A few days ago I wrote about Watermelons and Worldviews, which engendered, as they say, discussion. It was an intro piece, and you can’t always say everything in an introduction. I was tackling a certain kind of criticism of biblical worldview thinking, the kind of criticism that inevitably makes the thinking involved less biblical. But there is, of course, a line of criticism that desires to make Christian worldview thinking more biblical, which is of course, fine. The reason it is fine is that the duty of making your worldview ever more biblical is one of the central tenets of Christian worldview thinking.
Although I am not as wary as they are about terminology, here is one example of criticism of the worldview approach that applauds how biblical it has been, and the good it has done, while urging it to go further up and further in. And to call it something else. Now I don’t really see the need for calling it something else, but I am great with the further up and further in part. So if someone proposes “wisdom” instead of “worldview,” I see no need to cry out, “No! Not wisdom. What will the harvest be?”
In a similar vein, here is the beginning of a series of sermons I did called A Worldview Wheel. The link is to the first of five sermon outlines, and you should be able to find the others easily enough. Just type worldview wheel into the search bar.
Interaction With the Archives
After I published Watermelons and Worldviews, someone on Facebook linked to an old First Things article by Peter Leithart that challenged worldview thinking in some problematic ways. So let me briefly interact with the four main points of that article, and then move on to the details I promised at the end of my previous post.
The first criticism is one of vantage. Are not Christian worldview thinkers presuming too much? “First, such a theory suggests that the worldview thinker is capable of finding some place to stand outside all particular worldviews from which to view them.” Because we are finite, it is certainly fair for postmodernists to critique modernists this way, pointing out that they do not have a “God’s eye view” in order to get the cosmic panorama. That is true. But Christians do have a “God-designed balcony for man.” Where do we stand? We stand on the Bible. I can’t see everything from here, but I can certainly see everything I am supposed to see.
Remember the passage I quoted earlier:
“With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity” (Rom. 12:1-2, Phillips).
All day long, I am thinking thoughts. I am doing so either obediently or disobediently. They are either thoughts that I should be thinking, or thoughts I shouldn’t be thinking. If I should be thinking them, it is part of my view from the Bible balcony. If I shouldn’t be, then I have somehow messed it up. Put plainly, a biblical worldview simply means that I should be thinking and acting the way God wants me to, all day long, every day. And God has a plan and purpose for me in everything (Eph. 2:10).
My father addressed this in a sermon once, answering the question whether I can be obedient or disobedient when I am, say, sleeping. Well, he said, you either should be or you shouldn’t be.
“Second, ‘worldview’ tends to be highly intellectualist.” Now in those places where people have assumed or taught that all cultures spring forth from prior thoughts purely thunk, this criticism would be apt. Where Christians give ultimate priority to disembodied thought that is a real problem. But even where this criticism is pertinent, it would be better to say that we must be careful to extend the lordship of Christ even further, beyond just the thoughts. We have applied it to our thoughts, well and good, but we must apply it also to our practices. We must apply it to the cultural practices that shape our thoughts, the thoughts themselves, and the things we build after having thought. Yes to all that. My series on the Worldview Wheel was seeking to do exactly that—worldview applies not only to propositions, but also to stories, symbols, lifestyles, and so on. It encompasses all that we do. The central good that the worldview thinking movement has done is that it pointed authoritatively to the truth that the authority of Christ and the Bible encompass all things. There is no neutrality. This can be used, and should be used, as a prod to practitioners of worldview thinking. Of course.
“Underlying these criticisms is my third complaint, namely, that ‘worldview’ is inherently Cartesian. Implicit in the very word “worldview” is the picture of an individual positioned so as to survey the entirety of creation (and perhaps the Creator as well) in a single gaze.”
But something is not Cartesian simply because a thinker knows things, or a thinker sees stuff. Descartes wanted a starting point where he himself could kick start the reasoning process. “I think, therefore I can see the world.” That is Cartesian. But to say “I see the world because God put me on the Bible balcony, and the view is great from here,” is not Cartesian in any way. Nor is it prideful. Remember that pride can go in two directions—it can claim to see all by itself, or it can pretend to not see what God has shown. I am not a Cartesian because he and I both have ten toes.
The last criticism is that worldview thinking belongs to the philosophers, and that to talk this way means that evangelicals are making “philosophy foundational to theology.” But Christians have been wresting things away from the philosophers for centuries. Why should we stop now? And if we were to stop it, we shouldn’t do so because of anything Heidegger said, who was both a philosopher and a Nazi, doubly damned. And incidentally, to take something from the philosophers is not equivalent to making it foundational. We might want to take something from philosophy in order to stick it in our hatband.
In my previous post, I promised this:
“In the next installment, I hope to address all the halfway measures that pomo-influenced Christians adopt in order to let the world push them halfway into the mold. I refer, of course, to tattoos, liturgical dress-ups, eyeliner on guys, metrosexuality, postmodern historical studies, lumbersexuality, and exotic drinks from the Orient. And if anyone reacts to anything on this list, saying that’s not prohibited in the Bible, it only goes to show the need for more Christian worldview seminars.”
