02 March, 2017

Argument: “What about the relative order and beauty in the creation itself?”


“The creation is supposed to be ‘cursed’ by God, according to Genesis 3:17, and yet in spite of that, we see so much beauty and order in the creation.”


(a) How can we explain the comparatively orderly life in the world, seeing that the whole world lies under the curse of sin?
(b) How is it that the earth yields precious fruit in rich abundance and does not simply bring forth thorns and thistles? How can we explain these things apart from a common grace of God?




Prof. David J. Engelsma

I note that both of your questions have to do with the non-human creation. Neither concerns an alleged saving love or grace of God for reprobate, ungodly men and women. 
The important issue in the common grace controversy concerns that aspect of common grace that alleges a desire of God for the salvation of all humans, including those whom He has reprobated in the eternal decree of predestination, out of a (would-be saving) grace for all, which God supposedly expresses by a well-meant offer of salvation to all in the gospel. This is Arminianism, as described and condemned in the Canons of Dordt and all other Reformed creeds.  It is this aspect of the common grace theory that I oppose.
As for the notion that the good, orderly ordinances and products of nature are manifestations of a providential common grace, this does not so much disturb me. The trouble is that a common grace in nature invariably leads to or is an argument on behalf of the theology of a loving desire of God for the salvation of all men. 
The truth is that the answer to both of your questions below is that the explanation of the phenomena is not grace of any kind, but providence. Having created the world, God maintains it and its processes by His almighty power, so that there is some order in the creationthe sun rises and sets; the seasons revolve; gravity continues to hold; etc. 
Further, the earth yields its abundance; the sun rises on godly and ungodly alike; both maintain a healthy life from the abundance of creation; etc.
The explanation is that God has a purpose or design with history that cannot be attained apart from the maintenance of the creation, its order, and the like. This purpose is the glorification of Himself by a church ending in the second coming of Christ. In this purpose the existence of the ungodly has a part to play, mainly its development in sin and opposition to the kingdom of Christ.
But even the good things of creation and history are not grace and blessing for the reprobate ungodly. Things good in themselves are a curse to the wicked who use them without gratitude and in order to sin against God. The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, says the proverbist. Psalm 73 is the explanation to the questions you raise and the conclusive response to the contention of common grace. God sets the wicked on slippery places with the abundance of creation’s good things, so that they will slide smoothly into destruction. 
May I recommend to you and your associates my small book on Psalm 73: Prosperous Wicked and Plagued Saints: An Exposition of Psalm 73

                                                                                                        Cordially in Christ,
                                                                                                            Prof. David J. Engelsma

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