The Arts

Christian Movies - Ministry or Menace? (Part 1)

In January 1954, Youth for Christ Magazine, in the article “Who’s Who in Religious Films,” spotlighted key people and organizations involved in Christian film production. Around this same time, A.W. Tozer wrote “The Menace of the Religious Movie” in which he opposed the use of Christian films to portray spiritual or biblical dramatic performances. Youth for Christ was in favor of Christian films because of the decisions for Christ that accompanied them. However, they also recognized that there was opposition and sought to quell it by highlighting the positive aspects they saw with Christian films.

Below is a summary of the “Who’s Who” article presenting the justifications and rationale of those involved in and supportive of Christian films at that time.

The Early Days

C.O. Baptista was credited with pioneering the Christian film idea in the late 1930s. Baptista said that while using an object lesson during Sunday school “he suddenly caught a vision of what that same object lesson could do if presented as a motion picture in churches.” Baptista produced dramatic films, sermon-type pictures, and animated films. Reportedly, “hundreds of professions of faith” resulted from the showing of just one of his dramatic films.

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Postmodernism 4 - Art

Posted with permission from Sunesis.

Art brings philosophy down to earth. While this writer is not artistic, he does understand to a limited extent the philosophy of art. Modern artists believe in several concepts. First, modern artists believe in the uniqueness of the artist. The artist is the creator. Because of the emphasis on the individual, the modern artists are highly trained and elitist; there are only a small number of true artists. Second, modern artists believe in the integrity of the art itself. The product of the artist is singular, a unique product different from all other art works. Modern art is absolutist—pure form and disembodied beauty. Art exists for the sake of the product. Third, the art of the modern artist is a vision of truth. There is some connection between the art and the world around us. It may not look like truth to the viewer, but the artist himself had some intention of linking his art to the world.

Because artists tend to be countercultural, not every current artist is postmodern in his or her philosophy. Some artists today have reacted against modern art by using past styles and going back to human values, but postmodern art is distinctively different. First, postmodernism plays with art. There is no longer a distinction between what is artistic and what is not. Second, postmodern art is not individual. The postmodern artist is not concerned about himself, but focuses on the viewers’ reactions. Third, postmodern art rejects any concept of truthfulness. It makes no necessary connection to reality. It seeks for disunity. There is no truth; everything is fiction. Since postmodernism rejects any moral absolutes, art becomes political, not moral or philosophical.

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"The Artistic Theologian... a place for publication, research, discussion, and resources for those engaged in worship and artistic ministry"

First issue includes K. Bauder on why pastors should be learned in worship and music, Scott Aniol on a biblical understanding of culture.

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Christians and Mythology (Part 4: More Benefits)

Read the series.

This essay continues the previous post in which I began a list of benefits of studying mythology.

4. Learning to supplant

Not everyone will agree with my argument in Part 2 that redemptive analogies help pagan cultures adjust to the message of the gospel. James Davidson Hunter’s recent book To Change the World is just one example of how Christians have developed allergies to “redeeming culture” terminology. And speaking of Paul at Mars Hill, Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary writes,

Yes, Paul takes note of the altar to the unknown god, and yes, he quotes pagan poets. But in neither case is he “building a bridge”…. Paul does not find in the [Greek] poets some form of “redemptive analogy” he can use among a people who don’t acknowledge the authority of Scripture. He uses them to demonstrate that Athenian philosophy and culture are self-contradictory…. The poets lead him not to finding “common ground” with his hearers but to calling them to repentance on the basis of a scripturally revealed storyline of humanity.1

But this sounds like an either/or distinction that I think gives an incomplete picture. Yes, Paul preached the resurrection of Jesus. But he also used recognizable cultural mentifacts2 that the Greeks could relate to. This both/and construction is simply acknowledging that Paul called the Greeks to repentance by means of a language with which they were familiar.

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