Discernment in Culture

I know it’s been a long time, but I’m hoping to get back into writing a bit.

A lot has changed since I started this blog and a lot has come to mind as topics for writing, but it just seems like I never ‘make’ the time anymore.

I originally started writing a series entitled “Mishandled” in which I attempted to point out some of the ways we have messed up in raising up the next generation, so I was delighted to read this article from the Gospel Coalition which perfectly depicts the type of discernment and information I feel is suitable for teaching the next generation how to pursue wisdom.

In this article entitled “See What Radiohead Sees,” Mike Cosper from the Gospel Coalition, attempts to critique Radiohead’s newest album, The King of Limbs. I’ll be honest, I was a little dumbfounded when I saw a review for a secular band on the Gospel Coalition, and I was a little worried the argument that followed would be completely out of place and unbalanced. Instead, what I read was exactly what I have been longing to see for many, MANY, years. Finally, a Christian artist is able to grapple with secular art in a fair and honest approach.

Cosper asks two really important questions in his review: How does Radiohead see the world? and How does Radiohead process that information? These question allow him to critically look at Radiohead’s new album artistically, philosophically, and biblically. While I will admit that the review of Radiohead didn’t affect how I look at the artist, I’m honestly not familiar with most of their work, I was widely moved by how honest, discerning, and open-minded Cosper was in his review.

If you read through the review you’ll see that Cosper does not do a content review. He doesn’t go through the lyrics and say why they are secular. He starts with the premise that they are secular and he looks to see where the artists are coming from and how they are presenting themselves. I honestly wish that most Christians would approach the secular arts in this fashion.

Let’s face it, most conservative Christian parents would cringe if they knew their children were listening to Radiohead, and the question of maturity would have to come into play if we were to discuss whether or not they were capable of dealing with the complexities of the subject material, but I for one am thankful that Cosper did not give a black and white answer about Radiohead. Instead, he tries to teach the reader to have double listening (as Tullian Tjividian would say). Where we listen to the world and the Bible together. This requires discernment, but it is a necessary skill to develop.

I wish we could teach this to our youth. Instead of saying, “Radiohead does not honor God, therefore you shouldn’t listen to their music.” We could be saying, “How does Radiohead view the world, and how can we better understand their perspective?” This is key. Instead of teaching the next generation that their contemporaries are evil and should be avoided, we should be teaching them how to understand and relate to their generation so that they can infiltrate and influence them with the gospel.

Let’s face it, it is a lot easier to shelter our children from their culture, but what we have to realize is that they will grow up some day. When are they going to start relating to their culture? When they are 18? By then we have already lost them. We’ve got to start much sooner.

I think Cosper gives a great example on how to critique culture, while being honest with where they are at and where they are coming from. Though he’s dealing specifically with one particular artist from a small corner of a specific artistic expression, what he has effectively done is present us with a criteria on how to effectively listen to the world and the Bible at the same time.

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7 Responses to Discernment in Culture

  1. Team CTO says:

    Adam…I was getting ready to write you to ask how you are. So glad to see that you are writing again because you are so talented. This post is right on target. You are so correct in saying “it is a lot easier to shelter our children from their culture, but what we have to realize is that they will grow up some day. When are they going to start relating to their culture? When they are 18? By then we have already lost them. We’ve got to start much sooner.” I totally agree. Parents need to teach their children to think Biblically in the world. It has the added bonus of developing a Christian worldview in the process. The other approach of telling them to stay away only teaches them to pull away from what they have been told should be unapproachable. The Bible encourages us to interact with the world to display God’s love, not to reject them because they are not Christian or because they’re different. This is a wonderful post!

  2. whoops…I left the comment above Adam. I work for a ministry and I was putting up a post for them and forgot I wasn’t logged in as myself. You probably thought, “who is Team CTO?”

    • Adam Miller says:

      I was wondering who that was. Thanks for the encouragement. I’m such a slacker when it comes to sitting in front of my computer. Hopefully I’ll be able to write more this go around. I’ve got so much rolling around in my head I’ve just got to get out.

  3. merle brown says:

    Along these lines I would encourage you to view the “imperfectchurch” website (West Genesee Hills Baptist, Camillus, NY and listen to/view Brother Mark’s last three sermons posted to their site. I think you will find what he says interesting.

    • Adam Miller says:

      Thanks pastor. I listened to the sermon titled “Amish Baptists” on my way in to work today and I was really encouraged. I felt like he had a well developed argument with a lot of helpful facts.

  4. Brent says:

    Adam,

    Great post. Teaching discernment looks like chaos. There is no right answer at the end of the Sunday school lecture. You have to let people work through things, ask difficult questions, and make a decision. 18 is way too old for kids to start thinking for themselves.

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