So some critics of Christian worldview thinking believe that in its battle cry “no neutrality,” it has not gone far enough. This is a fair and sound criticism. It is a Christian worldview criticism. If we are at war with all pretenses of neutrality, we should be at war with it even if we find it hiding in our own seminars. Fair cop.
But other critics of worldview thinking are doing so for the sake of more maneuvering room. They do not want someone, fresh out of a worldview seminar, saying something like “dudes shouldn’t be using eyeliner, man.” Since there is no verse that bans eyeliner for guys explicitly and by name, the only way a biblical case can be made against it is through extension and application. (I should point out in passing that if the Bible did prohibit eyeliner by name, it would the work of ten minutes for scholars working in the original languages to get us off the hook.) But extension and application is still basic to biblical worldview thinking. And the Westminster Confession laid the foundation for this approach when they said that biblical authority includes good and necessary consequence.
“The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men” (WCF 1.6).
Thus we may say, applying Christian worldview categories, that if an individual bearing XY chromosomes purchases himself a set of installed silicon boobs, he is sinning big time. Those who kick against this claim are doing so because they obviously want neutrality, maneuvering room, a safe space, a hidey-hole in which they have the right to imitate the citizens of the parable, saying “we do not want this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14).
The view of Jesus is that He must not be given the authority to tell us how to dress, how to eat, whether or not to ink up, what to present to Him as worship, how to understand historical causation, and so on. The move is to say that Jesus is a gentleman who minds His own business for the most part, and that people who say He has a set opinion on our small mountain of adiaphora manufactured and heaped up by our Autonomous Personal Choices are legalists. And if anyone continues to deny our autonomy, then he must be the Cartesian.
But this domesticated Jesus is not the Lord described in the Bible. Good and necessary consequence is a good and necessary thing. For faith and life. For how pitiful a worldview would be if it didn’t encompass the whole shebang.
Descartes, famously, only had eight toes.
I don’t actually mind that song. Very 80s. YouTube recommended a variety of other 80s hits, but also an interview with Elton John. Most amusing.
Hold me closer, Tony Danza.
I’ve been sniggering myself sick over this:
Small minds are easily amused!
Mondegreens are just the best.
Just remember, there’s a bathroom on the right, per CCR.
You are probably too young to remember the Beach Boys’ Help Me, Rhonda. Which some people were convinced included the line: “Well, since you put me down, there’s an owl pooping in my head.”
Do you recall that a month or so ago we were shaking heads about the pervasiveness of dumb? Someone complained to his stockbroker that his quarterly reports were coming only every three months.
I remember the song, though not from its original release. I don’t know it well enough to identify the mondegreen, though — I’ll have to look it up.
“Hey, Rene, is it going to rain?”
“I think not.”
Stop denying the antecedent. :)
You have completely lost me. No surprise there at all. I also have absolutely no idea what a “Christian world view thinker” even is. In this case ignorance may a be bliss. Perhaps I am just blessed.
Have a blessed and happy Easter, ME. I was enjoying a couple of the posts on your site, and Tribulus’s response. If he is right about your name, which I won’t repeat here, it is a lovely name and goes so perfectly with the girl in the blue dress.
Thank you,Jilly. You have a blessed Easter, too.
I suppose when the good ship Evangelical is sinking, manly men fussing with the deck chairs is an appropriate response.
Understanding worldviews isn’t shuffling the deck chairs, it’s fixing the hull, Mr. Crouch.
Not the way you are going about it. Look around, Ms. Dunsworth. Your stuck with defending a worldview more akin to iron age tribalism. Except for a few brave souls who check in from time to time, your minuscule sliver of Christianity spends most of its time talking and complaining to each other. Like the vast majority of folks, I’m sure you’re a nice lady with a nice family. Good luck with that hull repair, but don’t be surprised when your children decide jump ship (it won’t be the end of the world).
If that really characterized how I lived my life, I might agree with you. Thankfully, it doesn’t, and I’m four for four with adult kids who still think that what you believe is really important to how you live, and every indication is that number five will keep up the trend.
You say “iron age” as though there’s something magical about revolutions around the sun, or the ability to invent various kinds of implements, that make people in the aggregate wiser or more understanding of the foundational ideas of life. Why would you think that?
You’ve missed the point. Who doesn’t think that what you believe is important? My reference to iron age tribalism has nothing to do with scientific knowledge. What iron age tribalism has in common with the particular worldview lauded by Mr. Wilson and the majority of the commenters here is the weaponizing of both God and scripture. That’s why you have a hole below the waterline, and dualistic whining about your worldview will never plug it. There’s still hope for the grandkids.
“There’s still hope for the grandkids.”
Wow, I’d make you eat the dirt for that comment if this conversation were happening in person. Enjoy your internets.
Thanks for proving my point.
Your point?! You’re a real ass. You tell someone you hope their grandchildren jump ship from the faith of their grandparents, I call you out, and then you smugly say “thanks for proving my point”. I would be sinning if I didn’t make you eat dirt for that. It’s one of the most ignorant and asinine things I’ve heard in awhile; and from a professed Christian to boot. Shameful.
