Mark Driscoll is at it again. Some of you might remember early this year when he railed against the film Avatar, proclaiming it “the most demonic, satanic film I’ve ever seen.” This assertion was crazy, of course, but it wasn’t the most disturbing aspect of the sermon in which it was delivered. Just before his tirade against Avatar he tells his congregation, “The world tempts you to sin, to use people, to disobey God, to live for your own glory instead of his own, to be a consumer instead of generous, that’s the world system.” And then, after the Avatar rant, to prove his hipness and insistence that he loves film and story, he says, “I’ve got two home theater systems. I’ve got three Tivos, all right, I am not against technology and the arts.”

Many people picked up on the real issue here: inconsistency. That is why it was not a surprise when Driscoll once again fell into the trap of his own fundamentalism. On November 29, he posted the following status on Facebook: “It’s a Jay-Z soundtrack kind of day. Watched his NY show this weekend—I know he says bowling words but man the guy is a genius.” In the intervening week and a half, this post received over 400 comments, which, if you’re interested, Matthew Paul Turner highlights at his blog. Turner also definitively pinpoints the problem with Driscoll’s post, it’s not that he likes Jay-Z (although, in my younger days as a self-proclaimed “hip-hop purist” I may have taken issue with this) but that it is patently inconsistent to claim devil worship in a film like Avatar and then praise Jay-Z as a genius.

In an attempt to answer this controversy, Driscoll posted an overly verbose and, ultimately, dead-end explanation. His defense comes in the form of an off-the-cuff sermon about how Christians should engage culture. He begins with the question, “Are you a missionary?” and answers for himself claiming, “I consider myself a missionary in culture…I find it a good thing to be aware of what is going on in culture in general as well as in music in particular.” Then, he goes on to brag about the size of his iTunes library.

What follows for the next few paragraphs are some pat lines about “engaging culture,” and what this looks like in his family’s home in relation to his children’s viewing habits. He then brings out two distinct views that evangelicals have traditionally held about how to be “missionaries in their culture”: syncretism and sectarianism. Syncretists go too far, he claims, blindly embracing all that culture has to offer. Sectarians, on the other hand, create subcultures to further alienate themselves from what they perceive to be sin. He writes, “The general concern of sectarians is that to be in culture is to be in sin.”

This goes on much longer with him calling for “unity, not uniformity” and exposing the flaws in “garbage in, garbage out” theology. For many people who grew up in evangelical churches, this should all sound very familiar. We all know people who fall into the syncretist or sectarian camps. The problem with all of this, however, is that it’s based on a faulty premise. All this talk about engaging culture and being missionaries to your culture is a contradiction of terms, and, I believe, is why evangelicals tend to lose sight of the value of art and creativity and why, now, they’re desperately trying to get it back. But as long as this reclaiming of culture is done under the auspices that we have to somehow engage with culture, it’s a long way off.

So, what’s the problem with this view? It has become so pervasive to talk about culture as some thing that Christians are outside of and that we need to interface with, that we miss the obvious: we are a part of culture. Culture is not a freestanding institution that we plug into, rather it is something we create, shape, and move. Certainly there are things about our culture that we don’t like, but we don’t fix culture by creating subcultures, or by engaging culture, but by living inside culture: making art, writing words, playing songs.

A recent post on the Gospel Coalition’s blog entitled “Artists Build the Church,” by Kristen Scharold, shows just how ingrained this misunderstanding is. Scharold tells of a church in Chicago called The Line whose worship leader is also an “artist-in-residence.” Certainly it is a wonderful thing for an artist to have a patron that allows him to create art, but it is also another example of evangelicals reinventing the wheel. Just as a lot of evangelical theology (until recently) tended to ignore the two thousand years of church history that preceded it, so too does this movement to bring art into the church forget that art has always been a part of the church. And, that is because the church is a major part of culture.

This is why I bristle at statements like this, found in the mission statement of an online Christian magazine: “We oppose our culture, not out of juvenile nonconformity, but out of acceptance of the fact that Christianity is countercultural to a world populated by the half-hearted, the double-minded, and unbelievers.”

