Contemporary Cosmic Christology and Contemporary Christian Music

In his endless and zealous quest to see Abraham Kuyper prevail as the vice-regent of all things, Dr. K. (Nelson Kloosterman) keeps translating and quoting Kuyper as if such invocations will settle debates over 2k. Somehow, Kloosterman believes that 2kers deny Christ’s kingship over all things. When I respond that Jesus was Lord even over Saddam Hussein, just not as king in the sense of being Saddam’s redeemer, I receive responses like the following (which is generally a restatement that 2kers deny Christ’s Lordship over all things):

Agreement: Jesus Christ is King of the church

Agreement: Jesus Christ will one day rule all the world

Difference: Jesus Christ is King of the cosmos. Not simply the Second Person of the Trinity, not simply the “Logos Asarkos,” not simply the Son of God. No—Jesus Christ, prophet and priest, is also King of the universe.

Difference: Jesus Christ is King of the cosmos today. Here and now. In this world, and in today’s history.

These are not quibbles. For now we are being introduced to a new terminological distinction (here) regarding Jesus’ essential reign as King and Jesus’ mediatorial reign as King. Note: not the essential reign of Jesus Christ, but merely the essential reign of Jesus as the Second Person of the Godhead.

The distinction between Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ as the second person of the Trinity is lost on me. But I suppose it gets Dr. K. through these difficult mid-western winters.

And then, as is his habit, Dr. K. finishes off debate with a long flourish from the original Dr. K. (i.e. Kuyper):

Coupled with this was a change in another arena of living. As the ecclesiastical conflict was being waged, Reformed people were throwing themselves into public social life. For them there existed two kinds of living, one kind within the Church and another kind outside the Church, and justice was no longer being done to the unity of both. That rupture could have been prevented only if the confession of the Kingship of Christ, proceeding from the church, had been recognized within popular consciousness as the governing power for all of life. But this is precisely what did not happen. Instead the Kingship of Christ was pushed further into the background, and at that point naturally this caused the contrast between ecclesiastical life and public life to penetrate the consciousness of Reformed people in a most perilous way. Ultimately it was as though people dealt with Christ only in the church, and as though outside the church they did not have to take into account the exaltation of Christ. That opposition has functioned until late in the previous [nineteenth] century, at which point room was made for the first time for better harmony in Christian living. This is how we acquired our Christian press, our Christian science, our Christian art, our Christian literature, our Christian philanthropy, our Christian politics, our Christian labor organizations, etc. In short, the understanding that Christ laid claim also to life outside the church gradually became commonplace. At present we are already to the point that nobody among us wants it any differently anymore. The problem, however, is that people still seek [to locate] the Christian character of these various expressions of life too exclusively in Christian principles, and the understanding has not yet sufficiently permeated our thinking that Christ himself is the One who as our King must imprint this Christian stamp on our expressions of life. This explains the need for awakening and fortifying this understanding once again. It is this need that Pro Rege is attempting to satisfy.

According to the contemporary Dr. K., this is the heart of the issue, whether there are two ways, or two spheres of Christian endeavor, one inside and the other outside the church. For neo-Calvinists distinctions between creational and redemptive spheres when considering aesthetics is a form of dualism and a sign of infidelity because it denies Christ’s lordship over all things.

The frustrating aspect of those who are so eager to blur distinctions between the religious and the secular, between the eternal and the temporal, is that they are long on inspiration and short on qualification. What I mean is that someone could plausibly read Kuyper on the effort to integrate the church and all other walks of life as an endorsement of contemporary Christian music. (Since John Frame, who follows Kuyper also, makes this move in reflecting on worship, this idea is not far fetched). When folks like Larry Norman, the first Christian rocker, asked “why should the devil have all the good music?” he was apparently rephrasing the Kuyperian desire to tear down the distinctions between Christian and secular areas of life. He wanted to bring the expressions of secular culture into the halls of the sacred assembly.

Which makes me wonder if Kuyper and neo-Calvinism is proximately responsible for the triumph of bad taste and poor music in Reformed churches. Without making the distinctions that 2kers are wont to require, I don’t see how a Kuyperian would really object to the contemporary Christian music project on the grounds of contemporary cosmic Christology.

