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Christian worldview


Bavinck on the autonomous self.

"It is by all means 'the will to power', the 'I want,' that lifts itself up against the 'You shall.' Being bound to laws is felt to be coercive not only in religion but also in morality, in law, in the family, in society, in the state, even in nature and in science. To the modern autonomous person, to have to think of logical laws, to see nature as ruled by laws that are independent of it, and to recognize the truth as a power that stands above him and that lets itself be found only in a defined way seems to be unbecoming.

"It is this autonomy and anarchy that the Christian worldview resists with all its strength. According to it, the human being is not autonomous but is always and everywhere bound to laws that were not devised by him but that are prescribed to him by God as the rule of his life. In religion and morality, in science and art, in family, society, and state, ideas are everywhere, norms above him, which mutually form a unity and have their origin and existence in the Creator and Lawgiver of the universe. These norms are the ideal treasures, entrusted to humanity, the basis of all social institutions. They are the foundation not only of our knowing and knowing about things but also of our willing and acting. They have authority in the academy but also in life. They are the authority for our head and our heart, for our thinking and our acting.

"No creature is autonomous, and no one may do what he wants, neither the man nor the woman, neither the parents nor the child, neither the government nor the citizen, neither the lord nor the servant. They are all bound to God's law, each person in his own way and place. And not by contract or arbitrary will, not through coercion or the necessity of emergency, but according to God's order they live and work together, and they are destined for each other and bound to each other. The divine thoughts and laws are the foundations and norms, the goods and treasures, the connections and organization of all creatures. To conform ourselves to that life, in intellect and heart, in thinking and acting—that is to be conformed to the image of God's Son most profoundly.  And this is the ideal and destiny of the human being. In maintaining the objectivity of God's word and law, all Christians are agreed and should stand together unanimously in this age. The battle today is no longer about the authority of pope or council, of church and confession; for countless others it is no longer even about the authority of Scripture or the person of Christ. The question on the agenda asks, as principally as possible, whether there is still some authority and some law to which the human being is bound.

On the nature of true religion, Christianity

"Religion is no doctrine that can be rationally proved, the acceptance of which being more useful to the degree that it is more mysterious. Religion is also not a work, as though the duty that automatically rests on us could ever elevate our moral impotence and unlock a way of salvation. Neither is religion a romantic mood, an aesthetic affection of the heart, a means to the adornment of our human nature, as though God were there for our sake and we were not here for his sake. But religion is more. It is something different from and higher than all these things together. It is to serve God with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your might, to make oneself a living, holy sacrifice pleasing to God; it is to trust unconditionally in God as the rock of our salvation and of our portion in eternity.

"The truth is objective; it exists independently of us. It does not direct itself toward us; we have to direct ourselves toward it. But just as the wisdom of God became flesh in Christ, so should the truth also enter us. In the path of freedom, it must become our personal and spiritual property; through a living and true faith, it must become constitutive of our thinking and doing and then spread outside us until the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord."

-- Excerpts from Christian Worldview, by Herman Bavinck (Crossway, 2019; from Dutch version, 1913), pp 127-29; 132-33.


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