Monday, April 24, 2006

Kuyperian Sabbatarianism?

There's no question that the Christian history of this country is a history of Sabbatarianism (albeit misdirected).

But here's my question for Reformed followers of the Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper (read: the majority of Reformed people): If culture is in need of redemption and transformation, it would follow that culture, as such, is bad (why else would they want to change it?). And since culture is bad, there can be no legitimate cultural participation beyond the redemptive efforts of those Kuyperians who are trying to transform it. Following me so far? Christians aren't supposed to go to bad places for fun.

But if the aim of the Kuyperian Calvinist is to redeem the culture, then what good is the Sabbath for this goal? All it does is annually waste 52 otherwise perfectly acceptable days which could have been spent on cultural renewal.

For a two-kingdoms advocate, on the other hand, culture is neither demonic nor divine, but is simply the common grace arena in which the divine drama of redemption is played out. Culture is to be enjoyed because it is legitimate for its own sake, not for its redemptive potential.

So when the believer with a two-kingdoms paradigm for understanding cult and culture decides to withdraw from cultural activity on the Lord's Day, she is actually making a sacrifice.

But the Kuyperian can make no such boast, for her cult/culture paradigm demands cultural withdrawal not only on Sunday, but on Monday through Saturday too. If culture is so flawed that we Christians must transform it, then withdrawal from it on Sunday should either be assumed (since the call to shun evil is valid seven days a week), or it is an incredibly poor use of the transformationist's time.

In order for the refusal of cultural engagement one full day every week to actually be a sacrifice for the believer, therefore, that cultural engagement must be considered legitimate -- and even good -- the other six days of the week.

And it's the two-kingdoms model that allows us to make that sacrifice.