We can’t oppose culture! We are culture! Again, there should be things about our culture that we don’t like or want to be a part of, but it is our culture, and we can have a hand in guiding its direction. But this will not happen as long as we pretend that culture is somehow outside of us. This has all kinds of implications for how we actually participate in our culture. Questions about what movies we should watch or what songs we should listen to become a lot more muddled in light of this, but that’s life. It is actually the false dichotomies we set up – Jay-Z: good; Avatar: bad – that get us into trouble. Operating on the faulty premise that we exist outside culture and are charged with engaging it leads to this kind of inconsistency.

Missionaries go to different cultures and, often, their greatest challenge is fitting in to the culture and thus gaining the trust of its participants. There are countless stories of this attempt to engage other cultures going horribly wrong, and egregious acts being committed in the guise of missions. The same is true when Christians imagine that we must engage our own culture. We become hostile outsiders.

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About The Author

Jonathan D. Fitzgerald

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  • Aaron Swink

    Well, what about when the Bible talks about “being in the world but not of the world”, isn’t world just another word for culture? Or is it. Hmmmmm

    • Anonymous

      which verse did you have in mind there Aaron?
      proof-texts work so much better when they are actually in the Bible! ;-)

      • Guest

        15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17)

        • Anonymous

          Yes, it reads a little differently when you are actually quoting it! But well done all the same ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/strongodors Troy DeShano

    Driscoll makes me sad. If he stuck to his gifts rather than his image we’d all be better off.

    I think you’re definitely onto something here, Johnathan. The idea that we (as Christians) ARE culture… is something I’ve been trying to find a way to articulate for the past 20 years.

    Thanks for sharing. One of my favorite little pieces you’ve done.

  • http://fivebares.wordpress.com fivebares

    This one is pretty easy. The guy lives a life of constantly telling people what they can and can’t do, and the more you harp on things like that, the more opportunity you give yourself to be inconsistent. I’m just surprised that anyone would buy this latest post of his that supposedly “puts in context” his Avatar rant. His explanation of what he thinks about Avatar was nowhere CLOSE to what he actually said in the sermon referencing Avatar.

    He thinks he can constantly just smooth over all his inconsistencies by throwing up a blog post every few months saying, “If I could take back some stuff I’ve said, I would”…Well, how about giving us some examples of things you wish you could take back, Mark? If he really meant it, he’d be offering pretty regular apologies. He’s putting his foot in his mouth too often to be doing it any less regularly. If you aren’t actually apologizing for specific things, all you’re really doing is exhibiting a form of pride, in reverse. Basically, it’s like saying, “Not only am I awesome, but I’m even more awesome for seeing how sometimes I’m not awesome.”

    Every mega-pastor thinks they’ll be the one to be able to withstand the crushing burden of their own pride and success. And not one has ever done it. Driscoll isn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. But crap is he ever annoying…

    • http://twitter.com/Brandywinebooks Philip Wade

      >>If you aren’t actually apologizing for specific things, all you’re really doing is exhibiting a form of pride, in reverse. Basically, it’s like saying, “Not only am I awesome, but I’m even more awesome for seeing how sometimes I’m not awesome.” <<

      Ha! Good point.

    • Dave

      “Every mega-pastor thinks they’ll be the one to be able to withstand the crushing burden of their own pride and success. And not one has ever done it. Driscoll isn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. But crap is he ever annoying…”

      I’m curious about your “every mega-pastor” comment. You make it sound like they have all set out to do something wrong? If a pastor is Christ-like, should he quit the ministry before the church they serve gets large? I’m sort of thinking that the people that get saved while attending mega churches are glad that their pastors stuck it out.

      I would guess that having to deal with the “national attention” that someone like Mark Driscoll has to deal with must be insanely difficult (for the temptation of pride and for the added scrutiny). Pastors of smaller churches can say foolish things and just go about their business with very few people ever noticing.

  • http://twitter.com/Brandywinebooks Philip Wade

    Good words on culture. I agree, though you say we shouldn’t create subcultures. Sometimes I think that unavoidable. If I had the means to start a publishing house and a vision for great Christian literature which I didn’t see being published, would I be founding a subculture with my new business? If I thought Christian books were being marginalized in regular bookstores, would I be starting a subculture by building a Christian bookstore business?

    BTW, how do you define “fundamentalism”? I don’t think Driscoll qualifies as one.

