Christianizing the World? (2)
In my previous article in this magazine, I described the project of Christianizing the world—a project in which many Reformed people are engaged.
It is, however, not only Reformed people who have taken on this project. Many prominent evangelicals in the United States have also signed on.
But Protestant Reformed young people are confronted with the call to participate, and with the accusation of “world-flight,” if they decline the call, usually at Christian Reformed colleges.
What should the response to this call and accusation be on the part of Protestant Reformed young people—and also on the part of all young people who are and are determined to be truly Reformed?
They must refuse the call. They must repudiate the accusation that by refusing to Christianize the world they make themselves guilty of world-flight.
The entire project of attempting to Christianize the world is unbiblical, unreformed, illegitimate, and doomed to failure. It is the flight of the fancy of Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, and all its contemporary advocates.
Christianizing the world is not a calling from God. Nowhere in Scripture, whether explicitly or by good and necessary consequence, does God call his church or the members of the church to influence the world outwardly, after a Christian fashion.
The Christian’s calling regarding the world is to be in it, physically, but not of it, spiritually and ethically (John 17:14–16). By joining with the world of ungodly, unbelieving men and women, in Christianizing the world, the Christian puts himself in the position of being of the world. He is now one with the world in a great, spiritual project: nothing less than Christianizing the world. He opens himself up to the world’s thinking. He is party to the world’s way of doing things. In this cooperation, he finds himself fellowshipping with ungodly men and women as together they supposedly build a form of the kingdom of God.
Demonizing of the World
Scripture clearly reveals that God’s plan for the world is not that it becomes Christianized, but that it becomes increasingly demonized, that is, ungodly and antichristian (Matt. 24). Shortly before the end, in the very days in which we are living, in the very days in which foolish Reformed theologians and college professors are clamoring for the Christianizing of the world, all the nations of the world become the kingdom of the beast, Antichrist (Rev. 13; Rev. 17).
Inwardly, in their unregenerated hearts, the vast majority of the human race are anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-church, and anti-holiness. Their hatred of God develops to the extreme. In accordance with their wicked hearts, they frame their outward, societal life, their culture. The idea that men and women with unregenerated, depraved hearts can have some delight even in an outward veneer of Christianity and will work in cooperation with Christians to erect a kingdom influenced by Christ is nonsense on the face of it. Out of the heart are the issues of life. Unholy hearts hate Christianity, root and branch. Hearts that hate God build kingdoms of hatred for God.
Every semblance of Christianity in national and international life is effaced in these last days. Every aspect of the culture of the modern heathen expresses their hatred of God and of his holiness. Their politics exalts Man and governs on behalf of Man liberated from God and now sovereign. The laws of the courts and congresses deliberately trample God’s laws underfoot. So developed is the anti-Christianity of the nations in the last days that the laws of God that are held in contempt are not only his laws in Scripture, but also his laws in nature. The demonized State legislates sodomite and lesbian “marriages” (Rom. 1:24–28).
Their educational system despises God’s great work of creation, ascribing the origin of all things to blind chance operating through evolution. Thus, Man is deified as the goal of all things, rather than the God of creation and providence.
Their entertainment glories in the shame of sin, movies, television, videos, and the internet: sexual promiscuity and perversity; gratuitous violence; sensual music; material wealth and physical pleasures as the end of human life. Man’s own lusts are the standard of the right and the good, rather than the will of God as taught by Jesus Christ.
Hardening of the World
And all of this development of sin in the world takes place under the wrathful judgment of God on the world, which “when they knew God…glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.” God gives them up to uncleanness; God gives them up unto vile affections; God gives them over to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:21–32). Whereas the dream of Christianizing the world proposes the world’s good development by a common grace of God, the Bible teaches that the world develops as the kingdom of Satan under the judgment of God.
The advocates of Christianizing the world knowingly work at a project that conflicts with God’s plan for the world. God does not intend the Christianizing of the world. Their project, therefore, is foolish. But matters are worse. The advocates of Christianizing the world pit themselves against God. In his awful but just judgment, God is at work hardening the world in its willful ungodliness, so that the world develops in sin, filling the cup of its iniquity. The cultural Calvinists oppose this work of God, attempting to Christianize the world. Their project is resistance to God.
