Coffeehouse: Why care about the arts? Part II

I’m now a man with no more baby classes. I probably even look different. We only have to go to Lakewood Ranch once a week (instead of 2-3 nights) for doctors visits. Soon “Little T” will become Connar or Anna Kate. Soon.

Anyhow, I just wanted to follow up on the last post about our coffeehouse, and why we are doing it. Some folks would wonder why we care at all about cultural transformation, restoring neighborhoods, bringing community where there is none, etc…Many Christians have put for the question: why should you care anything about the world around you, or enter into the world and culture since it is all going to be destroyed? They have compared such efforts to polishing the deck of the Titanic (BTW-last week two separate people used this analogy as a way not to think of culture so I find it apropos to use it now). Why do anything when the ship is going down anyway?

Such thought arises from the Anabaptist tradition. During the period of the Protestant Reformation, two streams of thought developed. The Anabaptists sought to flee from cultural involvement, politics, military, etc…They divided the world into spiritual and secular. The spiritual component was sacred and eternal, while the secular world of politics, military, the arts, were left to others. Now there were some amazing Anabaptists who endured fierce persecution from not only the Catholics, but other Protestants (to our shame), so I commend them on such amazing perseverance. Yet I think their cultural legacy leaves something out.

The Reformed view of the world leaves no distinction between sacred and secular. According to this world-view, there should be no major section of the world and culture in which Christians shouldn’t be present. Again, as mentioned in the last post, they don’t have to be witnessing to others in order to fulfill their calling in work. As Christians go forth, they ought to embrace and express truth, beauty, love, goodness about God and His world. Painting a picture of a beautiful sunset or radiant full moon displays something about our creator in the same way that the moon, stars, sky display something of God (Psalm 19:1-2). It doesn’t have to have a bible verse (though I’m not knocking art that does) to honor God.

One day we will have a whole new world, as heaven comes down to Earth. And on that world we will have culture which perfectly and fully emphasizes truth, beauty, and goodness. There is a picture in Revelation of the different kings of the earth bringing their glory to the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:33). We bring the best of our culture into the new world we are promised. It’s more that we are getting a head start in this magnificent endeavor than we are polishing the deck of a sinking ship.

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