Category Archives: Articles on Culture

A People in Exile

A People in Exile

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series God's People in Exile You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series”God’s People in Exile”You can read more posts from the series by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar.Last week I presented the historical context for Psalm 137, a context of the people of God living in exile among a pagan people. Now once again,… Continue Reading

The Historical Context of Psalm 137

The Historical Context of Psalm 137

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series God's People in Exile You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series”God’s People in Exile”You can read more posts from the series by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar. Last week I began a series looking at Psalm 137. I am going to do two things with the psalm; first, I will look at… Continue Reading

God’s People in Exile

God’s People in Exile

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series God's People in Exile You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series”God’s People in Exile”You can read more posts from the series by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar. By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres.… Continue Reading

Where is Christ in Christmas?

Where is Christ in Christmas?

The following article was originally published in the Nov/Dec 2006 edition of Frontline Magazine. Christmas—a very mention of the word produces delight and expectation in the hearts of people everywhere. Or does it? For some Christians, Christmas is a much-anticipated season to celebrate the birth of Christ. For others, it is also a time to encourage family… Continue Reading

Vote so as to obey the Second Greatest Commandment

Vote so as to obey the Second Greatest Commandment

The current presidential election in the United States has presented a conundrum of sorts for conservative Christians. My aim here is not to defend any position or support any candidate. Rather, I would like to answer the question, why should a Christian vote in this presidential election? But first, I need to address bad reasons for Christians to… Continue Reading

Differences over philosophy of culture must always affect cooperation

Differences over philosophy of culture must always affect cooperation

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series That They May Be One: Conservatism, Cooperation, and the Center of Christian Unity You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series”That They May Be One: Conservatism, Cooperation, and the Center of Christian Unity”You can read more posts from the series by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar. Up to this point in this series, I have described the essence of conservative Christianity, particularly… Continue Reading

The “Two Hands” of Ministry

The “Two Hands” of Ministry

In 2006 an approach to church ministry began to gain popularity. It was called a “two-handed” approach to ministry. One closed hand represented the theology of the church and its grasp of biblical truth and principles. The hand being closed symbolized the non-negotiable aspects of theology. One open hand represented the methodology of the church.… Continue Reading

Why Tolkien Wrote About Middle-Earth

Why Tolkien Wrote About Middle-Earth

Some Evangelicals’ credo might be: “There is only one Tolkien, and Peter Jackson is his Prophet.” While there is no denying that the art of John Howe and Alan Lee made the films a visual feast, or that Howard Shore’s scores were moving and memorable, let us set aside the movies for a moment and return to… Continue Reading

National Anthems and the Universal Language

National Anthems and the Universal Language

While watching an Olympic medal ceremony a few evenings ago, I remembered a blog post I wrote over ten years ago (on a now extinct blog) about national anthems and the universal nature of musical communication. Here’s what I wrote (March 28, 2005): In discussing the cross-cultural communication power of music with a friend of mine,… Continue Reading

Work that Serves Christ

Work that Serves Christ

Many Christians think about serving Christ as something we do inside the church. If you’re a really good Christian, you’ll volunteer in the church nursery, or you’ll serve in a small group, or you’ll sing in the choir, or you’ll go on a mission trip. And if you’re a super Christian, why then you’ll become… Continue Reading

Why Christians Should Care About Meaning in Art

Why Christians Should Care About Meaning in Art

Christians claim to be concerned with meaning. They debate over the meaning of texts of Scripture, and urge particular hermeneutics, so as to arrive at the correct meaning of Scripture. Many claim to be concerned with the meaning of cultural trends, explaining their ethical significance. Some are fascinated with current events, and are hungry to… Continue Reading

The importance of cultural discernment in Christian education

The importance of cultural discernment in Christian education

If Christian educators are intent upon educating their students with truth, both its factual content and the way the truth is imagined, then they must commit to utilize the best of our classical tradition. We have at our fingertips a rich heritage of cultural forms that have grown within value systems that are fully consistent with what it… Continue Reading

Chestless Churches

Chestless Churches

What would ‘Churches Without Chests” look like? To use a strictly Lewisian definition, it would be groups of professing believers without ‘the spirited element’. In plain language, that would be believers who have profoundly under-developed parts of their souls. Chestless churches would be: Churches Without Beauty. The music, the poetry, the rhetoric in the sermons,… Continue Reading

Sweetly Destructive

Sweetly Destructive

Sentimentalism would not be high on pastors’ lists of threats to the church, were they to be polled for such a thing. False doctrine, lack of commitment, entertainment culture, the homosexual lobby, Youtube attention spans, radical Islam, the prosperity gospel, declining missions, pornography, moral failure in leaders, pragmatism and a host of others might be… Continue Reading

The Culture of Humanity

The Culture of Humanity

One of the cornerstones of arguments in favor of musical relativism is that musical interpretation is culturally conditioned and therefore subjective—one may not expect someone else with different cultural conditioning to interpret music the same way. So, the reason I interpret a particular musical form in a certain way is only because I have been culturally conditioned… Continue Reading

What Churches Take For Granted (But No Longer Should)

What Churches Take For Granted (But No Longer Should)

A first-grade teacher does not require, but typically expects the five and six-year-olds that arrive in class to be able to: * understand enough language to communicate with other humans * eat their own food without assistance * sit in a chair (or on the floor) without rolling on the stomach and flailing helplessly *… Continue Reading

The Mortification of Spin’s Take on Secular Music (or, Calvin vs. the Calvinists)

The Mortification of Spin’s Take on Secular Music (or, Calvin vs. the Calvinists)

Occasionally I listen to the Mortification of Spin (hereafter MOS) podcast. I find the episodes largely helpful and would happily recommend the podcast to others. Recently, however, Carl, Aimee, and the other guy1 released an episode on whether or not Christians can listen to secular music.2 They largely defended the proposition that Christians can listen to almost… Continue Reading

There hasn’t always been contemporary worship music

There hasn’t always been contemporary worship music

I’ve heard it said many times, often by people I love and respect: “Christians have always used contemporary music in their worship.” Or, it might go something like this: “Using pop music today is no different than what Luther or Watts did in their day.” What’s the point behind statements like these? Their purpose is… Continue Reading

Paul, Plato, and Calvin on Music

Paul, Plato, and Calvin on Music

In 1 Corinthians 14:7-8, Paul says, ”If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” 1 Cor 14:7-8 (ESV) The “flute,” I’m told, was a woodwind instrument more akin… Continue Reading

Is the secularization of Christmas anything new?

Is the secularization of Christmas anything new?

Every year about this time we begin to hear again about the “war on Christmas,” and this year is no different. Apparently Starbucks is the latest offender, with some Christians up in arms about the fact that the coffee shop unveiled a plain red “holiday cup” instead of their traditional “Christmas cup.” From boycotting companies… Continue Reading