January 19, 2018, 12:53:24 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
News: SMF - Just Installed!
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: The Power of Pop Culture  (Read 8479 times)
dapengmingwang
Primus
Demi Precentor
*****

Karma: +13/-1
Singapore Singapore

Posts: 1,278


我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有


View Profile WWW
« on: October 19, 2008, 07:54:04 AM »

<<<BEGIN TRANSMISSION>>>

The Power of Pop Culture
- Kong Hee
  Harvest Time, Issue 35 (Sep~ Dec 2008)


Culture is not a "secular" concept; it has its beginning in the Scripture. In Genesis 2:15, when God told Adam to take care of the Garden of Eden, the word He used was cultura or "culture." In its simplest sense, "culture" means taking the raw materials or resources that God has given to man and creatively nurturing them to their fullest potential. These resources may come in the form of talents, gifts and abilities. And even if they are outside the scope of direct church work, we should seek to develop them fully for the glory of God, with the confidence that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning"(James 1:17).

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
The word culture also exist in the word agri-culture, horti-culture. So in the context of Genesis 2:15, is it the same culture? It would appear that the word in this case refer more to the meaning of cultivate (Chinese: 栽培) and hardly consistent with the word culture (Chinese: 文化) as in a particular form or stage of civilization.
***ALTERATION ENDS***


God is the Creator. Creativity is in His nature. On the other hand, Satan is never creative. Sin has no originality. The devil is not the giver of visions and dreams; the Holy Spirit is. Whenever we see something beautiful in the realm of music, art, science, or even human sexuality, it is natural for us to show an appreciation for it. It reflects the beauty that originates from God. Conversely, when we see something being distorted or perverted, we mustn't condemn or curse it. We should seek to redeem it back to God's original purpose for it.

UNDERSTANDING COMMON GRACE

To effectively engage and influence culture in the world, we have to become very sensitive to a Bible concept known as "common grace." This is the grace of God that is given to everyone - regardless of whether one is a believer or not, spiritual or not. Jesus is talking about common grace when He says, "He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. 5:45). The psalmist exults:"The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works" (Ps. 145:8-9). Common grace comes upon everyone.

There are three functions of common grace:

1. Common grace enables mankind to do good culture. This is the grace of God given so that this fallen world can keep on functioning, developing and advancing. That is why an unbeliever is able to design a fantastic architecture, an atheist can invent a lifesaving medicine, or even become a wise philosopher or ruler of a nation. It is only because the common grace of God has been freely bestowed upon the human race.

The Bible records that God miraculously fed three million Israelites by raining manna from heaven. But each time farmers and supermarkets deliver food to people, they become agents of God's common grace. All throughout the Bible, God often miraculously heals the sick. But each time doctors and nurses provide medical help to the infirm, they become agents of God's common grace.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
Do we thus consider 4D and TOTO a means of God's common grace to the destitute? If so why object to a Christian buying a 4D or TOTO ticket so that God's common grace can flow?
***ALTERATION ENDS***


2. Common grace awakens us to God's presence and goodness. Colossians 1:16 says that "all things were created through Him and for Him". All things! In other words, technology, science, politics, medicine, the arts, et cetera, are meant to serve the purpose of the Lord. God, through His common grace, works through "common" people, objects or events (even if they are unspiritual) to awaken the conscience of the masses toward His goodness. He could use a song, a movie, a storybook, a painting, a government policy, or even the kindness of a non-Christian, to stir up awareness of His existence and subsequently, His actual presence. Theological concepts like these often ruffle the conservative and religious. Can God really work through people who are unsaved and objects that are unspiritual? Well, when you read the Bible objectively, you will find God using a burning bush to speak (Ex. 3:2-5), an unspiritual donkey to prophesy (Num. 22:22-35) and an unclean raven to take care of a prophet (1 Kin. 17:1-7).

Proverbs 22:17-24:22 is a portion known as The Words of Wise Men. Most Bible scholars agree that it was taken from an Egyptian philosopher by the name of Amenemope in his writing, "Instruction of Amenemope". That means that God, in His common grace, gave wisdom to an Egyptian pagan, and then incorporated the latter's writings into His Holy Scripture. Whenever we find truth and wisdom, no matter the source, we can rest in the assurance that God is the author of it all (1 Sam. 2:3). After all, He is the source of all knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
Thus the teachings of Lao Tzu, Confucius, Mencius and even Buddha are all similarly just a result of God's common grace? In the modern day context, where truth and wisdom is all relative, how are we assured that God is the author of it all? It would be as if God is suffering from either self doubt, split personality or schizophrenia.

Anyway, the idea that all truth comes from God is really nothing new. After Constantine made his version of Christianity the Roman State Religion, the Roman Church made it a point to emphasize the similarities between Pagan beliefs and that of Christianity. Certain pagan Roman holidays became Christian holidays. Take Good Friday for example. How the day commemorating Jesus crucifixion is that day when it should be consistent with the Jewish Passover is beyond me.

***ALTERATION ENDS***


World-respected magazine, Christianity Today, once quoted D. Bruce Lockerbie in "The Timeless Moment":

There will always be artists whose experience is not necessarily Christian but whose gifts, through common grace, enable them to tell as much truth as they know. There are also artists whose vision is distorted, whose purposes may even be debased, whose art is thereby twisted and maimed. Yet from them too, in spite of decadence and corruption, we may obtain momentary vestiges of truth... We can't tell God where He can or can't be seen.

Many Christians have such a hard time reconciling what they hear in church on Sunday and what they experience the rest of the week. On Sundays they are often told: "The world is evil, stay away from the world, set your heart only on heaven!" But throughout the week, they are often entertained, educated, encouraged and empowered by the pop culture around them. They then feel very guilty when they enjoy a secular song on the radio, or when they feel God speaking to them through a movie, or when wearing nice fashionable clothes strengthens their appreciation of themselves.

The truth is, there should be no confusion. It is God's common grace at work. And that grace uses those songs, movies or fashion to speak to you and awaken you to divine goodness and presence.

3. Common grace opens the way for God's saving grace. It doesn't have the power to save the sinner from sin. It is not that special grace that gives one eternal life. But while common grace doesn't save the sinner, it often opens the way for saving grace to operate.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
How does that hold water? An un-churched person in dire straits may consider striking 4D or TOTO or finding a bag of money left behind on the streets as the common grace - even the saving grace - of God.

Try and tell him otherwise.

***ALTERATION ENDS***


Why do more than 50,000 people from all walks of life come each year for City Harvest Church's Easter and Christmas weekends? To hear me preach the gospel? Oh, I wish! The truth is, they come to watch our drama ministry's fantastic productions. As these unchurched people come into the house of God, they find themselves enjoying the worship experience and getting inspired by the uplifting sermons. Thousands eventually end up receiving Christ as their Savior. But there is no denying that the colorful drama productions were what drew them first to the presence of God. When we boldly create culture, we often open up innovative ways for the Great Commission to become effective.

In Taiwan, Geng-Hong Liu is a famous actor-singer who was dating popular "Miss Taiwan" pageant winner Vivi Wang. Without Christ, they lived recklessly. A few years ago, Geng-Hong and Vivi came to the Lord, got filled with the Holy Spirit and received discipleship in a wonderful local church. Since then, they have brought more than 100 celebrities from the entertainment industry to Jesus! Taiwan is the capital of Chinese pop culture in Asia and celebrities like Geng-Hong are changing the perception of Christianity in his industry. Today, there is a huge revival among the youth in Taiwan, and notably, Christianity has become the religion of choice among the glitterati.

The necessity of common grace is clearly outlined in The Moody Handbook of Theologyas the preliminary ingredient to saving grace (or "efficacious" grace as termed by the author):

Before a person can be saved there must be a witness from God; that witness comes first through a knowledge of God. God reveals Himself to people through the avenue of common grace. When people participate in the material blessings of God (Matt. 5:45) it ought to make them reflect on the goodness of God... A person cannot receive the efficacious grace of God for salvation without having received and recognized the work of God in common grace. Common grace thus is preparatory for efficacious grace; it brings man to a realization of his sin and of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

THREE CATEGORIES OF CULTURE

Philippians 4:8 tells us that we were made to dwell on things that are "true, noble, just, pure, lovely, excellent," and to put these elements into our culture. Loosely speaking, when something is considered beautiful, lovely or excellent, people tend to categorize them into two broad categories: (a) folk culture, which tends to be more traditional and limited to the ethnicity of a group, and (b) high culture, which tends to be associated with the richer, better-educated, upper classes of society.

However, there is a third group known as "pop culture," which derives its name from being popular with the general masses. A typical characterization of these three forms of culture is given in the columns below:

Folk Culture
Pop Culture
High Culture
Home cooking
McDonald's
Fine dining
Line dancing
Disco
Ballet
Ethnic folk music
Jay Chou
Symphony
Fairy tales
Harry Potter
Shakespearean

The danger is to adopt a snooty, elitist attitude that claims Beethoven, Shakespeare and Picasso as real art, while dismissing the likes of Madonna, Ang Lee, the Oscars and the Grammys as nothing more than cheap entertainment for young people. One mustn't forget that during his own time, William Shakespeare was also merely a pop artist himself. Common people attended his plays, which were not just about dramatic artistry, but also for commercial entertainment and profit making. Four hundred years later, what was pop culture then is now considered high art. Who knows? Four hundred years from now, urban rap music may be considered high art too!

WHY IS POP CULTURE IMPORTANT?

1. Pop culture is a reflection of real life in society. Pop culture expresses what the general masses believe in and value, their attitudes and questions, hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties, as well as who they consider to be heroes and villains. Pop culture shows us the condition of the human heart. It interprets for us what reality is like and how to live in the real world. It is a powerful means of education so that we won't remain naive or gullible; instead we glean from it and learn how to navigate through the complexities of life.

Take for example, the subject of "falling in love." The movie "Titanic" tells us that if two people are truly in love, class difference shouldn't be a barrier. From the movie "The Bodyguard", we learn that the color of one's skin shouldn't be a hindrance to true love. "In Notting Hil", we learn that differences in social status could be overcome in a relationship.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
Do such things like those in these Hollywood productions truly happen in real life? Or are they just fairy tales? There is nothing false about hope, but there is nothing real in popular fiction.
***ALTERATION ENDS***


As such, pop culture is like a human roadmap, plotting out for us what the real world is like and how to navigate our way through it. Because we are connected to the God of all truth, more than anyone else, Christians should be educated about life and not be naive simpletons (Ps. 92:6, NLT; Prov. 22:3, 27:12, NLT).

2. Pop culture gives voice to the social issues of the day. Rock and roll is the voice of the youth that emerged after World War II. Soul music is the expression of Black Americans of the 1960s. Rap music is a display of anger and discontent toward urban city life. The movie "Letters From Iwo Jima" explores the senselessness of war. "Philadelphia" deals with homosexuality and AIDS. "Lost In Translation" explores a man's struggle with loneliness, companionship and fidelity in marriage. Putting on "the mind of Christ" is not merely memorizing Scripture, it also involves having the sensitivity to "hear" the voice of God through the creativity of "His people."