    • http://chestertonianrambler.blogspot.com Chestertonian_Rambler

      I agree that there may be a tension here, but one has to draw the line somewhere (in practice.) It is one thing to start a Christian publishing house–though the terminology can get fuzzy. (Is this a publishing house for people who profess a certain faith? For stories that engage with certain questions central to Christianity? For literature that always is safe for children, since Christianity supports families?)

      It makes even more sense, from my perspective, to open a Christian bookstore, selling a specialized type of books. If I want to get a rare edition of Chaucer, there are specialized bookstores I can go to–so why not if I want to get a particularly Christian-specific novel, or a book of theology.

      But can we all agree that the “Christian” bookstore market which sells “Settlers of Canan” (a “Biblical” counter to the popular strategy game “Settlers of Catan”) has forgotten its purpose in the support of an isolationist subculture? If we can, then the question becomes not “is a Christian bookstore ever justified,” but “what do we need to change about Christianity to recognize our role within society, rather than running away from it.”

      • http://twitter.com/Brandywinebooks Philip Wade

        Yes, I think we can agree on your example, which appears to be an attempt at market exploitation.

  • Joshua Keel

    “Questions about what movies we should watch or what songs we should listen to become a lot more muddled in light of this, but that’s life.”

    Do they? I’m not sure why. You don’t really give examples of how your way of thinking about culture changes things, Jonathan. Not that I disagree with you, but I’m interested in the details of how you think this shift in thinking affects our decisions.

    It seems to me that whether or not I think I need to go about “engaging culture” or just realize I’m part of it already, I’m still going to make similar decisions about what I watch, listen to, etc. Actually, you could say that people are always “engaging culture” whether they want to or not, simply by going about their lives and doing their own thing. They are also being influenced by culture, whether they like it or not, in the same way. This may just be another way of stating what you wrote in your piece. It just seems like a very subtle shift, and I wonder what real consequences it might have.

  • Jpovilonis

    “Jay-Z: good; Avatar: bad” is not a false dichotomy. Its not a dichotomy at all.

    Driscoll is actively picking and choosing what he wants to engage and avoid in the culture of which he is a part. I disagree with a lot of what he says, but I wouldn’t say that Driscoll views himself (or Evangelicals as a whole) as removed from culture. The significant difference you overlooked is that we are a minority in North American culture, and thus when we attempt to shape and mold it, we merely create subcultures–the very thing you’ve criticized. But without a substantial following, a ‘subculture’ is inevitable. And why is that so terrible? Being a part of a subculture does not entail isolation from any ‘mainstream’ cultural movements. This is merely the recognition that we value (for the most part) different things those valued by the norm.

    Is your conclusion really that different than Driscoll’s? ‘Engage culture [of which you are a part] with missional intentions…’

    • Fitz

      Thanks for your thoughts. Just a couple of things, the definition of dichotomy is as follows: division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups.

      I’d say that my usage is justified in light of this definition. Certainly the group “good” is mutually exclusive from the group “bad.” But, this is false because, actually, neither of these is good or bad in light of the criteria Driscoll sets up.

      Further, and this is in answer to Mr. Wade as well, I did not say that there was anything wrong with subcultures, I said that creating subcultures doesn’t fix culture

      • Jpovilonis

        Yes, good and bad is a dichotomy, but its not what you said. The proposition, “Jay-Z: good” was never juxtaposed with the proposition “Avatar: bad”; they are not mutually exclusive and Driscoll holds them both simultaneously without a logical contradiction (even though he seems inconsistent overall). How then could he be setting up a false dichotomy? Jay-Z’s goodness can coexist with Avatar’s badness (as absurb as that sounds).

        I know that you didn’t fully condemn subcultures, but if you are going to critique Driscoll’s (admittedly irresponsibly presented) approach as well as the approach of Christian groups that inadvertently produce them, can you offer an approach that won’t be subject to these same criticisms? Once again, I think you’re approach is probably quite similar to Driscoll’s, you just haven’t told anyone specific things you like and dislike.

        • http://www.patrolmag.com/fitzgerald Fitz

          I’m happy you asked. I was in a big, old episcopal church in Brooklyn last night. As I looked around at the beautiful statues, stain glass windows, and paintings on the walls, I thought to myself, No one would ever say we need to bring art into the church here.

