Saturday, March 23, 2013

Not Ted Turner, Ted Turnau...

How should we relate to culture? Immerse ourselves within it? Withdraw to a cave or monastery? Most of us would probably say we opt for something in between these two extremes. Yet, despite our rhetoric, it seems likely that a majority of American Christians embrace our culture mindlessly and neither "push back" nor "give back". About a year ago, Ted Turnau released on the world Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective (P & R Publishing, 2012, ISBN 1596383895), delving into what he describes as a messy issue. " it or not, notice it or not, popular culture plays a huge role in our day-to-day lives, often influencing the way we think and see the world." 

Here's a few "sound bytes".
"The problem is that popular culture is also a pervasive influence. It seems at once ephemeral and vital. Christians often either dismiss its influence as trivial or become flustered and assume a defensive posture. Popular culture is like something floating in the air around us, and it has the power to influence our beliefs. But we're not really sure what to do about it."
Not only are we not really sure what to do about it, we often don't know where to look for help.
"Popular culture has emerged in the last hundred years or so as one of the most significant carriers (perhaps the most significant carrier) of worldview and values in the West....For many Christians, worldview talk sounds too intellectual to be practically helpful...A worldview is the perspective from which you understand conversations, worldviews often take unexpected turns as we are confronted with the shocks, surprises, and recurring pains and delights that life throws at us."
Within our culture is an epidemic of self-love, embracing the fallen nature and casting God down from His throne. According to Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell, when we make observations about "cultural change--especially changes in the negative direction--one runs the risk of mistaking one's aging for a true shift in culture"! So for a middle-ager like me, it is encouraging to know that young Christians are observing the culture shift as well. It's not just the mistake of old men! 

So what do we do?
"Our task as Christians, then, is to respond to popular culture as a messy, deeply meaningful mixture. And I believe the only appropriate response to something that messy and that meaningful is apologetics [defending and commending the Christian faith in a context of unbelief]...Engaging popular culture will not save the world...It will allow you to enter into dialogue with [your family, your friends, the folks you work with, and the folks you relax with] and speak truth into their lives with sensitivity, insight and grace. And maybe, just maybe, it will help you love these people and be salt and light in the lives of those around you."
As culture carries conservative Christians farther than we want to go and keeps us longer than we want to stay, it is vital that we think deeply and scripturally on how we are in the world but not of the world -- And that we engage our culture, messy as it is, with a dialogue about God from the word of God.

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