Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Redemption of Culture, #1

Last week in writing about Miles Davis' classic jazz recording Kind of Blue, I hinted at something I want to explore in a couple of more posts. I said that a cultural artifact like Kind of Blue can and does bring delight to the heart of God and may well be enjoyed on the New Earth which will be our eternal home.

What is the basis of my saying such a thing? I'm going to take a few posts to try to explain what I mean. First up is a quote from Anthony Hoekema in his book, The Bible and the Future. I'm only a quarter of the way into this book, but I am enjoying it. In a chapter on the tension between the 'already' and the 'not yet' of the Kingdom of God (that is, that the Kingdom has already been inaugurated by Christ's death and resurrection, but has not yet been consummated, which will happen at His second coming), Hoekema writes,

"What about the cultural products of non-Christians? Do we simply write off such products as valueless because they have not been produced by believers and have not been consciously dedicated to the glory of God? Christians who take this attitude fail to appreciate the working of God's common grace in this present world, whereby even unregenerate men are enabled to make valuable contributions ot the world's culture."

Hoekema then quotes John Calvin, who recognized that through the working of the Holy Spirit, non-Christians can and do say things that are true. Hoekema then writes,

"With respect to non-Christian culture, therefore, we must remember that Christ's sovereign power is so great that He can rule in the midst of His enemies, and cause those who do not know Him to make contributions in art and science which serve His cause. The powers awakened by the resurrection of Jesus Christ are active in the world today! The sovereign rule of Christ over history is so marvelous that He can make even His enemies praise Him, though they do so involuntarily. And when we read in the book of Revelation that the kings and nations of the earth shall bring their glory into the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:24, 26), we conclude that there will be some continuity even between the culture of the present world and that of the world to come."

What, specifically, does this mean for Kind of Blue? Well, I can't say for certain, but I do think it points us in the direction that such cultural artifacts may be part of the redeemed culture that will fill the New Earth. The most compelling place in the Bible which leads me in that direction is Isaiah 60.

But this post is getting a little lengthy already. I'll save that for another time soon!

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