Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Alien and Hostile Influences

"Those who think Christians can easily use the world's artifacts and methods in the creation of a new synthesis underestimate the all-pervasiveness and subtlety of alien and hostile influences." -Herbert Schlossberg, "Idols for Destruction," p. 322

This is true in culture at large. Whether we are talking about music, art, food, dress, speech, science, politics, or economics, Christians must be purposefully biblical about what they do and why they do it. Going with the flow is a dangerous choice, especially in our society.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Artistic Life

"The art gallery or art museum theory of art to which philanthropists and promoters would persuade us views art as a luxury quite beyond the reach of ordinary people. Its attempt to glorify the arts by setting them aside in specially consecrated shrines can hardly supply more than a superficial gilding to a national culture, if the private direction of that culture is ugly and materialistic–Keyserling would say, animalistic. The proposition is as absurd as this: Should we eat our meals regularly from crude, think dishes like those used in Greek restaurant, but go on solemn occasions to a restaurant museum where somebody's munificence would permit us to enjoy a meal on china of the most delicate design? The truly artistic life is surely that in which the ├Žsthetic experience is not curtained off but is mixed up with all sorts of instruments and occupations pertaining to the round of daily life."
-Donald Davidson "A Mirror for Artists" I'll Take My Stand (1930)

The Incarnation of Religion

"We may go further and ask whether what we call the culture, and what we call the religion, of a people are not different aspects of the same thing: the culture being, essentially, the incarnation (so to speak) of the religion of a people."
-T.S. Eliot (Christianity and Culture, 1948)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Food and Dominion

In 1 Timothy 4:1-5 we learn several things. First, everything created by God is good, and second, we are to be thankful to God for His blessings. To reject either of these things is to destroy God's gifts (see other posts on these subjects here, here, and here). A third thing that Paul brings out is that God created food “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” What then? Did He not created it to be received by all men? What about common grace and the rain on the just and unjust? John Calvin has a great point to make on this subject:
“I reply, Paul speaks here of the lawful use, of which we are assured before God. Wicked men are in no degree partakers of it, on account of their impure conscience, which, as is said, 'defileth all things.' (Titus 1:15)

"And indeed, properly speaking, God has appointed to his children alone the whole world and all that is in the world. For this reason, they are also called the heirs of the world; for at the beginning Adam was appointed to be lord of all, on this condition, that he should continue in obedience to God. Accordingly, his rebellion against God deprived of the right, which had been bestowed on him, not only himself but his posterity. And since all things are subject to Christ, we are fully restored by His mediation, and that through faith; and therefore all that unbelievers enjoy may be regarded as the property of others, which they rob or steal."[1]
In a similar vein, commenting on the fact that “it is made holy by the word of God,” Calvin comments:
"And which of us would venture to claim for himself a single grain of wheat, if he were not taught by the word of God that he is the heir of the world? Common sense, indeed, pronounces, that the wealth of the world is naturally intended for our use; but, since dominion over the world was taken from us in Adam, everything that we touch of the gifts of God is defiled by our pollution; and, on the other hand, it is unclean to us, till God graciously come to our aid, and by ingrafting us into his Son, constitutes us anew to be lords of the world, that we may lawfully use as our own all the wealth with which he supplies us."[2]
Of course, this doesn't mean that unbelievers don't have civil property rights. It does mean that in the eyes of God they are unlawful trespassers on earth. It does mean we have been restored to the task (and promise) of dominion under Christ. It is because Christ was exalted with dominion that we as His people gain the dominion which we lost in Adam. By our union with Christ we are made kings to reign with Him (Rev. 5:10). Since He is the Lord of all, so we also are heirs with Abraham of the whole world by faith (Rom. 4:13). As children of Abraham (Gal. 3:29), we inherit the land. The world and the blessings on it (e.g. food) have been given to us so that we may enjoy and glorify God through them.