          That’s my alternative. It’s not new, or innovative; it’s old, tried, and true. The church has, since its inception, been an active part of culture, and home to beautiful art. It’s a fairly new phenomenon that evangelicals have cornered themselves off from the culture at large and they are now starting to feel the effects of that isolation. The result is this absurd idea that we need to somehow be missionaries to, or engage with, culture, as opposed to just being a part of it.

    • eXrb

      Thanks for your thoughts. You have clearly expressed exactly what I was thinking as I was reading this article.

  • Amy

    Well said about culture. But the other part of that online magazine statement really grated me. (about the half hearted people) way to be judgy!

    • http://www.patrolmag.com/fitzgerald Fitz

      Thanks, Amy. That’s how I felt too. Doesn’t sound nice at all.

  • http://angora86.blogspot.com Joseph Mathews

    Thanks for this post. I like the way you deal with Driscoll but don’t dwell on him only; rather, you offer a new direction of how to approach life…and call out Evangelicals who invent things historic (often liturgical) traditions have been doing.

  • Asa

    Really love this article Jonathan.

    What I think is interesting is not necessarily his take on what is considered good/bad in art culture, but the subjects he chooses to examine. I watched Avatar and thought it was decent (I didn’t see it in 3D cause those movies hurt my eyes) and I think there’s a few decent songs by Jay Z. But why does Mark use those two subjects as pinnacles for good/bad in culture?

    There is a demographic in culture that is rising, and that demographic tends to look at intention over product. Both subjects seem to be bombastic sides of our culture, and forgive my judgement, seem to have the same intentions: $$$.

  • Anonymous

    Jonathan and I have dialogued briefly about this on Twitter – you know, 140 characters is a great tool for thorough conversations.

    My issue with Jonthan’s article is that he is doing precisely what he is criticizing Mark for.

    What else did Jonathan do but engage culture by listening to a cultural figure and his statements, assess those statements, and respond – in a condescending way, no less! Jonathan might disagree with Mark’s statements about Avatar or yoga, but the process was the same. It was engaging in culture.

    So, again, while Jonathan might disagree with Mark’s comments, Jonathan’s critique is the same type of exercise.

    Which means that Jonathan either agrees with Mark that Christians are to engage culture, or that Jonathan is inconsistent.

    • http://blackbirdpress.org Justin Mulwee

      I don’t think he’s necessarily being inconsistent. But we have an ambiguous term in play. It might help if Jonathan defines what he means by “engaging culture” and explains why this is substantially or practically different from what he’s advocating.

      • http://www.patrolmag.com/fitzgerald Fitz

        Actually, this gets very close to the point. This phrase, “engaging culture” is a false construct that doesn’t really mean anything. But, if we try to understand what the words actually mean when brought together, they indicate that we are somehow outside of a culture and therefore needing to engage it. If this isn’t evidence enough, look at Driscoll’s assertion that we be missionaries to culture. Missionaries visit foreign cultures in order to minister to them. Either way, “engaging culture” as evangelicals often understand it means to be an outsider who interacts with something. But it is impossible to be outside of culture because, as I said, culture is not a freestanding institution. It is us.

        This is why I have a problem with the phrase, and think that a theology based on it is faulty.

        • Joshua Keel

          Fitz, can you give some examples of how the “engaging culture” thinking leads to negative consequences? I’m having a hard time seeing how Driscoll, for instance, would view Jay-Z and Avatar differently if he realized that he was already a part of culture and had no need to engage it.

          • http://www.patrolmag.com/fitzgerald Fitz

            Sure thing. I think the couple of examples in the essay should suffice, but the main idea is that if we consider ourselves to be outside of our culture and meant to engage it, our stance is necessarily that of “others.” It is easy to demonize certain elements of our culture (see the reference to the mission statement which says, “Christianity is countercultural to a world populated by the half-hearted, the double-minded, and unbelievers”).

            Additionally, this view breeds inconsistency. If I can preach that it is okay to engage some elements of culture, but not others, I am more likely to get myself into a Driscoll-like muddle. Finally, and I think most seriously, if we are outside of culture and feel the need to engage it then we will (and do) make outcasts of artists, choosing instead to Christianize what we are uncomfortable with and shun what we do not understand. I know this first hand from my experience of the way evengelicals deal with visual artists. We long ago decided that many paintings are too difficult to parse, that they belong to that “other” culture, and therefore have no place in church.

