Copying Culture–Can We Do No Better?

Yet another way of dealing with Culture, according to Andy Crouch’s analysis in Culture Making, is to “Copy” it. In an attempt to be counter-cultural, “in the world but not of it,” Christians have created their own versions of that which is popular in the culture.

Walk into a Christian bookstore, and one will find Christianized versions of the latest styles of pop music, romance novels, hip t-shirts and fashion accessories, and movies that are meant to be evangelistic and/or safe for the family.

“Plus One” – A Christian Version of the “Boy Band”

Crouch looks at the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) industry, praising it for its openness to the “common grace” present in current musical forms, but correctly assesses that “the flip side of this openness to form was a nearly puritanical approach to content, illustrated in the widely shared belief that to succeed in the CCM market, a recording had to meet a ‘Jesus quotient’ in its lyrics.” (Crouch, Culture Making, p. 88)

In the March/April 2011 issue of Relevant Magazine, a publication targeted at young adult Christians, an article appeared on page 77 titled, “2011 could be the year when CCM as we know it disappears (except worship music).”

Back in 2001, William Romanowski identified the reason why CCM was doomed to fail:
“If you listen to most contemporary Christian music, you would think that all Christians do is worship and evangelize... (Christians) don’t want to be preached at, but instead want popular music and stories that are fun and entertaining, artistically good and sometimes innovative, but are also concerned with addressing the issues of life with artistic flair.” (William D. Romanowski, Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture (Brazos Press, 2001), p 29)
Copying artistic styles to merely masquerade them for evangelistic purposes actually demeans the imago Dei in humanity because it says that art cannot be art for art’s sake and still glorify God. It says that art has not value as is; that it must have a pietistic message in order to have value.

Mike Wittmer writes,
wittmerheaven“Because we know that this creation is the good gift of God, we are not only permitted but encouraged to enjoy it as is. Unlike those who think that worldly objects are somehow enhanced by stamping Scripture verses on them, Christians who understand the goodness of this world celebrate the freedom to enjoy God’s creation as is…
Consider the arts. Because we know that the ability to draw and paint, write and sing all belong to the goodness of God’s creation, we are able to fully participate in the arts. No one should enjoy a good book, painting, or symphony like a Christian.
We can enjoy every good form of artistic expression—including bluegrass!—even when the art is not making a distinctively Christian point. It’s wonderful to use the arts to creatively spread the gospel. But the point is that even when they do not, even when a piece of art is ‘secular,’ we may still enjoy it as a vital piece of God’s good creation.” (Michael E. Wittmer, Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You DO Matters to God, pp. 66-67)

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