The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, December 28, 2007
Pyramid Scheme
Tut tut, looks like Egypt will try to copyright the Pyramids...

Talk about a looooong statute of limitations!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007
One of the blogs I check out with regularity is Port to check out the local Portland art scene (which is pretty active and - I am happy to say - very craft oriented).

This quote really resonated with me:

My greatest annoyance is with the art world's meaningless use of the word "Authentic." To me its like the yuppie approved packaging on overpriced ethnic dishes one can find at high end grocery stores. It almost guarantees it isn't the real thing but it's overpriced status intends to mitigate guilt while giving it a patina of legitimacy. To use Greenberg's term it's very middlebrow.

This applies to the use of the term in culture generally.

Many "postmodern" or "missional" churches have glommed onto this term thinking that they are making their churches more attractive to the 20 and 30-somethings that is their target audience.

Too bad they can't see through the shallowness of this word. Sadly authentic is rapidly becoming anything but authentic!

Monday, December 24, 2007
How Not to Celebrate Christmas
(Actually Sint Nicolaasfeest - but the same message applies...) A kind public affairs message from your friendly Dutch Golden Age painter Jan Steen.

Thursday, December 20, 2007
Was Martin Luther a TKV Proponant?
Luther was certainly not a strict proponant of the Two Kingdom View. That is the conlusion of a study recently published in the Concordia Theological Quarterly (a Lutheran publication). Read excerps here, thanks to the post from Jeff Meyers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Two-Kingdom Dualism
Most reformed proponants of the two-kingdom view of culture (Hart, Horton, et al) are quick to affirm that they are not dualists. They insist that they have a positive view of physical creation, the body, food, alcohol, art, etc. But when you look at their rhetoric, they almost always use platonic, dualistic language to affirm their position. Consider this paragraph from a recent post at the De Regnus Duobus blog:

...two-kingdoms thinking does not deny that there is cultic/cultural intersection and overlap in discussion about difficult issues. But it is crucial to remember that the tension does not lie in the kingdoms themselves. The kingdom of Christ is concerned with spiritual and eternal affairs and advances by Word and sacrament. The kingdom of man, on the other hand, is furthered by carnal weaponry for earthly and temporal ends. Both are legitimate and God-ordained, but distinct nonetheless.

Note the words used to describe the two kingdoms. The "kingdom of Christ" is spiritual and eternal; the "the kingdom of [mere!] man" is carnal, earthly and temporal.

Is spiritual better than carnal? Is eternal better than temporal? (Note that Rev. 22:2 makes it clear that life in the New Jerusalem will still be temporal - note that there will months in heaven!)

Much could be said about the prima facie dualism. I will point out my strong disagreement about the temporal/eternal claim. Even though scripture uses "passing away" language to describe what will happen to creation and culture, the bulk of the scriptural view favor renewal and healing, not total destruction (for example: Romans8; Rev. 21:24,26; Mt. 5:5, etc.). I argue for this position under the last section of my book.

Why is it that the TKV fall back on this kind of language to defend their position? Is culture good enough for heaven? Or is it strictly second class?

Thursday, December 13, 2007
Salvation, Lordship and Culture
Here is a quote I discovered at Ironink blog which is part of post that is an excellent critique of the Two Kingdom View of culture.

“Because Salvation is a total concept, a savior has dominion and authority over every realm of life. If His Lordship is not total, his salvation is not effectual. Therefore, anyone who claims to be a savior must of necessity assert an overlordship over every realm of life and thought…. Churchmen, by withdrawing the idea of salvation to the soul, so that Jesus Christ is the Savior of men’s souls and not Lord of heaven and earth and the only Savior of all things, have thereby in effect denied that Jesus is savior. None can be savior who is not also Lord.”

-- R.J. Rushdoony, Christianity & The State – pg. 27

There is no doubt that Rushdoony is polarizing figure. Yet I think he is very insightful in this quote. I wonder what the neo-calvinist readers of this blog think of his quote?