            Like I said in the essay, if we consider the fact that we are a part of culture and have the opportunity to move and shape it, we don’t need to label things or outcast artists. Rather, we can make art that is contributes to our culture, but speaks to certain values and beliefs, as any artist does.

            I’m still working out the myriad manifestations and blessings that come from accepting our place inside of the culture, but again, what I’m saying here is not anything new. The church has in the past, and continues in the form of many mainline, Catholic, Episcopal and Anglican churches to be an active part of our culture. It’s not innovative, it just is.

          • Jpovilonis

            Yes, but can’t we all agree that people can in many ways choose NOT to engage culture? This is done by either remaining exclusively in Christian groups or even as non-Christians and just being uninterested in cultural changes. We all know people, old & young, who are culturally irrelevant, and thus probably quite ineffective missionally (yet, except they can be quite good at talking to uncultured nonchristians!).

            We obviously cannot be fully removed, but we have control over our engagement. Recognizing that we are a part of culture is quite helpful, though, making it a very good point, Jonathan.

  • http://blackbirdpress.org Justin Mulwee

    Thanks for the link and the discussion. Regarding your statement,”We can’t oppose culture! We are culture!”:

    Point taken, but I think anyone who browses the Blackbird Press can see what we mean by “we oppose culture.” Especially since the sentence immediately preceding is “We resist the temptations of self-righteous separatism and lend our talents to solving the church’s many problems.”

    I suppose a more precise statement would be “We oppose a sizable but non-arbitrary selection of cultural norms we believe to be contrary to Christianity.”

  • newman

    I am curious to know how you take the Apostle Peter’s admonition to “… live your lives as strangers here, in reverent fear.” It seems we are encouraged and commanded to not “be” culture, but to be residents of another culture (i.e. – the Kingdom of God) who are bringing our culture to the one we reside in. I would also be interested in an Biblical support you may have for your argument – because I have tried, but can think of none.

    • http://www.patrolmag.com/fitzgerald Fitz

      This is a good question, and one I think a lot about. It is a mystery the way we live in the world, but are not of it. But the fact is, we are here. We are in the world. Even the Kingdom of God is on earth (or, we pray that it will come). My point is that because we are here, particularly in the United States, and even more particularly in our individual states and cities, we are a part of the culture of these places. We cannot be anything else. So, when we talk about culture we can talk about parts of it that we don’t like and parts that we do, parts that affect us more than others do, but we can not talk about it like it is something we are not a part of.

      • newman

        I’m glad you think about this question, even though it doesn’t seem you’ve answered it. While I don’t outright dismiss your perspective (thus my ‘engaging’ with it), I do think one of the weaknesses of your position is that it is not strongly tied to Scripture. God called Israel to be a people set apart, and the church takes that same mandate to be a holy people who belong to another place but live and move in this one. This is a theme that is replete in Scripture. So while I understand and sympathize with your objections, my challenge to you is to try to make them Scripturally based. I have no idea how you can do that, when the whole concept of God calling out a people set apart from the world and sending them on mission to the world is one of the major themes of the whole Bible. There is nuance therein, and while you have a strong point in saying that whatever way we affect culture is from within it, there is also the Biblical model of being a new-creation culture that is not subject to or stuck in the confines of the culture of the world around us. How do these work together? In Israel’s case, they didn’t work together very well at all. In the New Testament church there were significant distinctions between Christian culture and Roman culture. I guess part of my point is – I think if you were to be more Scripturally based in your argument, you would not be able to be entirely dismissive of Driscoll’s argument.

      • Jordan

        that’s a very ‘biblical’ answer…

  • Erin Warde

    I like this. To say Christians live outside of culture would be to say that Jesus didn’t care about culture, but he clearly lived within the Jewish culture, knew Jewish scripture, and participated in Jewish worship. To say that we are intended to live outside culture assumes that we are intended to exist outside of the time/space we are in, when clearly this is the time/space that God has placed us in. (Certainly, I save room for a strong eschatology, but we won’t know the hour when that time will come, so it’s hard to talk about that right now… ;))

    Just a few thoughts from a seminarian who thinks too much. I have a lot of issues with Driscoll, but I – like Joseph – appreciate you not making this about him. I get frustrated by what he says, and sometimes I can’t see the forest for the trees because of my frustration. I need other people to put Driscoll into a broader context so I can name what makes me so frustrated, rather than simply being led into those feelings by his seemingly intentional evocative comments.

    Very nicely done.

  • Daniel Rubio

    I think the author here has given the creed he quotes (which, for those interested, can be found in full at http://blackbirdpress.org/about). Setting aside a discussion of whether or not ‘engage out culture’ is a meaningful sentence (‘engage culture’ is a trivially meaningful state because it lacks the indexical elements currently under discussion), and also setting aside Mr. Driscoll for the moment, let us look at the offending statement:

    “We oppose our culture, not out of juvenile nonconformity, but out of acceptance of the fact that Christianity is countercultural to a world populated by the half-hearted, the double-minded, and unbelievers.”

    One might very easily reformulate ‘we oppose our culture’ to ‘we oppose the current direction of our culture.’ This presumably would not be offensive to Fitzgerald, and it would also mean exactly what the Blackbird editor is expressing.

    What we have here is not a substantial disagreement about ‘cultural engagement.’ We have a hastily read quotation ripped from its context and paraded as an example of “those nasty Christians who we are not like.” Which is neither charitable nor particularly persuasive.

    Daniel Rubio (full confession: I have been associated with the blackbird press since its inception).

  • Zach

    We could also bring up his unashamed love for UFC and its appeal to the lowest common denominator. I haven’t agreed with much here in quite some time, but this is what I originally loved Patrolmag for. This is typical Driscoll though, continually saying something incredibly stupid and getting taken to the woodshed for it. I surely don’t like Avatar, but it was just that, I simply didnt like it. Mark thinks if he does not like it then it must be Satanic. His discernment radar must be light years ahead of ours.

  • Mike

    I have limited exposure to Mark Driscoll. I’ve read his articles and responses in the book: “Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Churches” [http://www.amazon.com/Listening-Beliefs-Emerging-Churches-Perspectives/dp/0310271355/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1291923308&sr=8-1] and because I was impressed with his comments, I’ve downloaded a couple of his podcasts. I find that he is entertaining and humorous, and I agree with him on many of his points.

    This article attacks him because of his statement about Avatar being demonic – I also see mention of his like for Jay Z and UFC. What do we expect? It seems as if the article and comments here are trying to classify Mark Driscoll as “good” or “bad”. Are we so narrow minded that we cannot allow someone to be flawed and yet realize that they are intelligent? For those of you who live in an idealistic world, let me inform you of something: every person who has ever lived, save one, is flawed. Jesus called John the Baptist the greatest man who ever lived, but he was a hermit who ate bugs and had a terrible temper.

    Mark Driscoll is not Jesus Christ. Nor, is he close. This does not exclude him from being able to voice his opinion or be used by God as a teacher. He claims to be a Christian and I believe that he is a follower of Christ. Therefore, rather than seeking out his weaknesses and pointing to the “splinter in his eye”, we should use our brains and filter his teachings in order to learn something – or, just ignore him. I do not hear a lot of love and compassion in this article or comments – I can guarantee you that those who do not share our beliefs feel validated in their opinion of Christians when they read this type of discussion.

    stjohnthelutheran.wordpress.com

    • Zach

      The issue is not that Driscoll himself is flawed, its his belief in how we are to engage/be a part of culture is not only wrong, but is being taught to a wide audience that eats it up. If we don’t confront that, then we should go ahead and pack it in, we’re irrelevant. If a correct view of cultural engagement is not important to us then neither is the gospel and neither are hearts that need it.

    • Joshua Keel

      Mike, the article isn’t an attack on Driscoll, but a critique of the way he views culture. If we can’t talk about what’s right and wrong with certain ways of thinking, like Zach says, we should just pack it in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.busch Jon Busch

    Good thoughts, Fitz. I’m just thinking about many of the amazing contributions Christians have made to culture over the years, from Michelangelo to Flannery O’Connor – and that’s just ‘high’ culture. Growing up I believed that we Christians were obviously outsiders, but when you take a step back and look at it, it’s actually kind of silly to think that way. We have real influence and I think an awareness of that can definitely be healthy as we determine what we want to contribute to culture.

    • http://withashout.net Aaron J.

      We *used to* contribute to culture. Your list of examples won’t include much past the 1950’s.

  • Matt B.

