There are two basic ways for evangelical Christians to care about the arts. One is the Kuyperian Reformed route, and the other is the way of bohemian pose-striking. One of the most heartening aspects of the “young, restless, and Reformed” development is the possibility of a real aesthetic reformation. Perhaps I should explain myself.
Scripture teaches us, over and over again, that deliverance comes from odd and unexpected places. And Scripture also tells us repeatedly that the faithful who are waiting for such deliverance have a tendency to wait by the wrong door. David was just a shepherd boy. Joseph was handed off to a passing caravan for a bit of money. Daniel was a slave, captured in war. Esther was just one more beauty for the harem. Jeremiah was just a kid. And Jesus grew up in that podunk place, Galilee of the Gentiles.
When it comes to what is true, what is good, and what is beautiful, the emergent types have gone bohemian in all three areas. Their truth has gone to relativistic mush, their ideas of goodness are more interested in anal intercourse than they ought to be, and their concept of beauty is summed up by outre tattoos in inappropriate places. They have fallen for the simplest of Screwtape’s devices, the idea that “gritty” is real and “lovely” is bourgeois. They fell into that simple trap because they are such deep people.
In the meantime, with our culture teetering on the edge of the great desolation, the academic Keepers of Kuyper have been reading learned papers to each other, dealing with lots of good material, but when anybody coughs, a small cloud of dust appears above the audience, and then slowly drifts away. A lot of really good stuff there, but about as lively as you might expect. They do produce some good books though.
And so then, in this setting, against all odds, a large sector of up and coming young evangelicals become ardent . . . Calvinists. And by Calvinist, I do not mean someone who grew up in the environs of Grand Rapids, and whose thought processes are tinctured with some elements of a by-gone Reformed tradition. I mean somebody who acctually thinks that God is God, all the way up, all the way down, and all the way across.
This means that all the elements of a true Kuyperian rennaissance are now in place. It has not happened yet, but it is starting to. I have noticed some quite striking developments, which I may write about in a future post. This is because it is not really possible to believe that God is God, and then not have it come into authoritative contact with everything. The young, restless, and Reformed are on the same conveyor belt called time that the rest of us are, and this means they will shortly have kids to educate, schools to start, businesses to build, albums to record, paintings to paint, novels to write . . . and decisions to make.
If those decisions continue to be in line with the evangelical truth that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and the Reformed truth that He did not do this in some kind of haphazard way, and the Kuyperian truth that He is invested in the entire creation, then we are on the threshold of a striking aesthetic reformation. And about time.
Don’t get me wrong. When I look at the young, restless, and Reformed I do not see a likely source of deliverance. They actually make me think of a jungle full of monkeys. But perhaps the Holy Spirit smiles and says, “Just the thing.”