grateful recipients of common grace

We now turn to the notion of common grace, the idea that God’s incarnation enables you to roll up your sleeves and explore knowledge not only without fear but also in confidence that in God’s providence non-Christian minds have provided many great ideas that contribute to our renewed humanity.

…Common grace is a two-way street, and our full understanding of this issue will allow us not only to tolerate non-Christian contributions to knowledge but actually to seek truth in them that contributes to the renewal of our minds. We are not merely agents but also grateful recipients of common grace.

…John Calvin defined the inability of the fallen mind to see reality in the context of God’s love as the corruption of the entire person, including the mind: “Calvin did not think of corruption as affecting the being of the mind itself, for the mind is still maintained in being by the direct action of God. As a natural gift it is not removed but perverted.” Contrary to Enlightenment thinkers, Calvin did not separate the mind from the rest of the person. For Calvin, the mind has not lost its ability to think per se, but it has lost its proper framework for applying its insights; reason has lost its God-directed coordinate. Reason, as he put it, is corrupted “as far as its rectitude is concerned.”

…The mind itself and its Christian and non-Christian achievements alike are a glorious testimony to God’s gift of reason. Non-Christian insights are “wrong” only insofar as they miss the context in which all knowledge gains its full measure, namely, when it is dedicated and used for the glory of God. Intellectual achievements are not, in other words, the exclusive domain of the Christian. And so Calvin insists that we should learn from non-Christians in “physics, dialectics, mathematics, and other similar science … [lest] we be justly punished for our laziness.

The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education by Jens Zimmermann, Norman Klassen

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