I would throttle it back a bit Clay. You have only proved that you believe a man standing up for his children’s honor is somehow out of line. Our view of manhood on the other hand includes the last chapter of Nehemiah.
Clay, I think that’s unfair argumentation. Jane could just as easily say that your grandchildren will react to your more liberal theology by becoming fundamentalist Baptists who refuse to break bread with their reprobate grandpa. Leave the kids out of it.
Jilly, I’ve seldom seen it work in that direction. But that’s not really the point of the argumentation; weaponized religion is.
My point is that real people’s kids should be off limits. It’s one thing to say that you do not believe a particular kind of Christianity will survive, and that you believe it will lose more young adults as time goes by. But predicting that someone’s children will turn out in a way that would be deeply upsetting to them isn’t kind. Surely you must see this.
Right; because revivals were imaginary.
Well now you’ve got me singing “the good ship lollipop” and thinking of the unsinkable Molly Brown.
“Evangelical” has become kind of a political term I suppose, but if we are speaking of fundamentals,of the foundations of faith, those aren’t going anywhere,in fact they are even more desperately needed today.
I live in a liberal oasis, an anti evangelical zone so to speak, and I call it the 9th circle of hell for a reason. It turns out that kicking holes in the side of your ship can cause sinking. Who knew?
You and I have a lot more in common that you think.
Doesn’t everybody have a worldview? Even people who check “No opinion” on every box on an opinion poll have the opinion that it’s best not to have an opinion. Methinks those that object to a Christian worldview are really objecting more to the “Christian” part than to the “worldview” part. Granted, there are people who are in the process of forming a worldview, or have an incoherent or a non-sensical, or even a warped or confused worldview, but they still have one. In truth, (If we define “truth” as “Reality as perceived by God.”) only a Christian worldview makes any… Read more »
God has an opinion about everything. As he is truth his opinion is correct. In as much as we think correctly we are thinking God’s thoughts after him. At its simplest Christian worldview is the worldview of God: of Christ. All people have a worldview. All at least somewhat incorrect and usually inconsistent in places. One may complain that we cannot know God’s thoughts for certain, which is true. Because we are not outside ourselves how can we with an imperfect worldview know the true worldview. The errant man is chasing an inerrant truth external to himself but is only… Read more »
Do you think that the problem of getting lost in our heads is one of the reasons we have the communion of saints? Seeing things through the eyes of Christ is beyond me. But I have sometimes forced myself to put on the thinking of St. Francis de Sales, or the thinking of a wise and saintly Christian that I know personally. It’s more than asking myself, what would they think? It’s trying to immerse myself in their landscape so that I can see through their eyes. When I return to myself, there is a difference–it’s like the focus of… Read more »
Brilliant. We lust to know Cartesianly, as if we were God. God wants us to know differently. He wants us to know himself.
Leithart seems to be someone you always disagree with.
It’s just that they’re so close that it takes a lot of explaining to show the differences.
Now let’s hear more about the exotic drinks from the Orient.
I find this blog post to be mostly accurate. I am interested mostly at this point with what is the most effective means of having mine and other’s minds and actions conform to the likeness of Christ. I think Christ cares about eyeliner and parking spaces because he loves us. I am not sure that setting up eyeliner as a benchmark for much matters that much and can possibly be a distraction. Do I or those around me experience the transforming love of Christ? If so, let’s move onto more and deeper obedience, if not let’s not get too deep… Read more »
I suppose that focusing on any one behaviour can be a distraction. Humans often prefer dwelling on faults that they don’t have so that they are not confronted with their own sin, and this is something to be aware of. The fact of men wearing eyeliner is presented here not as a sin but as one of many symptoms of a foundational problem: a man no longer knows what a man is. In my view, this is pretty far up the pecking order. The way to tackle this would not be by prohibiting eyeliner but by teaching a man the… Read more »
Agreed that manliness is pretty high up and agreed that things like eyeliner may be an indicator of effeminism (or not). If eyeliner is in fact being used by the regenerated to emulate femininity, then Christian brothers should talk with and possibly confront and encourage. If the eyeliner is more a Braveheart move to spice up the metal core fatigues, then let’s be a little more discerning. Furthermore, I want to read a better explaination as to why Christianizing things like tattoos is a bad idea. If Christmas trees and Levi’s pass, why not Kava root tea? Wasn’t coffee an… Read more »
An exotic Islamic foreign import. The Turkish sultan kept a Chief Coffee Maker on his palace payroll, and many of the best ones ended up bring promoted to Grand Vizier. Makes perfect sense to me.
Yeah, I like coffee too. I’m just trying to get a grip on which cultural practices are verboten and which are redeemable and which are really just subjective taste experiences. I find the deification of sports teams and players to be super dumb and useless, but almost everyone I know from church has some Seahawks or cheesehead crap at their house (including me). Grown men spend their time listening to sports radio and missing church seminars for Gonzaga games. I have tattoos related to my family. I don’t really care if people in my church listen to sports radio or… Read more »
I was nodding my head in total agreement until I got to the word “kale”. I don’t think Christians ought to have anything to do with kale. We are commanded to love the beautiful and the good. Did the Hebrews in the desert have kale? Of course not, they had too much sense. I am pretty tolerant of what other people like, without remotely understanding why they like it. But most people I know think my interests are pretty weird. I once listened to a priest give a sermon on when we have to curtail activities and cultural fads which… Read more »
Kale smoothies are pretty good.
