Monday, February 9, 2009

Christian World and Life View

Dr. R. Scott Clark has been blogging about having/possessing/developing a Christian World and Life View (abbreviated as CWLV). He interacts with the writings of Abraham Kuyper, and others in what is called the 'neo-Calvinist' movement. I found his posts to be thought-provoking.

In seminary I recall people quoting Kuyper: "There is not one square inch of all creation that God doesn't declare, 'It is mine!'" That phrase, coupled with Psalm 24:1 "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness therein" becomes the basis for neo-Calvinists to argue that we must develop a Christian worldview. This would include developing a distinctive Christian outlook on the various disciplines - mathematics, art, music, beauty, science, etc. This, combined with God's command to Adam and Eve, to "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over (it) (Genesis 1:28)" is used to lay the groundwork to develop a distinctly Christian culture and to 'redeem' the culture created by non-Christians (this is termed, The Cultural Mandate).

Prior to seminary I had been schooled in a pietistic, parachurch ministry that focused on evangelism and discipleship as the believer's highest end. This teaching was new, novel, and a healthy alternative to the sacred-secular dichotomy that I had been taught, though instinctively I knew it was short-sighted. Here, I thought, I might be able to bridge the gap between my background in natural resources and my Christian faith by seeking to develop a Christian worldview towards nature and the environment.

In the intervening years many things have intruded to make this task difficult including children, career interruptions, aging parents, and the demands of pastoral ministry. More than once I've looked at books I've purchased and haven't been able to read due to this issues. At times I have been filled with remorse: at other times I have re-committed myself to the task. I confess, after reading Dr. Clark's posts, I wonder if I really lost anything at all.

I will not re-state what he has so eloquently said in his three posts but I will give you a sample of his writing and links to all three posts:

"When it comes to the relation of the CWLV to the particulars of penultimate questions, the CWLV tends to devolve into platitudes more than it tends to press to particulars.

Consider plowing (sue me, I’m from Nebraska). In the spring and fall farmers plow. They break up the soil to plant and then, after harvest, they turn over the soil to let it rest or perhaps to plant another sort of crop. Is there a distinctly “Christian” way to plow? I doubt it. What farmers do is determined by the nature of the work. I don’t think one can look at a field and tell whether it was a Christian or a pagan who plowed it. Christians plow, but does that make it Christian plowing? Are there “Christian” plows sold in “Christian” implement stores? No, Christian farmers and non-Christian farmers sit on the same tractors and use the same implements. A Christian farmer should be a good steward of the earth and practice soil conservation but the non-Christian farmer does the same if only out of economic self-interest and further, sinful Christian farmers may not be as stewardly as some pagan farmers acting solely out of economic self-interest (if the soil blows away, the pagan cannot plant or harvest).

Again, there is no question whether the Christian and the non-Christian explain why farming works the way it works. The Christian says that seeds grow and rain falls and fertilizers work because of the sovereign providence of God. The pagan farmer appeals to magic or random chance. Their theologies of farming are radically different but the actual art and science of farming is the same for Christian and pagan (which, ironically is Latin for “farmer” or “rustic”) alike.

This example illustrates my concern about careless invocation of the CWLV. It tends to become a license to baptize one’s pet views as “Christian” and thus to make them incontrovertible."

World and Life View: License to Baptize? « Heidelblog
World and Life View: License to Baptize? (2) « Heidelblog
World and Life View: License to Baptize? (3) « Heidelblog


Wes White said...

I have come more to your & Dr. Clark's understanding of things on this issue as well.

Dave Sarafolean said...



I read a great post today on the same subject by PCA minister Jason Stellman on his blog De Regnis Duobus. He explores Calvin's views of the Two Kingdoms and concludes that Horton, Clark, Van Drunen, etc. are actually closer to Calvin than those who follow Kuyper. The link is below.

PuritanReformed said...
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PuritanReformed said...
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Dave Sarafolean said...

Puritan Reformed,

I have no idea why your comments won't post. My apologies. I'll look into it further.