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Dec 11 2003
05:46 am

*Please note: my post excludes catapult magazine articles. I think they do a fabulous job incorporating a Christian perspective. The rest of us …. uh, another story.

Does anyone else feel that while the threads here are intellectually stimulating, we tend to ignore the Christian perspective? I’m not saying that there haven’t been such discussions, but, for example, most political discussions are liberal-vs-conservative, save for the “terror and freedom” thread which has turned an eye to what the Bible has to say about terror.

Or the discussion about “Kill Bill Vol. I” … it’s discussed as though we’re ordinary movie critics. But we’re not movie critics. And we’re not ordinary, as Christians. Is it really a movie that glorifies God? In a thread about what makes good art (or something like that), I posed the question that, as Christians, isn’t good art only that which glorifies God? … and what, exactly, glorifies God then? To my recollection, that went nowhere.

Hey, I understand the fear of dismissing and reducing everything to “What Would Jesus Do?” and sounding like a bunch of fundamentalists who take everything literally, but sometimes, folks, life isn’t that complicated.

Isn’t that the point of Christianity? To free us, not only in the life everlasting, but in the here and now?

Sometimes I think we over-argue issues in order to justify our own opinions. We so desperately don’t want to sound like “spoon-fed Christians,” so we attempt to blind eachother with our intellectual brilliance and levels of reasoning, ignoring the rather simple message of Christ in the process.

So, does ANYONE share my opinion that we could all be taking a more Christian perspective around here?


Dec 15 2003
06:18 pm

while we could go back and forth for days - what ever happened to free speech? free thought? if someone wants to take an “I liked it” approach to any given movie, who are we to judge. what we can do is not reply to that persons quote directly-if we so choose. it is all choices people. we can beat the whole “Christ figure” thing to death sometimes.

Dordt was famous for that. watching a movie, sometimes corporately (with lots of people in a crowded stinky lecture hall) and then having the obligatory discussion afterwards on whether or not it was biblical. some stretching it oh so far . can’t we just watch a movie for mere entertainment puposes anymore?


Dec 16 2003
07:43 pm

I agree that a smelly classroom can kill a good movie. And the “Christ figure” discussion is a good place to start for people who aren’t used to thinking about what they’re watching, but it is terribly over-used (almost as much as the “is it redemptive or not?” question which puts all the pressure on the ending of a film). I LOVE movies. I mean, just watching the curtain open on a preview in a theatre can nearly bring tears to my eyes, you know when the projector turns on and you hear that pop sound coming from the speakers and the dark screen lights up with the colors that shine in everyone’s eyes. Man, that’s the best! I want everyone to love movies as much as I love them, because they’re among the greatest of all experiences humankind can know in this and the last century. So I would hate it if people didn’t get to see Citizen Kane, the slow but sure Wings of Desire or the even slower Andrei Rublev just because they prefer action sequences and lots of suspenseful melodramatic twists and turns. There are many other types of twists and turns that become entertaining after you struggle with a film, after you ask yourself, “What is going on here?” It’s too bad that this kind of engagement with film only happens in the college classroom. It should have been happening at a younger age. Instead, Americans learn at a young age that they shouldn’t think about movies and that they should only trust their own judgment about what makes a good movie and that no one has a right to tell them what to think. I am so sad that people might miss out on great films only because they’re unwilling to expand their preferences.


Dec 23 2003
04:34 pm

What do we mean by “the Christian perspective”? This is a question I’ve been asking for a while now, and haven’t really come up with a satisfying answer.

Does it mean having an eye to what the Bible says? THis seems like a good starting point. After all, without the BIble none of us would be Christians (who are Christian). But while the Bible does address the important issues of our lives, it does not address all the issues of our lives. The Bible does not explicitly answer all our questions or directly guide all our decisions. Thus, Christians may respectfully disagree about “the Christian perspective.”

Does it mean always asking “what glorifies God”? Again, this is a good question to ask, but how do we know what glorifies God? From general and especially from special revelation. But again, here Christians may disagree.

Does it mean asking “what would Jesus do?” THe problem with this question is that Jesus did a great many thing we aren’t at liberty to do (none of us is the savior of the world). At the same time, we only know what the sacred writers thought was important for us to know about what Jesus did. We ought to be careful asserting, “Yeah, definitely, this is what Jesus would do.” Besides, the sacred writers were more concerned about what Jesus did than what he might have done.

I want to apply Scripture to my whole life. What do we do with the problem that since Christians hardly agree on what Scripture means, how can we expect them to agree on general revelation and the “Christian perspective” on the world? What is the “Christian perspective”?


Dec 31 2003
07:48 am

Ok, so this is where it’s gonna go down? The “Christian perspective” discussion?

Let’s lay off the “How can we expect everyone to agree on one perspective?” question for now and focus on the idea that there really could be a perspective that belongs to Christ. You’re right, Anton, that we Protestants get our thoughts about being a Christian and glorifying God from Scripture. And if we read the Bible, certain values of God do become evident. God is mostly consistent in who He is and what he likes. We can get a pretty clear idea as to the aesthetic sensibilities of God and, with much practice, can even judge works of art according to the values we have seen in Scripture. Would you agree with that?


Jan 02 2004
11:46 am

I was primarily interested in the insights of cino* members. I didn’t intend to spark a long discussion. Perhaps we should start another thread for it.