The food we eat is made holy. It is set apart for righteousness by the Word of God and prayer. We are taught by the Word of God our place of dominion in our Father's world. We give thanks in prayer for our food, eating for the glory of God, the giver of these blessings. When that is done, we will not be self-centered. We will give our worship and service not to food, nor health, nor any other earthly thing, but to God alone. In that way will God’s blessings be used correctly and to our good. We will thank Him for the way He has made all His blessings. We will not pervert His blessings for our glory, but will stand in awe of His wisdom in His creation, and work with it humbly and joyfully.

-Peter B.
 For Christ's Kingdom! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Calvin on Fasting

In my book I quote John Calvin concerning fasting. You can read his complete treatment of this important aspect of a Christian philosophy of food in his book, Institutes of the Christian Religion in Book 4, Chapter 12, Sections 14-21 here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.vi.xiii.html

"Let us, therefore, make some observations on fasting, since very many, not understanding what utility there can be in it, judge it not to be very necessary, while others reject it altogether as superfluous. Where its use is not well known it is easy to fall into superstition." (4.12.15)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Council of Gangra

The council of Gangra was an eastern church council held in the 300s A.D. (between the councils of Nicaea and Constantinople) and directed to suppress a schismatic, ascetic movement in Armenia. It has some very interesting, biblical points, some of which concern food:
Canon II: If any one shall condemn him who eats flesh, which is without blood and has not been offered to idols nor strangled, and is faithful and devout, as though the man were without hope [of salvation] because of his eating, let him be anathema.  
Canon XVIII: If any one, under pretence of asceticism, shall fast on Sunday, let him be anathema.
Canon II condemns a strict form of religious vegetarianism, and at the same time upholds the food regulations of Acts 15. The prohibition of eating of blood is especially important in my perspective since it forms such an important part of God's covenant with Noah and is continued throughout the Bible. (See this post on the topic.) Also, I think the forbidding of ascetic fasting on the Lord's Day is advice to be heeded. Greek commentator Balsamon (12th century) said of this canon, "By many canons we are warned against fasting or grieving on the festal and joyous Lord’s day, in remembrance of the resurrection of the Lord; but that we should celebrate it and offer thanks to God, that we be raised from the fall of sin. But this canon smites the Eustathians with anathema because they taught that the Lord’s days should be fasted."

Other canons of Gangra include:
Canon I: If any one shall condemn marriage, or abominate and condemn a woman who is a believer and devout, and sleeps with her own husband, as though she could not enter the Kingdom [of heaven] let him be anathema.  
Canon XIII: If any woman, under pretence of asceticism, shall change her apparel and, instead of a woman’s accustomed clothing, shall put on that of a man, let her be anathema.  
Canon XV: If anyone shall forsake his own children and shall not nurture them, nor so far as in him lies, rear them in becoming piety, but shall neglect them, under pretence of asceticism, let him be anathema.  
Canon XVI: If, under any pretence of piety, any children shall forsake their parents, particularly [if the parents are] believers, and shall withhold becoming reverence from their parents, on the plea that they honour piety more than them, let them be anathema.  
Canon XVII: If any woman from pretended asceticism shall cut off her hair, which God gave her as the reminder of her subjection, thus annulling as it were the ordinance of subjection, let her be anathema.
The whole thing is beneficial to read and can be found here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.viii.v.iii.html

-Peter B.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Priorities...


"It is vanity to wish for long life, if you care little for a good life" -Thomas A'Kempis

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:31-33

Monday, April 15, 2013

Principles for Understanding Blessings and Curses

As promised in my last post, here are some principles concerning biblical blessings and curses. These are important to realize when we are talking about food, health, beauty, and other blessings. (Note: many of the Scripture proofs are only examples of proof throughout Scripture; in other words, "etc..." could be put on the end of many of these.)

