One of the geniuses of Machen and Vos is that they both discerned the danger of religious earthly- mindedness in the transformationalist agenda, regardless of whether conservatives or liberals championed the tranformationalist cause. Vos’ warning is as germane to the conservative church as it is to the liberal church:

“ A religion that has ceased to set its face towards the celestial city is bound sooner or later to discard also all supernatural resources in its endeavour to transform this present world. The days are perhaps not far distant when we shall find ourselves confronted with a quasi-form of Christianity professing openly to place its dependence on and to work for the present life alone, a religion, to use the language of Hebrews, become profane and a fornicator like Esau, selling for a mess of earthly pottage its heavenly birthright. (Grace and Glory…pg. 119)

Any presentation of Christianity that has not as its goal and purpose the soul’s present communion with God himself, as well as the future hope of resurrected life with God, slowly loses its power as Christianity. When the gospel becomes chiefly a means to make this world a better place, it ceases to become the power of the age to come and simply becomes a tool in the hands of those who would use religion to promote their own political and cultural preferences.

Vos: “Even our religion in its earthly exercise is not exempt from the tragic aspect borne by all existence in time. The summons comes again and again: ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house,’ and after a brief spell of comfort and delight we anew find ourselves in tents roaming through an inhospitable world. There is no help for these things. Like Abraham we must resolutely confess that we are strangers and pilgrims in a land of time, and that the best this land can offer us is but a caravanserai (hotel for caravans) to tarry in for a day and a night…Abraham would have undoubtedly rejoiced in the vision of the historical Jerusalem around which gather so many glories of God’s redemptive work. But, suppose it had risen up before him in all its beauty, would that have been the soul-satisfying vision his faith desired? No, there is neither quietness nor repose for the believer’s heart except on the bosom of eternity. There and there alone is shelter from the relentless pursuit of change.” – (Grace and Glory, pp. 116-118)

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5 Responses to Heavenly-Mindedness

  1. Michael T. says:

    Reminds me of a popular Lewis quote:

    “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

    Sure, he’s refering to sinful/misplaced desires in terms of drink, sex, and ambition. But that surely isn’t too different from desiring an earthly (albeit Christian) kingdom when God himself promises you an eternal, heavenly one.

    Todd, I’m glad you’re a regular contributor now. Does this mean your an advocate for weekly communion? Jk, really.

  2. Zrim says:


    I always wonder what rightist social gospelers make of the fact that our marriages (and by extension, all temporal familial ties) will be dissolved in the age to come. Add to that we’ll be given new names and even the sun will make way for Jesus himself.

    I certainly appreciate this quote by Lewis, but what if it were edited to, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with not only drink and sex and ambition but also families and national pride and virtue and morality…”? I wonder if it would’ve been as popular.

  3. Paige Britton says:

    Hey, Todd, have fun in the Outhouse. I am enjoying learning from you in the Green place, too.

    Hey, Zrim, here I am, so if you are a moderator genie you can see my email, right? (I saw the word “transformationalist” so I started here. 🙂

  4. Zrim says:

    Hey, Paige. Check your Inbox.

  5. Todd says:

    Thanks Michael and Paige,

    I always figured my words were destined for an outhouse.

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