Thursday, January 08, 2009

Carl Trueman on culture

Carl Trueman has written an excellent article about the churches engagement with culture. I'm not sure it's a comfortable read, but then it's probably not meant to be.

I've spent twenty minutes trying to come up with something decent to say about how the idea of cultural engagement is worked out differently in the conservative Bible belt from the church i've experienced in England. I've failed. 

How does it work where i live in America? Christian's broadly don't watch films and don't listen to 'secular' music. Their answer to whether we reject or redeem culture would overwhelmingly be 'reject'. I think, on the whole, that's sad, but it does have it's advantages. It does mean, on the other hand that there is a clear distinction between the Church and the world. 

Maybe cultural engagement depends on what we think is relevant. Maybe these are all just disconnected thoughts...go see Trueman's instead:


Tom said...

Someone mentioned this post to me yesterday. I thought I'd come and have a gander. Hope you are having fun Ed. Are you back in the USA now? When is the wedding?

Have I understood the point correctly?

Is he saying that we shouldn't do movie (cultural) engagement, we should do more bible basics?

FloydTheBarber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FloydTheBarber said...

Hey Tom,

Yeh got back into the USA yesterday. I'm having a lot of fun...I love it here. We're getting married in say i'm counting the days would be an understatement.

I think Trueman is saying that we should keep the main thing the main thing. Not that we shouldn't do movie apologetics, but that we shouldn't let movie apologetics be our main thrust. Maybe. I don't know. Trueman is, by his own admition, having a rant in the article.

What was it like in California? Probably the hardest thing about living in NC is the (lack of) culturally engaged thinking.

Some of the more conservative churches around here would probably consider Matt 18 an appropriate response to seeing a church member at a cinema. Some of the Christian schools have it written into teaching contracts that their teachers aren't allowed to go to the movies while they work there.

Does that atmosphere stifle us or protect us?

I'm going to spend some time in Romans 12-15 and think about it.

Tom said...

June! You must be excited. I'm genuinely happy for you Ed. She looks like a beautiful young lady. I hope you have a great wedding season. I saw our wedding as a month long season, not just a day. I really liked it. Wedding talk sometimes needs to be restricted though!

I think you're right about what Trueman is saying. And yeah, the legalism can be horrendous. We had to sign contracts saying we wouldn't drink alcohol or dance. Shockingly this didn't change behaviour, because nobody agreed with it. Rules that are imposed either have to be more strictly enforced or it creates a distance between people and the establishment/church and just encourages people to lie and fake it.

Often I heard the justification being put forward that we shouldn't do anything that causes people to stumble. I thought that was one of the most disingenuous things that people came out with. For 99% of people that wasn't the motive at all. It was about keeping away from sinners and 'the world.' Not getting mucky, emotionally burdened, having awkward friends who swear and get high. I just turn the argument back on the person. "If it's so important not to cause people to sin, why are you doing it by introducing legalism, and dishonesty?"

Very few could take hearing that. Be careful what battles you fight!