1. God defines blessings and curses, and He has done so in the Holy Bible. (Gen. 1-2, 17:6-8, Deut. 28, Lev. 26, Matt. 5:2-12)

2. We are to desire blessings (and their accompanying responsibilities) and abhor curses. (Deut. 30:19-20, 1 Cor. 7:21-24, assumed throughout Scripture and inherent in the idea of blessing and curse. For example, it would be wrong to desire cannibalism, which is an intense curse in Deut. 28:53-57.)

3. We are to work for blessings and against curses. (Compare Lev. 26:4-5, 9, Deut 28:4, Gen. 1:26-31, 3:16-19)

4. We are to realize that, whatever our efforts are, we receive blessings and curses by God's sovereign decree (and blessings always by grace through faith). (Lam. 3:37-39, Is. 45:7, Luke 17:7-10, see next point)

5. In this life, God will sometimes bring apparent curses on believers and apparent blessings on unbelievers, but when this happens it is ultimately a blessing for the believers (as a testing, humbling, and disciplining) and a curse on unbelievers (as a increase of accountability and a harding). (Heb. 12:7-11, Ps. 73)

6. Blessings thus come upon God's covenant people, His children by grace through faith who love God and keep His commandments, while curses come upon covenant-breakers. (Ps. 144:15, Ps. 128, Rom 8:28, Deut. 8)

7. We are not to be anxious concerning blessings and curses, but are to put our trust in God.(Matt. 6:11, 25-34)

8. God's total sovereignty does not absolve us from active responsibility, but establishes it.(Ps. 90, compare points 3 and 4, compare 2 Thess. 3:10-12 with Ps. 111:5)

9. Our work for blessings is not unrelenting, but ought to rested from (with faith in God) at times. This actually often increases blessings. (Gen. 2:1-3, Ex. 20:8-11, Lev. 25:1-7, Matt. 6:17-18)

10. Not all blessings and curses are equal, and our desire and work should vary compared to their worth (as defined by God). (See the way the Bible deals with and prioritizes the various blessings like wealth, good name, crops, health, children, wife, etc... as in Luke 14:26, Matt. 6:19-20, 18:5-6, Prov 22:1, and the same with curses)

11. God's kingdom and righteousness are to be sought as the greatest end. (Matt. 6:33)

12. Christ, and the fellowship with God that He brings, is the greatest blessing; from Him all other blessings flow, and in Him all the nations will be blessed. (2 Cor. 1:20, Gal. 3, Gen. 12:2-3, Heb. 8)

Much more could be said on this topic. Hopefully this is helpful. Too often people forget these things in discussions concerning not only things like health and nutrition, but also theology, farming, birth control, eschatology, economics, and the like.

-Peter Bringe
 D.V.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Law and Health

Food is an area where many misapplications and misinterpretations of Scripture have taken place. One of the more obvious examples of this is Ezekiel bread, which is supposed to be based on the ingredients found in Ezekiel 4:9. Somehow they missed the fact that God was telling Ezekiel to make this bread as a sign of judgement upon Jerusalem (and that it was supposed to be cooked over dung, see verses 12 and 15). 

Well, I am not free of guilt myself in this area. In my book, near the end of my discussion on clean and unclean foods, I said the following:
God is good, and His guidance in life by His law is a blessing. God has said in Exodus 15:26, 
"If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer."
Now in my book I made the point that the Old Testament food law is helpful as an eating guideline (i.e. there is a physical "uncleanness" in the unclean foods the ceremonial uncleanness was built upon), but that it is no longer a binding law on believers (Mark 7:15-19, Acts 10:12-16, Col. 2:16-17). So why did I then treat it as a law and connect it to Exodus 15:26? I mainly was trying to overcome a common antipathy that people have to the Old Testament laws. But my application of Exodus 15:26 was unclear and somewhat misleading. 