At any rate, I agree with the beginning of your last post, even going a step further to say that God is entirely consistent. I disagree, however, that we can judge art according to values found in Scripture.

God reveals himself in history, in specific times and within specific cultures. The writers of the Bible were fully men of their times and cultures. What is revealed in their writings (the Bible) is not a set of transcendent aesthetic values by which we may judge all art. Rather, what is revealed are the aesthetic values of their times. If we attempt to judge works of art according to the aesthetic values we see in Scripture, we will only judge works of art by the aesthetic values of specific historical times and cultures.

Though there is always only one divine author, there are many human authors. Unless we adhere to a mechanical view of inspiration, we cannot ignore the human authors.


Jan 02 2004
12:14 pm

For this discussion of the “Christian perspective” I know of two basic camps:

1) The Kuyperian/neo-Kuyperian camp. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I am could summarize this position. From discussions with some friends who seem to fall within this camp, it seems that they want to live all of life in a distinctly Christian as opposed to pagan way. There is much to admire about this position. It seems to focus on spiritual antithesis (Christian vs. pagan by virtue of saving grace and the work of the Holy Spirit) at the cost of common grace (no one is as evil as they could be by virtue of common grace). For example, ideally, this camp would like to see a distinctly Christian America, with distinctly Chrstian laws, politics, etc. They engage in politics using Scripture as base.

2) The two-kingdoms camp. One kingdom is the world in which all humans live, and the other kingdom is the (militant) church. Thus, Christians are in the world but not of the world. Their citizenship is in heaven, though they are still salt and light in this dark world. For the time, God has seen fit to allow the two kingdoms to cooperate with one another until the full number of the elect have been brought into the kingdom, that is, the church. In the meantime, Christians bear witness to Christ as he has revealed himself in Scritpure, and they seek to apply Scripture as far as possible, recognizing appropriate limits. Beyond revelation we are in the realm of wisdom, requiring careful discernment. Christians, living in this world, engage in politics individually with wisdom. Ideally, America (part of the kingdom of the world) would be a place whose politics were most conducive to the purposes of the church (the second kingdom). Christians should engage in politics referring to natural law, Scripture helping to clarify what that is.

My initial impression is that the two-kingdoms camp does a better job of balancing spiritual antithesis (by virtue of saving grace) and common grace.

Are there other camps we should consider?


Jan 02 2004
11:08 pm

Anton, I think you’ve misrepresented he Kuyperian (neocalvinism) view. First, Kuyper is one of the major developers of common grace. He took what Calvin had to say about God’s providence (see Calvin’s Institutes Book I, Chapter 16 and came up with a “Christian perspective” of social action. To say that neocalvinists focus on the antithesis at the cost of common grace is incorrect.

Second, it is incorrect to say that neocalvinists would like to see a Christian America. Check out the Center for Public Justice ( for an idea of what neocalvinist political theory looks like. You’ll see that they are fond of the idea of “principled pluralism.” By this they mean that the state is different than the church and also “that no philosophy, ideology, or religion should be given a privileged place that leads to public discrimination against other communities of conviction.” From a neocalvinist perspective, a “Christian America” makes very little sense, since it doesn’t properly distinguish between the state and the church.

You are correct when you say that “They engage in politics using Scripture as base.” And not just politics, but music and science and baseball and anything else you can imagine. But that doesn’t mean that Scripture should act as a science textbook or a book of laws or baseball rulebook. Maybe a better way of putting it would be to say “They engage in politics in light of Scripture.” Or “They do science in light of Scripture.”

From the eyes of a neocalvinist, the problem with the two kingdoms approach is that it runs the risk of falling into a sacred/secular type of dualism. Where “Christian music” is good and “secular music” is bad, etc.


Jan 03 2004
05:47 am

Good clarifications, ByTor.

It might be worth mentioning that the two kingdoms camp also breaks down into the retreatists, who want nothing to do with the worldly kingdom, and the accepters, who believe that a culture from a different worldview can’t affect you, so why worry.

I guess I’d put myself in the Kuyperian camp — the transformers. The way I understand it, this is an approach that acknowledges that our world is fallen, but also acknowledges that we have a responsibility toward it.

Within the Kuyperian camp, though, I think there are people who still view the world as wholly evil (all culture is nasty and must be transformed) and those who view the world as wholly grace-filled (all culture reveals God’s glory. It seems to me that both and neither of these positions are true.


Jan 06 2004
07:50 pm

ByTor, I appreciate your clarifications.

I read the description section of the Center for Public Justice, but I’m not sure a discussion of its particular philosophy is useful at this juncture. I think early on we should attempt to stay more basic than specific.

Can anyone offer a description of the defined differences between the Kuyperian view and the two-kingdoms view?


Jan 06 2004
08:55 pm

To the camps within the the two kingdoms already mentioned, I think a third must be added. A third camp consists of those who are as active in the world as they are in the church, but in a different way. In church they hear God’s word proclaimed and respond actively in praise and adoration. In the world they live out their faith, influencing culture directly through challenges and indirectly by their excellent example.

I wanted to add this camp because the two kingdoms perspective does not mean that the two kingdoms are in hopeless opposition. Indeed, one person (a Christian) may be a citizen of both kingdoms, yet one kingdom (the church) always takes greater priority.