As is evident to all in AD 2013, the project of Abraham Kuyper in the Netherlands and of the Christian Reformed Church in North America over the past one hundred years to Christianize first their nations and then the world has been a colossal failure.
But the project of Christianizing the world has not been without its effect: Both Kuyper’s Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Christian Reformed Church have become thoroughly worldly. The vain enterprise of cooperating with the world of the ungodly, purportedly by a common grace of God, in order to Christianize the world does not, in fact, make the world Christian. But it does make the church and its schools worldly. The churches of Kuyper have become part of a false church—a church that has ministers who preach, “No God!” (see Psalm 14:1). As for the Christian Reformed Church, it is open to the wicked world and tolerant of the world’s most grievous attacks on God’s glorious works and holiness: evolution and the denial of the inspiration of Scripture, particularly with regard to Genesis 1–11; a universal love of God, implying universal salvation; feminism; sexual promiscuity, particularly in the sanction of divorce and remarriage; promotion in at least one of its colleges of the sexual perversity of sodomy and lesbianism; approval of the very worldly behavior of dancing—the foreplay to fornication.
The true church and the Christian, including the Protestant Reformed young person, must view the world as their enemy, especially in these last days. From it, they must separate spiritually, so that they hate it and refuse to make common cause with it.
It is the sin of the proponents of the Christianizing of the world that they promote the friendship and cooperation of God’s people with the world of the ungodly, the world that has Satan as its god (2 Cor. 4:4). Working closely with the world of ungodly men and women, in a work that is in reality, as Abraham Kuyper himself acknowledged, the building of the kingdom of Antichrist, Reformed young men and young women are swallowed up by the world and destroyed. They adopt the world’s thinking—about good laws, about origins, about legitimate entertainment, about the goal of earthly life. They forsake the church, if the church is at all Reformed. They come to regard the church as too narrow, too old-fashioned, even bigoted. They marry unbelievers. They are seduced by and lost to the world’s culture, the world’s way of life.
This is happening to the young people of the Reformed churches that send their youth into the world in the great, glamorous project of Christianizing the world.
And their ministers and college professors are to blame—and will answer for their souls.
Fatal to the notion and project of Christianizing the world is the truth that the world of the ungodly is not the object of the grace of God. Nor does the world of ungodly men and women enjoy a grace of God that is a power improving and directing their lives. The theory of common grace, which is fundamental to the project of Christianizing the world, is false doctrine. Grace is divine favor towards someone—a favorable attitude. God does not have an attitude of favor towards unbelievers and idolaters, who are outside of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, God “hates all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:5).
God does not drive the culture of the ungodly by some non-saving grace. Rather, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). In this uncommon wrath, so far from influencing them to create an outwardly Christian civilization, a form of the kingdom of God, God gives them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (Rom. 1:28), thus manifesting their kingdom more fully and clearly as the kingdom of the devil.
Judgment is impending over the world!
And all those who are one with the world in implementing, exercising, and developing the world’s ungodliness will perish eternally in the divine judgment when it falls. All those who have been busy building “Babylon the great” must perish in its fall, and fall it will (Rev. 18:2).
“Come Out of Her”
The call of God with regard to the great kingdom of the world now abuilding is not, “Christianize it! Christianize it!” but, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).
The call of God to Protestant Reformed young people is the opposite of the siren-song, “Christianize the world.” The call of God is, “Separate from the world! Do not defile yourself with the world’s rebellion against God and filth! Hate the world! Oppose the world! Willingly endure the world’s hatred of you, as representatives of the holy God in the midst of the unholy world!”
That you might hear this (saving) call, our spiritual and ecclesiastical fathers and mothers took the stand against common grace that resulted in their expulsion from the Christian Reformed Church in 1924.
But does this not amount to the error of world-flight—the unreformed view and practice of the Christian life of the Anabaptists?
Not at all!
The charge is groundless, if not malicious.
And this will be the content of the next article in this series.
Rubric: Where We Stand - The Beacon Lights
Author: Prof. David J. Engelsma
Prof. Engelsma is professor emeritus of Theology and Old Testament in the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches
Prof.David J. Engelsma (Wife: Ruth)
Ordained: September 1963
Pastorates: Loveland, CO - 1963; South Holland, IL - 1974; Professor in the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1988; Emeritus - 2008Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof_D._Engelsma
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