So what would a proper application of Exodus 15:26 be? God is indeed good, and His guidance in life by His law is really a blessing. When we obey God's moral law as sons who listen to the voice of the Lord our God (found throughout the Bible, summarized in the Ten Commandments) God will treat us as His people and bless us as is found in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, etc...  Oh, and we can only be His sons by His gracious redemption. In fact, this passage in Exodus is right after God's delivering His people from bondage and slavery (a type of Christ's redemption). The diseases that are mentioned in this verse are the plagues that God sent on Egypt for disobeying Him and persecuting His people. Redemption is unto life in its fullest sense; rebellion is unto death in its fullest sense. 

So does this have anything to do with health? Yes, it does. Physical and spiritual aspects are often interconnected in the Christian life. Some of the Corinthians were dying because they were coming to the table unworthily (1 Cor. 11:29-30). The Bible teaches that honoring and obeying parents contributes to a longer and better life (Eph. 6:1-3). James gives explicit advice for those who are sick, and the instruction of highest priority for him was not food or medicine. 
"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:14-16).
As was the case in 1 Corinthians, our sins against each other can affect our health in a bad way. And whatever sickness we have, it is the Lord who is sovereign over its healing. Prayer should be an immediate response to physical distress. 

Of course, we need to keep in mind the examples of Job and of the man born blind in John 9. Not all sickness is because of personal sin. 

Also, there is a connection between the moral law and healthy living. The command "you shall not murder" (Ex. 20:13) includes a command to preserve the lives of others and ourselves. This involves healthy food, exercise, etc... Also, following the moral laws of the Bible, such as those against being drunk (Rom. 13:13) and being anxious (Matthew 6:25), will tend to promote a healthier life over all. And yes, the guidelines of the Old Testament food law, washing your self in various circumstances, and other similar laws, while they are no longer binding as ceremonial laws, may contain a moral element. This element may remain in that we should preserve life, and as general rules they help in that regard.

To sum it up, we ought to be thankful for the deliverance from bondage and death that Christ brings. As thankful Christians we ought not to grumble against God like the Israelites did in the wilderness, but should listen to our Father's voice, love Him, and keep His commandments. We should rely in prayer on Him for our health, and act to preserve life when we can without being anxious. 

-Peter Bringe
 D.V.


P.S. More needs to be said on the nature of blessings and curses and I hope to post something on the topic soon. Also, if you want a little more on the dietary laws, you might want to read this earlier post: Rushdoony on the Dietary Laws.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Food and History

When we consider food we should examine it as part of life. We live in a world that is interconnected, not necessarily put in neat, isolated boxes. One example is the connection between history and food.

Our culture, the way we do things, is greatly influenced by who we are around and with whom (or what) we have relationships. After spending time in an area where people speak with a particular accent, you will start to notice yourself speaking like them. So with food, if you spend much time with your co-workers you will start to eat like them. If you have your firmest relationships with your friends at school, you will start eating like them. If you have strong family relationships, as the Bible promotes, you will eat much like your family. (If your co-workers, your friends at school, and your family are one and the same, that is all the better.) If we honor our parents, we will do it not only in thought, but in deed as well. Ideally, our culture will be influenced by our ethnic background(s), and hopefully our culture will grow like a plant that adapts to its surroundings and matures, while firmly growing out of and formed by its past.

And not only is our food influenced by the past, but our food can be used to teach us about the past. In Deuteronomy 6:7-9 God tells the Israelites to teach their children as they go about life, in their walking, sitting, etc., in other words, to make their teaching a familiar thing of life. The Bible continues this mode of education in commanding certain feasts to celebrate and remember the past. Speaking of Passover, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD” (Ex. 12:14; also see Deut. 16:3, Es. 9:20-32). In Christianity this is applied today in a sacramental and spiritual way in the Lord's Supper to remember and unify with Christ, but also in a lesser way in common celebratory meals to unify with God, His people, and our forefathers by remembering their acts in history. We see that in various celebrations, such as Thanksgiving and Independence Day.

