Posts Tagged ‘Calvinism’

Can you praise God through Coldplay?

March 30, 2009

coldplayIs it possible to worship God through secular music? Can one have a deeply moving spiritual experience through secular music? It’s something I have thought about for a while and I have come to a conclusion.

In my post Doxology, Mars Hill and Wales, which I published here back in February, Steffan, a friend from Aberystwyth, left a comment saying:

A lot of what is described as “the Holy Spirit moving” sounds to me just like what I experienced recently when I saw Wales beat Australia, or when I saw Coldplay play in front of 20,000 people.

That is a very interesting comment from Steffan. I would say that those deep feelings of happiness, even praise (?), you get in non-Church context could actually stem from God. Common Grace and the Joy of Creation, man created in the image of God, can work sometimes in un-regenerated rock stars, in the writings of un-regenerate poets, in the visions of un-regenerate film producers etc. etc.

Although the present state of man and creation is fallen the true natural state of man and creation is good because the earth and all on it including man are made in the image of God. God didn’t leave the fallen earth and fallen humanity to rot from eden onwards; God instantly made a new covenant, the covenant of Grace and he set a plan of regeneration, of transformation and restoration. Salvation is personal, yes, but salvation should never be seen as private. God wants to save and restore us as individuals on one hand and as a humanity and as a creation as a whole on the other.

In the words of Calvinist Louis Berkhof:

[Common grace] curbs the destructive power of sin, maintains in a measure the moral order of the universe, thus making an orderly life possible, distributes in varying degrees gifts and talents among men, promotes the development of science and art, and showers untold blessings upon the children of men.

coldplayThe various aspects of God’s common grace to all mankind may be generally gathered under four heads:

Providential care in creation – God’s sustaining care for his creation, called divine providence, is grace common to all. The Bible says, for instance, that God through the Son “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:2-3; John 1:1-4). God’s gracious provision for his creatures is seen in the giving of the seasons, of seedtime and harvest. It is of this providential common grace that Jesus reminds his hearers when he said God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). We also see evidence of God’s common grace in the establishment of various structures within human society. At a foundational level, God has ordained the family unit. Even pagan parents typically know that they should nurture their children (Matt. 7:9-10) and raise them to become responsible adults.

Providential restraint of sin – In the Bible, Paul teaches that civil authorities have been “instituted by God” (Rom. 13:1) to maintain order and punish wrong-doing. Although fallible instruments of his common grace, civil governments are called “ministers of God” (Rom. 13:6) that should not be feared by those who do good. God also sovereignly works through circumstances to limit a persons sinful behavior (Gen. 20:6, 1 Sam. 25:26).

coldplayIn man’s conscience – The apostle Paul says that when unbelieving people “who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, . . . They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Rom. 2:14-15, ESV). By God’s common grace fallen mankind retains a conscience indicating the differences between right and wrong. This may be based on the fact that human beings, though fallen in sin, retain a semblance of the “image of God” with which they were originally created (Gen. 9:6: 1 Cor. 11:7).

Providential blessings to mankind – Human advancements that come through the unredeemed are seen as outcomes of God’s common grace. For example, medical and other technological advancements that improve the lives of both the redeemed and unredeemed are seen as initiated by common grace.

Music, along with art, science, technology etc. are gifts from God; they can be used and they can be misused. Coldplay, and all our favorite secular music artists, are often referred to as “gifted songwriters”. But who gifts them? God of course, praise the Lord!

Should we explain or change the world?

March 11, 2009

I spent a good part, at least six months, of the first year of my PhD researching the Puritans. At first that might seem odd considering my PhD thesis is about the Christian political philosophy of a 20th Century man. At the time I did feel that I had wasted six months of my precious research time but now three years on it’s becoming ever clear to me that to understand politics and nationalism from a Calvinistic perspective one must start with the Puritans. Dr. Pope, my research supervisor, I forgive you.

Just a quick post today to share a brilliant quote I re-turfed from the big PhD box file today. Ironically it’s not a quote by a Christian it’s a quote by atheist marxist historian Christopher Hill, but it’s a brilliant quote about the Puritans:

Previous theologians had explained the world: for Puritans the point was to change it.

Magic isn’t it? That Puritan ethic is massive encouragement to Christians today; with all the new violence in Northern Ireland, the immorality of our economics and the sad sad news about the shootings from Germany, the puritan ethic spurs us on to bless and change society with the gospel.

The principles of love and justice to the nations

February 27, 2009

R. Tudur JonesI’m giving a paper about my research in the department on Monday; I’ll be giving the paper in Welsh but many of the audience will be non-Welsh speakers so there will be translation available. The University’s translation department have translated the paper for me already which is great because for the first time ever I have got a few thousand words of my research available in English for those of you who don’t speak the language of heaven! Here is a few paragraphs to get us going.

‘The Bible has been let out to teach the principles of love and justice to the nations.’ These were the words of Michael D. Jones, one of the principals of Bala Congregationalist college, in 1887. It would be just as easy to imagine that they were the words of the last principal of the College, R. Tudur Jones, when it closed at the end of the 1980s. Like Michael D. Jones and several other radical nonconformists, R. Tudur Jones, or Dr. Tudur, was a Christian leader who wished to share his faith with a wider congregation and release it from the sphere of the private and the ecclesiastical.

Dr. Tudur was a historian, a theologian, a teacher, a minister, a journalist, a philosopher and a nationalist. He was a very important Christian figure in the history of twentieth century Wales. Despite the importance of Tudur Jones, not much has been published about him to date. I will try to contribute to the study by focusing on one aspect of this important character.

First of all on Monday, I aim to evaluate Tudur Jones’ Calvinist theology – but only briefly as I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear! Although the aim of the lecture is to study his political ideology, an understanding of his Calvinist theology is essential in order to understand his political ideology.

If we want to understand his mind and his political ideology we cannot ignore his theology. Both aspects are intrinsically interwoven. Secondly, I will discuss some of his political ideologies. I will discuss in detail his concept of the relationship of the Christian and the State and his concept of Christian Nationality. Thirdly, I will evaluate, without going into any great detail, his political influence on Wales – mainly through his role as one of Gwynfor Evans’ principal advisers.

If you’re in the Bangor area you are welcomed to join us on Monday. The research seminar, which is open to all, is held at the WISCA Seminar Room in the Main Arts Building at 2.15pm, Monday 2 March.