Rushdoony's view is sharply opposed to the TKV understanding of salvation. This came up recently in a critique of Doug Wilson by OPC pastor Todd Bordow (see Wilson's thorough response here.) Here is what Bordow says about Wilson:

This abuse of language is common among FVers. DW states how the salvation Christ came to bring is not only the salvation of souls, but salvation of governments and cultures. How is a culture “saved?” What did Jesus mean then when he said he came to “save” the world? Is the “saving” of the soul the same as the “saving” of a culture? If so, what is the saving of the soul? Did Jesus have two definitions of salvation in mind? In FV speak, it is not even clear what “salvation” means.

Bordow later continues:
Again, anyone familiar with DW’s writings notes how commonly DW mocks those concerned with the soul’s eternal salvation over against the reformation of culture and society, labeling them “Gnostics.” DW is fully aware what a Gnostic really is, but this is a common scare tactic to draw true Christians away from the biblical Great Commission to preach the gospel to every creature. DW tries to squirm out of this accusation by redefining the gospel and salvation in such a way as to include his vision for politics and culture. Thus everything DW teaches about how society should be formed and how you should act is included under “gospel,” a classic liberal ploy. Both liberals and DW find their passion in reforming the cultures of this world, though their specific agendas to attain this goal may differ somewhat.

Obviously Wilson (& Co.) are using gnostic in a novel way to point to the "spiritual" character of the TKV position on culture and salvation ("spiritual" is their own choice of words). This neo-platonic-sounding dualistic approach to salvation really does seem to ignore the full reality and implication of Jesus' resurrection (as well as his incarnation - Word became flesh - yuk!). Salvation is physical and spiritual, ecompassing the restoration of all things: bodies, souls, thinking, creation, culture, etc.

That culture is being restored and transformed is good news as far as I can tell.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007
A Positive View of Work

"Virgil perceived that agriculture is fundamental to civilization, and he affirmed the dignity of manual labour. When the Christian monastic orders came into being, the contemplative life and the life of manual labour were conjoined … . Christianity established the principle that action and contemplation, labour and prayer, are both essential to the life of the complete man."

-- from T.S. Eliot's essay "Virgil and the Christian World" (1951), quoted in this review article of Medievalism, The Middle Ages in Modern England by
Michael Alexander

This is in contrast to the Greek (Homeric) decidedly negative view of work. This is at the heart of Platonic dualism which has often plagued the West.

Many monastic orders managed to set aside much of the dualism and, as Eliot points out, embrace labor for is positive, Creational virtue. This aspect of the creation mandate was still alive for many monastics. Yet they still failed to recognize that marriage and sexuality were an equally good gift from God as is work. Of course for many monastic orders (e.g. the Cistercians) the Benedictines did not go far enough. These orders sought to erase physical pleasure from life as much as possible and leave "worldly" labor to its barest minimum.

Monday, December 10, 2007
U2 Reaches New Heights
Bono finds a new way to Babel: skyscraper building in Dublin.

The locals appear to have gotten vertigo over the project...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Itty Bitty Drip Paintings
Gotta like these miniature artists studios, including the legendary barn-studio of Jackson Pollock located Springs on Long Island. (I have always wanted to visit.)

What's next?

Maybe a miniature Francis Schaeffer in finely detailed chalet at L'Abri?

Monday, December 03, 2007
The Case Against Natural Law
Here is a review of David Van Drunen's A Biblical Case for Natural Law by Nelson Klosterman that appears in the Ordained Servant along with a reply from Van Drunen.

Klosterman does a nice job demonstrating the limitions of the Two Kingdom view. Here is a snippet:

Perhaps it is better, after all, not to speak of two kingdoms, but rather of various offices. Parents, for example, exercise both worldly and spiritual power over their children. Illustrative of the problematic two-kingdom construction being advocated by VanDrunen is the question: To which of the two kingdoms, worldly or spiritual, must we assign marriage and the family? Far better to speak of various offices (husband, father, citizen, employer, etc.), each of which demonstrates its own unique manner of service and rule. A prince, a father, an employer, a minister—each of them rules, but in very different ways. We must speak in a more pluriform fashion than Luther did. No one office is more or less worldly or spiritual than another, but all have been integrated and ordered in Christ Jesus.