Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Worship and Life": Tearing Asunder What God Hath Joined?

It occurred to me recently that as someone who has recently had a new book published, I'm not doing very much by way of promoting it (unless you count blogging about Dark's sacramental worldview and Newman's theory of doctrinal development, which I'm guessing you don't). So in the interest of reaching those of you who have yet to purchase Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and the Not Yet, I will begin a brief walk-through of the book in the hopes that your interest will be piqued.

In what was originally Chapter 1 but is now the Introduction, I offer a lengthy defense of the book's subtitle. The reason for this is because distinguishing between "worship" and "life" has fallen way out of vogue these days, with it becoming more and more fashionable for pastors, authors, and theologians to insist that "all of life is worship." But as I seek to demonstrate, if there is no distinction made between worship and life, between cult and culture, between the sacred and the secular, then what inevitably ends up happening is not that the mundane gets elevated, but that the holy gets trivialized.
What follows is a biblical defense of the doctrine of the two kingdoms, much of which was taken from here, here, here, and here.

The reason I belabor this point about the distinction between the earthly and heavenly kingdoms is not, as is so often assumed by transformationist types, because we two-kingdoms folk are Gnostics who are all about world flight. Quite the contrary, it is the two-kingdoms advocate who is in a position to affirm even more loudly than the transformationist the goodness and legitimacy of creation (as I argue in this piece I recently wrote for the White Horse Inn blog). You see, if we look at culture and think, "So much untransformed creation, so little time," we are not really appreciating art or music for what it is, only for what it can become. And once we apply this standard more broadly to, say, jobs and the people who hold them, we run the risk of dehumanizing people simply because they don't love Jesus like we do.

But when we learn to appreciate earth for its own sake while still refusing to confuse it with heaven, we then can give true expression to our dual citizenship, engaging in secular pursuits without shamefacedness provided our love for this world is not greater than our longing for the next one. As Rich Mullins sang, "Nobody tells you when you get born here how much you'll come to love it, and how you'll never belong here."

I end the Introduction thusly:

Let the reader always remember, however, that being a pilgrim means more than just being homeless. There is a final destination, an eternal city, a true the­ocracy that awaits all who have been baptized into Christ Jesus. In this heavenly abode, there will be no serpents to distrust or Canaanites to dispel, for "No lon­ger will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever" (Rev. 22:3–5).

Do you long for this "building of God, a house not made with hands" (2 Cor. 5:1), compared to which the sufferings of this present time appear as mere trifles unworthy of mention? I hope that you do, for this is what it means to be a pilgrim.