Averagely scrumptious. Tolerably ravishing. Mediocrely luxurious. Do such phrases make sense you?
How about “common grace.” A bit oxymoronic, perhaps? Is grace ever common and ordinary?
As of late there has been much here on “The Twelve” about a possible merger between the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church. I hadn’t really intended this post to be part of that discussion, although it could almost be seen that way. As an RCA person, I hear my CRC friends toss around the phrase “common grace” as if were a staple of theological discussion. Interrupting them to say, “I’m not so sure about that phrase or idea” seems like an untoward disruption.
I’ll let some expert out there correct me or sharpen my focus, but I especially associate common grace with Abraham Kuyper and his heirs. It is the idea that there is a sort of divine preservative floating through our broken world. Common grace keeps total chaos at bay. It explains why a pagan neighbor can be so kind, why an atheist artist can create such beauty. Functionally, we might say that to pietistic, world-wary Christians with a strong doctrine of sin, common grace allows for, even encourages, engagement and cooperation with the wider world. The world isn’t quite as scary and dark as expected. And if that is the commendable social function of common grace, then to raise questions about it can seem like an unnecessary, mind-numbing theological sideshow.