On Highbrow Christianity

Opera, classical music, wine tasting, craft beer, classical languages and literature: all these things exemplify highbrow taste. Highbrow interests require education and development of the ability to appreciate certain things, so arts that only developed agrarian or industrial cultures can produce (opera, classical music, literary culture) are relative marks of superiority. Anybody can brew and guzzle beer, but not just anyone can write and analyze a symphony. Anyone can become a Christian, but not just anyone can explain the differences between infallibility and inerrancy, read the New Testament in Greek, or compare modern cults to historical heresies. Theologians are more hipster than hipsters: they were highbrow before it was highbrow to be highbrow about being highbrow. Continue reading On Highbrow Christianity

Evangelical Denominations and Their Chieftains

Who is the chief of the evangelicals? Is it John Piper? Mark Driscoll? Joel Osteen? Rob Bell? All of the above are marked as evangelicals in one place or another. Two are Calvinists and two very clearly are not. In anthropology, we see two different kinds of chiefs, the war chief and the paramount chief: the war chief rules through charisma and persuasion to unite tribes for war, and his authority dissipates when the war is over or he dies; the paramount chief is the chief because of tradition, and his son or relative will inherit his authority when he dies. Denominations have paramount chiefs, but congregations may not know who they are. Evangelicals have war chiefs, but who is the paramount chief? Continue reading Evangelical Denominations and Their Chieftains

Was C.S. Lewis A Calvinist?

In a previous post, I mentioned in passing that J.R.R. Tolkien, though a devout Roman Catholic, filled his works with a distinctly Reformed or Calvinistic attitude toward fate and free will.  If you ask the direct question, “Was J.R.R. Tolkien a Calvinist?” the answer is obviously no.  But I believe that while Tolkien clearly rejected a bad cariacture of Calvinism (human beings are mere puppets on divine strings, etc), his deeper appreciation of acient northern culture lead him to hold divine providence and human freedom in a constant tension, with neither ever overwhelming the other, but with the greater emphasis always upon providence.  Without getting into the specifics of works and meriting salvation, this basic view is no less than the classic Reformed understanding of Philippians 2:12-13. Continue reading Was C.S. Lewis A Calvinist?