Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Christian Truth in the Age of Show Business

Last year I wrote a feature article for Christian Research Journal called "The Gospel According to Lost," (the issue is available to order online, but the article has not been posted).

I subtitled one of the sections of the article, "Apologetics in the Age of Show Business." I included this section in the article because there needs to be a robust theological and apologetic basis for critiquing pop culture.

In an earlier post, I made a brief case for television and film being the "new literature" of our time. Consequently, Christian thinkers need to engage this medium more effectively, neither embracing it without question nor shunning it wholeheartedly.

In his book Redeeming Pop Culture, T.M. Moore offers six helpful insights for engaging pop culture intelligently:
  1. Christians must approach popular culture carefully.

  2. We must approach it intelligently, "with an active inquisitive mind, one that seeks understanding and is not easily tossed about and carried by every wind of doctrine" (Moore, p. 113).

  3. We must approach it purposefully in light of the Christian mission "to embody, proclaim, and advance the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (117).

  4. Moore advises that we approach pop culture critically, ferreting "out the presuppositions" of those who "produce and sponsor" pop culture and "analyze the various messages they send" (120).

  5. We must approach it dialogically (i.e., we should dialogue and interact "with the creators and proponents of popular culture" (123).

  6. Finally, Moore advises that we approach pop culture redemptively: "We want to gain whatever benefit popular culture may have for use ... while keeping up our guard against being so overwhelmed by the forms of popular culture that our distinctiveness as Christians begins to be obscured" (126).
Christians should not embrace popular culture uncritically, but neither should we be out of touch with the world we are called to reach. Unfortunately, some of what passes for Christian engagement with pop culture is less than discerning, theological, philosophical, and worldview oriented. There's a delicate balance between good intentions and foolishness.

Communicating Christian truth in an age of show business is a challenge, but I believe there is still a lot of fruitful ground here for developing a healthy theology of engagement with popular culture.

1 comment:

Douglas Beaumont said...

Cool tips - have you seen Moore's latest book "Culture Matters: A Call for Consensus on Christian Cultural Engagement"? I just got it and have only flipped through but it looks like it contains a bit of history of sacred/secular interaction (skipping from Augustine to Calvin, naturally - these Reformed guys . . . sheesh!). Richard John Neuhaus wrote the foreword, so maybe it is ecumenically oriented. Interesting!