In chapter 5 Plantinga covers a broad range of material concerning a Christian’s role in the kingdom of God. Much of this material is familiar to Calvin students who have gone through prelude. However, several points stuck out to me either because they were presented in a new way or new to me.
Plantinga says that the kingdom of God has always been and we have been in revolt against it since the fall. Jesus’ incarnation brought the kingdom of God closer to us and now we must learn to accept that kingdom and to incorporate our own sphere of influence into it. It is often said that Christian’s should work to quicken the coming of God’s kingdom. I struggle with statements like these because I do not believe that human’s can control God’s kingdom in any way. God will establish His kingdom in His time. However, as Plantinga points out, we can mesh our spheres of influence together and better reflect the kingdom of God to those around us. Thus we will help to expand God’s kingdom.
A second point that Plantinga discusses is how all good is rooted in God. Lewis also touches on how “goodness is God and God is goodness” in “The Poison of Subjectivism.” I completely agree with this idea. Another way of looking at it is that “all truth is God’s truth” as Arthur Holmes says. Thus Plantinga encourages us to take part in any action that will further God’s kingdom whether its earthly roots are in a Christian organization or a non-Christian organization. He says, “But every genuine advance toward shalom is led by the Holy Spirit, who promiscuously chooses instruments of God’s peace.” (Shalom is the way we were meant to live or the original kingdom of God before the fall.)
A third point that I would like to comment on is Plantinga’s reference to John Calvin’s belief that “those who lean into God’s grace and let it hold them up can then drop some of their performance anxiety.” In class one student commented on the fear of failure which often surfaces when we are faced with a choice about God’s will. I can completely relate to this fear. Many times I hesitate to make a decision based on the fear that it is the wrong one or that I will not be able to accomplish it. However, this quote reminds us that when we are striving to please and obey God with our actions we do not need to do things perfectly. God accepts all forms of worship. He forgives our shortcomings and treasures our efforts to glorify Him; he even provides us extra strength when we are in need of it. Therefore, I am encouraged to step out on faith in my decisions trusting that God will accept whatever offering of praise I can give Him.
Plantinga also points out the importance of using our education and vocation to glorify God in His kingdom. Whatever vocation we are called to do can be done in a way that pleases and glorifies God. He also analyzes three components of good education: attaining knowledge, honing skills, and developing values.