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All Articles For He Shines in All That's Fair

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Summing Up   Our opposition to the teaching of a common grace of God notwithstanding—opposition that has hardened through a careful study of the recent book by Dr. Mouw—we have enthusiastically welcomed Richard J. Mouw’s defense of common grace, He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace (Eerdmans, 2001). The Christian Reformed theologian and evangelical leader renews discussion of the widely, but often uncritically, accepted doctrine of common grace. He affirms the great importance of the doctrine, not only for Reformed Christians in the Dutch tradition, but also for all Christians. He expresses the wish that others take...

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Basic to the doctrine of common grace is the notion that God has another purpose with history besides the redemption of the church. That additional purpose is the development of culture by the world of ungodly men and women. In support of “multiple divine purposes” with history, Richard J. Mouw intriguingly proposes a new understanding of the infralapsarian order of God’s decrees. Infralap-sarianism, which places the decree of predestination after the decree of creation, allows for, if it does not require, a purpose of God with history alongside the purpose of redemption. This is the purpose that the ungodly develop...

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Infra- versus Supra-   In a surprising chapter of his book defending and developing the doctrine of a common grace of God, He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace (Eerdmans, 2001), Fuller Seminary theologian Richard J. Mouw raises the old Reformed debate over supra- and infralapsarianism. This chapter must have sent Mouw’s non-Reformed readers scurrying to their theological dictionaries. Upon turning to the chapter titled, “‘Infra-‘ versus ‘Supra-,'” many a Reformed reader must have wondered what this difficult and now largely forgotten controversy could possibly have to do with common grace. The debate among Reformed theologians over...

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The preceding editorial contended that the explanation of the continuing existence of creation after the fall is the providence of God. Providence also accounts for the splendid natural gifts of totally depraved men and women. Fallen men and women remain human, and to their humanity belong some remains of the excellent gifts with which God endowed man at creation. Those who attribute the existence of the world and the natural abilities and accomplishments of the fallen race to a common grace of God confuse grace and providence. Providence, which is an aspect of God’s great work of creation (providence is...

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Confusion of Grace and Providence It is a fundamental doctrinal error of the theory of common grace as taught by Dr. Richard Mouw in He Shines in All That’s Fair (Eerdmans, 2001), his mentor Abraham Kuyper, and his numerous allies in Reformed and Presbyterian churches worldwide, that it confuses grace and providence. The existence of the world is grace; that man did not become a devil at the fall was grace; rain and sunshine are grace; Beethoven’s musical ability was grace; that my decent, unbelieving neighbor does not commit the sins of the Marquis de Sade (so far as we...

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Common Grace for Culture   Wherever common grace is defended, the main reason is “culture.” Common grace is necessary to account for culture. Common grace is necessary to explain the political, scientific, technological, medical, and artistic developments of the world of the ungodly. Common grace is necessary to justify a Christian’s use of the cultural products of the ungodly world. Common grace is necessary as the power and warrant of the Christian’s earthly life in the world. Culture was the driving force behind Abraham Kuyper’s (and Herman Bavinck’s) elaborate development of and strong emphasis on common grace. In his Lectures...

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The second reason why Dr. Richard Mouw embraces common grace is his own “empathy” with the ungodly. (For the first reason, see the editorial in the Standard Bearer, May 15, 2002.) “Empathy” is one’s entering into the feelings of another so as to share those feelings. Dr. Mouw rejoices with the wicked in their prosperity. He sorrows with unbelievers in their suffering. This proves the common grace of God, Dr. Mouw argues, since God must feel toward the wicked as Dr. Mouw feels. If Dr. Mouw shares the joy of an unbelieving husband and wife who reconcile after separation, God...

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We come now to the real reasons why Dr. Richard Mouw embraces the theory of a common grace of God upon and in unregenerated humans. These reasons are evident in Mouw’s book, He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace (Eerdmans, 2001). The reasons are not the clear, abundant, powerful testimony of Holy Scripture, much less the teaching of the Reformed confessions. But the reasons are that Dr. Mouw sees decent unbelievers performing deeds of justice, kindness, and mercy; that Dr. Mouw finds in himself a feeling of delight at the splendid skills and a feeling of sorrow...

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For Reformed and Presbyterian defenders of common grace, it has always been a huge embarrassment that the confessions do not teach common grace. The total absence from the Reformation creeds of a doctrine of common grace is especially a problem in view of the importance that these Reformed and Presbyterian theologians and churches attribute to common grace. With reference to the Old Testament temple, one Christian Reformed zealot called common grace one of the two pillars of the Reformed faith. Although contemporary defenders of common grace are not so picturesque in their praise of common grace, they too regard common...

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Even though the reasons for Dr. Mouw’s embrace of common grace are his perception of good in the world of the ungodly, his feelings of delight and pity regarding the abilities and the woes of the wicked, and his conviction that believers must cooperate with unbelievers in the building of a good culture, he does appeal to one biblical text in support of his belief. He also refers to two significant passages in the Reformed confessions. Before we consider his arguments from the apparent good of the ungodly, from the Christian’s pity for the distressed idolater, and from the involvement...

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