Thursday, September 20, 2007

Calling to be builders

John Daly put up this interesting video and asked for comment. The thesis of the video is that there are 7 spheres of influence that Christians are called to take part in so as to shape culture.

Now, being a good Calvinist, I believe that the Bible teaches that part of the calling on our lives is to build godly culture. And this includes good government, fair and honest business, excellent public institutions (like libraries, schools, and non-profits), biblically faithful churches, strong families, and an interest in excellence in the arts and media. Abraham Kuyper talks about the same kind of thing in his Lectures on Calvinism, in which he posits that Christ is the soveriegn over all these "spheres" of life. That doesn't mean the church is sovereign -- the church is one sphere with a distinct set of principles and a distinct mission. Meanwhile the arts, for example, have a different set of principles and a different mission in God's economy, yet according to Kuyper, the arts are still under the sovereign reign of the Living Lord Jesus Christ. The same would hold for business, science, government, the family, etc -- all having distinct principles and mission -- and all under the soveriegn rule of Christ.

Thus, Calvinism, taught rightly, ought to produce the best most engaged citizens out there. People who are involved in the community, working in the schools, investing in the public institutions. Simply put, we as Christians ought to be builders. (Yes, I'm well aware that there are diseased and unhealthy institutions and organizations in society that are beyond repair -- a part of healthy building is selective pruning out of what isn't working).

Contrast that with the ethos of destruction. This is the ethos of "I'm going to have mine, and the rest of you can play with a rusty chainsaw, for all I care." This is the ethos that spawns the latest crop of "torture chic" films (like Saw, Hostel, The Hills Have Eyes, etc). This is the ethos that turns a diverting video game like Second Life into a den of depravity, exploitation, and selfishness (see the article in this week's World Magazine).

And sadly, this is the ethos that drives the purges of atheistic regimes. When God is taken out of the picture, we have very little to build for. Consider the great purges done by Stalin, Mao, The Khymer Rouge, the French Revolution. All the rhetoric about the Crusades and the Salem Witch Trials pales in the face of the millions upon millions who have been systematically slaughtered by atheistic regimes.

And one telling feature -- part of these purges was an intentional targeting of the tastemakers. The intellectuals, writers, politicians, religious leaders, scientists ... anyone who might be a threat to the control of those in power. Basically, these regimes wanted to seize control of the major spheres of influence for themselves. And all of these regimes failed.

So we look at Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and shiver -- he is seizing control of all the spheres of influence. Schools. The Government. The Media. even time will be subject to his whims. All the while he and his cronies live it up on the backs of the poor. How long, I wonder, before the bloodletting begins. Even so -- he too will pass, for he is not sovereign. Christ and Christ alone is sovereign over the spheres of influence.

And, Lord willing, Christians will move to the rubble and build anew....

Soli Deo Gloria