Reading some literary criticism recently I came across a statement that dogma in literature (examples given: communism, Christianity) dates a book and the book never is long lasting. An obvious statement.
It stopped me and made me think though. Why is that true for Christianity (which is universal truth whereas communism is man-thought-up garbage). Because the fact is it *is* true for Christianity as much for communism. And we're talking about fiction here. Great novels, etc.
An example in music is Christian pop music. Hymns don't count because they are a Christian genre, but rock for instance is not. Christian rock is weak as music. Why? It's because it mixes languages. It mixes general revelation with special revelation.
When you sing: "Jesus saved me, He took my sins upon Him..." to a Bo Diddly beat you are singing ideas and facts from special revelation, what can only be known from the written Word of God, the Old and New Testament.
But rock music as a genre is in the category of general revelation -- and I know that sounds bizarre, but I mean art in general is part of general revelation, potentially. It can be used by people without the Holy Spirit and for Satanic purposes, but when it *is* used by inspired artists it is general revelation. There are innumerable 'Messianic' song lyrics, for instance, but they aren't explicit like special revelation. They are often not even known to their composers themselves. (So maybe common grace can even sneak in to the work of artists and composers and writers unconscious of the fact.)
So, a Dostoevsky novel, a novel written by a Christian, is in the category of general revelation. If Dostoevsky had written it using the language of special revelation it would not be great literature.
Literary critics don't understand this. Harold Bloom is particularly comical in his many ways of explaining away Dostoevsky's Christian belief. Bloom can't understand how such a great novelist could possibly be a real Christian. Or how any great novelist could be or have been a believer.
The universal truth of God's plan as we know it explicitly from the Old and New Testaments is found in general revelation as well. Nature, human nature, etc., but also including great works of art and music and literature and so on. But it is found in general revelation implicitly. (And even depictions of evil and of the illusions and so forth of the devil's kingdom give light, by contrast, on the truth and the revelation of God's Kingdom.)
So this is why explicit Christianity, or, the actual language of salvation (just like dogmatic communism) mar a work of literature. It's mixing languages that can't be mixed. Special and General Revelation.
[A point I left out which is what started me thinking about this subject is: this is another example where Reformed Theology is impressive in explaining something that leaves the intelligentsia of the world scratching their heads. I.e. the basic subject of general vs. special revelation.]