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Ron Horton on Christian Taste in Entertainment

Ron Horton, a philosophy professor at Bob Jones University, recently gave a presentation on Christian taste that is excellent and well-worth reading. Here’s a snippet:

What is the God’s-eye view of present-day art and art entertainment in what is called the post-Christian world? This question meets surprising resistance from Christians who one might think would want to consider it. Their resistance is secular and is twofold. First is the materialist assumption that the fundamentals of art concern physical sensations rather than consciousness and selfhood, and therefore have little or nothing to do with mind states and intentionality. Second is the belief that normativity in art is a cultural construct and therefore that art criteria are generational, relative to time and location, rather than existing universally as implanted promptings and understandings.

These premises, the psychological and the cultural, appear in the neutrality postulate and the cultural mandate. The one looks now rather dated. Investigations in neuropsychology have certified the existence of universal cognitive responses to musical and other art-related stimulations. The other, a mantra of broad evangelicalism, has become a settled orthodoxy.

His criticisms of the “neutrality postulate” and his demonstration of how emphasis on the “cultural mandate” lead to worldliness are quite helpful. On the latter, he says,

The concept of the cultural mandate spearheaded this endeavor. In order to widen the Christian witness it thinned that witness. It discouraged belief in universal aesthetic intuitions in favor of cultural relativism and subjectivity. Its devotees flirted with the pop world from a high minded but mistaken intention to repurpose it. Scripture instead instructs us to engage the world on our terms and for our purposes without adapting to it—to use the world and not ab-use it (I Cor. 7:31) in the effort to spread the gospel of Christ. Evangelistic dating, cultural as well as personal, has never been wise.

Read the whole thing at Theology in 3D: Christian Taste in Entertainment

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Cutlure, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and three children.

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2 Responses to Ron Horton on Christian Taste in Entertainment

  1. Thank you for this!

    Especially significant to me: “Music, he said, is the only domain in which his atheist fellow students accept transcendence and the only one in which his evangelical friends do not.” and “. . . [conversing] about some objectionable elements in a film. ‘Don’t you know you’re just looking at pixels?'”

    Fantastic, and so telling.

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