In the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, something happened within the church which constitutes the first theological point I mentioned. A strange truncated unscriptural view of spirituality grew up. First spirituality was seen as something separate from the rest of real life. It was above ordinary things; it was cut off and not part of the eerday working out of our lives. Spirituality became something religious and had a great deal less to do with truth, daily life, applying Christian principles through that life. It became something in itself, both the means to an end and the end in itself. Spirituality became a thing separated from the rest of life. Thus, certain things increasingly were regarded as spiritual and other things as secular.
The true division in the Christian life between one group of activities in life and another is that line we call sin. Those things which are specifically sinful are indeed cut off and separate from the rest of life for Christians and to be avoided, but everything else comes under the heading of our Christian life, if it is to be a true and full Christian life in the real sense. Either Christ has redeemed the whole man, including every part of him (except those things that are sinful), or he has redeemed none of them. Either our whole life comes under the Lordship of Christ or no part can effectively come under it.
The obvious question that follows is - what is sin? Likely some have already decided what that is, compartmentalize all of their lives in these categories of Christian and secular and condemn at least in their hearts anyone coloring outside the lines on these issues. Moral relativism aside, what is sin for me may not be for someone else, and each of these things are discovered in the inner workings of a relationship with Father. If you're scratching your head wondering what I'm getting at, think of meat sacrificed to idols and how some could eat it with a clean conscience and others because of exposure, could not. I also think of my children and how other children have "rules" that their parents have set for them that we do not - let's use a curfew for example. If one child is out at 1 am but his curfew was midnight - this could be a sin of disobedience to his parents, but for my child who does not have a specific curfew, and stays out as late as we discuss and feel comfortable with in any given situation, it is not. (Feel free to blow holes all through this example but it is the best one I have at present.)
The author goes on:
Either God is the Creator of the whole man, the whole universe, and all of reality and existence or he is the Creator of none of it. If God is only the Creator of some divided platonic existence which leads to a tension between the body and soul, the real world and the spiritual world, if God is only the Creator of some spiritual little experiential "praise-the-Lord" reality, the he is not much of a God. Indeed, he is not I AM at all. If our Christian lives are allowed to become something spiritual, and religious as opposed to something real, daily, applicable, understandable, beautiful, verifiable, balanced, sensible, and above all united, whole if indeed our Christianity is allowed to become this waffling spiritual goo that nineteenth-century platonic Christianity became, then Christianity as truth disappears and instead we only have a system of vague experiential religious platitudes in its place. This indeed is what happened.
Thus people's lives became compartmentalized. This thing was spiritual, but that was not. And unfortunately in terms of this book, we see that the arts, creativity, enjoyment of beauty, even enjoyment of God's beauty, even an enjoyment of God's Word in the Bible for itself, were set aside. The arts were regarded as unspiritual, unfit and secondary to those high and spiritual goals now set forth for Christians to achieve.
Compartmentalized. We can't even see that all music, art, writing has its root in the Creator that created each of us in His image - to create. Not all that we create glorifies Him, but much does that would not pass through the "Christian" filter. The front cover of this book exemplifies this so well - we have a man in painter's overalls with a Christian fish symbol on his back pocket. He is using a paint roller to paint over the Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam masterpiece.
I won't quote the whole book here, but let me wrap up with this:
The second occurrence, which I called secular, took place during the same historical period. Something happened in the secular world which then deeply affected and infiltrated the Christian church. Following the Darwinian theory of evolution (which led to the concept of the survival of the fittest and the onward, inexorable and merciless march of society, and to nineteenth century industrial utilitarianism), people began to look at themselves and the world around them in purely utilitarian terms. So the tree which once had value, not least of which was its beauty, its shimmering leaves, the dappled shades it cast upon the mossy ground beneath, now only had value because of how many cubic feet of paper could be produced from it. So even man was measured by what he could achieve, produce, earn, contribute and so on. Not only that, all man's attributes, talents and endeavors had to be justified in some utilitarian way. No longer was it good enough to say that some human attribute was a God-given gift which should be freely enjoyed and given. now those gifts had to translate themselves into utilitarian usefulness. Either they had to contribute monetarily or in some other way to the society. They had to become propaganda tools, advertising tools or monetary earning tools, to be considered useful and therefore tolerated by the church.
The idea that individuals are worth something in themselves, because they were created in the image of God, whatever they could contribute or not contribute was abandoned. The same is true with regard to individual talents.
Unfortunately, the church itself was infiltrated by that view. The view was translated into religious terms. Now everything anyone did had to measure up somehow in utilitarian terms in the church. It had to be useful to the onward march of the church. It had to help in its efforts, in its programs, its church growth emphasis week or whatever.
This would be bad enough by itself. To make it worse, what everything had to measure up to as being useful toward was this false view of spirituality, this shriveled, truncated, narrow view which selected a few things arbitrarily and called them the Christian life, the walk with the Lord, my Christian growth, witnessing or whatever. That this was all that remained of the full Christian life we were redeemed to and that these sad standards were used to measure all Christian endeavor for its utilitarian usefulness to the church left many things in very deep water.
The arts were particularly and bitterly affected, first relegated to the basement of the church as unspiritual and now, whenever they were allowed to see the light of day, demanded to make some useful contribution to that church.
I don't have to tell you that I love this book. It is likely pretty obvious. I am ready to reread it. If you want the cliffnotes - it is all God's world. There are no compartments. Some of what we do glorifies Him and some of it doesn't. It doesn't make any of it any less spiritual. But I don't think we have to be afraid that we are always sinning or always disappointing him if we don't have an evangelistic message to all that we read, if we don't throw His name into every song, or if we paint a picture that isn't of the cross. All of our lives are stories, songs and paintings that are all about Him.