Transforming Culture: Where Will We Be In 50 Years? with Jeremy Begbie

front-balconies-modernFriend and contributing voice at WorshipTraining.com Jeremy Begbie, Ph.D. of Duke University offers these insights on Transforming Culture: Where Will We Be In 50 Years?

Jeremy will be doing a live Christmas webinar call with us next week on The Implications Of The Incarnation. You can join here.

Here are the notes from the speech. Thanks to Heather Harbaugh and Larry Gross for this one.

From Larry’s “God Unboxed” Blog:

TRANSFORMING CULTURE: WHERE WILL WE BE IN 50 YEARS?

Finally plenary – notes unedited

Revelation 21

* Hopeful subversion – we should all specialize in this
* In Revelation, rather than moving from the present to the future to determine the future, God moves from the future to the present.
* The Holy Spirit moves from the future to the present
* God’s future erupts into our present

6 Things the Spirit does to bring the future to the present

1. The Spirit unites the unlike
* Ethnic multiplicity – peoples (not just people)
* Evangelicals have a tendency to create communities of the like rather than the unlike
* Evangelicals tend to be the only Christians who can do bad taste with style
* All unity comes at the foot of the cross
* Acts 2:6, 8, 11 – He did not give them all the same language – the Spirit interpreted a multitude of language
* Arts subvert homogoneity
* Polyrhythmic and Polystylistic
2. The Spirit generates excess
* Festal muchness
* Subvert the idea of closed equilibrium
* Not balance – but no evil – it’s excess
* it’s always excess in Scripture
* beyond just physical, but hyper-physical, better than alive
* artists should resonate with this truth
* art is not necessary – it’s excessive
* art always says more than you can tell
* this doesn’t mean art can mean anything, but it means more than can be described
* justice in Christianity is not simply balance (bad person gets what they deserve, etc.) – in Christianity justice is the transformation of the evil doer beyond what they deserve and forgiven for their sin due to the blood of Christ
* the light spoken of in Revelation is excessive
3. The Spirit inverts the world
* the rich are made poor and the poor are made rich
* the way up is the way down
* the lamb rules from above
* this is not a banal inversion, but an inversion that opens up new possibilities
4. The Spirit exposes the depths
* beware sentimentality and the denial of death
* we can’t contemplate the limits
* our tendency is to avoid tension in worship for the sake of keeping our membership numbers
* sentimental solipsism
* Easter doesn’t cancel the cross, it confirms it – it shows just how far God is willing to go
* James MacMillan
* Sinead O’Connor (I know she’s controversial)
5. The Spirit recreates
* the Christian vision is not other-worldly, but NEW worldly
* the Resurrection was created physicality made into the first New World recreation – Christ is the first foretaste of the New Heavens and the New Earth
* Reference to the Tree of Life sculpture that was made entirely of weapons used in a civil war
6. The Spirit improvises
* The New Heaven and the New Earth are surprising and unexpected
* It’s endlessly new
* Many of us live as if there are only two forms of life: order and disorder – the problem is:
o Laughter is not disorder, nor is it order – it’s non-order
o Non-order is not predictable
o The Life that exploded on Easter Day and the Spirit that exploded on Pentecost
o Untidiness is not necessarily a sign of disorder
* Art should be a mix of order and non-order
* Remember that you can only truly be original if you’ve immersed yourself and spent time within the traditional… otherwise, what framework do you have to determine what is original?

Jeremy also played a beautiful piece by a composer whose name I do not recall that explicitly showed the juxtaposition of many of these ideas… order and non-order, inversion, re-creation, etc. He used the language of music to illustrate much of this. Quite incredible.