Amy Grant's pop song "Ask Me" helps victims of sexual abuse articulate and deal with their pain. The lyrics go like this:

I see her as a little girl hiding in her room
She takes another bath and she sprays her momma's perfume
To try to wipe away the scent he left behind
But it haunts her mind.

Ask me if I think there's a God up in the heaven
Where did He go in the middle of her shame?
Ask me if I think there's a God up in the heavens
I see no mercy and no one down here's naming names
Nobody's naming names.


Without dealing with the question of "Where is God?" a victim of sexual abuse will have difficulty finding healing emotionally and spiritually. The media world of music, movies and television may be controversial, but at the same time, they are powerful and forceful. While they entertain, they educate the public at the same time.

3. Pop culture has the power to shape lives. As it portrays life, pop culture can popularize and glamorize certain attitudes and beliefs that exist in society. When these values - good or bad - are widely embraced by the masses, it becomes the accepted lifestyle of the public. In this way, pop culture has the power to shape our lives, and we the Church just cannot afford to withdraw from it!

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
So does Christ shape your life or popular culture?
***ALTERATION ENDS***


Unfortunately, the attitude of many Christians is that anything from Hollywood is "of the devil," attacking the kingdom of God. They believe that we must do everything to avoid it completely. That means boycotting Hollywood products or lobbying local governments to ban or censor them. This only serves to pull the Church deeper into our own shell and alienate us even more from our world. For some churchgoers, the mark of a true believer is to totally avoid "secular" pop culture - see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil!

Because we have a simplistic view about pop culture in terms of good versus bad, right versus wrong, black versus white, we become very shallow when we evaluate the popular arts. If it is "Christian," it is good. If it mentions "Jesus" or "God," it is good. Otherwise, I won't watch it. I won't listen to it. The result is that we don't think very deeply about the nature of pop culture and its power to change our world, and we lose our influence in shaping our society.

There is a proverb: "The fool curses the darkness but the wise lights a candle." Christians often have the tendency to "curse" the world without offering to shine a light. As such, the darkness deepens. If we are going to become a vital part of our world, we must begin to demonstrate that there is something powerful and life-changing about our faith. Christianity is not just a nice, cautious, naive, gullible religion, or an archaic belief system that is out of touch with contemporary society.

Unfortunately, the way we do church often puts people to sleep. What is tragic is that when we are dull and irrelevant, people won't think that the Church is boring?they think that God is boring! And one thing about Jesus Christ is that He is never boring! They hanged Him on the cross not because He was a bore, but rather, He was too dynamic to be safe for the public!

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
The Sanhedrin handed Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified because He exposed them (the religious authorities at that time) for the religious frauds and hypocrites that they are. The zealots allowed Jesus to be crucified because they were disappointed with Him not conforming with what their vision of the Messiah should be. Jesus was expected by the Jewish people to lead them in rebellion and overthrow the Roman invaders.

The Romans crucified Jesus because He called himself the Son of God and the King of the Jews, which is viewed as open rebellion against Roman authority. There were many reasons leading to Jesus crucifixion but all for God's Glory.

***ALTERATION ENDS***


A song, a movie, or a book is popular only because it has somehow connected with the recipients in their hopes, feelings and desires. These desires are not always immoral, promiscuous or sinful.

Instead of condemning or wishing that pop culture would go away, we need to ask the right questions: What does it say about the world we live in? What issues is it speaking up for? How is it shaping my around me?

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
Where then, does the church stand, when popular culture stands in contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ? Where will the church stand the day when popular culture sings that homosexuality is right or extra-marital affairs is ok?
***ALTERATION ENDS***


WHAT CONSTITUTES POP CULTURE?

Popular culture comprises at least the following nine aspects. In the order of impact, they are as follows:

1. Advertising. Advertisers spend more than US$400 billion a year trying to get their messages across. It is one of the main driving forces of the global economy. What is the most recognizable phrase in the world? Not "John 3:16" but Nike's "Just Do It!" That is the power of advertising!

2. Celebrities. The public is fixated with famous people. Take for example, Anna Nicole Smith, who died on February 8, 2007. The whole case surrounding her death was reported every day on every news channel in the world. A poll taken showed that the number of people who followed the daily updates of her death was as many as those who followed the US Presidential elections! That is the power of celebrities to attract the public's attention. Their adoring public wants to know what their likes and dislikes are, what they believe and don't believe in. Their every movement is followed and imitated by those who admire them. The latest pop stars may mean very little to you, but they mean something significant to millions of people all around the globe.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
Is it not of concern that this is actually a form of idolatry which God detests?
***ALTERATION ENDS***


3. Music. We live in a world immersed in music. Music is everywhere. What is interesting is that most of today's pop music has its roots in rock and roll, and most rock and roll pioneers grew up in Pentecostal churches. Singers such as Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, Beyonc?and Destiny's Child all grew up singing in church.

4. Movies. Movies are one of life's greatest teachers in the sense that they teach us almost everything we need to know about our world. Love and hate, war and peace, happiness and joy, pain and sorrow, loneliness and companionship, drama, fear and suspense-they are all amply portrayed on the silver screen.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
But how many live a life like those in the movies?

O Neo, I believe!!

***ALTERATION ENDS***


5. Television. TV is the most essential household appliance for the world today. TV has become our constant salesman, teacher, parent, babysitter, comforter and "window to the world" for humanity. The amount of money earned by top-rated TV series is staggering. ABC TV network scheduled the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" four nights a week. Regis Philbin earned US$20 million per year hosting the show. For the first two years, US$62 million were given away in prize money. How can a network give away so much for salaries and prizes? Well, each episode has twenty 30-second ads. In terms of advertising money alone, these ads earn ABC more than US$21 million a week! Such is the power television has to attract viewership that corporations are willing to pour incredulous amounts of money into TV ads.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
US$21 million a week is US$1,092,000,000 trillion a year. And only 102 million was given away. Who is getting the bulk of that money? Has any of that rest of the money has done any good to human society? Or it just feeds off our consumption and turn us into nothing more but mere slaves in a consumer society?
***ALTERATION ENDS***


6. Fashion. One theologian says that "fashion is dressing up the soul." One of the most amazing things in the Bible is how much it talks about fashion. Proverbs 31 is the famous chapter on the virtuous woman. This woman does many things: getting up early, providing food for the family, giving to the poor, buying fields and planting vineyards. She runs both the household and a business. But what is most commented about her in that scriptural passage is her fashion sense.

   She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands (Prov. 31:13).

   She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle (Prov. 31:19).

   All her household is clothed with scarlet (Prov. 31:21).

   Her clothing is fine linen and purple (Prov. 31:22).

   She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants (Prov. 31:24).

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
Interesting. But is the virtuous woman what God is envisioning first for Israel and then his Church? Or in a pure physical sense?
***ALTERATION ENDS***


This woman is very particular about her fashion and that of her family members. Her taste in scarlet and purple clothing tells us that she is willing to invest in fabric that is the rarest and most expensive in Bible times. What's more, this fashionable woman is herself involved in the fashion industry. But she is very spiritual too. Her true attractiveness is her inner beauty and godliness:

&nbsp; &nbsp;  Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised (Prov. 31:30).

Spirituality and style are not mutually exclusive. There is no denying that the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is outwardly a charming and beautiful lady. And God readily praises her for her fashion sense.

In Acts 9, Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. Dorcas was a very prominent lady in the city because she was a fashion designer. At her funeral, the people showed Peter "the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made" (Acts 9:39). Today, we would call them evening gowns and designer dresses. Dorcas was the Donna Karan or Vera Wang of her time! That is why when she was raised from the dead, everybody knew about it.

The first European convert was Lydia of Philippi who "was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira" (Acts 16:14). Thyatira was the fashion capital of the ancient world, much like Milan of today. Lydia owned a fashion house of very high-end couture. It was out of her residence that the Philippian church was birthed.

When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up in His temple, the first thing that impressed him was God's clothing-the long train that followed His robe (Is. 6:1). When Jesus went to the cross, the one thing the Roman soldiers fought over was the seamless tunic that Jesus was wearing (John 19:23-24). When the Apostle John saw a vision of Jesus on the island of Patmos, the first thing that impressed him was the garment Jesus was wearing (Rev. 1:12-13).

Our fashion sense is not a small deal in the Bible! How we dress often re&#8209;flects the condition of our human soul. Is it a happy soul, or a soul in mourning? Is it a carefree soul? A colorful soul? A creative soul? Is the self-esteem of the soul healthy? All that and more are often shown in the way we dress.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
So it is alright to dress scantily and seductively, if that's how everyone dresses?
***ALTERATION ENDS***


7. Sports. Sports stars are often likened to gods. When soccer player, Diego Maradona, scored a goal at the 1986 World Cup, newspapers the world over called it a goal scored by "the hand of god!" Sports have a way of lifting up the patriotism of a country and uniting the people. Its popular appeal to the masses is self-evident.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
As per celebrities, is it not of concern that this is actually a form of idolatry which God detests?
***ALTERATION ENDS***


8. Art. This is the aesthetic expression of whatever is beautiful, shocking, painful, spiritual and holy in humanity-through the medium of painting, drawing, sculpture and architecture. Although not all of us are called to be full-time evangelists, we are nonetheless called to evangelize. Similarly, not all of us are called to be full-time artists, but we should be as artistic and imaginative as we can whenever we cook, decorate, speak or dress.

9. Internet. We have a "flat" world now through the Internet, which crosses all national and ethnic boundaries. People communicate with one another through e-mail, read their news, do their research and buy many of their products through the Internet. It influences politics, economics and intellectual pursuits. The Internet has created a global community which influences all the other areas of pop culture.


POP CULTURE REFLECTS A SPIRITUAL YEARNING

Does pop culture kill religion? Does it make Christians unspiritual? Is pop culture such an unclean thing? If God's common grace is at work in culture, then pop culture must have a spiritual edge to it.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
Indeed it has a spiritual edge to it. But does that edge truly belong to the Holy Spirit?
***ALTERATION ENDS***


Consider for a moment, Los Angeles. LA is the capital of pop culture in the world but it is also one the world's most religious capitals. Practically every religion can be found there: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, Mormonism, Kabbalah, Scientology, et cetera. You name it, they are all there! Why? Because creativity and spirituality are two sides of the same coin! They go together. In Genesis 1:1, Elohim, God the Creator, can also be translated as "God the creative Spirit." The God who is very spiritual, is at the same time, extremely creative.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
Los Angeles - the City of Angels. Fallen Angels? Grin

Elohim, is more aptly translated as - God, the Creator of the Universe.

***ALTERATION ENDS***


Artistic people are often called "aesthetic." The word "aesthetic" in the Greek means "sensitive." Therefore, Los Angeles, the city whose people are most culturally aesthetic, must surely also be the city whose people are most sensitive to the move of God.
 
LA was founded by devout Roman Catholics in the mid-18th century. Many great revivals of Christianity started there. The Pentecostal revival of 1906 started at Azusa Street in downtown LA. In the 1920s, Aimee Semple McPherson built one of the earliest megachurches of the world in downtown LA. The city was the incubator of the Jesus Movement in the 1970s that brought thousands into the kingdom of God. In the early 1970s, Melodyland Christian Center in LA was the center of Charismatic renewal for the whole world.

Great ministries such as Rick Warren, Jack Hayford, John MacArthur, Chuck Smith, Greg Laurie, Robert Schuller and Bishop Charles Blake are all based in LA. The largest Christian radio station in the world KKLA-FM is based in LA. Fuller Theological Seminary, the largest multi-denominational seminary in the world, is also located in LA.

Pop culture is really the intersection of faith and creativity. In fact, much of pop culture has religious ideas and imageries. One of the favorite accessories of pop celebrities is cross necklaces and earrings. When Mary J. Blige won the best singer for R&amp;B at the 2007 Grammy Awards, she unabashedly gave thanks to Jesus Christ on TV. When Brazil won the Soccer World Cup in 2002, the players knelt down in a circle with hands lifted up to praise God in full view of 1.1 billion television viewers. (Millions of sports fans watching also joined them in praising the Lord!) Jesus makes regular guest appearances in shows like "South Park", "The West Wing" and "The Simpsons". Movies such as "Ghost", "Signs", "The Sixth Sense", "The Devil's Advocate" are all centered on faith and the supernatural.

Pop culture is the place where our faith and feelings are tested, refined and energized. When you are sensitive to common grace, you can turn to pop culture and recognize the 21st-century face of Jesus Christ! Pop culture informs us of a world that has a spiritual void and its people are searching for the God who can fill it. The rise of pop culture in recent times is the clearest indication of the great spiritual yearning in the masses! The world is ripe for a move of God! The fervency that was once found in Billy Graham's crusades is evident today in most U2 concerts. Thousands are paying big bucks to "have church" with U2. Lead singer, Bono, makes no apologies for routinely declaring in his concerts that "God is in the house!"

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
The question is, which God? Each and every person has a very different concept of God.

Ask Kitaro, who said he dedicated his music to his god. I doubt he has Jesus in his mind.

***ALTERATION ENDS***


In the realm of pop culture, we see a yearning for God and the spiritual in the souls of the masses. As Christians of the 21st century, we can't withdraw into our little shell of religious correctness. More than ever before, we need to engage pop culture and provide the answer the world is desperately seeking for.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
Actually, there is no doubt that Christians understands common grace. In fact, having embraced the saving grace which God offered on the Cross, common grace is one of the testimony of God's existence and also His faithfulness to His promises. No one should reject the common grace of God, but no one should argue that common grace equals to embracing popular culture either.

Embracing popular culture without considering the warts and all is dangerous.

***ALTERATION ENDS***


WE MUST NOT BE AFRAID TO ENGAGE POP CULTURE!

The Bible says, "We are ambassadors for Christ" (2 Cor. 5:20). A good ambassador must understand the habits, thinking, values and language of the people he (or she) is sent to. He may not readily accept any portion of the culture of the host country, but nonetheless must be diplomatic enough to represent his president well. Similarly, we are sent as the representatives of the King of kings and Lord of lords to a broken-down world. The Bible encourages believers to engage culture in positive ways and have the ability to "diplomatically" know what portion of culture to accept or to reject. Being a kind, polite, non-condemning and non-judgmental Christian is consistent with having the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

When Jerusalem was seized by the pagan Babylonians, Daniel and his friends did not separate themselves from Babylonian culture. Neither did they practice the wholesale rejection of anything Babylonian. On the contrary, they showed wisdom and discernment by accepting most parts of the culture, while rejecting some parts of it. They accepted the education, fashion, and even the wisdom of the Babylonians. However, they refused to worship their idols, or be nourished by their value system.

***TRANSMISSION ALTERED***
Interesting. I could hardly find any reference to the above argument. What I do know is that Daniel rejected even the food offered when in Babylonian captivity. He refused to bow to the pagan Gods even under the threat of death. In fact, the Book of Daniel is a record and testimony of the Babylonian and Persian Kings seeking the wisdom of God, and not of Daniel's acceptance of the Babylonian ways.
***ALTERATION ENDS***


In Acts 17, Paul was in Athens and he actively engaged those in the marketplace. Every day, Paul communicated with a wide range of people, engaging them in Greek art and literature. He related to the Athenians "diplomatically" at their cultural level. No wonder Paul called himself an "ambassador" of Christ.

In Exodus, life was very hard for the Israelites in Egypt. There were voices arising in the land that went up to heaven. God paid very close attention and understood the cry of the people from their prayers, their songs, their conversations and their poems. God didn't despise or scoff at what He heard. Instead, He devised a way to bring deliverance to them.

Similarly today, let us become "fluent" in the language of pop culture-the language of advertisement, celebrities, music, movies, television, fashion, sports, art and the Internet-so that we can understand the cries, aspirations and questions of our generation, and like God in Exodus, respond with the truth that we have found in the gospel.
<<<END OF TRANSMISSION>>>
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 11:23:14 AM by Grievous » Logged

我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有...
Blog
dapengmingwang
Primus
Demi Precentor
*****

Karma: +13/-1
Singapore Singapore

Posts: 1,278


我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有


View Profile WWW
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2008, 10:21:55 PM »

Friend Isaiah's reply to Kong Hee's self justifying piece.

I have been debating some proponents of the prosperity "gospel" on a local forum and got to know about this particular piece on popular culture written by Kong Hee, the senior pastor at City Harvest Church (a mega church in Singapore) in the church's quarterly newsletter Harvest Times.

To say that I am saddened and very much worried by what I read in the article would be an understatement, so I'm going to do a rebuttal of the article in response, in the hope that the same young people who have read and taken the advice within to heart will look at the article again, this time with the Bible as the final authority and not the words of a man.

Text referenced from the article will be in italics and in blockquotes.

Quote
The Power of Pop Culture
Kong Hee, Harvest Time, Issue 35 (Sep ~ Dec 2008)

Culture is not a "secular" concept; it has its beginning in the Scripture. In Genesis 2:15, when God told Adam to take care of the Garden of Eden, the word He used was cultura or "culture". In its simplest sense, "culture" means taking the raw materials or resources that God has given to man and creatively nurturing them to their fullest potential. These resources may come in the form of talents, gifts and abilities. And even if they are outside the scope of direct church work, we should seek to develop them fully for the glory of God, with the confidence that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17).

I must be reading the wrong Bible, because in my copy, Genesis 2:15 says God put man in the garden to dress it and keep it (KJV), or as the ESV translates it more accurately, to work it and keep it. Nowhere has the Hebrew word ‛âbad (Strong's Concordance) been translated to mean "culture".

Mistranslating a word in the Bible to match one's theology and agenda is a dangerous path! Sure, to culture can also mean to cultivate, but it is clear here that the pastor is not talking about that kind of 'culture' seen in words like "agriculture" or "horticulture". It is plainly clear that the pastor is alluding to popular culture here.

Quote
God is the Creator. Creativity is in His nature. On the other hand, Satan is never creative. Sin has no originality. The devil is not the giver of visions and dreams; the Holy Spirit is. Whenever we see something beautiful in the realm of music, art, science, or even human sexuality, it is natural for us to show an appreciation for it. It reflects the beauty that originates from God. Conversely, when we see something being distorted or perverted, we mustn't condemn or curse it. We should seek to redeem it back to God's original purpose for it.

UNDERSTANDING COMMON GRACE

To effectively engage and influence culture in the world, we have to become very sensitive to a Bible concept known as "common grace". This is the grace of God that is given to everyone - regardless of whether one is a believer or not, spiritual or not. Jesus is talking about common grace when He says, "He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. 5:45). The psalmist exults: "The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works" (Ps. 145:8-9). Common grace comes upon everyone.

There are three functions of common grace:

1. Common grace enables mankind to do good culture. This is the grace of God given so that this fallen world can keep on functioning, developing and advancing. That is why an unbeliever is able to design a fantastic architecture, an atheist can invent a lifesaving medicine, or even become a wise philosopher or ruler of a nation. It is only because the common grace of God has been freely bestowed upon the human race.

The Bible records that God miraculously fed three million Israelites by raining manna from heaven. But each time farmers and supermarkets deliver food to people, they become agents of God's common grace. All throughout the Bible, God often miraculously heals the sick. But each time doctors and nurses provide medical help to the infirm, they become agents of God's common grace.

2. Common grace awakens us to God's presence and goodness. Colossians 1:16 says that "all things were created through Him and for Him". All things! In other words, technology, science, politics, medicine, the arts, et cetera, are meant to serve the purpose of the Lord. God, through His common grace, works through "common" people, objects or events (even if they are unspiritual) to awaken the conscience of the masses toward His goodness. He could use a song, a movie, a storybook, a painting, a government policy, or even the kindness of a non-Christian, to stir up awareness of His existence and subsequently, His actual presence. Theological concepts like these often ruffle the conservative and religious. Can God really work through people who are unsaved and objects that are unspiritual? Well, when you read the Bible objectively, you will find God using a burning bush to speak (Ex. 3:2-5), an unspiritual donkey to prophesy (Num. 22:22-35) and an unclean raven to take care of a prophet (1 Kin. 17:1-7).

Proverbs 22:17-24:22 is a portion known as The Words of Wise Men. Most Bible scholars agree that it was taken from an Egyptian philosopher by the name of Amenemope in his writing, "Instruction of Amenemope". That means that God, in His common grace, gave wisdom to an Egyptian pagan, and then incorporated the latter's writings into His Holy Scripture. Whenever we find truth and wisdom, no matter the source, we can rest in the assurance that God is the author of it all (1 Sam. 2:3). After all, He is the source of all knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

I am unwise as to who those "most" Bible scholars are, and I am naive to a fault that I believe that all Scripture is breathed out from God (2 Timothy 3:16), so forgive me while I balk at this statement of the pastor quoted above.

Why? Because it voids 2 Timothy 3:16! If one person - the author of Proverbs - has to "copy" the writings of an Egyptian philosopher Amenemope for part of his writings, where is God's inspiration to that author? It opens the way to claiming that the Bible is not wholly inspired of God as the Bible, God's Word, teaches us that it is, but that there are elements of the Bible that are simply taken off worldly wisdom - a classic case of not believing in the sufficiency of Scripture in my opinion.

Moreover, I am disturbed by his statement that God first "gave wisdom to an Egyptian pagan then incorporated the latter's writings into His Holy Scripture". What?! God has to incorporate a pagan's writings into His words? Who's your god, pastor?

Quote
World-respected magazine, Christianity Today, once quoted D. Bruce Lockerbie in "The Timeless Moment":

There will always be artists whose experience is not necessarily Christian but whose gifts, through common grace, enable them to tell as much truth as they know. There are also artists whose vision is distorted, whose purposes may even be debased, whose art is thereby twisted and maimed. Yet from them too, in spite of decadence and corruption, we may obtain momentary vestiges of truth?We can't tell God where He can or can't be seen.

Many Christians have such a hard time reconciling what they hear in church on Sunday and what they experience the rest of the week. On Sundays they are often told: "The world is evil, stay away from the world, set your heart only on heaven!" But throughout the week, they are often entertained, educated, encouraged and empowered by the pop culture around them. They then feel very guilty when they enjoy a secular song on the radio, or when they feel God speaking to them through a movie, or when wearing nice fashionable clothes strengthens their appreciation of themselves.

The truth is, there should be no confusion. It is God's common grace at work. And that grace uses those songs, movies or fashion to speak to you and awaken you to divine goodness and presence.

That's right; go to church on Sunday then enjoy the secular and sinful on other days and not feel a pinch of remorse. Wow, can anyone say "Sunday Christian"?

I don't want to come out sounding judgmental, but there seems to be an obvious lack of regeneration in these folks then. I subscribe to the view that there is no such thing as a carnal Christian, i.e. you can never say you love God and are a true Christian but still seek to fulfill the pleasures of the flesh! In simple terms, regeneration transforms a Christian to one who loves the things that God loves and hates that which God hates.

Does God like that some rap artistes rap about the exploitation of women as sexual objects, of adopting a sinful lifestyle? I'm not so sure.

The Bible doesn't say you need to be a hermit but it does say that you are to fill your mind with all that is good (Philippians 4:8) - the question, then, is whether secular media or pop culture helps fill a person's mind with all that is good?

It's also sad that pastors like him love to call those who choose wisely what they watch, listen to and participate in "legalists" and "religious".

Read Psalm 101:1-4

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.


Quote
3. Common grace opens the way for God's saving grace. It doesn't have the power to save the sinner from sin. It is not that special grace that gives one eternal life. But while common grace doesn't save the sinner, it often opens the way for saving grace to operate.

Why do more than 50,000 people from all walks of life come each year for City Harvest Church's Easter and Christmas weekends? To hear me preach the gospel? Oh, I wish! The truth is, they come to watch our drama ministry's fantastic productions. As these unchurched people come into the house of God, they find themselves enjoying the worship experience and getting inspired by the uplifting sermons. Thousands eventually end up receiving Christ as their Savior. But there is no denying that the colorful drama productions were what drew them first to the presence of God. When we boldly create culture, we often open up innovative ways for the Great Commission to become effective.

Correction; The fact of the matter, pastor, is that I've never heard you preach the Gospel.

If we take what you wrote here seriously, then perhaps we should see more conversions and born-again Christians at Britney Spears' concerts and Anthony Robbins seminars than at church! Where is the Gospel, pastor? Or do you not believe that the Gospel itself is enough?

I also wonder why they "receive Christ". Do they know what they are saved from? Do they know how vile their sins are before a just and holy God? Are they broken for their sins, realizing that they, by their own merit, are not able to be saved except through faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ?

Sadly, many who are products of such seeker-sensitive methods of yours at your huge church that I've spoken to cannot answer the questions above.

Quote
In Taiwan, Geng-Hong Liu is a famous actor-singer who was dating popular "Miss Taiwan" pageant winner Vivi Wang. Without Christ, they lived recklessly. A few years ago, Geng-Hong and Vivi came to the Lord, got filled with the Holy Spirit and received discipleship in a wonderful local church. Since then, they have brought more than 100 celebrities from the entertainment industry to Jesus! Taiwan is the capital of Chinese pop culture in Asia and celebrities like Geng-Hong are changing the perception of Christianity in his industry. Today, there is a huge revival among the youth in Taiwan, and notably, Christianity has become the religion of choice among the glitterati.

And Hollywood seems to love Scientology and the Kabbalah. Your point is?

Quote
The necessity of common grace is clearly outlined in The Moody Handbook of Theologyas the preliminary ingredient to saving grace (or "efficacious" grace as termed by the author):

Before a person can be saved there must be a witness from God; that witness comes first through a knowledge of God. God reveals Himself to people through the avenue of common grace. When people participate in the material blessings of God (Matt. 5:45) it ought to make them reflect on the goodness of God?A person cannot receive the efficacious grace of God for salvation without having received and recognized the work of God in common grace. Common grace thus is preparatory for efficacious grace; it brings man to a realization of his sin and of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

THREE CATEGORIES OF CULTURE

Philippians 4:8 tells us that we were made to dwell on things that are "true, noble, just, pure, lovely, excellent," and to put these elements into our culture. Loosely speaking, when something is considered beautiful, lovely or excellent, people tend to categorize them into two broad categories: (a) folk culture, which tends to be more traditional and limited to the ethnicity of a group, and (b) high culture, which tends to be associated with the richer, better-educated, upper classes of society.

However, there is a third group known as "pop culture," which derives its name from being popular with the general masses. A typical characterization of these three forms of culture is given in the columns below:

(table removed)

The danger is to adopt a snooty, elitist attitude that claims Beethoven, Shakespeare and Picasso as real art, while dismissing the likes of Madonna, Ang Lee, the Oscars and the Grammys as nothing more than cheap entertainment for young people. One mustn't forget that during his own time, William Shakespeare was also merely a pop artist himself. Common people attended his plays, which were not just about dramatic artistry, but also for commercial entertainment and profit making. Four hundred years later, what was pop culture then is now considered high art. Who knows? Four hundred years from now, urban rap music may be considered high art too!

WHY IS POP CULTURE IMPORTANT?

1. Pop culture is a reflection of real life in society. Pop culture expresses what the general masses believe in and value, their attitudes and questions, hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties, as well as who they consider to be heroes and villains. Pop culture shows us the condition of the human heart. It interprets for us what reality is like and how to live in the real world. It is a powerful means of education so that we won't remain naive or gullible; instead we glean from it and learn how to navigate through the complexities of life.

Take for example, the subject of "falling in love." The movie "Titanic" tells us that if two people are truly in love, class difference shouldn't be a barrier. From the movie "The Bodyguard", we learn that the color of one's skin shouldn't be a hindrance to true love. "In Notting Hill", we learn that differences in social status could be overcome in a relationship.

Seriously, pastor, I worry if your congregation is learning lessons of life from movies and popular culture. In movies, good guys always win; the girl always ends up with the boy; class distinctions are unfortunate but always overcome; the poor man always becomes rich, etcetera etcetera.

Quote
As such, pop culture is like a human roadmap, plotting out for us what the real world is like and how to navigate our way through it. Because we are connected to the God of all truth, more than anyone else, Christians should be educated about life and not be naive simpletons (Ps. 92:6, NLT; Prov. 22:3, 27:12, NLT).

2. Pop culture gives voice to the social issues of the day. Rock and roll is the voice of the youth that emerged after World War II. Soul music is the expression of Black Americans of the 1960s. Rap music is a display of anger and discontent toward urban city life. The movie "Letters From Iwo Jima" explores the senselessness of war. "Philadelphia" deals with homosexuality and AIDS. "Lost In Translation" explores a man's struggle with loneliness, companionship and fidelity in marriage. Putting on "the mind of Christ" is not merely memorizing Scripture, it also involves having the sensitivity to "hear" the voice of God through the creativity of "His people."

Ah, I see! Putting on the mind of Christ means to also have the sensitivity to "hear" the voice of God through the creativity of "His people". Seriously, that's a new definition for me, a legalistic religious Christian (according to your definition) who listens to God primarily through His Word.

Have you not read the Psalmist's prayer?

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. -&nbsp; Psalm 119:11

I guess many must have been putting on the mind of Christ through some of the Beatles sermons in the United States too?

Quote
Amy Grant's pop song "Ask Me" helps victims of sexual abuse articulate and deal with their pain. The lyrics go like this:

&nbsp; &nbsp; I see her as a little girl hiding in her room
&nbsp; &nbsp; She takes another bath and she sprays her momma's perfume
&nbsp; &nbsp; To try to wipe away the scent he left behind
&nbsp; &nbsp; But it haunts her mind.

&nbsp; &nbsp; Ask me if I think there's a God up in the heaven
&nbsp; &nbsp; Where did He go in the middle of her shame?
&nbsp; &nbsp; Ask me if I think there's a God up in the heavens
&nbsp; &nbsp; I see no mercy and no one down here's naming names
&nbsp; &nbsp; Nobody's naming names.

Without dealing with the question of "Where is God?" a victim of sexual abuse will have difficulty finding healing emotionally and spiritually. The media world of music, movies and television may be controversial, but at the same time, they are powerful and forceful. While they entertain, they educate the public at the same time.

3. Pop culture has the power to shape lives. As it portrays life, pop culture can popularize and glamorize certain attitudes and beliefs that exist in society. When these values - good or bad - are widely embraced by the masses, it becomes the accepted lifestyle of the public. In this way, pop culture has the power to shape our lives, and we the Church just cannot afford to withdraw from it!

The Bible - God's Word - shapes my life, pastor; not popular culture. I know what's out there and as our Lord Jesus Christ advised, I strive to be in it but not of it.

Quote
Unfortunately, the attitude of many Christians is that anything from Hollywood is "of the devil," attacking the kingdom of God. They believe that we must do everything to avoid it completely. That means boycotting Hollywood products or lobbying local governments to ban or censor them. This only serves to pull the Church deeper into our own shell and alienate us even more from our world. For some churchgoers, the mark of a true believer is to totally avoid "secular" pop culture - see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil!

What, then, is the mark of a true believer according to you, pastor?

From what you've written so far, this true believer sounds like a "carnal Christian" who believes he can serve both his own flesh and God. As much as total withdrawal from the world is dangerous, your exhortation to fully engage and immerse in it is equally, if not more, devastating!

What's wrong with calls to ban or censor certain movies or objectionable materials? You're the father of a son yourself - would you be happy to know that your son will have full access to pornography and filth in mainstream media, and not just on his computer or mobile phone? Would you encourage him to go see a movie that promotes violence, objectifies women as nothing but sex slaves to rich and powerful men, and glamorizes the consumption of drugs?

Quote
Because we have a simplistic view about pop culture in terms of good versus bad, right versus wrong, black versus white, we become very shallow when we evaluate the popular arts. If it is "Christian," it is good. If it mentions "Jesus" or "God," it is good. Otherwise, I won't watch it. I won't listen to it. The result is that we don't think very deeply about the nature of pop culture and its power to change our world, and we lose our influence in shaping our society.

While I am not saying that a simplistic view that if anything is labeled "Christian" it must be good and others bad is to be encouraged, I'm disturbed that you, a pastor, would choose to teach that not everything is black and white. Where will you lead your congregation next? That there are no absolute truths?

Here I am reading your Christian article, and I'm definitely not saying it's good.

Quote
There is a proverb: "The fool curses the darkness but the wise lights a candle." Christians often have the tendency to "curse" the world without offering to shine a light. As such, the darkness deepens. If we are going to become a vital part of our world, we must begin to demonstrate that there is something powerful and life-changing about our faith. Christianity is not just a nice, cautious, naive, gullible religion, or an archaic belief system that is out of touch with contemporary society.

Unfortunately, the way we do church often puts people to sleep. What is tragic is that when we are dull and irrelevant, people won't think that the Church is boring?they think that God is boring! And one thing about Jesus Christ is that He is never boring! They hanged Him on the cross not because He was a bore, but rather, He was too dynamic to be safe for the public!

Really? I thought Jesus was crucified because He spoke truth and exposed the hypocrites for what they were? Oh, and by the way, Jesus was crucified because He was to be, and is, the propitiation for our sins, that the full wrath of God against our transgressions might be satisfied with a perfect sin offering!

You, pastor, have cheapened our Lord Jesus Christ's sacrifice in order to further your own worldly agenda!

Ah, here we have it - the "dull and irrelevant" church which must re-energize to be relevant! Pastor, if you and your congregation were truly seeking God's face, you won't need "relevant" musicals, dance items and fashion shows to do so. Church services, by the way, are for the body of Christ to come together for corporate worship, not to entertain the masses.

Quote
A song, a movie, or a book is popular only because it has somehow connected with the recipients in their hopes, feelings and desires. These desires are not always immoral, promiscuous or sinful.

Even if it's a book that connects with my lust? Hey, it's a desire and hope of mine, and this pornographic book/magazine/film is meeting it.

Quote
Instead of condemning or wishing that pop culture would go away, we need to ask the right questions: What does it say about the world we live in? What issues is it speaking up for? How is it shaping my around me?

WHAT CONSTITUTES POP CULTURE?

Popular culture comprises at least the following nine aspects. In the order of impact, they are as follows:

1. Advertising. Advertisers spend more than US$400 billion a year trying to get their messages across. It is one of the main driving forces of the global economy. What is the most recognizable phrase in the world? Not "John 3:16&#8243; but Nike's "Just Do It!" That is the power of advertising!

2. Celebrities. The public is fixated with famous people. Take for example, Anna Nicole Smith, who died on February 8, 2007. The whole case surrounding her death was reported every day on every news channel in the world. A poll taken showed that the number of people who followed the daily updates of her death was as many as those who followed the US Presidential elections! That is the power of celebrities to attract the public's attention. Their adoring public wants to know what their likes and dislikes are, what they believe and don't believe in. Their every movement is followed and imitated by those who admire them. The latest pop stars may mean very little to you, but they mean something significant to millions of people all around the globe.

Idolatry! Do you not know that God abhors it? Are you teaching that the adoration of pop stars, movie stars and sports personalities is acceptable?

Quote
3. Music. We live in a world immersed in music. Music is everywhere. What is interesting is that most of today's pop music has its roots in rock and roll, and most rock and roll pioneers grew up in Pentecostal churches. Singers such as Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, Beyonc?and Destiny's Child all grew up singing in church.

Maybe you are not aware how the term "rock n' roll" came to be?

It doesn't mean a thing if an artiste grew up singing in church. Oprah Winfrey grew up a Baptist and now promotes and teaches New Age falsehoods to millions. The singers you mentioned glorify and promote sinful lifestyles in their songs and in their personal lives. Growing up singing/serving in church means nothing, much as the fact that it will be nothing when a person pleads that he was baptized as an infant on Judgment Day if he does not put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.

Quote
4. Movies. Movies are one of life's greatest teachers in the sense that they teach us almost everything we need to know about our world. Love and hate, war and peace, happiness and joy, pain and sorrow, loneliness and companionship, drama, fear and suspense-they are all amply portrayed on the silver screen.

Gee, everyday life already teaches me that! Besides, movies only give people a rose-colored tint of life.

Quote
5. Television. TV is the most essential household appliance for the world today. TV has become our constant salesman, teacher, parent, babysitter, comforter and "window to the world" for humanity. The amount of money earned by top-rated TV series is staggering. ABC TV network scheduled the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" four nights a week. Regis Philbin earned US$20 million per year hosting the show. For the first two years, US$62 million were given away in prize money. How can a network give away so much for salaries and prizes? Well, each episode has twenty 30-second ads. In terms of advertising money alone, these ads earn ABC more than US$21 million a week! Such is the power television has to attract viewership that corporations are willing to pour incredulous amounts of money into TV ads.

TV has also dumbed down the populace in general. There's a valid reason why some call it the "dumb box". Might I also add that TV has been showing much of which goes against Scripture? Popular shows like Ghost Whisperer and other "spiritual" series promote witchcraft while others like Desperate Housewives promote promiscuity.

Quote
6. Fashion. One theologian says that "fashion is dressing up the soul." One of the most amazing things in the Bible is how much it talks about fashion. Proverbs 31 is the famous chapter on the virtuous woman. This woman does many things: getting up early, providing food for the family, giving to the poor, buying fields and planting vineyards. She runs both the household and a business. But what is most commented about her in that scriptural passage is her fashion sense.

&nbsp; &nbsp; She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands (Prov. 31:13).

&nbsp; &nbsp; She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle (Prov. 31:19).

&nbsp; &nbsp; All her household is clothed with scarlet (Prov. 31:21).

&nbsp; &nbsp; Her clothing is fine linen and purple (Prov. 31:22).

&nbsp; &nbsp; She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants (Prov. 31:24).

Which theologian?

The Bible isn't talking about fashion here! What next? The Bible has beauty secrets too (vis-a-vis Queen Esther's one-year preparation for the king)!?

Quote
This woman is very particular about her fashion and that of her family members. Her taste in scarlet and purple clothing tells us that she is willing to invest in fabric that is the rarest and most expensive in Bible times. What's more, this fashionable woman is herself involved in the fashion industry. But she is very spiritual too. Her true attractiveness is her inner beauty and godliness:

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised (Prov. 31:30).

Spirituality and style are not mutually exclusive. There is no denying that the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is outwardly a charming and beautiful lady. And God readily praises her for her fashion sense.

I'm amazed at just how you can contradict your own quote of Proverbs 31:30 in one fell swoop! Bravo!

God praised her for her fashion sense?! Huh? Sorry, I must be reading the Bible wrongly again?br />
Quote
In Acts 9, Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. Dorcas was a very prominent lady in the city because she was a fashion designer. At her funeral, the people showed Peter "the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made" (Acts 9:39). Today, we would call them evening gowns and designer dresses. Dorcas was the Donna Karan or Vera Wang of her time! That is why when she was raised from the dead, everybody knew about it.

The people mourned for her because Dorcas was "full of good works and acts of charity" (Acts 9:36) not because she was a fashion designer! She catered to the widows who were without care, not for profit and fame as with fashion designers today! Have you seen fashion designers give away their designs to widows and the destitute? No, they help dress the famous and rich while selling their creations to the masses at exorbitant prices!

How unlike Dorcas!

Quote
The first European convert was Lydia of Philippi who "was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira" (Acts 16:14). Thyatira was the fashion capital of the ancient world, much like Milan of today. Lydia owned a fashion house of very high-end couture. It was out of her residence that the Philippian church was birthed.

The Bible doesn't tell us that Lydia owned a fashion house of very high-end couture. Where are you getting your commentaries from, pastor?

Quote
When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up in His temple, the first thing that impressed him was God's clothing-the long train that followed His robe (Is. 6:1). When Jesus went to the cross, the one thing the Roman soldiers fought over was the seamless tunic that Jesus was wearing (John 19:23-24). When the Apostle John saw a vision of Jesus on the island of Patmos, the first thing that impressed him was the garment Jesus was wearing (Rev. 1:12-13).

Of course! Did you also note that the donkey Jesus rode on was never ridden on before, so that means we should always buy new cars? Or how that tunic Jesus wore and which the Roman soldiers drew lots for was high-end couture too? It was the Armani of that day who designed it and gave it to Jesus.

I'm sorry; I repent of not having a new car nor any Armani suit. I'm such an unworthy Christian!

Quote
Our fashion sense is not a small deal in the Bible! How we dress often re&#8209;flects the condition of our human soul. Is it a happy soul, or a soul in mourning? Is it a carefree soul? A colorful soul? A creative soul? Is the self-esteem of the soul healthy? All that and more are often shown in the way we dress.

If a woman shows more flesh than necessary, man, she must be a really confident person and full of self-esteem! With no disrespect meant to women in the trade, red-light districts around the world must be full of women with the highest levels of self-esteem!

Quote
7. Sports. Sports stars are often likened to gods. When soccer player, Diego Maradona, scored a goal at the 1986 World Cup, newspapers the world over called it a goal scored by "the hand of god!" Sports have a way of lifting up the patriotism of a country and uniting the people. Its popular appeal to the masses is self-evident.

You said it, pastor - sports stars "likened to gods". One word: IDOLATRY!

By the way, when Maradona scored that goal it was referred to as "the hand of God" because replays showed he used his hand to guide the ball in. He blasphemously called it that himself!

Quote
8. Art. This is the aesthetic expression of whatever is beautiful, shocking, painful, spiritual and holy in humanity-through the medium of painting, drawing, sculpture and architecture. Although not all of us are called to be full-time evangelists, we are nonetheless called to evangelize. Similarly, not all of us are called to be full-time artists, but we should be as artistic and imaginative as we can whenever we cook, decorate, speak or dress.

9. Internet. We have a "flat" world now through the Internet, which crosses all national and ethnic boundaries. People communicate with one another through e-mail, read their news, do their research and buy many of their products through the Internet. It influences politics, economics and intellectual pursuits. The Internet has created a global community which influences all the other areas of pop culture.

POP CULTURE REFLECTS A SPIRITUAL YEARNING

Does pop culture kill religion? Does it make Christians unspiritual? Is pop culture such an unclean thing? If God's common grace is at work in culture, then pop culture must have a spiritual edge to it.

Which spirit are we talking about here, pastor? Is Oprah Winfrey promoting the God of the Bible when she promotes New Age thought and practices with Eckhart Tolle?

Quote
Consider for a moment, Los Angeles. LA is the capital of pop culture in the world but it is also one the world's most religious capitals. Practically every religion can be found there: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, Mormonism, Kabbalah, Scientology, et cetera. You name it, they are all there! Why? Because creativity and spirituality are two sides of the same coin! They go together. In Genesis 1:1, Elohim, God the Creator, can also be translated as "God the creative Spirit." The God who is very spiritual, is at the same time, extremely creative.

The same myriad of spirituality and creativity can also be found in strip clubs and pornographic studios. Your point?

Quote
Artistic people are often called "aesthetic." The word "aesthetic" in the Greek means "sensitive." Therefore, Los Angeles, the city whose people are most culturally aesthetic, must surely also be the city whose people are most sensitive to the move of God.

LA was founded by devout Roman Catholics in the mid-18th century. Many great revivals of Christianity started there. The Pentecostal revival of 1906 started at Azusa Street in downtown LA. In the 1920s, Aimee Semple McPherson built one of the earliest megachurches of the world in downtown LA. The city was the incubator of the Jesus Movement in the 1970s that brought thousands into the kingdom of God. In the early 1970s, Melodyland Christian Center in LA was the center of Charismatic renewal for the whole world.

Great ministries such as Rick Warren, Jack Hayford, John MacArthur, Chuck Smith, Greg Laurie, Robert Schuller and Bishop Charles Blake are all based in LA. The largest Christian radio station in the world KKLA-FM is based in LA. Fuller Theological Seminary, the largest multi-denominational seminary in the world, is also located in LA.

Pop culture is really the intersection of faith and creativity. In fact, much of pop culture has religious ideas and imageries. One of the favorite accessories of pop celebrities is cross necklaces and earrings. When Mary J. Blige won the best singer for R&amp;B at the 2007 Grammy Awards, she unabashedly gave thanks to Jesus Christ on TV. When Brazil won the Soccer World Cup in 2002, the players knelt down in a circle with hands lifted up to praise God in full view of 1.1 billion television viewers. (Millions of sports fans watching also joined them in praising the Lord!) Jesus makes regular guest appearances in shows like "South Park", "The West Wing" and "The Simpsons". Movies such as "Ghost", "Signs", "The Sixth Sense", "The Devil's Advocate" are all centered on faith and the supernatural.

I'm going to let a video fill in the response for me here (WARNING: video contains some graphic imagery as examples):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xdlzWyo35E

Quote
Pop culture is the place where our faith and feelings are tested, refined and energized. When you are sensitive to common grace, you can turn to pop culture and recognize the 21st-century face of Jesus Christ! Pop culture informs us of a world that has a spiritual void and its people are searching for the God who can fill it. The rise of pop culture in recent times is the clearest indication of the great spiritual yearning in the masses! The world is ripe for a move of God! The fervency that was once found in Billy Graham's crusades is evident today in most U2 concerts. Thousands are paying big bucks to "have church" with U2. Lead singer, Bono, makes no apologies for routinely declaring in his concerts that "God is in the house!"

Gee, I didn't know our Lord Jesus Christ has a 21st-Century face. I thought He's the same yesterday, today and tomorrow?

When Bono declares that "God is in the house!", God is indeed there? He (Bono) must be something!

Quote
In the realm of pop culture, we see a yearning for God and the spiritual in the souls of the masses. As Christians of the 21st century, we can't withdraw into our little shell of religious correctness. More than ever before, we need to engage pop culture and provide the answer the world is desperately seeking for.

WE MUST NOT BE AFRAID TO ENGAGE POP CULTURE!

The Bible says, "We are ambassadors for Christ" (2 Cor. 5:20). A good ambassador must understand the habits, thinking, values and language of the people he (or she) is sent to. He may not readily accept any portion of the culture of the host country, but nonetheless must be diplomatic enough to represent his president well. Similarly, we are sent as the representatives of the King of kings and Lord of lords to a broken-down world. The Bible encourages believers to engage culture in positive ways and have the ability to "diplomatically" know what portion of culture to accept or to reject. Being a kind, polite, non-condemning and non-judgmental Christian is consistent with having the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

I'm diplomatically telling everyone that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives!

Quote
When Jerusalem was seized by the pagan Babylonians, Daniel and his friends did not separate themselves from Babylonian culture. Neither did they practice the wholesale rejection of anything Babylonian. On the contrary, they showed wisdom and discernment by accepting most parts of the culture, while rejecting some parts of it. They accepted the education, fashion, and even the wisdom of the Babylonians. However, they refused to worship their idols, or be nourished by their value system.

In Acts 17, Paul was in Athens and he actively engaged those in the marketplace. Every day, Paul communicated with a wide range of people, engaging them in Greek art and literature. He related to the Athenians "diplomatically" at their cultural level. No wonder Paul called himself an "ambassador" of Christ.

Can someone buy me a new Bible this Christmas, please? I can't find what the pastor described about Paul in the chapter of Acts he referenced. All I read is this undiplomatic mad man called Paul who preached sin and repentance to the Athenians. While Paul did indeed refer to an Athenian poem, his primary message was the Gospel, not engage them in discussions on Greek art and literature.

Quote
In Exodus, life was very hard for the Israelites in Egypt. There were voices arising in the land that went up to heaven. God paid very close attention and understood the cry of the people from their prayers, their songs, their conversations and their poems. God didn't despise or scoff at what He heard. Instead, He devised a way to bring deliverance to them.

Similarly today, let us become "fluent" in the language of pop culture-the language of advertisement, celebrities, music, movies, television, fashion, sports, art and the Internet-so that we can understand the cries, aspirations and questions of our generation, and like God in Exodus, respond with the truth that we have found in the gospel.

As I mentioned above, a total withdrawal from the world is a dangerous thing, but the pastor's exhortation here to fully engage and immerse in popular culture, even taking truths and having our lives guided by principles espoused by popular culture is equally, if not more, devastating!

We are to be in the world but not of it. Avoid evil at all costs and let the Word of God be your only guide in all areas of life, for what business has light with darkness and darkness with light? If foregoing such "pleasures" that can be found in popular culture, then let it be a cross you have to carry to follow after our Lord Jesus Christ!

As the apostle Paul best put it:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. - Galatians 5:16-24
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 11:26:46 AM by Grievous » Logged

我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有...
Blog
dapengmingwang
Primus
Demi Precentor
*****

Karma: +13/-1
Singapore Singapore

Posts: 1,278


我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有


View Profile WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2009, 06:14:00 AM »

<<<BEGIN TRANSMISSION>>>

Wholesome Shallowness?
September 22, 2009

In 2007, my wife Sun released a music video of the hit single, 'China Wine' - the result of a creative collaboration with reggae wunderkind, Wyclef Jean. That video garnered a lot of attention on YouTube with more than two million hits over two dozen fan sites. It received rave reviews from industry insiders as well as youths who love dance pop the world over. Not surprisingly, the video also raised quite a few eyebrows within the religious fraternity who felt it was inappropriate for a Christian to be featured in a dance video.

Although Sun is married to me, she herself was never formally ordained as a minister. She never felt gifted with a pulpit ministry. But ever since Sun was a child, she had participated in many singing contests and won quite a few of them. As a preacher's wife, Sun functioned faithfully from behind-the-scenes as my helpmate, becoming an effective counselor and a singer in the church.

At the turn of the millennium, as I began formulating my doctrine on the Cultural Mandate, challenging my generation to come out of isolation and engage the marketplace, I urged Sun to help me embody that message. In 2002, she launched her new career in Taiwan as a pop singer. Since then, she has done very well with more than four million units sold, five multi-platinum records, and over 30 number one songs in five different countries. Today, she is known in the Far East as a bona fide singer, entertainer and humanitarian.

From her royalties, Sun has built eight schools, two orphanages, two medical centers, one rehabilitation clinic, and two housing projects. Through her connections, she has helped with the establishing and fund-raising of four other orphanages, two hospitals, two community services, and one charity foundation. For all these humanitarian achievements, Sun was awarded the Top Outstanding Young Person of the World in 2003, and became China's Charity Ambassador of Children since 2004. In 2007, she sang the theme song for the Special Olympics at Shanghai. Last year, she sang the 2008 Olympic Anthem during the pre-game launch at Beijing. The unchurched throughout Asia loves Sun and views her as an exemplary model to the youths of society.

Yet, in spite of all her secular and creative achievements, many conservative pastors find it hard to accept Sun in any role outside of church ministry. But the reality is that she is no longer a church staff or a gospel singer. She doesn't work for any religious organization.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
This is such a fine display of post-modernism . Everything is so gray and you just don't know what his stand and where the line is. On one hand Kong Hee seems to suggest that Sun has nothing to do with the church and on another he talks about her works in support of his ministry. Then the subtle boast about her achievements and works.

Not surprising, however. I still remember the part where she was a 'singing pastor', then she is just a singer...

I can't help but ask, at the same time Kong Hee distances his church, and Sun being a Christian from her role as an entertainer, does any of the works funded by her secular career goes into the 'portfolio' of works of City Harvest Church? In fact, it seems to suggest that regardless of the ill effects of her 'idol' status, her works would justify it. i.e. the ends justify the means.

I am sorry that the idea of Roman Catholic 'indulgences' and purgatory suddenly comes to mind.

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



As a professional artist, Sun has to take on many dramatic stage personas. This is what entertainers do. In the 'China Wine' video, she happens to be acting in one such role. Fiction must be separated from fact. I think the struggle many pastors have is the difficulty to separate her association with me (as a pastor's wife) and her career as a singer. I agree that if she is a 'pastor' or 'preacher', perhaps the video would have been inappropriate. But Sun is not a pastor. She is an entertainer. All her music videos were not produced by the church but by her secular music label, the company that she is working for.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
This brings to mind that several years ago someone was taken to court for alleging that Sun's secular CDs were pushed and sold in Church. If I am not wrong that matter was settled out of court where the particular member apologised and then paid a certain amount in damages. I'll not say more on this matter, and leave the reader to draw his own conclusions on how much separation there is between Sun's secular work and City Harvest Church.
<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



'China Wine' is a music video about a girl who has to take up an extra job at a nightclub to make ends meet for her family. Some pastors immediately took offense at the club scene and sexy dancers around her. As for her costumes, she wore gym clothes which was not inappropriate for the set she had to act in. At the end of the music video, she caught her boyfriend cheating on her in the night club and confronted him in Mandarin. If you understand what she said, her words were neither crude nor profane at all. She basically shouted at the guy, 'Hey, what are you doing with this mistress?' Unfortunately, the video translator subtitled that as 'Hey, what are you doing with this b****?' That final b-word caused a further uproar among pastors, who were quick to condemn her for uttering profanities. A few of them wrote me angry emails calling Sun a 'whore', 'hooker', and other nastier, derogatory terms. Some said she was promoting free sex and immorality. But any intelligent, objective viewer would know that the whole drama is not about sex; if anything, it portrays the reality of a fallen secular world.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Actually 'Pastor' the correct word for 狐狸精; is not mistress nor b****, but vixen spirit. Though technically, I would say that since foxes, wolves and dogs are more or less in the same animal family... that translation wasn't too far off. I will not elaborate on the Chinese myth behind 狐狸精. But those who are interested can read up 封神榜, which basically explains how part of the pantheon of Chinese gods came about.

Either way, I would like to point out that in communications we takes in 55% of visual, 38% of sound (tone etc), and 7% of words. In other words, what I saw in that video is 55% of a scantily dressed woman in dance moves that arouses my lust, 38% primarily consist of babbling and rhythm since I generally can't catch the lyrics except the part in Chinese that sounded like 脱掉... 脱掉 (take it off) and repetitive "China Wine". That leaves me with 7% in words and when I looked at the lyrics it's talking about partying, dancing her problems away etc.

Now Kong Hee expects his audience to figure out from this image that "is a music video about a girl who has to take up an extra job at a nightclub to make ends meet for her family" while I thought in the video she's caught her man double timing her....

Bravo, 'Pastor'!

It is even all the more amusing that in this part he lectures us on separating facts from fiction, and in the next part he extols the perceived reality of Hollywood make-believe!

