In the church I pastor we aspire to, “Historic Christianity for the 21st century.” If we’re going to approach our aspiration, (among other things) it will require that we engage our culture constructively in an authentically Christian way. I suppose for many Christians engaging culture Christianly sounds easy enough. I don’t believe it’s so easy. Here’s the problem:
Christians talk a lot about engaging the culture. But engagement can easily result in captivity to contemporary culture—in being (in Biblical terms) conformed to the pattern of this world. Wise and faithful cultural engagement requires an understanding of what culture should do and be, amended by an attentiveness to how the divinely established structures of Creation and of human nature should shape our cultural lives (Ken Myers, Mars Hill Audio).
What does it mean to engage culture Christianly? In my experience, it’s easy to think we know how to answer that question. We plunge headlong into cultural consumption. But too often it amounts to, as Myers puts it, thoughtless captivity to contemporary culture. Every Christian is inescapably situated in culture. You can uncritically consume it. Or, you can equally uncritically recoil from it. Either way it’s impacting you.
How does a Christian engage culture constructively? That’s a great question. It’s not one I’m going to answer per se in this post. But here’s what I want to do: I want to recommend Mars Hill Audio. No doubt there are many resources that might prove helpful for engaging culture Christianly. The one resource, however, that has proved most influential for me over the last seven years is Mars Hill Audio. The content has shaped my thinking considerably. Listening has also enriched my reading considerably.
Ken Myers produces Mars Hill Audio. Myers’ undergraduate degree was in communications, with an emphasis in film theory. For the past almost forty years he has dedicated himself to understanding our culture from a Christian perspective. He is a graduate of Westminster Seminary, and worked at National Public Radio for several years. He spent a good part of his time working on Morning Edition. His experience at NPR seems evident. The production quality of Mars Hill Audio is excellent.
Mars Hill Audio is an audio journal available via CD or Mp3 subscription, whichever you prefer. An annual subscription gets you six issues. You will find the content covers a broad spectrum. According the website,
We believe that fulfilling the commands to love God and neighbor requires that we pay careful attention to the neighborhood: that is, every sphere of human life where God is either glorified or despised, where neighbors are either edified or undermined. Therefore, living as disciples of Christ pertains not just to prayer, evangelism, and Bible study, but also our enjoyment of literature and music, our use of tools and machines, our eating and drinking, our views on government and economics, and so on.
I think that’s true. There’s material out there that might help you think about a particular movie, television show, or album. But Mars Hill Audio is the best resource I know to help you understand the prevalent features of our culture at their very root. Myer and his dialog partners dig deep, to the very foundations. Then they examine them carefully with a courageous biblical mindset. You will find a deep appreciation for art, history, politics, medicine, music and more. But it’s a thoroughly critical appreciation, bound to swim against many of the prevailing cultural currents.
If you have any sort of commute, you will be hard-pressed to spend your time better than by listening to Mars Hill Audio Journal. Pastors, I’ve often found it to inject a much-needed shot of freshness into my preaching and teaching. For anyone looking to think Christianly about culture, I can’t imagine a better resource. Don’t just take my word for it. Listen to a sample issue. Explore the MHA website. You’ll find a thorough introduction to the work, and several examples of the content itself. I’m convinced you’ll find it helpful for engaging culture Christianly. I hope you’ll subscribe.
For the record, I’m not an affiliate of Mars Hill Audio, nor have I received any compensation for this post. I just really like it, and think you should check it out!