The Need to
By: David H. Kim
In an article published in the 1894 Presbyterian and Reformed Review, Herman Bavinck articulated a interesting distinction between Reformed and Calvinism writing,
“the former (Reformed) being more limited and less comprehensive than the latter. Reformed expresses merely a religious and ecclesiastical distinction; it is a purely theological conception… Calvinist is the name of a Reformed Christian in so far as he reveals a specific character and a distinct physiognomy, not merely in his church and theology, but also in social and political life, in science and art.”
What Bavinck was trying to highlight is a relevant distinction that needs to be rearticulated today. In his emphasis on God’s sovereignty as an architectonic principle, John Calvin’s theology embraced all of life and not just the ecclesiastic domain, challenging every Christian in every field and industry to a new vista through the lens of God’s providential care and involvement in a world that is completely His (cf Psa 24:1). Abraham Kuyper grasped the vibrancy of Calvin’s theology in his famous Stone Lectures delivered at Princeton, NJ, Kuyper explored the riches of God’s sovereignty as it unraveled through history. Kuyper represents a rare breed of Reformed theologians who wrestled through the radical and wide-sweeping implications of God’s sovereignty.
The churches and Christians that confess God’s sovereignty over all of life and His ongoing providence in the great and tiny things have the exciting task of exploring the implications of God’s fingerprints in every inch of this world. Few Christians have and feel the wonder of knowing that God’s fingerprints are somewhere hidden in their work. His handiwork is manifested through every industry and strata of our society. When we grasp God’s involvement in the world and in our work, there is a growing hunger to learn more and understand the organic interconnectivity and interdependence of our complex society. We need an awakening in the church to a Calvinistic theology that unites the disparate pieces of our lives under the rightful Lordship of Christ, for it under His headship that this world flourishes. Let me conclude with a quote from Kuyper’s first Lecture that summarizes these sentiments:
“And for our relation to the world: the recognition that in the whole world the curse is restrained by grace, that the life of the world is to be honored in its independence, and that we must, in every domain, discover the treasures and develop the potencies hidden by God in nature and in human life.”