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



All these storms in a tea cup set me thinking of a bigger question: Are Christians living a sanitized life? Why have Christian?productions been so ineffective in their reach to the unchurched, to the extent that even believers are not interested in their products?

In his book, Eyes Wide Open: Looking For God in Popular Culture, author William D. Romanowski talks about a 1993 survey, which reported that over 80 percent of all churchgoing Christians regularly go to the movies. When they were asked what they thought about Christian films, TV productions and Christian Contemporary Music, this was what they said:

1.    Christian popular arts are inferior imitations as compared to mainstream culture. To many, Christian music is substandard guitar pop and happy-clappy lyrics about Jesus. This is not surprising as many Christian artists feel that their main job is to preach the gospel and proclaim the faith. As such, artistic quality or creativity is not so important. But what they forget is that when people go to a movie or buy an album, their first desire is to be entertained. If they want to be preached to, they would have gone to church.

2.    Christian popular arts are unrealistic, sanitized versions of the real world. Some reviewers even use the phrase wholesome shallowness?to describe them. Christian entertainment has come to mean movies and music appropriate for 'family-only' audiences. That basically means kids-oriented programs or old-time TV reruns for senior citizens. Are Christians that naive and immature, living in a perpetual time warp of a bygone era, that we can't handle the realities of the 21st century?

   As early as 1916, Hollywood had already discovered that 60 percent of theater owners wanted pictures that portray the real world even if they contained themes on violence, sex and greed. This is because moviegoers want films that honestly and artistically address the issues of life.

3.    Christian popular arts are limited in content and purpose. If you listen to most CCM, you would think that all Christians do is worship and evangelize 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But people in general, Christians and non-Christians alike, don't want to be preached to 24/7. They want a pop culture that is fun, entertaining, artistic and innovative. They are also concerned with the issues of life and they enjoy it when those themes are addressed with artistic flair.

Everybody knows the trials and temptations of daily living. We are not immune to problems and tensions. We are all concerned about love and relationship, life and health, career and finances, the global economy and politics, war and peace, and our future. We are all trying to understand why things happen the way they do and how we can live our lives properly. Pop culture helps us to navigate through all that.

People get inspired and moved by U2, the biggest band in the world today. Their music captures a sense of religious longing and the struggle of living in a world torn by war, injustice and poverty. They enjoy movies like The Matrix, which speaks of an invisible world behind our natural world. They are moved by Schindler's List (rated R) which touches on courage, sacrifice, and overcoming racism. CHC member, Jack Neo, is arguably the best movie director in Southeast Asia. His films, I Not Stupid I and I Not Stupid II, were box office hits because they realistically deal with the pressures of the rat-race in Asian societies.

Listeners and viewers cry buckets over these powerful songs and films. They may be secular, but people get touched by such productions more so than most Christian ones. If Christian pop culture is artistically inferior, unrealistically sanitized, and limited in content and purpose, is there any surprise that surveys regularly show that even churchgoers are not excited about them? No wonder Christian artists have such a difficult time selling their products beyond small book tables in churches.

The beautiful truth is that God is not against pop culture. There is a section of the Old Testament known as 'The Writings', covering books like Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes and Lamentations. Honestly, aren't they the popular songs, dramas and musicals of biblical times?



<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
The 'ugly' truth is, pop culture promotes idolatry and a whole list of other things, such glamorising drug abuse and sexual immorality, to promoting violence. Pop idols generally serve as bad role models for our youths. Beneath all the glamor are many rotten lives. Just look at how those lives rot away. It makes me wonder whether 'Pastor' Kong will actually be pleased if his church has an Edison Chen, Paris Hilton or Noriko Sakai. After all, that's real life glamor, Hollywood style!

As for Jack Neo, a friend of mine who is a contractor which movie makers hire for sound crew, lighting etc, told me that he generally did not have a good reputation in the industry. It doesn't matter how good his movies maybe, but the fact is his actions are hardly glorifying of God. That's not mentioning even Patricia Mok (her own 'diva attitude' aside) who used to work with him came out criticising him.

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>


  • Psalms are songs of frustration, regret and anger, yet sung with love to a sometimes hidden God. Aren't they like most tracks on the Billboard Chart?
  • Job deals with the sufferings of life, and the desire to find meaning through them. Isn't it like the Hollywood hit movie, Forest Gump, or the long-running Korean serial drama, Jewel In The Place?
  • Proverbs deal with the danger of shortcuts, the snares of temptation, and the rewards of honesty. Aren't they just like the cartoon series, The Simpsons?
  • The Song of Solomon is about the obsession with love and the sensual. Just turn on any pop radio and we have our modern-day Song of Solomon being broadcasted 24/7.
  • Ecclesiastes deal with the weariness of daily living in an imperfect world. Isn't that portrayed in movies like Signs and The Pianist?
  • Lamentations deal with grief. When one listens to most of Eric Clapton's songs, aren't they all about the dealing with grief?

Like the Old Testament writings themselves, pop culture is the collective wisdom of our generation. Popular arts explore social injustice, songs of sorrow, and even tributes to women. Like the Book of Esther, they may not even mention the name of God. Like Ecclesiastes, they suggest that in this life, bad things do happen to good people. Or like the Song of Solomon, they may celebrate romance and sex. These songs and movies may not have a salvational purpose, but nonetheless, they offer us the essential comfort and wisdom for living. As such, pop culture represents a powerful means of communicating to us what the real world is like, and how to live in it.

We are all products of our personal theological persuasions and convictions. Pop culture affects the lifestyles of the masses. Venturing into the realm of secular culture is certainly not for the weak or the fainthearted. What Sun is seeking to do is to show us how to be a modern-day Daniel or Joseph to our contemporary Babylon and Egypt. Daniel took on Babylon's language, education, fashion, name and persona, and yet he didn't compromise his own value system. According to the New Bible Commentary, Joseph was thoroughly 'Egyptianized', and yet he lived a great life of purpose. Esther, the super celebrity, was also similar. Sun simply wants to emulate these heroes of faith.

Can you remember John the Baptist questioning the authenticity of Jesus' ministry when he heard about the latter's working style? Jesus had become widely known as a friend of sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes and drunkards. He was even seen going to parties and events that the Pharisees themselves wouldn't set foot in. John the Baptist was concerned that Jesus was becoming worldly, immoral and compromising - a bad example to the disciples. Our Lord's reply to him was simply this: Look at My fruits. Look at how the gospel is preached. "And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me" -(Matt. 11:6). The Greek word for 'offended' is scandalizo, which means 'to trip up, stumble, or be enticed to sin'. I would say the same to those religious critics who may be offended by Sun.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Jesus is wholly human, yet wholly God. Can we say the same of Sun?

That's not mentioning Jesus' mingling with many of these sinners etc brought a lasting change to some of those lives. Can we say that Sun has a similar effect? Don't flatter yourself!

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



The 'China Wine' music video was never meant for a church event. Neither was it ever intended to be an evangelism tool or a gospel video. It is simply pop entertainment. People watching the video and regarding it as just that will never get offended or stumbled, which explains the millions of hits and thousands of good reviews on YouTube.

So to the religious and conservatives who have used nasty, derogatory and expletive terms to describe Sun, my parting shot are the words of Jesus Christ from Matthew 21:31, I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.?br />

<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Indeed, 'Pastor'. Perhaps even the 'notorious Bettie Page' will enter the gates of heaven ahead of many. But I wonder how you can sleep well, consider how many are misled by the message presented by the visuals in your wife's 'China Wine' music video, unaware of it being 'a music video about a girl who has to take up an extra job at a nightclub to make ends meet for her family'.
<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>

<<<END OF TRANSMISSION>>>
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 08:59:48 AM by Grievous » Logged

我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有...
Blog
dapengmingwang
Primus
Demi Precentor
*****

Karma: +13/-1
Singapore Singapore

Posts: 1,278


我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有


View Profile WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2009, 01:09:13 AM »

<<<BEGIN TRANSMISSION>>>

Postmodernism: A Balanced Approach
July 28, 2009

What is postmodernism? Should Christians and churches that are more contemporary in their worship and ministry style be immediately labeled as 'postmodern'? Is it a total godless, secularization of society and the Church? More specifically, is City Harvest becoming postmodern in its quest to be culturally relevant?


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
A friend has said this when he was asked what is postmodernism: "I don't really know. But it seems to me in postmodernism, what used to be good in the past, is now bad."

In fact, another guy mentioned that postmodernism is nothing but simply - words. Simply put, the truth no longer speaks for itself, it is now subjected to interpretation.

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



Postmodernism is a period of thought and ideology that comes after the Modern Era. Modernity is considered to be a period of thought in Europe that was developed out of the Renaissance (14th-17th century) and thrived in the Enlightenment (17th-19th century). It was a time of significant development in the fields of science, politics, warfare and technology. Postmodernism is a reaction to that period. By definition, postmodernism literally means 'after modernity;'. Today, society at large is facing a surge toward greater postmodernist thinking, whether it realizes it or not.

Modernism, as an ideology, represents a rationalization and categorization of the social world. In the modern worldview, everything in life can, and should, be interpreted rationally. Science and logic have attained such preeminence in all public discourses that everything must be explained through their lenses. All that is unscientific must be rejected. According to the modern worldview, science and faith can never mix since the latter deals with the realm of the unexplainable. Because knowledge and intelligence are inordinately exalted, modernists invariably become elitist in their categorization of society. An example is Adolf Hitler who believed in the absolute supremacy of the Aryan race over all other races. Six million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust because in Hitler's 'scientific analysis', they didn't deserve a place in the civilized world.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
This is a shallow example.

There is nothing in common between modernism and elitism, and Hitler's genocide of the Jewish people. Hitler and the Nazi's genocidal policies has its roots and foundation in Darwinism in which certain people believed they are more evolved and thus superior to others.

But was there any scientific basis to this aspect of Darwinism? None absolutely. The colored races were considered inferior to the White man in the late 19th and early 20th century, yet African athletes proved Hitler wrong in the 1936 Olympics. Subsequently, Bruce Lee and the Korean War proved that the Chinese were hardly any inferior. The Vietnamese beat both the French and Americans in their path to independence and unification.

It is appalling how this one example is used by Kong Hee to build a whole case for postmodernism.

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



Postmodernism, on the other hand, challenges those presuppositions and beliefs of the Modern Age. It seeks to radically reinterpret what is currently classified as generally accepted knowledge. To a postmodernist, concepts such as right and wrong, good and bad, or what is true and false are not absolutes but changeable from culture to culture, and situation to situation. As such, postmodernism represents cultural and ethical relativism regarding truth, reality, reason, value, linguistic meaning, art, architecture, and every other form of social life. The dogmatist, or anyone who believes in an ultimate truth, is considered abhorrent and dangerous.



<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
In other words, to them Christians are dangerous.
<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



As a worldview, postmodernism detests the stereotyping of social classes according to sex, race, age, etc. In reaction to what it perceives as the snooty prejudice of the modernists, it appreciates and especially empathizes with the marginalized. It rejects the chauvinism and oppression exerted by any gender, group or cause over others (white vs. black, men vs. women, rich vs. poor, educated vs. illiterate, able vs. disabled, religious vs. nonreligious, etc.). It seeks to champion the plight of the growing population of those socially marginalized or ostracized.

