A Christian posted on Facebook that she was eager to leave this world because it’s not home. Actually, it is her home. Similar to her dual citizenship (Phil 3:20), she has two homes, one in this world and one in the next. Until God calls us to our heavenly home, we are responsible for our earthly home that God made possible for us to have.
Christians are often caught between “This World Is Not My Home” and “This Is My Father’s World.” Two-kingdom social theory teaches that “heavenly things” are directed exclusively by God’s redemptive grace through Special Revelation (the Bible). In contrast, “earthly things” are formulated by God’s common grace through Natural Revelation. This position teaches that we can work with contrary worldviews and their application of law to construct a just society using common-ground features found guided by reason with no need for Special Revelation. Here’s how one writer put it:
If Christians as well as non-Christians participate in the common curse and common grace of this age in secular affairs, then there is no “Christian politics” or “Christian art” or “Christian literature,” any more than there is “Christian plumbing.”
Let’s take the statement, “any more than there is ‘Christian plumbing.’” Let’s change “Christian plumbing” to “Christian medicine.” Knowledge of what works in medicine still leaves doctors with, for example, decisions related to abortion, euthanasia, and transgender surgery. An abortionist can be an expert in the way he performs an abortion. He has honed this “skill” through the scientific study of the created order (general revelation). But is it moral to use this knowledge to destroy babies in the womb?
Thinking Straight in a Crooked World
The nursery rhyme ‘There Was a Crooked Man’ is an appropriate description of how sin affects us and our world. We live in a crooked world of ideas evaluated by crooked people. Left to our crooked nature, we can never fully understand what God has planned for us and His world. God has not left us without a corrective solution. He has given us a reliable reference point in the Bible so we can identify the crookedness and straighten it.Buy Now
Dr. Jack Kevorkian designed a “suicide machine” that was efficient, effective, and painless, three criteria to consider in the practice of modern medicine. But was what he did right and just? Abortionists, like plumbers, are skilled practitioners of their respective crafts. That’s not enough if the plumber cheats his customers, steals things from the homes where he works his trade, and makes sexual advances toward the homeowner.
The study of general revelation might lead some medical practitioners to conclude that since animals often abandon and kill their young, and humans are animals, they can do the same. Supporters of homosexuality argue that if animal homosexuality is normative, then so is human homosexuality. See my article “Animal Behavior is Not Our Moral Standard.”
Some years ago, after a debate on the issue of abortion, a discussion arose. A more highly evolved species can kill more efficiently. Consider the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan during WWII. Today, women abort their babies for “high” social reasons or personal preference. The following describes such a belief:
[M]ost of the students already recognized that the unborn child is a human life. Nevertheless, certain social reasons are considered “high enough” to justify ending that life. According to some of the women, examples of “high enough” reasons include protecting pregnant teenagers from the psychological distress of bearing a child, helping poor women who aren’t able to care adequately for a child, and preventing children from coming into the world “unwanted.” Many charged that pro-life philosophies are not “socially acceptable” because they fail to deal realistically with these problems.
The idea of a “common curse and common grace” is a naïve worldview that died more than 150 years ago with the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859 and whose views have become a secular religion. Evolution killed Special Revelation, common grace, Natural Revelation, Natural Law, and a common humanity created in the image of God. In time, as Francis Schaeffer put it, nature, known through reason, began to “eat up grace.” Special Revelation was dismissed as impossible in a purely materialistic and evolving cosmos. In “A Review of a Review” (1948), Francis A. Schaeffer describes what a consistent atheist is left with given his unproven materialist assumptions: “If the unsaved man was consistent he would be an atheist in religion, an irrationalist in philosophy (including a complete uncertainty concerning ‘natural laws’), and completely a-moral in the widest sense.” There is no way to appeal to a “common curse and common grace” approach given the assumptions of modern-day atheistic science and philosophy.
This fundamental shift in worldview thinking is expressed dramatically in the film The Dark Knight (2008) when Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) tells Alfred (Michael Cain) that criminals are “not complicated.” In today’s therapeutic culture, we must find out what The Joker wants. What’s his motivation? In a world where there is general agreement that there is an acknowledged universal moral order, the actions of criminals have always made sense. Even criminals knew that what they were doing was morally wrong. But there’s something different about The Joker. He operates from another point of view, an anti-point of view. Alfred tells Bruce that “some men just want to watch the world burn,” and who’s to say otherwise? “There is no ultimate purpose to his mayhem; he delights in it for its own sake, as is evident in one particularly chilling scene in which Batman tries to beat him into revealing his plans. As The Joker cackles with glee at the pain, he taunts Batman, ‘you have nothing to frighten me with.’”
The Joker lives in a world of his own making that is beyond good and evil. There cannot be a “common curse and common grace” approach for those who live in The Joker’s world, and there are an increasing number of Jokers if statistics are accurate. Richard Dawkins is upfront with his claim that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled nihilist, living “beyond good and evil.”
