Friday, August 16, 2013

Reformed Art-Making?

Over on the New Calvinist TGC blog, writer Amanda Dalla Villa Adams wrote an article simply entitled "Reformed Artmaking." On FB, I left a simple comment asking how the Regulative Principle of Worship applies here. The next time I logged into FB, the comment was *conveniently* deleted. So much for TGC being actually open to dialogue! Since TGC deletes all (even mildly) dissenting comments and only allowed approving ones, I will address this post in greater detail here on my blog.

The problems with this article are so many. Firstly, I seriously doubt Adams' interpretation of Kuyper. Whatever Kuyper's views on art, I seriously doubt he would have countenance visual arts, nevermind performing arts, in a church service. Whatever Kuyper's faults, Kuyper was a Reformed minister who adheres to the Regulative Principle of Worship! To approve of art does not in any way necessarily mean that one should bring whatever form of art into the worship service.

Secondly, the Regulative Principle of Worship was just discarded and not even mentioned. Worship for Adams is primarily about "mediating the physical to the spiritual" and to "direct us to the spiritual." Again, where in Scripture is worship ever described in those terms?! Is Christ's mediation enough? Is Christ so absent from us that we must find a mediating agent to go to Him? But what does Scripture say?

But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); (Rom. 10:6-8)

Why must Adams use art as a mediating agent "between the physical and the spiritual"? Is Christ enough?! Must we now use the arts to ascent into heaven, to bring Christ down?

Thirdly, upon what basis does Adams claim that Reformed theology (and Kuyper) affirms the "[c]reative arts that mediates the physical with the spiritual"? Which section of any Reformed confession has the heading "On Art"? Since when was Adams the definer of what constitutes "Reformed theology"?! What authority does she have to claim that she speaks for all of Reformed theology on this issue?

The hubris on this post is simply breathtaking. Being posted on TGC's website, it also shows how the New Calvinists are simply attempting to co-opt the "Reformed" label, as if they have any right to it. No, they have no right. TGC are not Reformed, regardless of what they say. They do not confess the same doctrine or the same piety as the Reformed churches. The Reformed churches confess the Regulative Principle of Worship. That does not mean Exclusive Psalmody, but it does not anything goes either!

TGC and their evangelically-minded friends can call themselves Reformed all they want, but they will never be considered by me to be Reformed. And since I consider Reformed to be just a way of stating that a person is consistently biblical, they are not biblical either. The New Evangelical Calvinists can shout all they want how much they are "Gospel-centered" but if we were to say that Gospel-centered implies a scriptural theology, then those New Evangelical Calvinists are not truly Gospel-centered either. They have the names but not the substance, being fakes masquerading as the real thing.

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