Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Two lovely hymns, separated by only two generations, bespeak the momentous influence of fundamentalism."

     "the momentous influence of fundamentalism"?  What of that line in the first stanza of the hymn by the Anglican Croly (below), namely, "Wean it from earth"?  Not to mention the profoundly pietistic and other-wordly feel of the whole? Is the "dimness" in question really anything other than a dimness of love for God? Is there really in this hymn anything indicative of a desire for a clearer vision of the world?  I seriously doubt that Noll makes (or even illustrates) his case:

"Shortly before he died in 1860, George Croly penned the prayer 'Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart.'  In its second stanza Croly described what he felt would happen if he were to experience a deeper walk with the Spirit:

     I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
     No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
     No angel visitant, no opening skies;
     But take the dimness of my soul away.

For Croly, to know God better would make our vision of the world clearer.
     "In 1922, Helen H. Lemmel wrote the words and music to a gospel song that is as moving as it is characteristic of the fundamentalist-Holiness outlook:

     Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
     Look full in His wonderful face,
     And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
     In the light of His glory and grace.

While the essentially Christian motivation of this song is clear, its ironic meaning can be understood better now than when it was writtenunder the influence of fundamentalism, evangelicals turned their eyes to Jesus, and the world grew very dim indeed."

     Mark A. Noll, The scandal of the evangelical mind (Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), 144.

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