Can Pop Culture Transmit the Great Truths of Christianity?

Worship Band

Here are three consecutive paragraphs from T. David Gordon’s book, Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns. 

The Christian religion is old, like it or not. It is not a new thing: it is two thousand years old in its current form, and its roots in the religion of Abraham and Moses go back almost another two thousand years. And it will continue to be here until history concludes at the return of Christ. Christianity is not monogenerational, nor is it monocultural; it transcends generations and particular cultures as a global religion. Similarly, it is communal, not individual. We once confessed belief in “the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints,” but this would require acknowledging the existence of a many-generational communion of followers of Christ. As our athletes remind us: “There is no in team.”

Surely Christianity is transcendent, not immanent. It teaches us, if anything, that there is Something, indeed Someone, beyond us, and beyond your entire universe. It functions to draw us out of self-love to love for neighbor and for God. It is most certainly not “all about you.” And Christianity is not accessible, in the ordinary sense of the word. It does not exist for our amusement or entertainment; it challenges us to forsake a broad way and embrace a narrow one; it calls us to repent of and forsake our current values and habits; it demands that we take up a cross and bear it daily. it surely is not trivial; there is nothing trite or insignificant about part of the Godhead’s becoming incarnate to die for sinners. None of this stern, transcendent seriousness is consistent with the values of pop culture. The sensibilities of pop culture and those of Christianity are almost entirely opposed to each other, and when we attempt to force Christianity into the constraints of an individual affirming, consumerist, monogenerational, immanentistic genre, it simply won’t fit. Inevitably, the content is shaped by the form into which it is put, and the message becomes a casual, consumerist “Hey what do you think about this?” rather than a call to “repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18).

In fact, for those who promote contemporary worship music, there tends to be an impatience even with this present discussion, because for them, “Hey why fight about something like this–it’s only music, after all”…But such an attitude is precisely that of the dehumanized, trivial, ironic posture of our pop culture: nothing is really serious, nothing is really significant. Everything is just a consumerist choice: I like my choice, and you like yours.