“…The difference [between dogmatics and ethics] does not lie in the fact that the former deals with the understanding and knowledge, while the latter is concerned with the will and conduct. This would boil down to a division of human beings into two parts, of which one half is purely intellectual and the other purely ethical. No. In dogmatics we are concerned with what God does for us and in us. In dogmatics God is everything. Dogmatics is a word from God to us, coming from outside us and above us; we are passive, listening, and opening ourselves to being directed by God.
In ethics, we are interested in the question of what it is that God now expects of us when he does his work in us. What do we do for him? Here we are active, precisely because of and on the grounds of God’s deeds in us; we sing songs in thanks and praise to God. In dogmatics, God descends to us; and ethics, we ascend to God. In dogmatics, he is ours; in ethics, we are his. In dogmatics, we know we shall see his face; in ethics, his name will be written on our foreheads (Rev. 22:4). Dogmatics proceeds from God; ethics returns to God. In dogmatics, God loves us; in ethics, therefore, we love him.
The difference, therefore, does not consist in our weakening the doctrine of election in our examination of ethics, or that we become semi-Pelagian by allowing the human person finally ‘to come into his own’ to achieve his rightful place. All Pelagianism must be rooted out; it is simply anti-ethical. It is precisely because God is everything that humans are truly great. There is no division of labor here where God does his part and we do ours. Not at all! We establish our calling precisely because God works all in all. This is a mystery: just because God is everything, we can be great. A mystery, yes, but far better this mystery than a Pelagian, Remonstrant slice of the Gordian knot that divides God and humanity so that God cannot be God and human beings cannot be genuinely human.
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015