Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pantinga Ch. 3

This chapter of the Plantinga book is about the fall of man.  Plantinga starts out by saying that God created everything “very good.”   After the fall, “ Creation still declares the glory of God, but it also declares the tragedy of fallenness, of chaos, of painful carnivorousness.”  I agree with this statement because when you look at Creation from the tiny ants in the ground to the beautiful sunsets in the evening, you are clearly able to see the glory of God in it.   Along with the glory of God, we can also see the curse that God has placed on creation because of the fall.  Whether it is in the killing of animals to be eaten or the tragedy of 9/11, the fall is seen everywhere also. 

Plantinga goes on to talk about the fall in relation to the race of man.  One quote that I especially like in this Chapter is “ …we all keep living our lives against what’s good for us.  In what can only be call the mystery of iniquity, human beings from the time of Adam and Eve have so often chosen to live against God, against each other, and against God’s world.”  This quote greatly ties into a previous reading called The Weight of Glory where we talked about how we continuously live our lives so easily pleased with the materials of this world when there is something much better given to God’s people.  The sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, has run down the generations polluting us all.  “Sin grieves God, offends God, betrays God…”  Because of this sin against our almighty Lord, all of humanity is deserving of the punishment of Hell.  Only by the grace of God may the elect chosen by Christ be saved. 

Towards the end of the chapter, once again the issue of common grace comes up.  This is a belief that I highly disagree with.  Common grace in this book is very blatantly described and defined.  “ Besides such regenerating grace, which actually turns a person’s heart back toward God, the Spirit also distributes 'common grace,' an array of God’s gifts that preserves and enhances human life even when not regenerating it.”  The book even gives a definition of common grace, “ the goodness of God shown to all, regardess of faith, consisting in natural blessings, restraint of corruption, seeds of religion and political order, and a host of civilizing and humanizing impulses, patterns, and traditions.”  

The concept of common grace is not biblical.  In believing common grace, people believe that there is some good left in everyone from the creation before the fall.  What these people are forgetting is that the fall corrupted all of the good in man.  Psalm 14:1,” There is none that doeth good, no not one.”  Romans 8:6-8 also covers this in saying, “ For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”  We cannot do any good without the grace of God that He gives only to his elect.  An example that is used by Plantinga to support common grace is that “it rains on the wicked too.”  This does not mean that God is showing grace to the wicked.  He is merely using the rain to bring the wicked to their own eternal damnation.  The rain is only used for good to them who love God.  Romans 8 : 28, " And we know that all things work together forgood to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."

1 comment:

  1. Dear Brittany,
    I am happy for your comments and courage to state what you believe. It means a great deal to us. You have made me think a little more on the issue. I have writtent o a few of you similar answres, and maybe we can talk about it a little more but I hope this helps!
    I do believe that the problematic of Plantinga’s ‘common grace’ and ‘total depravity’ will only be solved when we are finally in front of God’s throne. I will quote Rev. Schalkwijk for this:
    "For although not each individual person will be saved, this does not mean that the blood of Christ would be partially lost, because the death of Lamb for the world affected indeed that whole world. Our world as a whole was rescued from the evil one and will be transformed into a New World, where justice and peace will reign (2Pet 3.13). The final restoration of creation may delay a little, and is waiting for the revelation of the sons of God (Rom 8.19-21); but its time will come, because God is faithful (1Cor 1.9). Meanwhile we are able to perceive that, praise God, that precious blood has also a broader meaning, as if it were a general application, as the basis for a “common grace”, by which He allows this world to continue and puts a control upon the outgrowths of evil (Col 1.20). ‘Common grace’ does not take away the guilt of sin, but contains and subdues its devastating results (Berkhof, Dogmatics, p435). Christ is the mediator of creation and of reconciliation, that is, of the universe and of the church (Rom 8.19; Col 1.16,20). The central ray of the “Light of the world” penetrates the blackness as a powerful beam (John 1.9), around which shines a diffuse light. If this were not so, how terrible would it be in this dark world!! It is still time for salvation."
    Furthermore, I (Adriana) believe that if a bandit was not able to feel love for anyone, and as such, would not be able to understand the concept, I could never be able to reach his heart. It also answers an age old question I always had on an Old Testament comment of Javeh "I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land (Exodus 23:27-30).
    Common Grace as such is a protection to us from 'too many wild animals' I.e. too much violence and disruption of peace... It is a protection and an outreach... What wisdom! What Grace!
    May I also suggest that we, sometimes even theologians forget the ‘Eternity’ aspect of the ‘creation, fall and redemption’ triangle? Such as the comment ‘Evil is any deviation from the way God want things to be’ could have been “Evil is a deviation of what God wanted to be, but it was a choice that He made when He, our Creator, handed us the possibility of ‘Free Will’. He wanted us more than robots. However, God, in His Almighty, Omnipresent, and Omniscient Power already had an answer for the problem, much before He added that possibility: “Jesus death on the Cross for our sins for Eternal Redemption”… So, it is never ‘out of His control’. God sees things from Eternity; He is not bound to time and space… He is the Alpha and the Omega... Only from Eternity will we see fully!

    God Bless,
    Adriana & Paulo