Caramel frapuccinos with double whipped cream are even better!
‘Better’ depends on what function the drink is attempting to accomplish. Fraps are better for cavities and belly fat, but do taste great. Kale is good for the digestive tract and vitamins. Is the point of this to say “I win?” Again who cares? Well as your brother in Christ, I might care if you are guzzling 8 fraps a day just so you fit into some Laguna Beach Pampered Chef party scene, or if you are selling your food stamps to buy more fraps or if you are grossly overweight, etc. Other than that, have at it.
If the day comes that I can afford 8 fraps a day, I will remember your good advice! I am a one frap a week woman, if I’m lucky. I don’t like kale, but I am happy that other people do. Nobody invites someone who eats the way I do to a Pampered Chef party. Austere would be an understatement! I am hugely tolerant of what other people eat and drink (although I have trouble with things like pigs’ heads brought to the table with their poor little eyelids sewed shut). At the same time, however, I think that as… Read more »
I’m glad to inform you that your behavior regarding fraps seems tolerable.
Smoothies as a substitute for food are an abomination. But fractured kale in a salad, or cooked in a soup, is very good.
Dear Jane, I have had all my lower molars removed and, while the bone grafts heal, I am allowed nothing but pudding and smoothies. Don’t remind me of the misery of my lot.
I am sorry for your plight, jilly! I should have said, smoothies as a substitute for food when you actually could eat food are an abomination — that is truly what I meant originally anyway. Certainly a smoothie is a blessing when chewing is not, shall we say, on the table.
Is this in preparation for dentures?
No, for implants, at least in the places that show. Can you imagine the misery for somebody with food issues to know they have tissue from dead people under their gums? Yeccchh. But even that is not as bad as paying for them!
Happy Easter, Jane.
Blenders are of the devil.
Only when used to make food that is perfectly good when eaten whole into some kind of weird liquid concoction which people persuade themselves is good, despite being liquefied combinations of foods that should be eaten separately. For making milkshakes or mixed drinks or baby food, they’re wonderful.
That’s a good point. His total estimate was $24,000. I would have to sell my daughter, and I am not sure I would have many takers. Not once they saw her monthly bill from Sephora!
Kale is food
Precisely. Kale is food. So why not just eat it? Smoothies make food into some kind of weird food substitute.
I’m pretty sure a blender just makes food blended.
Literally? Yes. But making it into a smoothie makes it have fewer of the characteristics of real food, and it just feels like you’re trying to make it not what it is, because you don’t really want to eat it, but you want to consume it anyway.
If it’s good, why not just eat it? We’re not talking about anything that actually improves the taste or texture.
I think you are a purist, Jane. I picture you in well cut linens and the kind of shoes that Lord Peter could see at a glance belonged to a lady.
From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. We display what is most important to us by the things we come back to again and again in conversation, the things we spend the most time discussing. I think we can safely extrapolate this to ‘From the overflow of the heart, the hand acts.’ I knew a young Christian who had a hairstyle that he really liked. It was spiky and blue and he talked about it all the time. “Isn’t it awesome? Do you want to touch it?” Now I know that a hairstyle is morally neutral. But our… Read more »
My point is to understand why Doug takes on these particular top five results. It seems more like a “get off my lawn” approach. No body disagrees that someone talking about their obsession all the time reinforces the conclusion that it is an obsession. Doesn’t matter what it is. Sports, beer preferences and movies seem to be the stuff I hear mostly blathered on about in my presence. I don’t know anyone focusing on tattoos other than people who are critical of those who have them. So you have an ethic of obsession, ok, who is obsessed? Kombucha has probiotics… Read more »
Why Doug takes them on?
They’re trending as newly acceptable, sometimes cool in even some Reformed churches.
Hence they make a nice target for teaching folks what’s going bad.
Take for example your own tats.
Are you rethinking?
Ok, so Kombucha, beards and tattoos are wrong cuz why exactly?, over and against the near worship of men in tights, milkshakes and Mary Kay? If dudes are wearing eyeliner to look effeminate, that is wrong cuz effimancy by men is prohibited by scripture. Come on, get to the point. It sounds like you have a case of the “get off my lawns” too.
So … then … you’re not rethinking the wisdom of those tats?
What was their purpose in the first place?
Would you do them again now?
Did you know that Jews aren’t allowed to have tats? People who work at Disneyland have to cover them up, even when the temperature is in the nineties.
I don’t really understand why you are asking me that specifically. I occasionally have a Kombucha, I like Stumptown coffee, I eat McDonald’s every week, I like vintage hats, have a really thin beard at times. I’m not metro-sexual, I don’t like bastard-blues. I don’t really regret that stuff or my tats. I regret my past drunkenness, lack of love, empathy and faith. I regret past fornication, anger, crude joking. Why so fazed about some ink? It’s so low on my radar, why so high on yours?
I was picking up on your own seeming frustration as to why Doug would, given all the things out there to worry about, bring up tats as a concern. I agree with Doug that amongst especially millennial it is a trend that reveals a mindset. So I’ve asked you, given your change of mindset on other things, do your tats remind you of similar bad choices that grew out of bad thinking. Given your answers so far, my response would be to keep fearing the Lord and loving those around you. Do I I think if you keep taking that… Read more »
Ok, but why would I “reject” the tats? I see no biblical prohibition or wisdom issue. I’ll probably get more. Sure some tattoos are goofy and I can’t really see a cultural tradition from Christendom for them. But I feel the same way about khaki pants and cardigans and milkshakes. So I keep khakis, cardigans and milkshakes in the liberty zone.
The issue with tattoos in our growth toward a greater Christendom could be this:
1. What kinds of past/present cultures engaged in body art? Were they Christian? No, so it’s not part of future Christendom. But then I think about surfing… can tats be redeemed?
2. Vanity is a legit issue. Makeup, hair color, earrings, haircuts, dress length, perfume, pearls…
3. Waste of money? Perhaps, but your kids matching Easter outfits might be in the same boat.
It might be more helpful to a good answer if we keep the focus on you.
Then we can more clearly broaden the principles out to others.
What was their purpose for you?
Right now the purpose of my tattoos seems to be getting you to understand principles.
I just made a kambucha creamcheese garlic horseradish sauce for the rib roast. We have it every day in the smoothies. It originated where my wife is from, which adds value for California me
Tattoos seem more of a disorder nowadays. Not so healthy.
The person with the tats I’ve observed tend to be not just celebrating something but trying to absorb the meaning they are displaying.
Seems like a serious case of play acting.
I’ve been thinking hard about this, classifying the items in different ways, and holding them up against the traditional Christian virtues of temperance, prudence, choosing friends wisely, and not causing your neighbor to stumble. I agree with your last sentence: what it sounds like to me, for some of the items, is Don’t look gay, Don’t dress like you come from LA or New York City, Don’t take courses that make you look like you voted for Hillary, and Don’t eat any food you can’t buy at your local supermarket. Of course, doing some of these things can conflict with… Read more »
It’s easy to think tatoos are an important topic, because God thought they were important enough to give us a law on them. We are supposed to follow his lead.
Says the beard cutter who eats pork…
Is that response meant to indicate that cutting beards and eating pork aren’t important matters?
They are. God says they are. Now, there’s a right way and wrong way to handle the application of those things to our own situation. And dismissing their importance is definitely the wrong way, regardless of how you come out on the actual application.
The point is not dismissing God’s purposes for prohibiting ancient Isreal imbibing in crab patties, it’s to celebrate the crab patties now with an extra helping of shrimp cocktail.
No, please stop using strawman and ad-hominem arguments. I have no beard so I haven’t cut it’s corners, and the old testament food laws have been specifically abrogated.
Well call me “captain precision”, but if you have no beard, then by definition you have cut your beards sides.
Here is my direct challenge: show why drinking Kombucha or Yerba mate should be singled out over coffee and why dudes in Pendleton shirts and beards should be singled out over people who wear jeans with goofy cow-girl sequins and stitching on the rear pockets (aka Mark Driscoll jeans). Both parties can exhibit the froideur of an arse, so please focus on the form itself.
I’m sorry but I don’t understand what you are asking. What do you mean by ‘form’? (About ‘froideur of an arse’ I’m not even going to ask!)
Why single out these things over other things?
Have guys in shirts and beards been singled out? I haven’t seen that. I’ve seen Doug criticise secular trends that he believes illustrate cultural androgeny. About exotic drinks, I have no idea why one might be singled out over another.
My issue is that if a pastor is going to single out one over another as inconsistent with the spirit of scripture, he should have something more definite to go on than his own tastes and preferences. My dear departed father questioned the manhood of any North American willing to eat the staple foods of third world peasants (no rice or pasta in my childhood), salad, meat with sauce, or cheese with a French name. He thought men who like classical music are, by definition, gay, and we won’t even talk about men who wear colored shirts. If he had… Read more »
I will confess I’m not completely on board with Doug’s way of expressing this. But I think it behooves us to read his intentions as charitably as possible, while perhaps thinking quietly that he’s being rather ham-handed. When you look past the examples to his explanations of what he’s actually trying to exemplify, it’s fairly clear (at least to me) that he’s not trying to impose a narrow band of things acceptable for bona fide Christians, whether garment or beverage. He’s trying, if not entirely effectively, to use certain things as markers for deeper issues, not merely tribal distinctives.
BTW, I hate those stupid ideas about soccer and such, too.
I’m not always as charitable as I should be?? Who knew?? It can’t be my fallen nature, so I will blame the people next door.
Beards, kale and tattoos. I know that tattoos are not a Christian thing in history, but why not redeem It? I’m for redeeming stuff. Otherwise explain the cultural etymology of British blues rock, perhaps one of the worst bastardization of cultural misappropriation ever, but popular nonetheless. Clapton is one of the worst offenders, but diefied in these parts.
