Continuing unabated, is Boettner’s grandiloquent doxology to the idol of “common grace”:
“Among the most common blessings which are to be traced to this source [“source” is “common grace” — CD] we may name health, material prosperity, general intelligence, talents for art, music, oratory, literature, architecture, commerce, inventions, etc. In many instances the non-elect receive these blessings in greater abundance than do the elect, for we often find that the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of light” (p. 179).
Presumably Boettner at least pays lip service to verses like John 3:36, Galatians 3:10, and Deuteronomy 28:14-68. Regarding the Deuteronomy passage: I only note the similar point of being “cursed.” The cursed ones are void of a righteousness that equals God’s righteousness revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. To be void of this aforesaid righteousness is to be void of a righteousness that answers the demands of God’s law and justice. The aforementioned cursed ones are cursed whether their belly is empty or whether it is full, whether they are plagued like other men or not so plagued:
“It shall happen at the filling of his belly, He shall cast on him the fury of His wrath, and He shall rain on him while he is eating” (Job 20:23).
“For I was jealous of the proud; I looked upon the peace of the wicked. For there are no pangs to their death; but their body is fat. They are not in the misery of mortal man; and with men they are not touched. So pride enchains them; violence covers them like a robe. Their eyes go out with fatness; they have passed the imaginations of the heart. They scoff and speak in evil; from on high they speak oppression. They set their mouth in the heavens; and their tongues walk through the earth…Surely, You will set their feet in slippery places; You will make them fall into ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away with terrors! Like a dream when being aroused from dreaming, O Lord, in awaking You will despise their image…For, lo, those who are far from You shall be lost; You have cut off all who go whoring away from You. As for me, it is good for me to draw near to God; I have made my refuge in the Lord Jehovah, to declare all Your works” (Psalm 73:3-9, 18-20, 27-28).
Why does Boettner (and most who call themselves “Reformed” or “Calvinist”) say that all these things are “common blessings” or “common grace”? I would surmise that they would say that since the unregenerate (elect and non-elect) do NOT deserve to have things like fruitful seasons, talents for music, material prosperity, etc., then it MUST be “grace” (in some sense or other). But who decides whether or not a person “deserves” something? What does any given person mean by the word “deserve”? If I say that Pharaoh (non-elect) in Romans 9 deserved power and prosperity at God’s hand, what do I mean?
The advocates of “common grace” presume that God does not intend (at least not initially) to harden the non-elect with these providential provisions (NOT providential “blessings”). They are trying to find a so-called type of “grace” in things, rather than solely and exclusively in the work of Jesus Christ.
The non-elect DO deserve what Boettner erroneously calls “blessings” because God’s desire and intention is to set them in slippery places and cast them down to destruction by means of all these providential provisions (cf. Psalm 73:18). All this is related to the unbiblical Calvinistic presumption that Adam and Eve deserved to be struck down dead physically the moment they rebelled or that Pharaoh (and every sinful son of Adam) deserved to be struck down by God the very moment of conception. And since God doesn’t do this, they reason, then it HAS to be grace. A nefarious non sequitur of course. It doesn’t HAVE to be “grace” since God plainly declares in Scripture that it was a demonstration of His power and wrath why a non-elect person such as Pharaoh was allowed to live all those years after infancy.
“Common grace is the source of all the order, refinement, culture, common virtue, etc., which we find in the world, and through it the moral power of the truth upon the heart and conscience is increased and the evil passions of men are restrained. It does not lead to salvation, but it keeps this earth from becoming a hell. It arrests the complete effectuation of sin, just as human insight arrests the fury of wild beasts. It prevents sin from being manifested in all its hideousness, and thus hinders the bursting forth of the flames from the smoking fire” (p. 179).
Earlier Boettner had equated (or at least overlapped) “common grace” with “general influences” of the Holy Spirit. This means Boettner believes that the “common virtue” of those not submitted to the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are recipients of the Holy Spirit’s supposed “general influences” (cf. Romans 10:1-4). Clearly Boettner was devoid of the Holy Spirit (i.e., unregenerate) when he wrote these words since he hasn’t got a clue that God the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ in the hearts of His people and He does NOT glorify the sinner’s self-righteous “morality” and “virtue” in the hearts of His people.
Regarding Boettner’s assertions that due to “common grace” the “evil passions of men are restrained” and the earth is kept “from becoming a hell.” From these two quotes I see a completely unbiblical view or definition of what is commonly referred to as “total depravity.” I suppose a “common grace” advocate would say that BOTH the unregenerate immoral murderous pervert and the unregenerate outwardly moral religious person is “totally depraved.” BUT it appears that these advocates of “common grace” think that it MUST take some kind of “grace” to be outwardly moral and zealous in religious matters — otherwise why would they say that apart from “common grace” the men’s evil passions are completely unrestrained and this world becomes a hell? On their own asinine terms this world would become a “hell” and yet would still require a smidgen of so-called “common grace” to keep these evil brutes alive as they unleashed their hellish fury upon the earth. Ridiculous.
An excerpt from The Christian Confession of Faith (CCF) on the doctrine of “total depravity”:
The truth of total depravity does not mean that all men are as outwardly immoral as they possibly could be. It means that every faculty of the soul of every natural (that is, unregenerate) descendant of Adam is completely polluted with hatred of the true and living God, and all of the natural man’s thoughts, words, and deeds (even his kindness, morality, and religion) are dead works, evil deeds, and fruit unto death. It means that every natural descendant of Adam owes a debt to God’s law and justice that he cannot pay.
I believe I’ve waxed verbose enough on this topic of “common grace” (and the advocates thereof). For a much better and more concise explication of “common grace” and how it denies such doctrines as total depravity, please see Marc’s article: