Culture At Large

He shines in all that's fair, and sometimes through what's not

Paul Vander Klay

There are Christians who are chatty about how they imagine God to be involved in the minute details of their lives, and those who aren't. I'm in the second camp. That doesn't mean I don't think about what God might be saying or doing as circumstances arise. I just don't like to talk about it too publicly. I can also sometimes get short with those who do. One day when I heard "it's a God thing" just once too often I let my inner voice slip out with "as opposed to the rest of creation?!"

Most Christians assume God's voice and providential involvement in their lives and expect their pastors to as well, but when John Van Sloten in his book "The Day Metallica Came to Church" does this -- many of these same Christians get scared and/or angry. It isn't that John takes things "too far" in the way I've seen pastors do ("I just KNOW God is telling you to do X and Y specifically..."), but he's taking God as author of creation and mover of history so seriously that he dares to preach not only from the first book, but also from the second (Belgic Confession Article 2), which is general revelation.

Every pastor preaches from general revelation, but John is more honest about it and more daring when it comes to looking for God's voice in spaces where some Christians claim God cannot be found. He does this because he's a missionary and he wants people who think God is contained in a building or a sectarian box to hear Him everywhere they go.  Here is a YouTube of John describing the transition from "seeker sensitive" to what they are doing now.

When I first met John I assumed that he was dabbling in this stuff just to get an audience or to be cool or relevant as a church planter. What comes through very clearly in this book is that this pursuit is no gimmick or publicity stunt for John, but a central feature of his experience of God's revelation. John is approaching standard theology about general revelation with so much earnestness he's making Christians nervous. Do we really believe God is the author of creation and of history? Do we really believe Psalm 8? Do we really believe he shines in all that's fair and even through a lot of stuff which isn't so fair?

The most important aspects of John's book for me is him calling our bluff on this doctrine many of us subscribe to. We are quick to rush in and say "but people will differ wildly on interpreting general revelation!" as if somehow we in the church all quickly and easily agree on what special revelation (the Bible) has to say.

John is anything but careless when it comes to treating his subjects. He does so in community and with accountability. In fact from what I can read in the book we can all learn something about talking about God's involvement in our lives from John. What if instead of participating in some ad hoc individualistic circumstance divination we spent more time meditating and reflecting upon what God is saying to all of us publicly. The sacred cow that John is guilty of sacrificing is being bold enough to declare that God doesn't just speak to me in a privatistic way, but in a broader, public way both through and to a world that is often in open rebellion to him. The deep theological truth of this book is that we just can't get away from God. He is our drug we just can't leave behind because we were made for his glory and his pleasure.

What this book asks of you is that you begin to see God at work around you in more ways than just the money that comes just when you need it or the new opportunity at work opening up. Can we hear God's voice even through a culture that is often pushing back against him? When he speaks this way do we care to listen?

Topics: Culture At Large, Arts & Leisure, Books, Theology & The Church, Faith