14 thoughts on “Contemporary Cosmic Christology and Contemporary Christian Music

  1. From the brothers Niebuhr to “theocentric” Gustafsen, we have always had ethicists who wanted to confuse creation with redemption, in the interests of ignoring the imperatives and example of the Redeemer in the name of the “Trinity”.

    But killing for the secular empire (or for Wall Mart) serves neither creation nor redemption.

    Colossians 1:12 giving thanks4 to the Father, who has qualified you5 to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the reign of darkness and transferred us to the reign of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, lin heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created othrough him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

    18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

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  2. Majesty worship His Majesty
    Unto Jesus, be all glory,
    Power and praise
    Majesty, Kingdom authority
    Flow from His throne,
    Unto his own, His anthem raise.

    I would ask which kingdom and what does “authority” mean. But I don’t want to come across as a nitpicking fundamentalist.

    That song just doesn’t sound too “church go to heaven and leave the world behind” friendly.

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  3. Was John Lennon Kuyperian or 2K in his worldview. In his song “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” he speaks of Mr. K and writes “In this way Mr. K. will challenge the world!” I’m just not sure if Mr. K is Kuyper or Kloosterman. Anyway, it is a comfort to realize that Lennon was at least interested in reformed theology. Well, if he wasn’t before he is now. 😉

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  4. I have a question, and please know that I am new to 2K, and am still trying to understand it (so I may misrepresent both sides in my lack of knowledge.) When Christ said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world…” how would Kuyper interpret that? And how would Kloosterman interpret that? Many evangelicals launch into a gnostic bumper sticker sense in that phrase, where do Neo-C’s go with that?

    Thanks, I am trying to understand…

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  5. Of course, your point stands regardless of Larry Norman’s intent, but if I can talk about that side issue, he seemed to be on a different page than the CCM of today. First of all, I do think he had a fair amount of talent and creativity. Pause. Then, although he did write the Baptist hymn “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” he did a number of songs that were just fun or for music’s sake. Dude did a bluesy album tied into Ecclesiastes (“Something New Under the Sun”), even quoting blues man John Lee Hooker with “Momma killed a chicken, thought it was a duck, Put it on the table with its legs stickin’ up.” Had he been able to continue with his music, I don’t think he’d easily fit into what’s been happening in the last couple decades.

    He who wishes to conquer the world will be conquered by the world. He who wishes to make sacred the secular will only make the sacred secular. Or make up your own Two Kingdom proverb.

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  6. This brought a smile to my face :

    The distinction between Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ as the second person of the Trinity is lost on me. But I suppose it gets Dr. K. through these difficult mid-western winters.

    Thanks Dr. Hart. I’m glad I’m not the only one to miss these fine distinctions.

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  7. Though Jesus Christ is already King on earth, we do not yet see Jesus Christ on earth. The power of His reign on earth does not come from the earth, otherwise his servants would fight. The real absence of Jesus here now means that we expect a great discontinuity, when the earth will no longer have two kingdoms. Everything has been already decided, but the antithesis, the collision, the offense between the two kingdoms will continue until Jesus Christ returns.

    http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2010/08/17/taylors-constantinianism/

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  8. Dr. Hart,
    Do those who maintain the 2k position puzzle over or reject the idea of Contemporary Christian music outside of the Church? I have been puzzling over it lately.

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  9. Durrell, the idea of CCM is one thing, the sound another. Outside the church, though, Christian liberty allows all sorts of music. Aesthetic standards are a different matter and come from general revelation whether inside or outside the church.

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  10. Robert, that’s hard to say. Most neos stay away from that text as much as they do that books of straw called Ecclesiastes. What I do know is that when 2kers bring it up they are accused by neos of latent dispensationalism, gnosticism or world-flight fundamentalism (and in some weirder instances even a faith closer to science fiction than Christianity).

    For a good read on neo-Calvinism in contrast to 2k you might see VanDrunen’s chapter in “Always Reformed.”

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