An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Vocational Calvinism by Ray pennings

Ray Pennings has a fascinating piece in this week's Comment: Vocational Calvinism. He writes:

Reformed, Calvinist teaching regarding work can be summarized as follows:

  1. God works, and we are called to bear His image;
  2. God derives satisfaction from His work;
  3. God provides for us through our work;
  4. God has commanded man to work, and to work within the framework of His commands;
  5. God holds us accountable for our work and expects to be acknowledged through it;
  6. God provides particular gifts designed to meet particular needs in the advancement of His kingdom;
  7. The Fall has radically affected our work. Work became toil;
    thorns and thistles frustrate our efforts. Fallen man seeks to glorify
    himself rather than his Creator through work;
  8. Work is an individual as well as a social activity;
  9. God takes pleasure in beauty, and the Scriptures do not focus simply on the functional and utilitarian aspects of work; and
  10. Christ worked as part of His active obedience, and the believer's work through Christ is part of that obedience.


Baus said...

I like what Penning says, except his 10th point is near heresy!

To read it charitably, we would need to think of it as an infelicitous restatement of "God has commanded man to work, and to work within the framework of His commands"... or we would need to totally restate it to say that God graciously accepts the Spirit-empowered, yet still sin tainted, work of redeemed sinners through Christ and His merit alone, and ultimately uses even the sinful work of the reprobate for His purpose and to His Glory.

...or something like that.

But Christ's "active obedience" was an exclusive and unique salvific work of the One Mediator. It serves as the sole (and utterly vicarious/substitutionary) ground of believers' justification, and NO WORK OF THE SINNER at all is "part" of that work.

It's true that Christ gives a ministerial work to the Church, but we would be sacerdotalists or Pelagians to say the Church's commission is itself part of Christ's exclusive and unique mediation as Savior.

The cultural work given to believers is the very cultural mandate given to ALL humanity (even the reprobate). That cultural work is indeed renewed for the believer by Christ's redemption, and believers do it faithfully by Christ's Spirit... but that redemptive cultural work of the believer can no more be properly thought of as "part" of Christ's own work of accomplishing and applying redemption itself (which must be unique, exclusively His, and vicarious for/to us) than can the ministry of the Church.

Know what I'm saying?

Paul said...

I think I'm with you Baus.

I have blogged (quickly -- exams soon!) about another aspect of the article.

Steve Bishop said...

Yeah - I know what you are saying - and I agree!

Baus said...

Turns out Pennings agrees too.

He clarifies in an email:

"...I am attempting with this [10th] point to place the daily work of the believer as part of gratitude, 'good works' in the words of Heidelberg Catechism 91 which “proceed from a true faith, are performed according to the law of God and to His glory, and not such as are founded on our imagination or the institutions of men.

"So it is different (as you acknowledge) than the similar looking work done by unbelievers through common grace. What I intended to point out with the tenth point is that the believer can, also in their daily work, experience the rich redemption that is available in Christ Jesus knowing not only that his substitionary atonement covers the guilt that accumulates from my doing imperfect work, but also that in the sight of God, I am viewed through the robes of Christ’s perfect righteousness, including His perfect work on earth which fulfilled the command to work in my place, and in the knowledge of this redemption, there is a motivation of gratitude for me to continue in my work.

"When Paul writes that “by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19), we know that this obedience includes a perfect fulfillment of God’s command to work. And when we are troubled with the challenges of the workplace and our consciences accuse us of falling short yet again, we know “we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)."


So, anyway, perhaps the 10th point can indeed be restated in some way.