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He Shines in All That's Fair: Culture and Common Grace Paperback – August 23, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Max L. Stackhouse
"A leading Christian thinker takes up one of the most vexing issues of the Reformed faith. If life is 'utterly depraved' without the special grace known in Christ, how can believers engage non-believers appreciatively, study science honestly, and honor secular authorities morally? Richard Mouw revisits Calvin, Kuyper, Bavink, and Barth, plus various confessions and critics, gleaning key resources for faithful and creative thinking about cultural life today. A clear, concise, and compelling resource. "

Gerald L. Sittser
"The clarity and insight of this book will come as no surprise to people who have read Mouw's work before. He has an uncommon ability to combine scholarly research with pastoral concern and cultural relevance. He is masterful in his ability to make the Christian faith — and the Reformed tradition in particular — address the needs of today. I found this book to be unusually helpful in sorting out issues that have long vexed me. Intuition tells us that God gives some kind of grace to everyone. Mouw provides a clear and logical rationale for the intuition. He Shines in All That's Fair is an instance of the very grace Mouw writes about. "

Timothy George
"This is a provocative, wise, and important book from one of the clearest thinkers on the evangelical scene today. Mouw helps us sort through controverted meanings and disputed traditions about common grace. In doing so, he illuminates for the whole church one of the most distinctive themes of Reformed theology."

From the Back Cover

How do Christians account for the widespread presence of goodness in a fallen world? Different theological perspectives have presented a range of answers to this fundamental question over the centuries. In "He Shines in All That's Fair Richard Mouw brings the historic insights of Calvinism to bear on this question and reinterprets them for a broader audience at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Mouw examines long-standing Reformed arguments between those who champion the doctrine of common grace and those who emphasize an antithesis between the church and the world. Defenders of common grace account for the goodness in the world by insisting that God's grace goes "beyond salvation to more general gifts of beauty, virtue, and excellence to all human beings -- including those who do not believe in God. Those who reject the doctrine of common grace, on the other hand, emphasize the fallenness of the world and the need for the church to maintain a dramatic contrast to it. These divergent theological perspectives, while seemingly remote and abstract, lead to questions with very practical implications: What common ground do Christians share with those outside the faith? How should Christian treat their non-Christian neighbors? How should Christians relate to the world around them? Does God disapprove when Christians form close friendships with people who are quot; of the worldquot; ? Ought Christians to identify with the joys and sorrows of those who do not confess Christ as their Savior and Lord?

In the course of this book Mouw looks at these topics, connecting the larger theological discussions to pressing issues in contemporary society. He insists that we havemuch to learn from thinkers who have rejected the idea of common (non-saving) grace, but he also defends the traditional common grace teachings, showing how they provide an important basis for wrestling with key challenges in present-day culture. Ultimately, Mouw argues forcefully for a Calvinism that is capable of standing in awe before the mysteries of God's gracious dealings with all human beings -- and indeed the whole creation.

Presented as the 2000 Stob Lectures at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, these soundly reasoned, elegantly written chapters offer an updated, robust understanding of common grace that will be of great value to anyone interested in the relation of church and culture.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 111 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (August 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802821111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802821119
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #706,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In this short volume (100 pages), Richard Mouw discusses the roots and implications of the doctrine of Common Grace. Though written for an audience familiar with Reformed theology, Mouw's defense of Common Grace should be required of all (especially evangelical) Christians who struggle with the implications of what it means to be "in the world but not of the world." The author's argument is sophisticated and he makes a powerful case that there is much in God's creation that Christians should embrace.
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Format: Paperback
What does it mean for the Christian to be "in the world, but not of the world?"
Mouw's treatment is very balanced and christocentric. He avoids the pitfall of a separatist fundamentalist approach that would have the church isolated in a Christian ghetto for the sake of some well-intentioned, yet misguided, notion of purity. At the same time, he avoids the temptation of many Christians today who uncritically accept the ethos of an increasingly secular society.
Mouw's solution to the question of how we as Christians relate to the surrounding culture is through the classic Reformed doctrine of common grace. Even though non-believers do not participate in God's saving grace, they do participate in God's grace that is common to all of humanity. On the basis of common grace, a Christian may enter into friendships with non-believers, appreciate the beauty of art produced by non-believers, and partner with non-believers for the improvement of society. The difficulty, that Mouw recognizes, is in discerning the appropriate type of involvement with persons in the non-believing culture. Sometimes we can draw too far back from being a witness for Christ, and sometimes we can get unnecessarily entangled and even seduced by the culture. Nevertheless, the task of every Christian is to "make disciples of all of the nations", and that requires engaging the culture at some level. In the end, Mouw would have us err on the side of the "wideness of God's mercy" as opposed to living in isolation.
I never had the privilege of meeting Richard Mouw when I was a student at Fuller, but I wish I did! If you are familiar with the themes and history of Dutch Reformed theology, you will benefit greatly from this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book after hearing Dr. Mouw's presentation at a conference at Calvin College. In it, he accomplishes much: he delivers a brief but cogent explanation of common grace, fairly represents the alternative argument against common grace, and encourages the reader to consider the importance of so-called "common grace" ministries. Any controversy as Mouw describes it between common and particular grace is rooted in differences primarily among Dutch reformed congregations. However, the differences have wide cultural implications and strike at the heart of how the Body of Christ responds to the non-Christian world. Theological nuances aside, Mouw encourages us to consider all that God creates to be fully worthy of our respect and compassion - including those who do not appear to be among the elect.
The beauty of this book is in its brevity. Mouw provides an excellent introduction to the theology of common grace, a brief explanation of supra- and infralapsarianism (an important but obtuse theological distinction), and most importantly, how common grace translates to the exercise of compassion through common grace ministries like psychotherapy. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
Common grace is a topic that I have never thought of in depth. This book helped me to think through some of the implications of holding to this doctrine. Having grown up with the idea that really good Christians are vocationally in full time Christian ministry, the doctrine of common grace has become important to me as I attempt to find satisfaction in the secular workforce. This book helped me along this path in several ways.

However, there are a couple of caveats...

First, Mouw is a Kuyperian Calvinist through and through. While this is not a bad thing, he can write with the assumption that everyone reading his book grew up in a Dutch Reformed background.

Second, his arguments are from logic and confessions first, while scripture is moved to a secondary and supporting role. This book should have been filled with biblical support, but it was not.

Although I like his writing and would encourage those who want to read some interesting and good thoughts about common grace, it's not a book I can broadly recommend due to the lack of Scriptural support.
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