The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Is There a Christian Plumber in the House?
In case you haven't already discovered it yet, I strongly committed to the idea that there is a distinctive Christian culture: that NOTHING in the cultural arena is in any sense (especially regiously) neutral. Many Christians (including many Reformed Christians who should know better) disavow this idea.

Now I don't know why, but discussion about this issue always seems to come down to plumbing. This seems to be the ultimate candidate for possible neutrality.

Anyway...Over at the De Regno Christi blog, in response to this post, D.G. Hart has this to say in the comments:

For what it's worth, plumbing is a common activity that Christians and non-Christians pursue. Its norms come from the created order, and are conditioned by such things as metric versus US standard measurements. Not to sound biblicistic again, but I don't see plumbing norms revealed in holy writ, which is where we find Christ revealed, not in the created order. So plumbing is a common as opposed to a holy activity. It will for the Christian produce sanctification and allow him or her to love God and neighbor. But I see no reason to call the actual work of plumbing Christian. For that reason, I don't go to the Christian yellow pages to look for someone to fix my toilet.

Sure, there is nothing in the scriptures about fixing a leaky faucet. But this misses the point. As I remarked in this post several years ago:

So is there really a Christian way to do plumbing? I would argue that there is! When a plumber is installing or repairing pipes and fixtures correctly, he is performing his task in a Christian (i.e. faithful) manner, even if he is not a believer. In order to do the job effectively (and this applies to any endeavor, not just plumbing) a plumber must work with Christian presuppositions, such as the uniformity and predictability of God's created order, the actual existence of pipes, solder, faucets, etc., standards of what constitutes a task well-done and a correct view of ethics which governs how the job is to be done. Plumbers who don't operate by these presuppositions won't be effective plumbers. Thus, a consistent Hindu or philosophical skeptic will be a lousy plumber. But God in his common grace makes many non-Christians inconsistent in the way they approach fixing pipes, so that they submit to the norms of creation even though in their hearts they rebel against them and the God who established them. Conversly, many Christians are also sadly inconsistent in this regard; they are unfaithful to the Christian worldview as it governs plumbing even though they might otherwise embrace the Gospel.

Why is this so difficult?