A little bit of self-mocking from the Nazarenes. Reminds me a little of my Kiwi Wesleyan friends from cession who gave us a smokin' verison of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" at Lake Taupo one year - "When I get that feelin' I need Wesleyan healing.." Any chance of a video reprise guys?
Monday, April 28, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
I recently read one of Richard J. Mouw’s Stob lectures, "Seeking the Common Good," given at Calvin College in 2000, (He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001, pp. 75-88). The central question Mouw is asking is whether or not Calvinists should engage with wider society in seeking the common good of all, even when it is recognized that the “all” is not solely made up of God’s elect. He quite rightly challenges the attitude of some Calvinists in boycotting this sphere and argues persuasively for a full engagement with human culture. So far, so good. All very commendable. But the reason this is a problem at all for Mouw’s audience is that it is a very Calvinist one indeed. One's understanding of his argument hinges on understanding what Calvinists mean by “common grace.” Common grace is what makes it possible even for the non-elect to enjoy a cool glass of water on a hot day or sit under a shady tree. If we fall over and break our leg an ambulance will come along and take us to the hospital. God causes such rain to fall on the just and the unjust, on the elect and the non-elect. But for Calvinists this grace does not in any way contribute to a person’s salvation. Here is where “common grace” differs from “prevenient grace” as held, for example, in the Wesleyan tradition. Prevenient grace is God drawing all people to salvation (whether or not they ultimately come – the offer at least is genuine.) Common grace on the other hand is given to all but only the elect may be drawn to God. This is made explicit on page 82 when Mouw defines common grace as …”the teaching that God has a positive, though non-salvific, regard for those who are not elect…” This is exactly the difference between prevenient and common grace. The first has the aim of salvation, the second does not. It surprises me that Mouw quotes the Reformed theologian Herman Hoeksema without any attempt to defend his outrageous claim that “All of the non-elect…are the enemies of God, and God ‘hates His enemies and purposes to destroy them, except them he chose in Christ Jesus.'” (pp. 82-83) It’s certainly an understatement when Mouw follows this up with the admission that “this does not seem to comport well, however, with Christ’s command to love your enemies.”! It’s a good article and a timely word to Calvinists (and all Christians) of the need to engage culture. But it is marred by a view of God which hardly matches the God of love set forth in the Bible who is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."
Some of my Tabor colleagues appeared on John Cleary's Sunday Night programme on ABC Radio a couple of weeks ago. You may like to have a listen to Wynand de Kock (Principal), John Capper (Dean) and Leanne Hill (student and Dean's PA) discussing Tabor, Kingsley and theological education in general.click here and have a listen.
John Capper, Dean of Tabor College.