The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, October 26, 2007
Everyday Theology
is the title of a book edited by Kevin Vanhoozer (prof at TEDS) which explores cultural exegesis or hermeneutics from a Christian perspective. He picks up where Francis Shaeffer and Hans Rookmaaker left off - interpreting the culture we live in to see the challenges we face and help us interact with our neighbors in communicating the gospel.

You can read an interview with Vanhoozer: Part One and Part Two.

I learned a year or so ago that Plowing was used a text book for one of Dr. Vanhoozer's classes which is pretty cool. Turns out that the he has a brief recommendation for the book in a sidebar of Everyday Theology which you can read if you use amazon.com "search inside" feature.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Finding the Balance
Philip Ryken, pastor at Tenth Pres in Philadelphia, says the following about the instutional church's role in cultural transformation:

There is a sense in which the answer to this question must be "no." The church's primary calling is to preach the gospel and to worship God in the ministry of the Word, the sacraments, and prayer. While the worship of God and the proclamation of the gospel have a transforming influence on the surrounding culture, this does not happen directly, but indirectly, as the people of God live out the implications of their faith in every aspect of life.

Yet there are also ways in which the answer to this question must be "yes." In its priestly ministry of intercession, the local church prays for the needs of its community -- all of the areas where the surrounding culture needs to experience the transforming influence of the gospel. In its prophetic ministry of preaching and teaching God's Word, the local church disciples its members to fulfill their various callings as parents, teachers, artists, students, politicians, business people -- callings that have culture-transforming power. In its diaconal ministry of mercy, the local church offers practical service in the name of Christ -- service that transforms the lives of the poor, the homeless, and the elderly, as well as children, prisoners, and internationals. In these ways, at least, the local church is called to the gospel work of cultural transformation.

I heartily agree!

Monday, October 22, 2007
An Argument for Christian Plumbers

(HT: Russ Reeves)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007
PDX Van Gogh
Kewl. Portland Art Museum has just received a Van Gogh!

Monday, October 15, 2007
This Should Be Interesting
Doug Wilson has begun a series of posts critiquing D.G. Hart's book A Secular Faith.

Hart's book argues not only for the separation of church and state (which Wilson and I heartily agree), but also the separation of religious belief and state (which I find baffling for a reformed thinker). For Hart, culture is first and foremost a secular actity.

While we are on this topic, it is worth looking at this quote from an amicable review of Meridith Kline which recently appeared in the Ordained Servant:

Dr. Kline argues that, since the work of God during the six days of creation was a "holy kingdom-establishing activity," the work of Israelites during the six days must be the same. "This means that sabbath observance requires a theocratic as well as a covenantal setting, that is, a setting in which culture as well as cult is holy kingdom activity" (190). And we see only two historical situations that would fall into that category: Eden and Sinai. "In the New Covenant era ...in which the common grace principle is uniformly operative, the theocratic context prerequisite to the six-work-days component of the sabbath ordinance is missing" (190). Thus, the cultural activities of God's people in the New Covenant are not holy kingdom activities, they are common grace activities (194). So now "only one day then has a special significance in the covenant week under the New Covenant" (194). The covenant week under the New Covenant is "no longer a cultural-cultic sabbatical week" (196). Thus we cannot identify the sabbath with the Lord's Day. "And this means that contrary to traditional Sabbatarianism the distinctive first day of the new, dominical week is not a modified residue of the sabbath day of the fourth commandment, governed by the rules for sabbath observance, such as the prohibition of various non-cultic activities" (196). Thus the first day of the week is not the Lord's Day, as in the whole day set apart for us, but "simply the set time for believers to come together to meet with the Lord" (194).

It seems to me that if cultural activities are merely "common", they will never be taken really seriously. Kline and Hart and all other Two-Kingdom takes on culture will always gradually lead to cultural impoverishment.

Friday, October 12, 2007
Imaginary Conversation
Can you imagine hearing the following conversation between two Christians?

Concerned Friend: "What is John Junior going to be studying in college?"

Parent (with a slight tinge of dissapointment): "Well, we were hoping that he would study art or engineering, but Johnny has decided to pursue pre-Seminary studies in view of becoming a pastor."

Concerned Friend: "Do I hear a little dissapointment in your answer?"

Parent: Sighs. "Yes, a little."

Concerned Friend: "Take heart, brother. Pastors have a place in building up the Kingdom too."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Something to Look Forward to

Thursday, October 04, 2007
Kuyperian Polymath
Besides being a first-rate art historian and cultural critic, Hans Rookmaaker was also a lover and historian of Afro-American music. In fact, he might have been the leading European authority on Jazz and Blues during his time.

Here and here, you can see some liner notes HRR wrote for an Album by Blues artist Leroy Carr.

Monday, October 01, 2007
Reformed Cultural Stoicism
a.k.a. the "Two-Kingdom View of Culture" espoused by Lutherans and an increasing number of Reformed folk.

In the interest of fairness, I provide a link to a site with large number of sources on this point of view.

I am utterly baffled by the attraction of this view of culture. Why limit God's sovereinty and grace in this way? Why limit the transformative power of the gospel?

Such a view is really no different (functionally) from the position of the world-flight Dispensationalists. And we can all see the cultural mess they have left behind.