Friday, October 27, 2006

Powlison on the Dove Beauty Campaign Video

I received the following reflections on this video by David Powlison, which I'm posting with his permission:

Along the way, it's a great example of the close co-operation and simultaneous interworking between common grace and noetic sin, isn't it. On the one hand, very insightful, well-intended, blowing the cover on cultural idols/ideals, with an instinct that shows traces of a recognition of God's creation . . . and yet, on the other hand, it is fundamentally misguided in its self-referential self-affirming "salvation," in its frank suppression of that Creator, in its denial of the active and fallen human heart that willingly embraces lies. If only the counseling field could see that this is exactly what the secular psychologies are like!: simultaneously so insightful and so off-base. I think that the resolution of the "counseling wars" will come as God's people come to see and get a working feel for how noetic sin and common grace simultaneously operate. It's an intellectual skill -- a wisdom -- that's much to be desired for the blessing of the church in knowing how to engage contemporary culture. Thinking with this mindset is the reason, for example, that Calvin can be both so affirming and so withering when he comments on the Greek philosophers.

It does seem to me, that "fundies" only see the contradiction between secularity and faith. They lose the point of contact, in that both believer and unbeliever share the same "ontological situation," having "all things in common ontologically," as Van Til put it. So all the "stuff" of psychology is in common, and faithfulness to God in our times calls for careful practical theological reflection in formulating the Faith's psychology in a more fine-grained way. They don't see how much of life still needs a biblical interpretation, and that there’s not a proof text for every phenomenon.

But integrationists, while seeing something of the contradiction, chiefly see the insightfulness of secular observers. The lose the ability to make a pointed call for unbelievers to an intellectual as well as personal metanoia [i.e., repentance]. They lose sight of the comprehensive "ethical situation," that unbeliever and believer inhabit radically different worlds presuppositionally. They never see the comprehensiveness of the biblical worldview, so, while they screen out some secularities (common examples: homosexual advocacy, easy divorce), they swallow as "truth" things that simply aren’t true (common examples: Maslovian need theory, personal history determinism, biological determinism). Thus, they are equally unable to formulate the Faith's psychology, because they have no standpoint for comprehensive reinterpretation.

Neither thinks about worldview very consistently. Would it be fair to say, as a generalization, that fundies are epistemologically clumsy, while integrationists are epistemologically naive? And the net effect, in both cases, is powerlessness both intellectually and pastorally. Souls aren't deeply understood; and souls aren't deeply cured.