Postmodernism is most widely accepted and respected within the architectural framework. Take the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, designed by the renowned architect, Frank Gehry. Instead of designing the building in a straightforward and logical scheme, Gehry wanted to challenge the prevalent accepted principles of architecture. There is no straight line in the building because every wall is curved. Every angle you look from gives you a new perspective of the building. No two photographs of the Guggenheim ever look the same. And because it is sited by a river, the titanium facade reflects various shades of color throughout the day. The result of all these is that no one can lay claim to an absolute image of the museum. It is relative to the viewing position and the time of the day. With its absence of visual absolutes, the Guggenheim is considered an embodiment of the concept of postmodernism.

The concept of postmodernism is also expressed in the realm of art. This is especially true in the case of an early 20th-century art movement known as Dada, which promoted the concepts of questioning previously established norms in art. Although it affected literature, theater and graphic design, the movement is most highly recognized for its impact in drastically challenging the fundamental precepts of fine art. A piece of art that exemplifies its concept is Fountain by a prominent Dadaist artist of that time, Marcel Duchamp.

Fountain is simply a common human waste receptacle. To a modernist, the receptacle is merely a functional, scientific instrument to dispose waste. Taking an object that is generally considered filthy and worthless, Duchamp converted it into an expensive art piece. He instilled value to an object most would consider valueless. Duchamp wanted to prove a point: by fabricating art and getting society to regard it as meaningful, we can increase its worth and value. This encapsulates the significant difference between a postmodernist and modernist society. While modernists place a greater value on the intrinsic, postmodernists place a greater value on the extrinsic. With his art piece, Duchamp showed that in a postmodern world, truth is no longer dependent on its intrinsic value (a common, filthy receptacle); it depends extrinsically on how society defines it (an expensive piece of fine art).


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Perhaps that is the reason why CHC spent 47 million to build a monument to God capitalism in Jurong West.
<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



As with any ideological system or ism, there are positive and negative aspects we can glean from postmodernism:

Positive Aspects of Postmodernism

1. &nbsp;   Because postmodernism has a disdain for what it sees as the arrogant absoluteness of science and logic, it makes room for the possibility of faith and the supernatural. Science and faith can coexist.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Which also means what used to be abhorrent in the past is now made acceptable.
<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



2.    Postmodernism is empathetic toward the marginalized and the oppressed, believing that value can be added to those whom may be considered worthless. It is in this context that more pastors and church leaders today are beginning to consider themselves as 'postmodern Christians'. (www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/november13/7.74.html)

3.    It allows a greater tolerance between beliefs, and potentially opens avenues for the Great Commission through a greater love and acceptance for non-Christians.



<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Just as all roads leads to God as the Vatican and many religions now claim?
<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



4.    It allows for freedom of opinion in one's perspectives regarding 'truths' that are relative or non-absolute. It makes one less judgmental and condemning toward behaviors, styles and personal preferences that may be less conventional. It is the antidote to self-righteous Pharisaism.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
And thus allow anyone to justify 'behaviors, styles and personal preferences' that a community in general finds unacceptable?
<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



5.    It allows for greater empathy toward a society that is increasingly pluralistic, challenging us not to be out of touch with how people think and function today.

6.    The concepts of control, power and certainty are replaced with love, stewardship and faith.

7.    Postmodernism allows for more openness to spiritual and emotional truths, and epistemology (theory of knowledge) that goes beyond the constraints of science, logic and reason.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Or rather, an acceptable social order is turned on its head with accusations of control, power and certainty? Or even... accusations of discrimination, or hate?
<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



Negative Aspects of Postmodernism

1.    Postmodernism is skeptical regarding all claims of truth. Taken to an extreme, it is hostile toward those who claim to know absolute truths. Postmodernists can become strongly opposed to those who believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) argues that those who accept the Judeo-Christian ethical system, which he calls a 'slave morality', suffer from weak and fearful personalities. A different and stronger sort of person, he says, would reject this ethic and create his own values.

2.    Postmodernism views all claims to knowledge as equally valid, regardless of the obvious preposterousness in certain claims (for example, "I do not exist").

3.    Postmodernism views the individual solely as a construct of society. As such, the responsibility of the individual to live a life according the Word of God is diminished.

4.    A person who questions other beliefs with regards to factuality is considered intolerant.

5.    Propositional truth, or truth that is discovered, is considered inexistent. Instead, only a society's position, not an individual's, is considered valid. But what if slavery, genocide, or the physical abuse of women are condoned and considered 'right' by the standards of a society? Does it make them right? Without an objective standard to morality, cultural and ethical relativism can lead to horrendous consequences in a society.

6.    Postmodernists often view progress, be it scientific, educational, political, etc., as detrimental. Progress equates to the domination of the marginal.

7.    Tolerance toward every belief, except toward those who feel that their beliefs are more significant than others. The paradox here is that in their zeal to promote tolerance, postmodernists themselves can become very intolerant of those who don't share their own postmodern views.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
It sounds like postmodernism is nothing more than promoting of chaos and anarchy over order.
<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



The Christian Reaction/Response to Postmodernism

As with most cases, Christians must take a moderate stance toward postmodernism, absorbing the positive aspects while rejecting the negative. We don't subscribe to the ideology that individuals are merely a product of society alone, or that truths should be determined by a collective group of individuals. And while opinions are important, we do hold on to the absolutes found in the Holy Scripture, and do not waver in conviction when it comes to the moral law and the basic tenets of our faith.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Christians have become so moderate that they are today almost docile. These days the church no longer has a bite on issues of morality because of this. Christians have long given up its fight for common morality, which is why pre-marital sex, promiscuity and prostitution is rampant.
<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



However, having said that, Christians have the tendency to veer toward Pharisaism and legalism. Self-righteous conservatism seeks to keep the Church isolated, sanitized and out of touch with contemporary society. My own position on this is: on matters that are absolute (Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, etc.), let us be absolute. But on matters that are non-absolute (wine-drinking, tattooing, pop culture, etc.), let us allow for freedom that is in Jesus Christ (Gal. 5:1).


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Must the church thus wallow in sin then to understand Christ's redemption?

When the body of a Christian is considered the temple of God, is tattooing thus not vandalising the LORD's temple? Is pop culture - a hotbed of idolatry and bad role models - not something that flies in the face of God's Ten Commandments?

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



A major contribution of postmodernism is the newfound appreciation toward the marginalized, and those previously considered insignificant. This is totally in line with the love God has toward the poor, needy, broken and abused (Is. 58:10, Luke 4:18-19, James 2:14-17).


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
So where then can the church stand with regards to the homosexuals, bi-sexuals and transgendered when they claimed to be marginalised?

By this, Kong Hee has placed the church in an untenable position. Thank you very much, for gagging the church.

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



Postmodernism should provoke those who are afraid of embracing a 'social gospel' to have a greater relationship, respect and ministry with the hurting and wounded in the world. Tolerance is not an evil word. As Christians, we must hold on to the moral conviction of God's Word in our hearts. But at the same time, we should be more gracious and accepting of those whose beliefs are different from ours. Balance is the key.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Is the "social gospel" the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Well, while balance is indeed the key and tolerance is not an evil word, what is evil is that some has defined tolerance (容忍) as endorsement (赞同 / 认同). But simply speaking out against something one is considered being not tolerant, even though one did not call for a course of action against that he spoke up against! In fact, you to be tolerant in the postmodern context, you not only should not speak out against something, you must endorse it - "ya, there is nothing wrong with you doing that, it's a personal choice." Bleah!

Thus, the fact remains that postmodernism has pushed things off balance where a balance already exists!

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



Navigating Within a Pluralistic Society

Inherent in a postmodernist society is the concept of pluralism: there are vast arrays of faiths and beliefs that people adhere to. There are three conceptual approaches a Christian may assume toward people who believe in other faiths.

1. &nbsp;    Exclusivism. This is based on the idea that I'm right, you're wrong? a stance of denunciation toward other people's beliefs. The Apostle Paul understood that he did not have to disassemble others?beliefs through criticism and condemnation in order for him to speak of his own faith. Instead, Paul sought to be as respectful and relatable to his audience in his effort to win them to Christ (Acts 17:22-34).


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
Why then, did many people seek to throw Paul in jail or stood up against his ministry?

When one's message speaks out against the core values of the audience, the audience of couse no longer consider one as being respectful and relatable!

Consider this, 'Pastor'! If you would speak out against homosexuality not as a moral issue nor condemn it as a sin, but merely speak out against it as being detrimental to the human race since homosexuals cannot procreate and breed, see how fast they tear you apart for being a Christian, regardless of your message. There is nothing unrespectful or unrelatable in such a message, is there?

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



2.    Universalism. This can be summarized by the statement, "As long as you are sincere, then anything you believe in is true." This is the polar opposite of exclusivism, and a popular stance of extreme postmodernists. The underlying problem that makes this position nonsensical is the fact that every religion or belief presents its own claims to absolute truths. Universalism takes tolerance to the extreme, and although it may initially seem respectable, it leads to a dead end in any ministry effort.

3.    Inclusivism. "We believe we are right, but we are open to discuss and include other ways of thinking in our discussions." (Inclusivism is not to be confused with the heretical 'Gospel of inclusion'. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines "inclusivism" as 'an intention or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as the handicapped, learning-disabled, or racial and sexual minorities.' This is the approach we must take to bring the love of God to an increasingly critical and sophisticated audience of the 21st century.


<<<TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED>>>
And a slippery slope no doubt.

By doing so, the church is expected to compromise, and by compromising the church thus find itself in conflict with itself over the Word of God more and more.

Just how much are you willing to compromise?

<<<INTERRUPTION ENDS>>>



So, back to the question: is City Harvest a postmodern church? My answer is both No and Yes.

No, in the sense that we do believe the Bible to be the inerrant, infallible Word of God. We do live by the Ten Commandments and the basic tenets of our Christian faith as outlined in the Apostles?Creed, the Nicene Creed, etc.

But, yes, in the sense that we do seek to be a tolerant, accepting and gracious people. We love the marginalized and the oppressed, believing that value can be added to those whom are considered worthless. We are not antagonistic to society or its popular culture, but seek to engage it in its entirety as salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16).

While we live in a broken-down, perverted world, I do not believe in keeping Christians naive and ignorant of the harsh realities of society. Again, in absolutes, we must be absolute. But in non-absolutes, we should allow the freedom of personal preferences and give space to the Holy Spirit to lead every Christian individually. I don't ever want City Harvest Church to be so isolated and sanitized that we become out of touch with the world. Rather, I want to educate and empower my generation to be as creative and colorful as possible, living a dynamic, sophisticated, anointed life in obedience to Christ and the cause of His kingdom.


<<<END OF TRANSMISSION>>>
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 11:29:40 AM by Grievous » Logged

我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有...
Blog
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
SMF Theme © Gaia
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!