Looking out at nature and history

Can Christianity be world-affirming, or perhaps better creature-affirming, without falling into idolatry? Bavinck says yes, precisely because God reveals Himself in nature and history. But in order to see and hear His revelation in created things, God’s children must position themselves “in the Christian faith, in special revelation [Scripture], and from there look out upon nature and history” (Reformed Dogmatics, p. 1.321). “And now,” says Bavinck, “they discover there as well the traces of the God whom they learned to know in Christ as their Father.” He then puts forward this beautiful passage:

“Christians, equipped with the spectacles of Scripture, see God in everything and everything in God. For that reason we find in Scripture a kind of nature poetry and view of history such as is found nowhere else. With their Christian confession, accordingly, Christians find themselves at home also in the world. They are not strangers here and see the God who rules creation as none other than the one they address as Father in Christ. As a result of this general revelation [God’s self-disclosure in nature and history], they feel at home in the world; it is God’s fatherly hand from which they receive all things also in the context of nature.”

 No wonder Solomon “spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish” (1 Kgs 4:33). And One greater than Solomon said, “Consider the lilies of the field.”

 This is the kind of religion that will capture the hearts of children’s children with its sheer beauty and enchantment. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

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