Friday, June 5, 2009

With Heart and Mouth and Culture

There is a modern exposition of the Belgic Confession, a creed built upon the rock of God's Word, which those will love the historic Reformed Faith, and also desire to see it expressed and applied in our modern age, will appreciate. It is Danny Hyde's With Heart and Mouth: An Exposition of the Belgic Confession (2008). Reformation Heritage Books says it was one of their top-10 non-RHB bestsellers for 2008. It has been well reviewed previously by David VanDrunen and G.I. Williamson, and there is little I could add to their remarks. This exposition is steeped in Biblical and historic theology, and while I cannot give it a complete, unqualified endorsement as to every word, I am very grateful for it's valuable contribution to the modern understanding and application of a precious part of our Reformed heritage.

I will add this: One of its particular strengths is a willingness to engage popular culture. Readers of this blog may be surprised to know that I don't spend all my time reading only 17th century literature. Those who know me well know that I believe that it is important for Christians to interact with contemporary society, including its art, with appreciation for what is good (Phil. 4.8) and discernment concerning that which is evil (1 Thess. 5.21). In that spirit, I take note of the 20th and 21st century cultural references which one does not often see in the exposition of a 16th century creed. In the context of a book addressed to Christian laymen which contains a range of Biblical and historical citations, they add, I think, a dimension of cultural awareness that serves to enrich, rather than trivialize, the exposition. Read it for yourself and see. A handful of such references are given below.

A RECENT popular song [Dishwalla, Counting Blue Cars] had a refrain that went like this:

Tell me all your thoughts on God,
'cause I'd really like to meet her.
Ask her why we're who we are.

This song illustrates that humans are by nature incurably religious. Sadly, we are also incurably rebellious. We have many "thoughts on God," but where do they come from? As mentioned earlier, although 97 percent of Americans believe that God exists, many do not believe in the God of Scripture but rather in a god they have made in their own image. [p. 54]

"I'LL SHOW you all the beauty you possess, if you only let yourself believe: that we are born innocent..." I can hear my radio now, as Sarah McLachlan [Adia] catechizes American culture with her mantra that we are inherently beautiful and born innocent."
We still think of ourselves as existing at the height of the glory in which we were created. The harsh reality, though, is that Adam and the rest of humanity were plunged into depravity when he willfully sinned. "Houston, we have a problem" [Apollo 13] is an understatement. [p. 198]

BRITISH ROCK singer Sting's 1993 hit song, "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You," sums up our age's attitude toward the church: "You could say I lost my belief in the holy church." [p. 376]

And "[n]othing comes from nothing" (p. 7) is a phrase that, intentionally or not, evokes memories of a line from "Something Good," a song from the musical The Sound of Music.

Popular culture is something we do well to measure against the touchstone of the Scriptures, which teaches us to "[p]rove all things; hold fast that which is good." The Belgic Confession, like the Scriptures it is grounded in, is not a document whose usefulness is confined to a past age, but is timeless in its application and very much needed by contemporary society. Danny Hyde's exposition likewise, grounded in timeless truth, interacts ably with and offers an engaging, Scriptural and confessional touchstone to the modern 21st century reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment