Friday, January 20, 2012

Christianity Today Is Making More and More Sense.

Though some of these articles don't quite go far enough, and I wouldn't associate myself with everything that actually is said, I thought these observations were worth some attention:

A Spanish Service Is Not Enough: It's Time to Feed the 'Hellenized Latinos':
The church's mission is to preach the gospel to all people. It is not to preserve the language and cultural preferences of any generation, whether foreign or native born. As God's missionary people, we have been sent into the world just as Jesus Christ was sent into the world by the Father (John 20:21). We cannot allow our ethnocentrism to blind us to the prisons of disobedience evident in every culture, including our own.
How the Physical Form of a Bible Shapes Us:
Will this digital revolution cement the decline of family spirituality that was once fostered by the family Bible? God knows.
This article caught my eye because I'd just had this conversation with a couple guys from church. To me, there's an inevitable trade-off between proliferation and evanescence. Bibles and even theological libraries are now in countless places they'd have never gone before—or only with great difficulty—from cockpits to Cuba. But will the Millennials be able to distinguish the Word of God from some yayhoo's blog? God knows. But this we also know: The Church advances, and God wins.

Why Last Saturday's Political Conclave of Evangelical Leaders Was Dangerous:
When evangelicals are confined to a partisan kennel, it is easy to think we are exercising real power. In fact we are, to use the old Soviet phrase, serving as "useful idiots."
The Trouble with Ed Young's Rooftop Sexperiment:
In short, if there were more talk about sex elsewhere in the church, perhaps in the privacy of our communities and classrooms, we might get away with a good deal less of it from our pulpits and our publishing houses. Until then, the message will continue to get drowned out amidst the bombardment of infotainment that our evangelical world suffers from. In other words, if the message is not getting through, we might think about changing the messenger and method. Otherwise, the sensationalistic path of least resistance inevitably comes to the fore.
I want to say one thing quickly, since the article doesn't really say enough. I'd like to hear what generations of faithful believers living before the age of 2,500 square foot, 4-bedroom single-family homes would say about the preposterous notion that a healthy marriage is contingent on a dynamic sex life.

Clothing Matters: What We Wear to Church:
But all of the above should at least warn us away from the glib assumption that God does not care about what we wear to church; or that what I choose to wear for worship doesn't matter; or that how I dress for church is a purely personal affair; or that my own convenience and comfort are all that need concern me. The truth is, one of the ways we express ourselves as human beings is by the way we dress. Wittingly or unwittingly, our clothing gives us away. God certainly does not need this expression to know our hearts. But as for the rest of us, we do indeed look on the outward appearance, even when peering into our own mirrors. In this way the clothes we choose for church may have things to tell us about our hearts that God already knows, but that we need to hear.
Now, just to prove I'm not going all squishy, let me just ask something: Do any of CT's ten most redeeming films of 2011 actually depict biblical redemption, or merely moral transformation rooted in unusual resolve? (I haven't seen any of them.) I'm guessing maybe "Courageous," but I'll let y'all fill me in. In any case, I get the fact that redemption has multiple meanings in our vernacular, but in our headlong rush to embrace the arts, let's not define down foundational elements of the gospel. Perhaps a Christian publication might skew toward the distinctly Christian meaning.


d4v34x said...

Do you have a working definition or description or even an example of literary/pop art depiction of Biblical redemption?

d4v34x said...

that should say popular art instead of pop art.

Ben said...

d4, thanks for clarifying. I thought it was a typo and you meant "pop tart."

The idea I had in mind when I published the post was more or less "to reconcile to God at a cost." I think that's consistent with the biblical picture.

d4v34x said...

I had only perused the list rather than read its preamble. CT gives their own definition:

As we do annually, we first roll out our Most Redeeming list—simply the year's best movies that include stories of redemption. Several feature characters who are redeemers themselves; all have characters who experience redemption to some degree.

Which we can understand to not be the same as your definition. I would venture to speculate that your (proper theological) definition may require too much of the movie genre, which, by the nature of the medium, may only be able to do so much.

Ben said...

Yeah, I saw their definition, and I get it. I think it's a valid definition, inasmuch as it represents one usage of the term. But using *that* definition in a "Christian" publication to pump up the notion that the arts make a great contribution to the faith distorts what that faith really is.

It's not that I have a quarrel with movies that show people straightening out their lives or helping others; I just don't like it Christian influencers masquerade moral reform as biblical redemption.

And you're probably right about the medium. #MilltownPride

Ben said...

Perhaps someone agrees:

"There are few things worse than Christians over-analysing films and seeing ''the gospel'' and ''redemption'' all over the place when the actual director and writers had no intention of illustrating them."

d4v34x said...

It's hard to tell if Levy is being serious there, and the difficulty of that discerment is exacerbated by the fact that I can't remember if Levy is a Truman alias or not.

At any rate one can dispute whether the imposition of semi-pelagian thought on Miracle Max's utterance is different in degree or kind altogether from the discussion of typology and theme in "serious" films.

Remember, Postman had much less problem with visual media used for narrative than for talking head, sound bite type (non) discourse.

I am not much of a movie watcher at all anymore and I certainly don't want to be an apologist for Hollywood (or Sherwood), and, furthermore, I am all about authorial intent.

But regardless of all that, if a story illustrates a concept, it illustrates a concept.

d4v34x said...

And now this: