Linked to a really interesting article today by Carl Trueman on what he calls the “shibboleth” of cultural relevance in Evangelicalism. He describes a conversation he had with a student about Mel Gibson’s uber-blockbuster, The Passion of the Christ. “We then,” he recalls, “entered a discussion about whether it was right to depict Christ visually on the big screen.” The upshot? Take a look:
At the end of the discussion, he said that he felt sorry for me because my qualms about the visual depiction of Christ were making me irrelevant to ministry in the modern church. […] What shocked me in this encounter, however, was not that we had different views on the matter, but that the student could not even see that there was any question to be asked. For him, the question of the meaning, relevance, and application of the second commandment was not even a question. He just thought it was obvious that anything which generated interest in Jesus was a good thing; thus, my concerns about the visual depiction of Christ revealed me as an irrelevant old hack, a superannuated puritan who simply didn’t get it. […T]his student did not even have the categories to see that there was any question to be asked.
Yesterday my eighth graders and I talked about worldview. I admit it’s a hard line to walk, to explain the importance of living Christianly while not pushing my students toward total neurosis about the Christianness of each decision. I’ve quoted Luther on the subject of living an ordinary life that God makes extraordinary, and Trueman references Pascal’s similar views on the blessing of relaxation and even entertainment.
I guess I don’t really have any concluding thoughts about this — I just want to emphasize my agreement with Trueman that we must ask these sorts of hard questions about culture, but without allowing ourselves to turn into whack jobs who have a “theology of vacuuming” and the like.
Read the article for yourself. It’s a nice little rant, with a lot to ponder.