So whether you are a Norwegian and eat lutefisk at Christmas, a Scot and eat haggis on Burns night, a Japanese and eat sushi, or a Bringe and eat the Thanksgiving meal wrapped in lefse, you are expressing honor for parents in tangible culture. This multi-generational culture teaches some humility and stability in our progress and growth, and calls to remembrance the fact that we are part of a community that includes past generations. It helps us remember where we came from and where we are going. It keeps us humble in times of plenty and joyful in times of want. And as the nations are discipled, all these rich cultures may continue to be claimed and reformed for the glory of Christ.

-Peter B.
 D.V.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Our Daily Mirth

"The fellowship of the table has a festive quality. It is a constantly recurring reminder in the midst of our everyday work of God's resting after His work, of the Sabbath as the meaning and goal of the week and its toil. Our life is not only travail and labor, it is also refreshment and joy in the goodness of God. We labor, but God nourishes and sustains us. And this is reason for celebrating. Man should not eat the bread of sorrows (Ps 127:2); rather "eat they bread with joy" (Eccles. 9:7); "I commanded mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry" (8:15); but, of course, "who can eat, or who can have enjoyment apart from Him?" (2:25). It is said of the seventy elders of Israel who went up to Mount Sinai with Moses and Aaron that "they beheld God, and did eat and drink" (Exod. 24:11). God cannot endure that unfestive, mirthless attitude of ours in which we eat our bread in sorrow, with pretentious, busy haste, or even with shame. Through our daily meals He is calling us to rejoice, to keep holiday in the midst of our working day." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Biblical Directions for Art and Pleasure

Ever since Adam was created, man has had to deal with his earthly surroundings. God created man as one to subdue and interact with the world around him, and this interaction was at first perfectly righteous. Since man’s fall into sin, his relations to the world around him have been corrupted. As the Christian experiences Christ’s renewing power, he is forced to consider in what a right relation to this world consists. Especially difficult in Christian history has been our relation to those things that are not necessary for existence variously known as pleasure, art, decor, entertainment, and civilized culture. Even in the days of the Apostles there was conflict over ascetic practices of abstinence (1 Tim. 4:3, Rom. 14). Many extremes can be found in history from Christians who were very strict in prohibition of entertainments, to Christians who were very indulgent in all sorts of excess, although the former has tended to be more common. As we look at what the Bible says concerning earthly pleasures, we will find that it directs us in finding godly enjoyment in them.

Perhaps the most obvious direction we have concerning these pleasures is that they must be used with faith in Christ. Speaking of eating food, Paul teaches, “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Without faith in God, our pleasure will be idolatry. We will look to something else as the provider of blessing. We might look at the pleasure itself as the object of our faith. Without faith in God, the blessings that God sends will actually only increase our accountability and judgement. God is the one from whom all blessings flow, and to deny this is to deny His deity. On the other hand, when we have faith in God, our enjoyment becomes a way to praise and worship Him. These blessings then are truly blessings, for our good, because they build up our enjoyment of our relationship with God. With faith in God’s power and goodness through Christ even the littlest pleasure is recognized as a gracious gift from our Father.

Similar to faith, joy is another aspect of what should be our relation to pleasure. When we receive something good and reject it as “earthly vanity,” or as a mere temptation, we are being ungrateful for what God has made for us. Paul harshly condemns this attitude of abstinence, saying, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4-5). It is not the pleasure (marriage and food, in this case) that is evil, but the way we might use it. When we receive it with thanksgiving, praising God in prayer and using it according to His word, it is not only not evil, but good and holy. Paul also got upset at the Roman Christians who were dividing themselves by disputes over food. Food is supposed to increase, not decrease, faith, love, and joy. The food (or similar pleasure) is not an end it itself. The “kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Many people do become absorbed in the pleasures themselves so as to lose sight of God the giver. As John Calvin colorfully describes, “many are so delighted with marble, gold, and pictures, that they become marble-hearted—are changed as it were into metal, and made like painted figures” (471). Instead, “the object of creating all things was to teach us to know their author, and feel grateful for his indulgence” (470-471). When we eat, drink, dance, and sing with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, our enjoyments are actually expressions of the kingdom of God.

