Post last updated on February 2, 2023
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Herman Bavinck warns against attempts to uniformly tie personal afflictions to personal guilt, but importantly confirms the relationship that does exist between man and the world. Observing this relation and its appearance, we may remember that the original intention of God’s creation is not lost to us, though nature alone cannot provide for it. Even so, its current and fallen state is made to serve the original hope: The curses that followed sin in the Garden are made to excite man unto the redemption and new creation that is offered in Jesus Christ.
Thus the internal and external agree again: there is a harmony between man and his environment. The earth on which we live is not a heaven but it is not a hell either. It stands between the two and has something of the quality of each. We cannot point out in particular the relationship between the sons of men and calamities of life. Jesus Himself warns against doing this. He says that the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices, were not sinners above others (Luke 13:1-3), and the son who was born blind was not punished because of his own sins or the sins of his parents but was thus afflicted in order that the works of God should be revealed (John 9:3). We are therefore not to infer from the fact that afflictions and calamities accrue to someone, that his personal guilt brought them on. The friends of Job argued so and were mistaken.
There is no doubt, however, that according to the teaching of all Scripture a connection exists between the fallen human race on the one hand, and the fallen earth on the other. They were created in harmony with each other, were both together subjected to vanity, are both in principle redeemed by Christ, and will sometime together be raised and glorified. The present world is neither the best nor the worst possible, but it is a good world for fallen man. Because of itself it brings forth only thorns and thistles, it compels man to work, preserves him from decay, and in the bottom of his heart nurses the inextinguishable hope that there will yet be a durable good and eternal happiness. This hope makes him live, even though it be but a life of short duration and full of restlessness.1Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God: Instruction in the Christian Religion According to the Reformed Confession (Glenside, Pennsylvania: Westminster Seminary Press, 2019), 239.
Notes & References
|↑1||Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God: Instruction in the Christian Religion According to the Reformed Confession (Glenside, Pennsylvania: Westminster Seminary Press, 2019), 239.|