Some of you may be asking “Why does a Christian website have videos of movie clips and rock-&-roll music? Isn’t this contradictory?” One of the founder’s first classes at Wheaton College was entitled Culture: Emerging and Global. This class addressed Christians and culture. Culture consists of the beliefs, behaviors, objects, and other characteristics
common to the members of a particular group or society. Scripturally speaking it may be understood as what humans do, produce, or communicate and the “world” in a secular vs. spiritual sense.
Cultural hermeneutics is defined literally as the interpretation of culture or of cultural products (texts). That interpretation should be “thick” in its description with a deep understanding of the text itself, its context, and its impact. These could be described as the text, the world behind the text, and the world in front of the text.
As Christians we have decisions to make regarding how we address culture and cultural products such as movies, books, music, and art. Christians have typically assumed postures in regard to culture. For example, typically, evangelicals have critiqued culture, fundamentalists have condemned it, and liberals (Jesus Movement) have copied it. We should not assume postures, while at the same time respect those that do. Instead we should take on gestures which can be flexible and utilized depending on the appropriate context.
At Catalyze, Inc., we believe that culture should not be rejected or accommodated to, but that it should be redeemed through the power of Jesus Christ. We also believe that similar to the human condition, there is beauty and goodness in culture, as well as, ugliness and evil. We see the goodness of God within unique, outstanding, creative, and beautiful cultural products especially those that inspire and activate the human heart to love God and love the other. Our job as Christians is to participate as the hands and feet of Christ as cultural agents to redeem and reveal what is good. As Evangelists trying to influence those within society and culture(s), we need to understand ourselves as cultural agents in order to transform and explain how nearly all cultural texts can be redeemed for Christ – revealing to others the underlying beauty and Biblical truths.
After all, many of these cultural products will make it into the New Jerusalem and the New Earth at end-times at the restoration and redemption of all things when Christ returns:
Though John doesn’t elaborate in Revelation, Isaiah is specific about what will be brought to the Holy City. He mentions the cultural products of once-pagan nations: the ships of Tarshish and the trees of Lebanon and the camels of Ephah and the gold and incense of Sheba, which will be brought in by its people “proclaiming the praise of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6). Treasures that were once linked to idolatry and rebellion will be gathered into the city and put to God-glorifying use. Both Isaiah and Revelation indicate that the products of human culture will play an important role on the New Earth.
An example of appropriate cultural interpretation can be found in the following paper: ONE (song by U2): A cultural text that changed the world written by founder Todd Warner. To watch the music video with Mary J. Blige, just click on the link at the bottom of the home page.
1 Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Carol Stream, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2004), Kindle location 2037- Chapter 9, Section- Redemption of Nations and Culture. Paragraph 2.