One of the blessings that God gives, to be received in faith and joy, is beauty. Beauty comes from God; it is an aspect of His glory. To seek the source of beauty somewhere else (e.g. in ourselves or the creation) is a form of idolatry. God proclaimed that He would take away and defile Tyre’s beauty because the king of Tyre had set himself up as god, saying, “I am perfect in beauty” (Ezek. 27:3, 28:6-7). On the other hand, God gives beauty to His people. God gave extraordinary physical beauty to Job’s daughters as a blessing (Job 42:15). He describes His salvation in terms of beautification, as in Isaiah 28:5, 62:3. He promises that the beauty and glory of the nations shall come “to beautify the place of my sanctuary” (Is. 60:13, also Rev. 21:24, 26). God’s beauty is all around us in His creation and, as we have said, to ignore it would be wicked ungratefulness (Ps. 19:1, Rom. 1:20). As the heirs of the world (Rom. 4:13, Gal 3:29) we are to rejoice at the beauty that God has made, claiming it as His sons.

Not only do we receive beauty, but we also imitate God in making beauty ourselves. Adam and Eve were created perfectly in God’s image, reflecting Him by taking dominion of the earth in ordering and, among other things, beautifying it. The creation was good already, but it was not developed and needed to be brought into its potential. Since man’s fall, both we and the creation have been negatively influenced by sin. As we are now being renewed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29, Col. 3:10) we must once again learn to obey God by imitating our Creator (albeit imperfectly) by beautifying the world, engaging both the work of dominion as well as the additional work of reversing the ugly effects of the curse.

As Zechariah 9:16-17 says, we are made beautiful because our Savior is great in beauty. We engage in this pursuit of beauty by reflecting the source of beauty, God. I would suggest we define beauty as that which is the earthly reflection of God's nature. As R.C. Sproul Sr. has said, "God is the ultimate standard of beauty, just as He is the ultimate standard of truth. Works of art that somehow reflect His nature are more beautiful than works that do not" (60). There are several aspects of this. For example, order as well as zeal are attributes of God (1 Cor. 14:33, Is. 42:13) and both add beauty, especially when entwined together. Our Triune God is both one and three, bringing aspects of unity and diversity in perfect harmony. God is also ethically pure, and true beauty will reflect this. Since God’s beauty is revealed in His creation, we can study patterns and values in creation, recognizing that we are to take these primitive elements of nature and develop them. It is in this rewarding pursuit of beauty that much of art consists. When we are engaging in painting, music, dance, and poetry we are taking color, sound, bodies, and words and subduing them to God’s beauty. Art, then, is to be God-centered.

Another important direction given to us concerning enjoyment is that it should be relational. The Bible doesn’t really talk much about “me time.” There are times when a person is away from other humans but only to be more focused on God (e.g. Matt. 14:22-23). As we have already mentioned, our enjoyments are always to be done in relation to God in faith, joy, and thanksgiving. To enjoy things purely by one’s self is selfishness. Moreover, the Bible places a high priority on enjoying God’s gifts in community with other people. In the Old Testament thanksgiving feast of the tithe it was important that the intense celebration be done by “you and your household,” incorporating into the household celebration the Levite, widow, orphan, and stranger (Deut. 14:26, 15:20, 26:11). Jeremiah proclaims that the prosperity that God’s salvation brings shall include the dancing of the young and old, men and women, all together (Jer. 31:13). In the parable of the prodigal son, the celebration described, which included feasting, dancing, music, and rich attire, was done in community, celebrating the love of the father for his son (Luke 15:22-32). The Philippian jailer and his household rejoiced together that he had believed in God (Acts 16:34). Hospitality and the sharing of our blessings with others are encouraged and commanded in many places in Scripture (Heb. 13:2, Rom. 12:13). The list could go on and on, including every section of the Bible.

