How do we know what God wants of us? This is a question that has accompanied Christian belief since its beginnings and still divides modern Christians today. In The God Who Commands, Richard J. Mouw writes, for some Christians, the way to truth lies in simple transposition of biblical literalities into everyday life. The Decalogue and the Gospels are for them the highways that cut through even the most challenging moral debates. For others, divine revelation is thought to pierce only the hearts of God’s chosen. Through highly personal inward communication, God’s “elect” become vessels of his will and its only accurate communicators. Still for even more Christians—Calvinists like Mouw and members of much of Reformed Christianity—the path to biblical truth and divine revelation is necessarily much more complex. It weaves through an intricate architecture of internal understanding and outward preconception. Before it can lead each believer to a clear, personal reception of God’s commands, it must be fully and properly navigated through the cracks in the Christian debate.
That there are hazards invoked by Christians’ attempts to live, make decisions, and form society in accordance with divine commands, Mouw does not deny. He admits divine commands—as revealed through Scripture, broad biblical themes, and Christians’ personal lives—have been, arguably, empirically impalpable. Nevertheless, he still refutes many of the claims that critique Christians’ ethical “posture of obedience” in total. Some have painted Christians as psychologically “infantile.” They claim Christians obey when they should be autonomous, and submit when they should approach others as equals. To Mouw, such categorizations elide the greater truth that Christians submit not because they feel inferior to other men but because men are not God. Christians fundamentally believe God exists and they perceive him to be their telos-desiring creator and personal redeemer. Thus, Mouw claims their admission of inferiority to God and their assent to his command is, from this...
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