Christians and Culture

Just been having a discussion with Simone about this little offering from a ‘worship’ leader in the US. It’s a cringy take off of Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah. And it raises the question, is it a sin to lack cultural sophistication?

I’m not sure that it is. I don’t think there is anything less Godly about the football compared to the opera or watching ‘funniest home videos’ compared to reading Tim Winton. And we need to make sure that we don’t give the impression that converting to Christ is converting to high or low culture. It’s converting to a new view of Christ’s supremacy in whatever culture you’re engaged.

A great example of a church trying to reach a ‘high culture’ group is the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. I believe they have members of the New York Philharmonic orchestra playing in their church services, and the sermons engage with all kinds of elite thinkers. By contrast the Mars Hill Crowd are reaching the tattoo artists and torn jeans demographic, and it’s popular culture all the way. Both cultures need the Gospel and Christians can grow to maturity without changing to the other culture.

The one area I do want Christians to grow in sophistication is their theological reflection. It’s important to challenge people to stretch themselves with reading and/or discussing more significant intellectual issues than they otherwise might. A by-product of this might also be a growing appreciation of more intellectually challenging culture. But it really isn’t a problem if it doesn’t.

So I think in the end the Hallelujah take off was unwise – it was always going to lead to a lot of annoyed Loenard Cohen fans! But it was only a real issue of Godliness in so far as the words misrepresented the Gospel by either straight out inacuracy or over-simplicity.

Go on then all you cultural snobs – shoot me down….

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