Law, General Revelation. What the main difference is Common Grace's ability to escape a systematic definition. Some of the greatest proponents of Common Grace have maintained that they surely believe it exists, though they don't know exactly what it is. It arises naturally from experience. All around us we see people who do not live, at least confessedly, under God's special atoning grace. Yet, many of them are incredibly profound thinkers and artists. Their work and thought confesses aspects of a Christian world-view, though without the terms of the confessions and creeds. It also arises from the reformed theologians desire to maintain that everything good is God's free gift, that is, man not only did not merit it but God actively gave it. Further it avoids distinctions between nature and grace, which are common to other areas of theology. Common Grace theologians maintains it's not limited to the work of culture, but that even rain that waters crops is a common grace. Everything that prevents sin and promotes life which is not distinct to only those who live under God's Saving Grace could be called Common Grace. We find biblical support for such a theology in John 1:9 and Acts 17, as well as many other places in the Bible.
One of the greatest proponents of such a view is my man Herman Bavinck, the contemporary of Abraham Kuyper. Bavinck represents some of the best of Dutch Neo-Calvinism. Here are a couple quotes:
The three sisters, logic, physics, and ethics, are like the three wise men from the east, who came to worship Jesus in perfect wisdom
The good philosophical thoughts scattered through the pagan world receive in Christ their unity and center