The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Thursday, January 12, 2012

For God's Sake, Make Art! (Part 2- How Music, Video Games, Books, and Movies Could Save Christianity in America)

Okay, I am taking this in a different direction than what I had originally planned, but bear with me- if you stick through this post, you might be moved to action in a powerful way.

In order to fully understand what I am going to be talking about for part 2 of this series, you really, really need to go and watch this speech by Al Mohler, talking about the disappearance of God. By that, he means that in America, especially in Europe, and around the globe, the Christian worldview is being and in some cases has been lost. New wave atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and the late Christopher Hitchens are working not merely to make atheism a viable option, but to make belief in a god as well as catechism of any kind illegal! They want to take away all religious freedom! They see religion as the great disease, the sickness of mankind. It has been said that mankind is incurably religious- now Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, Hitchens, and others believe they have found the cure- evolution and secularism.

They believe their atheistic worldview will win the day soon, in just a matter of a decade or so. That's not too surprising, you have probably heard them make that claim before. But Mohler showed me for the first time just how real a possibility that is, and why. The reason is because the most secular, godless, atheistic people are teachers, college professors, and entertainment producers- in other words, those who most shape our culture. While 75 percent of Americans may still claim to be Christian, those are mainly people in suburban, small towns. Why does this matter? Because culture is not being made in small towns, and the intellectual leaders of our day don't teach out at the farm! In other words, the 75 percent is a reflection mostly of the country, but in the cities, where culture is being made and produced and shaped, where the party is at, where the next bit of technology or medicine or television show or book is being published, that is where the secularists are in complete control and Christianity, or even theism, is virtually non-existent.

Thus, the reason for this post. There are three things that need to be said without pulling any punches:
1.) Most people that claim to be Christians, aren't.
2.) Most that claim to be Christians and actually are, have a predominantly secular worldview.
3.) The reason 1 and 2 are true is because
a.) Secularists have taken up residence where our culture is shaped and produced.
b.) Secularists are the leading intellects in our nation today and 
c.) Christians have theologically (wrongfully) embraced anti-intellectualism and cultural retreatism. Meaning, we have decided theology matters little and culture is inherently sinful or at least something that Christians should spend little time interacting with.

So as you can see, we Christians have practically handed the secularists/atheists the keys to the future of our country. And there is a circular flow here- secularism took over because Christians retreated/ continue to retreat, and Christians retreated because secularists took over. More and more I am convinced the reason prayer has been taken out of schools, the reason Christian bookstores have been formed instead of being integrated with the rest of the culture, is precisely because this is what we Christians have said we wanted, either explicitly or implicitly by our retreatism. We have become cultural isolationists, choosing to not engage in the world around us, unless perhaps something really drastic comes out of Hollywood that attacks our Christian beliefs. Then we might try to produce some flim-flam of a Christian film, which actually exacerbates the problem because we are not intellectually capable enough or technically skilled enough to produce something worth watching or worth reading.

We Christians are largely intellectual dopes and couldn't hold a candle to the wind in the face of those who push science and philosophy in our faces and say "see here, your god isn't real, and if he were, he'd be a moral monster!" We've stripped down the gospel to just be nice to others, and now the atheists and secularists are saying, "thank you very much, but we don't need Jesus to be nice. Besides, your Bible has God and Jesus doing some pretty unkind things. Care to explain?" And of course, we can't. Thus, because of our stupidity, we come up with the same lame excuses that got us in this plight and confirm ourselves in our ignorance- we retreat to our churches like it's a monastery and lick our wounds. When we come out, we say it's a simple matter of faith, and you just 'have to believe.' I hate hearing that. If Christianity wasn't intellectually satisfying, I wouldn't be a Christian, and I don't know why anyone would be a Christian that doesn't find it reasonable! In fact, the story of the gospel, and the purpose of God with this earth, is the most exciting thing in the world, the most beautiful, exhilarating truth that there is.

All that to say this- make art! For God's sake, for the sake of the kingdom, for the sake of this nation, for the sake of this world, make art so that God's glory can be displayed! Yes, you are going to have to be theologically grounded in order to make art that sends the true message of Christ and actually makes an impact; you must have each to infiltrate culture and take back Hollywood, the publishing industry, the universities, and even video games from the unbelieving world, from the secularists. You must have this for theism and Christianity to be taken seriously in public universities once again. The truth of Christ must be shown not only to be good and true, but also beautiful. And that is where art comes in.

We haven't taken the gospel far enough. Shoot, we've largely lost the essence of the gospel, but I talk about that enough already- it must be recovered, but that's for another post. For now, for those who get the gospel right, it must be proclaimed, not just via evangelism and witness encounters, but through culture. A book can tell of the splendors of Christ, or the glory of good beating evil. A movie can depict the effects of sin without using the word. Music can move us to act in the real world for our King.

If we have our theological bearings, the next step is to see that Christ is sovereign not just over souls, but over all His creation! This especially includes culture making. We were created to make culture, to work, to cultivate the Garden of Eden. We cultivate now, still, by making movies, by writing books, by making music, by acting, by dancing, by making video games, by painting, by sculpting, by sports, by entertaining, etc.

Take Lecrae- the man has proclaimed the glory of Christ and the gospel in the form of rap, which is musical poetry. The gospel and rap! And guess what, the guy is actually talented! We have to be good at what we are doing- at least as good as the secular world, if not better- for our message to be heard. Lots of Christians don't believe this, but it is true just the same- God highly values talent! When Scripture says do all to the glory of God, He didn't mean do it half-heartedly, sloppily, or poorly. No, Scripture says do it heartily (Col. 3:23)!

This, of course, will require Christians to actually work, train, and study in their various callings. Which means no more of these cheesy, poorly written Christian fantasy novels, or third rate, low budget, awfully acted Christian films. Frankly, I've never even heard of a Christian video game.

Instead, we must engage culture, through our works, and through the arts. But for a reason, for a purpose.

To take back this world from the secularists and atheists. For God's sake.

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