Well, I can’t think of a biblical reason for aversion to beards or kale. Hair grows on men’s faces all by itself so it seems more natural for a man to be bearded than otherwise. Kale was presumably among the plants God gave to Adam and Eve for food, so it seems more sanctified to like it than to hate it. Tattoos are the thing that is not like the others in your example, because they are not part of the created order. This does not mean they are evil, but that they need to be treated differently. By redeem,… Read more »
Sure, appropriate…or not,
I don’t want to add tattoos to the liturgy, but I also don’t want to add Krispy Kreme to the Eucharist.
Interesting framework: “not part of the created order”. Is getting into an Uber, using a cell phone, having an MRI or using Teflon “part of the created order”?
No. I mean the God-created order. God made beards and kale, which means that at creation they were declared good. (We’ll skip over the complicating factors of human and other post-lapsarian interference with the development of vegetables since that time.) Every man-made thing is derived from the good things God made, which means that a) it might not be good and b) if it is good, it will not have the same kind of goodness as things created by God. This is not to say that we shouldn’t use taxis or lightbulbs; only that we shouldn’t unthinkingly accept their existence… Read more »
the ideas of redeeming things would be using things like surfboards to the glory of God instead of…? Whatever Pacific Islanders used them for (perhaps which was fine enough already).
How would you use tattoos to the glory of God, unless you choose a cross or a bible verse? Genuine question.
I figure it would be about the same as any art form. Scribbles with no purpose seem to off the table. Buggs Bunny seems silly. Rembrandt seems glorious. I can keep going, but please explain to me why it is not obvious to you. Why is wearing a wedding ring a permissible practice today despite pagan origins?
I’ve never heard pagan origins raised as an objection to tattoos. Moral objections I have heard are that they defile the body which is the temple of the Lord, that they are a form of self-mutilation, and that they are prohibited in Scripture. Without presenting these as necessarily my own views, the fact that these accusations are never made against wedding rings makes it an odd choice of comparison. For many Christians, the fact that a tattoo is a permanent mark on the human body immediately differentiates it from other art forms. (And I don’t deny that it is an… Read more »
According to my Jewish ex, pagan origins was the reason the people in the OT couldn’t have them. I think that, among modern secular Jews, tattoos are seen as kind of a class indicator. I know very, very few Jewish men who have them.
I find that too many can make the skin look reptilian, and that creeps me out.
Since I was making a pagan correlation, that is why wedding rings was a fitting comparison. You brought up mutilation, not me. I don’t believe that tattoos are by nature mutilation or defilement. “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” Mark 7:15 I’ve known people who have tattoos from head to toe and some who have their dead baby’s handprint on their arm. I’m not really trying to figure out other people’s liberties for them without some heavy scriptural warrant.… Read more »
“I’m not really trying to figure out other people’s liberties for them without some heavy scriptural warrant.” Good. Neither am I. You asked me why it wasn’t obvious to me how tattoos could be redeemed from the culture. I answered according to my own thoughts, not according to how I insist everyone else should behave. I take it that this is a sensitive issue for you. I have no definite or blanket position on tattoos, so please don’t see me as an opponent. I am only curious to explore the perspective of people who have spent more time thinking about… Read more »
Ok, the typed word can come off wrong at times. Perhaps I am sensitive. I’ve often felt ostracized by those in the world and at the same time that I don’t fit in with Christians either. When I see mild distinctives get raised to heightened levels it’s off-putting to me. I’ve really only experienced transformative change when I have experienced Jesus’ love. I want others to experience this too. If they can’t get into the church’s front door cuz they look different than white bread America, it’s gonna be hard for them to hear the gospel.
One of the things I love about the church on earth is that believers come to it from every possible background. We should rejoice to see a church full of people who do not look or sound quite like us, and I am sorry to hear that that has not been your experience so far. That’s a serious trial. But I am sure that good will come out of it. Maybe one day a stranger with a whole lot of tats will peek in at the door of your church, see you there and think, ‘Well, that guy has ink… Read more »
Thank you for the kindness. I don’t really feel however that it is a serious trial for me personally. My church is pretty darn welcoming and most churches I have been a part of did not make any issue about tats. In the deeper reformed circles people deal with deeper issues, which I love. I’m just pushing back, hopefully to edify or at least develop the discussion. I’m not bitter. At times I feel cautious, but I’m getting over it.
I just read what a kid had written in a religious education class. Judas Asparagus was so wicked that he betrayed Jesus. That’s why they named a disgusting vegetable after him.
Haha! That kid has never had fresh asparagus done just right in a little butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Because there isn’t a noticeable movement at this point in history that deems the cow-girl sequins as an authentically cooler way to be a Christian. They’re things that Christians are doing, and maybe here and there getting wrongly caught up in, but they’re among not the currently primary danger points. It’s not that the particular things he singles out are the only ways that someone can be led astray into form over substance, they are forms that people to a noticeable degree, are confusing for substance.
Have you ever been to a Christian crap store? What is there? Sequin cowgirl stuff and precious moments figurines. And both of these things on bibles. Yeah, the issue is Kale…
You may be confusing kitsch with the need to be cool.
A taste for kitsch among the well-to-do is a sign of spiritual
impoverishment; but among the poor, it represents a striving for beauty, an aspiration without the likelihood of fulfilment.—Dalrymple
My point is that one man’s kitsch is another man’s cool. Attack the sin not the form. Fashion is boring.
There will be no mercy and forgiveness for the men who wear utility kilts, even if they are made by Carhartt. Also unforgiveable, barefoot shoes, those overpriced things that look like rubber toes. If you try to top your ensemble off with a man bun, you’re simply beyond all redemption.
The five-finger shoes are fine if you’re actually a runner who finds them helpful. They’re ridiculous to walk around in, though.
On the other hand, the five-finger discount is never okay.
Sometimes I try to cure my insomnia by listening to sermons on youtube. There is a pastor in Arizona who preaches that Jesus wore trousers in accordance with the Bible’s clear instructions. No skirts or kilts on men!
I am not certain we disagree entirely, but I have been thinking thru this. I don’t think that kitsch is cool. Those desiring kitsch are not desiring to be cool (as per my quote above). Though perhaps Dalrymple was saying about the rich what you are saying? Nor do I think the desire to fit in is sinful. It can result in sin. But the need to be cool, to be part of an incrowd that excludes an outcrowd—that is an issue. So the sin is the issue. But I would argue that the sin does often take on a… Read more »
So it seems simple enough to critique a fatty who’s on her 5th Big Mac and a dude who puts “porn love” on his knuckles in ink. Sin does take a form but I’m not for banning books because Joel Osteen writes them.
That is very true, and I have to curb my own tendency to be sniffish about religious aesthetics. You can privately wonder that anyone is edified by a copy of The Last Supper that glows in the dark, but you should not confuse this with spiritual superiority. It might mean quite the opposite.
You really should write a book Jill, it would be most humourous!
I have friends and family who are paying me not to!
If you think that Wilson doesn’t have a problem with Christian kitsch, then you haven’t been around very long. Besides what bethyada said.
Hairstyles are not morally neutral (in fact nothing really is). God gave explicit and implicit declarations on them. I do agree that the motive is of a higher order of importance.
I think a problem with assigning too much moral significance to hairstyle preferences is that individual pastors’ interpretations seem to take on the force of law. I spent twenty minutes reading pastoral edicts on women’s hair, and they all seemed to me to miss the forest for the trees. The guiding principles –(1) women should not look like men, (2) long hair is a woman’s glory, and (3) women should not be vainly obsessed with beautifying their hair at the expense of what is more important–seemed to give way to specific instructions given with scriptural authority. These often conflicted. Women… Read more »
I agree that any principle can be taken too far and with your 3 guiding principles, though there are also the converse for men – (1) men should not look like women (or act), (2) long hair is a shame for men, (3) the same as for women on this one.
But what do those many and various passages mean for us? I had an interesting time just now reading every reference to ‘hair’ in scripture. As you know, God commanded different things for different people and occasions. Cutting or shaving the hair (for men as well as women) was often part of a purification ritual, or a sign of mourning, or a sign of disgrace. A Nazirite was not to cut his hair because it symbolised his dedication to God. An ordinary Jewish man was not to cut the hair at the sides of his head. The Levitical priests were… Read more »
Another point that I wonder about here is St. Paul telling us that nature itself shows men their hair should be short. I don’t see nature telling us anything of the kind. Nature might suggest that because there are men and women, the differences in their appearance should not be obliterated. But that is about as far as I could go. Did nature tell the Chinese that their pigtails were disgraceful? Did it suggest to the warlike German Goths that their long hair was unmanly? Throughout most of Christendom, men have had longer hair than they have today. Were they… Read more »
Did St. Paul have in mind male pattern baldness? Women merely tend to thin out.
Absalom seems to come across as a little too proud of his mane, especially since it was his undoing. Were there many lifelong Nazirites in Israel? I can only remember Samson and Samuel being mentioned.
I don’t know. I didn’t know until today that there were female Nazirites as well. I read a post by a pastor with whom I normally disagree about almost everything. He is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist who thinks that repentance is a work and therefore disqualifies salvation. But he is often interesting when he does line by line scripture explanation. Anyway, he was explaining that women MUST have long hair, but that they must not cover their hair in church. I am not really sure why, but he opposes any wearing of veils or bonnets unless it is to keep… Read more »
If you mean that he means that repentance is not required for salvation, I would agree with him. It is a work, like baptism, the follows from God’s work of saving faith in our hearts (regeneration).
I’ve made those points before on the blog (along with noting the women of particular cultures who can’t grow their hair long at all) and it falls on deaf ears. They just claim that any cultures where men have long hair are fallen to the point where they don’t understand what nature is telling them anymore.
I think that hair does glorify women. I don’t think (currently) that men need to refrain from long hair. I think they need to refrain from feminine styles of hair.
If we don’t see nature telling us anything then we need to change our perspective to match God’s because he said that it does. There’s a lot of things the Bible says that aren’t easy to understand that we take on faith. You can’t use culture as a standard for right and wrong, because then that would mean the world gets to define what right and wrong is.