This community in which we enjoy God’s blessings and create beautiful culture is a complex thing. The basic social unit seems to be the family, or more properly, the household. This is the group of people, tied by the natural ties of blood and time, and more importantly, under the protection of the marriage covenant with strict commands to obey father and mother. Death is the punishment in biblical law for the undermining of the family, i.e. adultery or incorrigible rebellion (Lev. 20:9-10, Matt. 15:4). It is to this unit, under the headship of the husband, that the dominion mandate was primarily given (Gen. 1:26-28). The household is in a manner saved as a unit (Acts. 16:31) and covenantally unified in its aim to glorify God (Gen. 17:7, Acts 2:39). It is here, in (what should be) the strongest of relationships, that culture and pleasure is primarily enjoyed and developed. It is in the family in which you have the elements of the rest of society: male and female, young and old, with differing gifts. Thus, a culture that is operating biblically will have distinct ethnic, folk, and traditional elements.

Included in the family, and beyond, are the elements of personal community and generational continuity. While the family is basic, it ought not be ingrown. These principles express themselves in the local community in which the family lives, creating nations and their cultures. Both the culture and the medium in which it is conveyed is important, and they actually influence each other. In fact, in today’s situation, “the forms of our popular culture may well have a more significant effect on our perceptions than the content” (Myers, 16). In modern society, culture and its popular forms have been uprooted from the family and become individualistic, impersonal, and revolutionary. As Christians, not only must our motive and standard of enjoyment be right (i.e. thanksgiving and God-defined beauty) but also the situation of our enjoyment. Our enjoyment becomes richer when it is shared by a community, transcending the individual, where each can contribute his/her gifts. It becomes more excellent when it is shaped and built upon by the generations, transcending the moment, where each generation adds more experience and perspective to our enjoyment. And the interaction of people, when done in Christ, is itself something to celebrate. “Like feasts and holidays, celebration in lovemaking is about remembering. It is a love of history, a couple’s history of good times, of positive personal knowledge shared by no others, of refuge from a crazy world” (Jones, 86-87).

While there is much more that could be said concerning our enjoyments, we can see that the Bible does give us good, and comprehensive, directions. Our motivation must be faith in Christ and joy for what God has given us. We must measure our (puny) achievements not only by their usefulness, but by the beauty and glory of our God, submitting our work to His nature. Our medium of pleasure and enjoyment must be rooted in the family and community, sharing God’s gifts and our work with one another. As we have mentioned, this godly culture should not be ingrown, but should grow into our communities and nations. Discipling the nations is our “Great Commission” and includes the art and culture of the nations. The Christian family disciples the nations by its dominion work in its vocation and cultural relations to its neighbors. The Church as an institution also changes culture. Through the preaching of its pastors, a Christian culture is indirectly founded when men are made new creatures in Christ (Van Til, 225). The Scripture which the Church teaches equips us for “every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). While the exact application is usually left to the families in their vocations, the families of the earth are coming to the Church, the New Jerusalem, to learn the ways of God and to learn to walk in its light (Is. 2:3, Rev. 21:24). May we show the world a culture of delight and hope amid its gloom of death. May we learn to exalt in the goodness of our God who causes

“the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man's heart.”
(Ps. 104:14-15)

-Peter Bringe
 DV


Works Cited List:
Calvin, John Institutes of the Christian Religion. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2008.
Jones, Douglas and Douglas Wilson Angels in the Architecture. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1998.
Myers, Kenneth A. All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1989.
Sproul Sr., R.C. Tabletalk 36.9, Sep. 2012: 60
The Holy Bible (ESV). Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003.
Van Til, Henry R. The Calvinistic Concept of Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001.