What is and ought to be the position of the believer in relation to the world about him? What is and ought to be his attitude over against the scientific and cultural achievements of the world of sin? How does the truth which we as Protestant Reformed Churches have learned to love affect the problems of life in the times in which we live and touch upon the many relationships in which we stand in the world today? These are the fundamental questions which arise in our mind when we speak of a “Protestant Reformed World and Life View.” And it is these questions which demand an answer from us.
I am not particularly fond of the expression “world and life view”; in fact a better phrase could undoubtedly be found to describe our answers to the questions mentioned above. But the phrase is rather well known to us and is indeed on the lips of many people today in the Reformed church world. And therefore, for the sake of clarity in these articles I intend to use this same expression as a general theme to discuss these problems. Everybody in our day speaks of the world and life view to which they are addicted; and their own theological commitments have given their own answers to the questions of the relation in which the child of God stands to the world about him and life that ebbs and flows on every side. It is said that this whole question took on added impetus with the Calvinistic reformation, and that therefore Calvinism is the only theological position which can give an accurate statement as to what is the Christian’s view of world and life. This is undoubtedly true. But the trouble is that Calvin himself would be deeply shocked and profoundly saddened if he could witness today what goes for the truth under his name. Calvinism has been corrupted. And the result is that views of the world and of life have been corrupted along with it. It becomes essential therefore, that we, who claim to stand in the pure tradition of Calvin and in the truth of the Word of God as it has come down to us through the ages of the history of the church give our answer to all these questions – an answer which will be consequently the answer of Scripture itself.
We have certainly always maintained that the truth of the Word of God directs the life of the believer along the path in which he ought to walk while he pursues his pilgrimage in this present world. We have always insisted that all the principles of the practical life of the believer while he fights the good fight of faith are laid down for us in God’s revelation – the weapons which we must use are given to us so that we may wield them faithfully amidst the vexing problems of the day. The Word of God is eternal and is therefore of lasting significance throughout the ages of time. The relation in which the elect and saved people of God live to the world about them knows no principal change from the days of Adam to the days of the Antichrist. Adam’s problems and Enoch’s problems were essentially the same as the problems we face today although times have changed so drastically. Throughout all the ages of the history of the church, saints have sung with David, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. Ps. 119:105. It is exactly the practical implications of the believer’s life as he is called upon to live his life as a covenant friend of God in the midst of a world pervaded by sin and under the heavy hand of the curse that makes this subject have such burning relevance to us in the times in which we live. It is vitally important that our truth also be applied to these days in which all things are speeding toward the coming of the day of our Lord, times in which the exhortation of Christ takes on added significance – “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come”. Mt. 24:42. The faithful walk of saints in Jesus Christ becomes more and more difficult as time progresses, more and more burdened with the problems of a life in the world steeped in sin, more and more sharply defined as this same world is brought very close to us by means of the discoveries of science which seems capable of conquering every obstacle in the path of progress and of achieving a utopia such as this world has never seen.
To these questions there are many answers. Views of the world and of life are many. The evolutionist has his own battle cry: “Every day we are getting better and better”. And, with a firm hold on most of science today and with alarming inroads on Reformed churches under the well known flag of the period theory, these men give their own answers to the questions which we have asked. Closely allied with this, and yet with a faint coloring of Scripture, there are those who are post millennial in their thinking and also clamor to cause their answer to be heard. “Common Grace” has its solution to the problem, a solution which comes dangerously close to being also post millennial. And it is this answer in particular which touches upon our own history as Protestant Reformed Churches. How important then that we, who believe with an unwavering conviction that we have the truth of the Word of God given us by God in His grace, should insist that we alone have the answers to these questions and are in a position to define clearly and definitely the battle lines between the church and the world. And this is certainly not a matter of false pride or vain boasting, but an obligation which is set before us with the heritage of the truth as our dearest treasure which alone can give the solution to the problems that vex us and cry aloud to be answered.
But let it be emphasized from the outset that there is only one place to find the answers which we seek. We must not look at the world about us with our own eyes and try to find the answers there. We must not make our own evaluation of the world and seek to solve our problems on the basis of that evaluation. We must not ask what is agreeable to us and pleasing to us in the problems which we face. We will come to answers – but they will be terribly wrong. Our position is, What has God said about the world? And, What does God say about our life? How does He define it? What does He say about our walk as His covenant people? What does He demand of us? What does He say is our relation to the world and our attitude toward it? What are the principles which He gives which form the road maps of the course we pursue in our life? In God’s Word we find the answers. And then it is incumbent upon us that we do not try to impose our ideas upon God’s revelation, but that in humility and with an earnest desire to listen we bow before our God and seek to know His will. We will find the answers then; there is no doubt about that!
These questions have been discussed at other times in our church papers. And you can find a tremendous amount of material in the Standard Bearer concerning them. Besides, there is a pamphlet published by the Sunday School of our First Church which contains a lecture of Rev. H. Hoeksema on this very subject. This pamphlet you may probably find in the bulletin racks of your church. The subject of it is, “The Christian and Culture”. I advise you to pick one up and read it.