Common Grace at Work in Science and Scholarship

“Knowledge of earthly things is possible, and there is a yearning to find out the truth about them. This is the basis of science and scholarship (law, medicine, mathematics, literature, and the liberal arts). These are the natural sciences, with philosophy as their crown. These gifts of the Spirit should not be rejected or despised, for that would be to despise God himself. Pagans themselves admit that philosophy, the arts, sciences, and laws were gifts from the gods. We cannot read the writings of the ancients without great admiration. If by the Lord’s will we can be helped by the activities of evil persons in the study of nature, in logic, in mathematics, let us then use these things. Zwingli said that whatever the pagans said that is good and beautiful, we accept and convert to the glory of our God. We decorate the temple of the true God with the spoils of the Egyptians.” -Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics

A Person of Wisdom Can Learn From Anything

“Men generally learn wisdom if they have wisdom. The artist’s eye sees the beauty of the landscape because he has beauty in his mind. “To him that hath shall be given,” and he shall have abundance, for he shall reap a harvest even from the field that is covered with thorns and nettles…We may find instruction everywhere. To a spiritual mind nettles have their use, and weeds have their doctrine. Are not all thorns and thistles meant to be teachers to sinful men? Are they not brought forth of the earth on purpose that they may show us what sin has done, and the kind of produce that will come when we sow the seed of rebellion against God?…You shall find books and sermons everywhere, in the land and in the sea, in the earth and in the skies, and you shall learn from every living beast, and bird, and fish, and insect, and from every useful or useless plant that springs out of the ground.” -Charles Spurgeon, Talks to Farmers

Our Standards For Righteousness Are Too Low

“And because nothing appears within or around us that has not been contaminated by great immorality, what is a little less vile pleases us as a thing most pure–so long as we confine our minds within the limits of human corruption.” -John Calvin

More on Common Grace

“How is this admission, that there exist acts of human kindness that we may label “good,” compatible with Paul’s assertion: “None is righteous, no, not one…. No one does good, not even one” (Rom. 3:10-12; see Ps. 14:1-3)? R. C. Sproul writes: The answer is that what fallen man can do on the horizontal plane in his behavior toward other people he cannot do on the vertical plane in his behavior toward God. When Scripture records, “There is none who does good, no, not one,” good is more narrowly defined than it usually is.” -Derek Thomas

Common Grace

“Are there not occasions when unbelievers show acts of kindness and self-sacrifice? Imagine, for a moment, writing a letter to one of the national newspapers in which you say, “Non-Christians have never done anything good.” It would not be difficult to imagine the opprobrium that would result from such a statement. What, then, do Paul and the Westminster Confession mean when they collectively assert such a position? The answer requires some finesse. Calvin, for example, taught that fallen human beings still have the capacity for what he called “civic virtue”-keeping laws and conventions of society, and interacting with others in a way that is not vicious or evil.’ In these relationships, human beings are capable of acts that are good, compassionate, laudable, and virtuous. Indeed, non-Christians Christians often prove kinder than Christians in acts of mercy and compassion.” -Derek Thomas