    Be careful not to hold Driscoll to a standard that you yourself cannot hold too. Chris Sugden said it best when he said in “Mission as Transformation” that the Christian life would be mingled with imperfection. Take it easy on Driscoll, there is obvious good fruit of their ministry at Mars Hill. Perhaps it would be better take shots at the problem itself without painting Mark Driscoll’s picture as “whats wrong with Christian culture today”. Also, All of us will be judged more severely than the standard by which we judge. Whenever a Pastor’s church grows to notoriety the blogger critics come out. The man is shepherding his church as God leads him . I ask, who are you leading? I understand and agree with your sentiments regarding the evangelical church misunderstanding how it is under the cope of culture presently but you should know that Driscoll is often critical of Christian culture and the larger culture of which it and we are intertwined. Culture is is shallow, and Christian culture, which is another yoke in the egg white of culture, is only a few inches deeper. Christ compelled us to unity and love for one another before the passion narrative and Paul compels us to the same end at the closing of Romans and the importance of that should not be understated. Your “nit picky” critique of Driscolls opinions regarding Avatar and Jay-Z may suffice your need for significance but its at someone else expense. Consider that.

  • http://twitter.com/christianmusik ChristianMusicDaily

    Who is Mark Driscoll and why does anyone care what he says? Most Christians I know will confess to liking Eminem, Jersey Shore, Donnie Brasco, Monster’s Ball, and all the other stuff “the world” enjoys. The “church” has very little influence on today’s American pop culture.

  • guest

    Anyone with any communications degree should have a better philosophical construct of what culture consists of and whatever the school, someone shouldn’t be boasting about “my degree from the best of the best” with such a poor explanation of the nature of culture. Counting it all as dung, all someones shouldn’t be be boasting any time or any place.

  • http://www.notadinnerparty.tumblr.com Anna

    On a sidenote, Fitz, I would like to note that, in MY days as a hip-hop purist, I would have refuted your comprehensive dismissal of Jay-Z with a little album called “Reasonable Doubt.” Surely you can’t dispute that RD is real, quality hip-hop, even though he may have gone downhill from there? Don’t answer that–you have more important things to address, I’m sure :).

  • http://www.notadinnerparty.tumblr.com Anna

    In other news: the article itself was really insightful, as per usual. Thanks!

  • Guest

    Fivebares remarked: “The guy lives a life of constantly telling people what they can and can’t do…I’m just surprised that anyone would buy this latest post of his that supposedly ‘puts in context’ his Avatar rant.”

    Driscoll has little patience for dissent. In 2007, two elders protested a plan to reorganize the church that, according to critics, consolidated power in the hands of Driscoll and his closest aides. Driscoll told the congregation that he asked advice on how to handle stubborn subordinates from a “mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighter, good guy” who attends Mars Hill. “His answer was brilliant,” Driscoll reported. “He said, ‘I break their nose.’ ” When one of the renegade elders refused to repent, the church leadership ordered members to shun him. One member complained on an online message board and instantly found his membership privileges suspended. “They are sinning through questioning,” Driscoll preached.
    (exceprt from: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/magazine/11punk-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=4 )

  • Awwtrash

    If there were a “Church of the Arrogant Douche Bag,” Dricsoll would be clergy.

    The problem is not that he hated Avatar and likes Jay-Z, put me in the same camp. It’s that when he dislikes something, he makes huge sweeping arguments and builds theological constructs to support provocative and judgmental stances that build his credibility with the hard-core crowd. All the while, rocking the faux-hawk, and trying come off as hip and cool. This guy wants to be Pat Robertson and Rob Bell. It’s not that you can’t have it both ways, but why would you want to. It’s about positioning and image, and seems to be a million miles wide and two inches deep.

    Mark, I don’t care that you don’t like the Shack, or Avatar or whatever your currently railing against. But geez. Relax. These things aren’t a threat to God, never-mind the “GREATEST THREAT EVER!” In your rush to be provocative you missed the opportunity for meaningful conversation.

  • Billb

    I know Driscoll called Avatar demonic, but did he ever come out and actually say that Christians shouldn’t watch it? Maybe we’re reading too much into what he said because of too many previous self-appointed xtian culture police — the type who would, explicitly, presume to tell us what media we should and shouldn’t consume.

    Maybe Driscoll was just giving his opinion of the movie, like a review (albeit a poor one). In this sense he’s not necessarily inconsistent to “recommend” Jay-Z without recommending Avatar.

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