Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
EMJ 11:2 (Winter 02) p. 311
Mark R. Stevenson
He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace. By Richard J. Mouw, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002, 101 pages, paperback, $14.00.
Richard J. Mouw is professor of Christian philosophy and president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The chapters of this well-written volume were originally delivered in 2000 as the Strob Lectures at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the lectures Mouw addressed “the relationship of Christian commitment to secular thought and the broader patterns of culture” (p. 2). He asks the question, “What is it that Christians can assume they have in common with people who have not experienced the saving grace that draws a sinner into a restored relationship with God?” (p. 3).
The topic will be of great interest to thoughtful readers in the Brethren assemblies who share a cultural self-understanding with many other evangelical Christians. Assembly Christians in the past have often viewed the surrounding culture with the following assumptions: (1) the church is a remnant of believers who are a “little flock” in the midst of a hostile world; (2) believers are to have an ethic of “over-againstness,” whereby they are encouraged to establish patterns of separation from the dominant cultural patterns; (3) the Bible teaches a pessimistic, even apocalyptic, assessment of the future (p. 3). Mouw has some sympathy for this point of view, insisting that “the Christian community must be very conscious of the significant ways in which God calls us to stand against the prevailing cultures of our fallen world.” It was an apostle, after all, who admonished believers not to “love the world nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15; p. 2).
While maintaining a separation from the sinfulness of this world, should not the Christian recognize a solidarity of human-kind with his non-Christian neighbor? Can he appreciate the scientific discoveries of unbelievers, honor secular authorities, and be involved in the normal occupations of life in office,
EMJ 11:2 (Winter 02) p. 312
school, and factory? And what of the good one sees in the natural man? How are we to explain unbelieving government officials who maintain civic honesty and order in local, state, and national government? In light of the depravity of man, how do we explain the good displayed in the lives of unsaved human beings? Does God view with pleasure the insights of Albert Einstein, the golf putts of Tiger Woods, and the literary beauty of paragraphs written by Salman Rushdie? (p. 36).
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