A Protestant Reformed World and Life View (7)

The Beacon Lights is published only every other month during the summer. It is therefore some time ago that an article on this subject has been read by you. And, since articles in a series such as this are related to each other, it is no doubt of benefit to review for a moment the main thoughts in the last article.

We were discussing the world and life view of those who maintain the theory of common grace. Since this theory is a principle departure from the Reformed truth, it stands to reason that the effects of it on a world and life view are insidious and destructive. This is particularly true since the theory goes to some length to expound the spiritual and ethical character of the ungodly and God’s attitude towards them as well as the Christian’s relation to them. We noticed that this theory holds that after the fall of man in Paradise man would have become a beast, or at best, a devil, if it had not been for common grace which was given to him by God. If God had not intervened with this particular kind of grace, life on earth would have been impossible, society would have completely disintegrated, man would have not been able to live as man in relation to the rest of the members of the human race as well as in relation to the creation about him. But since a tolerable dose of common grace was administered to man after the fall, much that existed in the previous high estate of man in Paradise was retained. Man continued to remain in some measure at least, good. The Holy Spirit was very successful in the heart of man restraining sin and unrighteousness so that all that the evil heart of a depraved man is capable of doing did not come forth from him in his life. The result is that man is quite capable of doing good in his life in the world, quite capable of producing results in his cultural endeavors which meet with the approval of God. In fact he can succeed in producing many things that are so good that they will abide into the new creation which shall be formed when Christ appears again at the end of the ages.
The result of this is that the Christian in the world is in a unique position in his relation to the wicked. He alone, of course, possesses in his heart the grace of God through Jesus Christ which is able to regenerate and save him. Yet nevertheless, he is in the midst of a world of men who in many respects are as good as he is as far as the deeds which they perform are concerned. He is faced with a world of wicked men who do the good that he does, who seek the goals in life that he seeks, who are filled with a desire to pursue the paths of life that he pursues, who are n many cases even better qualified to perform the duties of the cultural mandate than he himself is. And this is not only true in the fields of scientific endeavor whether that be the natural sciences or the social sciences, but this is also true in the fields of religion, of art, of music, of philosophy, of politics, of human relationships, etc.
It stands to reason that such a Christian man, faced with such a world, will be in an awful quandary as to how to live in relation to the wicked. The ultimate solution is finally to cooperate with the world as much as he possibly can and live in the best possible harmony with them. He will love them all no doubt since God loves them all. He will stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their endeavors. He will pursue with them their goals. He will join their organizations. He will turn his back on anything that is distinctly Christian such as Christian schools, Christian labor organizations, Christian political parties, Christian churches. If he finds anything with which he cannot agree, he will undoubtedly raise his voice in protest for a little while. But that even will not be such a loud voice nor a continual protest, for his voice becomes weaker and weaker midst the clamoring cries of the wicked until it is heard no more. Besides, he really has nothing to protest, for all that the wicked do is marked by at least a measure of good, and he runs the grave risk of criticizing that which is after all the fruit of the Spirit of God. As his position of an antithetical life crumbles beneath his feet, he is forced into the camp of the enemy and stands in a real danger of adopting all the goals of the devil in his opposition to the cause of the kingdom of heaven. Joining in this opposition, which he cannot avoid, he is soon enough swept into the camp of the enemy with no particle of interest left for the cause of Jesus Christ.

Now, apart from all this, it is a growing conviction on my part that this view of common grace faces its most serious danger in the possibility of its becoming post-millennial. Post-millennialism is a view which has never had much appeal to the church of Jesus Christ throughout the history of time and was never a serious heresy or real threat. Nevertheless, it appears to me that this view is now at least a very real danger for those who hold to the view of common grace described above. Post-millennialism teaches that the second coming of Christ shall take place after the millennium. The millennium itself is a long period of time in which the church has gained the complete victory over the world and established itself as the power that is triumphant in this period of history. After this age is reached, Christ will come again to take this kingdom into heaven. The point of this view is that there is continual evolution in the world’s history. I do not mean evolution in the biological sense of the word as it is maintained by modern science, but evolution in the social and religious sense of the word. As history progresses on its course, this world becomes a better and better place to live in. Gradually the problems of life are resolved and the difficulties which the world faces are overcome. Sickness is banished through the wonders of medicine; science succeeds in giving to all men on the face of the earth a comfortable and luxurious life free from the ferocious fears of want and hunger; war is banished through the concerted efforts of men to bring peace on the earth when they are faced with the perils of complete annihilation by the horrors of missiles and germ warfare; the problems of social unrest, of class conflict, of racial tension, of juvenile delinquency, of marital instability and divorce, of crime and its disastrous effects of all the hose of difficulties that confront our modern age are resolved through the influence of the church and the cooperation of the people of God with the men of the world. This world becomes a wonderful place to live in with the problems of mankind vanishing as a vapor, evils overcome by good, sin even banished from the councils of men and from the affairs of mankind and a utopia of peace and prosperity ushered in which can be called the kingdom of Christ. Heaven is on earth and the kingdom of Christ is victorious here in this present time. All men belong to the church and live together without the deleterious influence of iniquity disrupting their relationships in any way. The kingdom of Christ has come and all men are happy o earth. When this takes place, then Christ comes from heaven to claim His kingdom already established for Him and to rule where He is already in effect Sovereign and King. Gradually these worlds become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever in this creation without end.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 19 No. 6 August-September 1959