I think 1 Cor 11:14 tells us what God thinks about men’s hairstyles, and that the rules for the Nazirite back this up, since he is creating exceptions to the rule to highlight their distinctiveness.
I don’t buy it. 1 Cor 11:14 tells us what Paul said to the Corinthians. God speaks to us everywhere through His word, and part of listening responsibly is to pay attention to who is actually being addressed and how, so that we can derive the right lessons. I think it’s a mistake to make rules for modern hairstyles and dress based solely on some verses in a chapter that just about everyone agrees is very difficult to exegete and probably relates to an earlier, unrecorded conversation. (I’m thinking, ‘because of the angels’.) Besides that, if it was inherently shameful… Read more »
Sorry, but God wrote the Bible for all men for all time. When he speaks to the Corinthians, he’s speaking to us. Anything that doesn’t apply to today has been specifically abrogated. If you use culture as your lens for interpreting scripture, then you’ve opened the door to the arguments for homosexuality and women preachers. In fact, you can make anything work if you say it’s only for the audience of that day. There are some who have said the Great Commission doesn’t apply because it only was given to the apostles. There are many times that shows us that… Read more »
I agree that our culture should not be a lens for interpreting scripture, but it would be dishonest to read the text and ignore the cultural context of the audience to which Corinthians was written. Paul addresses problems specific to each church to which he writes, problems that are not all replicated in our time. Food sacrificed to idols is unlikely to be an issue to either of us, for example, although Paul deals with it extensively. Those parts of scripture are still inspired and useful to us, but we cannot lift them straight off the page and plaster them… Read more »
NO. “We could take principles from scripture…but we must not equate this with following a direct order from God”. If you think that you can disregard any principle in the Bible, that those principles don’t come from God, then you can get out of anything you want, as those who argue for homosexuality and women preachers do. And to be technical, I never said it was a direct order. He gave us the principles that define biblical manhood and womanhood, and we can give him the raspberry and do what we want, or we can conform to his will. The… Read more »
Where is the specific abrogation for the command not to cut the hair at the sides of the head?
Are you making up a command? I know of the one people like to misapply that says not to cut the corners of your beard (and I know of no one doing that nowadays), but I haven’t seen one for sideburns.
It’s Lev 19:27, the same verse as the sides of the beard one.
Well it talks about rounding off in both the KJV and ESV, so I’m not sure how to get to not being able to cut hair at the sides of your head. Anyway, I think we’ve extended this conversation long enough, thanks for the input.
Okay. And if you ever see an Orthodox Jew, ask him how he got there. Thanks.
Guess I should say that the important thing isn’t knowing every detail, it’s pursuing that knowledge so we can conform to God’s will through the transformation of our mind. So I can see men, women and the world the way God sees them. We shouldn’t be trying to second guess what God meant, or try to get out of obedience because it doesn’t fit into our culture, we should be see what his will is as revealed in his word and then conforming to it.
I completely agree. It’s just that on this issue, we differ on what the bible actually teaches. May our respective minds continue to be renewed.
So the women in your life have never cut their hair?
Please don’t use a strawman argument. The bible doesn’t say they can never cut their hair.
I understand that, but I think it should not be taken so far that we have rigid definitions of proper masculine and feminine behavior in unnecessary areas. I have read Christian websites saying that a woman who disagrees with a man’s statement (no matter how politely) is being unfeminine, and that a man who would rather watch Downton Abbey than college football is being unmanly. Femininity is a continuum, and obedient Christian women can be found at all points. Same for men. Many years ago I lived in Canada’s frozen north where people like me (teachers) were not regarded as… Read more »
Quite so! I’m sure the Proverbs 31 woman would have been impressed by those Canadians.
Happy Easter, Indigo! I’m so glad you are here
For now is Christ risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep.
A joyful Easter to you too, Jilly! I’m so glad you share your wisdom here.
“The women who spent all their lives there would, one and all, have been
dismissed by Doug as rebellious and unfeminine for wearing plaid shirts
and steel-toed work boots.”
I can’t speak for Doug, but I don’t think so. They were wearing plaid shoes and steel-toed work boots because they were protecting themselves from the elements present in their environment, while they carried out the very feminine task of “building their houses” (Proverbs 14:1) They weren’t wearing them as some uniform of rejection of femininity. This is all about context and motive.
“We stand on the Bible … in the Bible balcony”
Well, you do.
But not everyone did or does.
Nonetheless what you say is still true because we all stand on the balcony.
The balcony is a perspective that God provides and is completely consistent and maybe actually more foundational than the Bible that rests upon it.
The Bible is great, helpful, accurate, important — but it is not “necessary” in an ultimate sense.
It is a record of the necessary.
I testifies to the balcony and the God Who made it and the “we” He puts here.
If the blueprints aren’t necessary, I’m not standing on the balcony.
So are there true adiaphora, things that are truly amoral by nature (like say, whether we eat green beans or broccoli for dinner, whether we pick blue or grey for our car, etc.)? If so, how do you draw the line between things that you say still fit within the Christian worldview, like not drinking certain drinks, and these other types of truly subjective things?