Saturday, June 28, 2008

A House For My Name

I have just finished reading Peter Leithart's OT survey 'A House for My Name'. Besides being suitably pacy, readable, and popular-but-scholarly, the book is a fine example of Christological biblical theology.Infact, together with the Goldsworthy trilogy and Through New Eyes, AHFMN is now in my all-time top three introductions to biblical theology.

Although in some sense it's unfair to compare these three great books (they are written to serve differing purposes, for differing audiences, and AHFMN is only an OT survey), doing so does highlight some of the relative strengths of AHFMN.

In comparison to Goldsworthy's 'Gospel and Kingdom', AHFMN is less concerned with finding precise repetition of a particular pattern. So whereas Goldsworthy's 'people-place-blessing' can at times feel a little forced, or limited by its generality, AHFMN sits lightly enough to its unifying theme (the building of the house of the Lord) as to allow for a greater level of detail. Leithart's journey through the bible allows for more taking in of the scenery, without losing an overall sense of the journey's direction.

In comparison to Jordan's 'Through New Eyes,' AHFMN employs a more restrained interpretive maximalism. The result is greater accessibility and (for those used to breathing the more minimalist air of contemporary UK conservative evangelicalism) believability. Where some will be put off by several of Jordan's wilder assertions, Leithart's challenge to employ more maximal readings of scripture almost slips under the radar, since even at his most (for some) eyebrow-raising his conclusions are difficult to write off as speculative. Part of this is because Leithart argues his case more frequently (Jordan deliberately doesn't, and wouldn't have the space to either).

Those who read should read all three, but perhaps Goldsworthy first, then Leithart, then Jordan.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Art for Christ's sake

I'm all too guilty of being able to spot problems without really having the solution. Or of only having an answer/ solution in the broadest, most general way.

So, despite having thought about the big picture of 'Christ and Culture' at various points throughout the last year, I must confess to being still largely clueless about how 'transforming culture' works out in practice. Yes, Jesus is Lord of all areas of life, including painting, sculpting and window-cleaning. But what does it actually mean to sculpt, paint, clean windows, in a 'Jesus is Lord' way? What is involved in a truly Christian approach to the arts, or to science, or to greengrocery?

With this in mind, Ally Gordon's blog looks interesting. Ally works for UCCF with arts students in the UK. He wants Christian artistry to go beyond simply copying its non-christian counterpart, and "to make culture, pioneer it and define it." I don't really know whether we agree on the relationship between Christ and culture (though I suspect quite strongly that we agree on a lot). But I do know I've been really enjoying his posts so far and am looking forward to what more I can learn.