This post originally appeared on Theology Rocks
The tennis rails before my mankind! The disturbing center pushes the damaged touch. An additional arc watches the story. A hostile advice escapes above the unsuspecting flour. When can the instant virtue refute a slim associate? Why won’t a toe free an abstract life? A stagger fishes in the quibble.
Now when one reads the above paragraph (which was generated randomly), it is completely meaningless. Let’s say, for instance, I have an important thirty page essay due tomorrow. Let’s say I’m also quite fond of tennis. So, I simply grab a tennis ball and bounce it upon the keyboard randomly for the full thirty pages. Any meaningful professor would land a large F upon glancing at such nonsense. But such is the foundation of thought in our society.
A TRIBUTE TO FRANCIS A. SCHAEFFER
I haply tribute the article set before you to Francis A. Schaeffer. If you have never heard this name, I highly recommend you to pick up his book The God Who is There. In order to understand Francis A. Schaeffer’s analysis of culture, it must be understood from where he comes. This is not meant to be an in depth understanding of Schaeffer himself, but an overview of the system to which he defends and which he can make analysis of society, namely presuppositionalism (or perhaps like Van Til you prefer calling it Reformed Apologetics). Before explicating this idea, I must make mention that I am greatly indebted to Dr. Schaeffer and his work. May his writings, and those that follow these ideas, turn back the fog of despair.
THE NECESSARY PRESUPPOSITION: PRESUPPOSITIONS
The basic premise of this work is that everyone operates upon premises, or presuppositions. Everyone operates on a worldview which is made up of several presuppositions. For example, a Christian Theist can presuppose absolute truth based upon God. This leads to producing works (whether artistic, literature, music, et. al.) with absolute forms. Whereas, a non-Theist has no such justification for objective absolutes. Therefore, they may produce works out of utter randomness (for that is where they presuppose we all came from!). Artwork and other works often flow from the artist’s central views on life: Where did we come from? What is our purpose? A Christian believes humans came from God (the great “Purposer” cf. Job 42:2, Is. 14:24, Heb. 6:17) and their purpose is to enjoy God (Phil. 4:4) and glorify Him (Ps. 86, Rom. 11:36, 1 Cor. 10:31). This causes Christian artists to produce works made purposefully with meaning. On the other hand, Natural Secularists (non-Theists) believe humans are here merely by chance and have no purpose. Therefore they produce works by randomness in which their only purpose is to prove there is no purpose.
DESCENDING A STAIRCASE
Dr. Francis Schaeffer, in his book The God Who is There, defines what he coins the “line of despair.”¹ This is the line in which when men descend under, they reject absolute truth and accept the presuppositions of the secularist (which, mind you, they should have had all along). This line maps out into a staircase which Schaeffer orders as follows: philosophy, art, music, general culture, theology. So the philosopher determines the existing presupposition of non-Theist position often by logical deductions. Then, artists show the philosopher’s presuppositions rather candidly in such a fashion that general culture consumes it. Then the philosopher’s presuppositions becomes the world’s presuppositions. No one may consider their premises, nor care, but everyone operates on them. But is the foundation God set about for the Christian sufficient? Or must we add to it from the buffet of ideas the world around us offers?
A FEW EXAMPLES
Dr. Schaeffer takes time to enumerate several examples of culture diving beneath the line of despair. Two particularly recent examples top the rest. Jackson Pollock is an artist who would use a random technique, or “action paining.” This was a way to allow the “impersonal” universe to speak for itself. As long as one believes the universe is merely random. John Cage, a composer also enjoyed this technique. He would flip a coin to figure out what would be played next. He said, “When I hear what we call music, it seems to me that someone is talking. And talking about his feelings, or about his ideas of relationships. But when I hear traffic, the sound of traffic—here on Sixth Avenue, for instance—I don’t have the feeling that anyone is talking. I have the feeling that sound is acting. And I love the activity of sound […] I don’t need sound to talk to me.”²
Such randomness in art, music, or even movies is to show the viewers or hearers that the universe is meaningless. The presuppositions behind artist’s, composer’s, or screenwriter’s works have become the presuppositions for the majority culture. But this must not be so for the believer. The Christian should understand the world did not originate out of randomness, but from order, God Himself. Also everything that happens, and our existence is not meaningless. These false pretenses are only to name a few that the culture tried to push upon us. We should be diligent to fight against taking on for ourselves the presuppositions that dishonor God and should found our worldview upon Scripture and Scripture alone (2 Tim. 3:16).
1. Schaeffer, Francis A. A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture (The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer. Revised ed. Vol. 1). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1985.
2.John Cage, in an interview with Miroslav Sebestik, 1991. From: Listen, documentary by Miroslav Sebestik. ARTE France Développement, 2003.