If Evolution is Right Can Anything be Wrong?
If Scientists believe in evolution, why don't they practice what their faith preaches? Atheism cannot account for rationality, love or morality. This does not mean that atheists are always irrational, unloving and immoral, but it does mean that they can't account for rationality, love and morality given their assumptions about the origins of the universe and our accidental place in it.Buy Now
In time, many Christians believed that the particulars of their religious worldview only applied to the “spiritual” realm. There was no longer a “common curse and common grace” approach to Christian social theory. This thinking was used to great advantage by Adolf Hitler. Civil government operated in the secular realm, where natural revelation was the standard. “A Majority within the state church (known as the ‘German Christians’) unwittingly or otherwise embraced the new national religion, founded not on the Word of God but on the divine will allegedly embedded in the natural order. Emerging from this fatal exchange came a semi‑Christian natural religion (some would say a new paganism) in which the church became a servile instrument of Nazi policy….” Hitler knew that there was a lot he could get away with because many (not all) Christians did not believe it was permissible to bring the Bible to bear in realms they considered to be outside its self-imposed jurisdiction. Politics was regarded as neutral territory. Whoever was in power was God’s minister, whether he did good or evil. Richard V. Pierard comments:
In the nineteenth century … German Lutherans made a strong bifurcation [separation] between the realm of public and private concerns…. Religion was the domain of the inner personal life, while the institutional and external, the public, so to speak, belonged to the worldly power. Redemption was exclusively the province of the church, while the law, determinative for external conduct of human affairs, was solely the province of the state. Religion was a private matter that concerned itself with the personal and moral development of the individual. The external order—nature, scientific knowledge, statecraft—operated on the basis of its own internal logic and discernable laws.
For decades before the rise of Hitler and the Nazi State, Christians were subjected to arguments like the following from pastors and theologians based on the two-kingdom theory:
- “The Gospel has absolutely nothing to do with outward existence but only with eternal life, not with external orders and institutions which could come in conflict with the secular orders but only with the heart and its relationship with God.”
- “The Gospel frees us from this world, frees us from all questions of this world, frees us inwardly, also from the questions of public life, also from the social question. Christianity has no answer to these questions.”
- Once the Christian understands the moral significance of the state, Wilhelm Hermann declared in 1913, “he will consider obedience to the government to be the highest vocation within the state. For the authority of the state on the whole, resting as it does upon authority of the government, is more important than the elimination of any shortcomings which it might have…. For the person who is inwardly free, it is more important [that] the state preserve its historical continuity than that he obtain justice for himself.”
Paul McGuire, an evangelical syndicated talk-show host out of Los Angeles, explains why so many Christians are indifferent to a culture beyond the personal and keep their distance from politics and social issues:
The root is theological, and it goes back to Francis Schaeffer’s comments about the Christian culture being pietistic or super-spiritual. The Christian culture does not believe that Jesus is lord of all of life. The evangelical culture believes the nonbiblical idea that Jesus is only lord of Bible study, prayer, and church attendance, and anything outside of that is not really spiritual.
It’s true that not every Christian thought this way, but enough of them did that it made a difference.
The question is, “What came next?” Stay tuned.
“Students Defend Abortion For ‘High’ Social Reasons,” The Rutherford Institute (January/February 1984), 8.
This theme is developed by Schaeffer in Escape From Reason in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, 5 vols., 2nd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 1:207–270. Nature eating up grace happened in his own family as evidenced in the publication of his son’s book Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take all (or Most All) of it Back (2007).
Francis A. Schaeffer, “A Review of a Review,” The Bible Today (October 1948).
ALEXANDER (Alan Rickman): Well, you’re just gonna have to figure out what it wants. What is its motivation?
JASON (Tim Allen): It’s a rock monster. It doesn’t have motivation.
ALEXANDER: See, that’s your problem, Jason. You were never serious about the craft. (From the 1999 film Galaxy Quest.)
Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1986), 6.
 Bruce A. Demarest, General Revelation: Historical Views and Contemporary Issues (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Academie, 1982), 15.
Christian Ernst Luthard (1867). Quoted by Pierard from Karl H. Hertz, Two Kingdoms and One World: A Sourcebook in Christian Ethics (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1976), 83.
Quoted in Hertz, Two Kingdoms and One World: A Sourcebook in Christian Ethics, 87.
Quoted in Hertz, Two Kingdoms and One World: A Sourcebook in Christian Ethics, 91.
Schaeffer, The New Super-Spirituality in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, 3:383–401.
Quoted in Mark Bergin, “Air Supply,” World (May 9, 2009), 37. It’s unfortunate that McGuire holds to a prophetic position that helps Christians justify their “super-spiritual” perspective. See Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, Is Jesus Coming Soon?, and Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future published by American Vision.