Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Carl Trueman provides an observation of the shelf-life off hipster Calvinists


HT The Brooks at City of God blog

Two things came to mind: the beautiful young things of the reformed renaissance have a hard choice to make in the next decade. You really do kid only yourselves if you think you can be an orthodox Christian and be at the same time cool enough and hip enough to cut it in the wider world. Frankly, in a couple of years it will not matter how much urban ink you sport, how much fair trade coffee you drink, how many craft brews you can name, how much urban gibberish you spout, how many art house movies you can find that redeemer figure in, and how much money you divert from gospel preaching to social justice: maintaining biblical sexual ethics will be the equivalent in our culture of being a white supremacist. 

A couple of observations here.  First, the "beautiful young things" of the Reformed Renaissance have, even in the last twelve years, turned into jowled 40-something megachurch pastors with a bit of pudge from time to time. They've gone from finding redeemer figures in Matrix movies to ripping into James Cameron's Avatar and the Twilight saga (if saga is the right word to use).  And particularly in a region like Seattle conflating what are known for Christian conservatives as biblical sexual ethics with white supremacist ideology has already happened in the United States.  It's a case of "oh I went there, took pictures, and came back."

The transition from "engaging culture" to spending more time commenting on what's wrong with culture could simply be a matter of hipster Calvinists being nearer to 40 than 20 and, as some of them keep mentioning, having children now.  But my hope, purely personal and arbitrary as it might seem, would be that whether or not you are a parent should not catalyze a complete transformation of how you, as a Christian, assess and interact with culture where children are concerned.  Just because I've never been married doesn't mean I don't know better than to show six-year old kids episodes of South Park.  I know perfectly well they don't need to watch that stuff.  I don't presume that my lifelong interest in animation as an art form means that anyone else would even have an interest in a show like South Park.  Besides, the peak of the show's creativity was seasons 4-10 and they've lost what once made them interesting (for me).

But that's the thing, isn't it, everything has a shelf life and everything in this life eventually expires.  That can include the degree to which the young, restless and nominally Reformed "engage culture" rather than participate in what still looks curiously like "consumerism".  What was considered old hat and soon-to-be-phased out (intellectual property as a concept and copyright with associated licensing) at Mars Hill ten years ago has since become the basis for an imbroglio with a church plant considered to infringe on the Martian trademark.  So very much can change in ten years and that change can have a lot to do with how well established a once little church plant ended up being and where it was in relationship to benefiting (or not) from application of current intellectual property concepts happened to be.  Trueman's on the other side of that other pond (we're here over on the Pacific coast) so what Trueman describes as the future of the Calvinists hipsters we've already seen happen here in the land of Mars Hill.  So whether or not Trueman reads this here's a former Mars Hill person who has already seen most of that stuff happen.

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