Category Archives: Arts and Entertainment

Forgetting How to Blush?

” Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 6:15

One must wonder how the people of Israel came to this point and we could speculate forever about it with little progress. What we can conjecture is that it did not happen overnight. Additionally, it is certain that this can be applied to our culture, as both an American and a “Christian” culture, though the way it has come about today differs from the Old Testament time period. It comes, not in blatant blows that will strike our conscience, but in subtle workings that gradually numb the conscience.

I will put forth areas where we are assaulted on this front, the effects that this numbing has, and some solutions to the problem, particularly how to avoid the quandary of a dull conscience to the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

These gradual assaults upon us as Christians come on six fronts that I can think of:

  • Books
  • Movies and TV shows
  • Music
  • The Media
  • The expectations of our unbelieving neighbors
  • The lack of sanctions against evil in our law-system

Let’s start applying what is meant in general. Suppose you know someone who is an adulterer.  Adultery is, according to biblical law both a capital punishment and a gross iniquity that undermines the societal order, disgraces individuals and destroys families. Now, the usual response to this is that capital punishment for adultery is too severe, antiquated and bigoted. Now, this might be expected from unbelievers (although there were times in history when they didn’t), but the fact is that this is the predominate reaction from those in the Christian community who should know better. This happens because there is no sense of loathing of sin coupled with an apathy to God’s commands and holy character. But this didn’t come about over night. It happened because Christians are getting a steady diet of humanistic pottage, though not so much at a time that they will choke on it and recognize it for what it is. It is gradual, subtle and satanic.

I could elaborate on each of the six areas of assault that we are bombarded with, but perhaps a general look at the effects of these things will be sufficient. The books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the things the media chooses to report upon, the pressure of the expectations of our neighbors in our behavior and the law-system we operate in are all advocating a certain worldview and it is humanistic. Do not kid yourself that they are passive in this endeavor either; they are rabid in making sure every fabric of your life is influenced with their ideology. So what are they in general and how do we avoid them?

First, it can come implicitly through all of the above by making feelings as “love” ultimate. You will hear this especially in music and in movies. Nothing matters but that we perpetuate love with no connection to laws or morality. Think of your favorite pop songs. What do they advocate? Think of your favorite movie: what was glorified in it?

Second, it can come explicitly by openly advocating godless ideas. This is seen, as in movies where the “good guy” is an adulterating, murdering, thieving individual. Or, as in the case of music, where sexual promiscuity is glorified or seen in a casual light. It can also be seen in what the media chooses on to report upon. If orthodox Christianity is consistently represented as loony, and sexual perversions such as sodomy as “normal”, you have it there as well.

Third, it can come by personal sins. Pornography would be a good example. If a man or woman indulges in heart adultery, they will hardly view the physical act as something outrageous. This is also the reason why there is so much protest against the biblical sanctions against adultery; we are a nation full of people who are adulterers at heart.

Now, many more examples could be produced, but it would be superfluous. The simple fact is that wickedness is daily presented to you as fine, normal, and wonderful and you absorb it whether you realize it or not. I am not speaking as one who is above this, but someone who has experienced this. How do you know if you’ve been infected? Ask yourself if you can blush any more about the things that the Bible says is a shame to speak about. If not, it’s because you’ve be inoculated with humanism. The constant representation of sin as “the thing to do” has seared your sensitivity to the horror of it. Can you say with David, “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law”? Are you grieved by it so that “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law”?

So, that is the problem. What are some solutions that will help us keep a sensitive heart towards God and to see sin as it really is, which is exceeding sinful?

  1. Memorization of Scripture so that we are meditating on the law of God, hiding it in our heart that we might not sin against God. (Ps 119:11)
  2. Daily reading of Scripture for man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Mt. 4:4)
  3. Provoking one another unto good works, specifically with sobriety in godliness and praying for one another. (Heb. 10:24)
  4. Being conscious of the wickedness in your culture and either battling it or avoiding it. (1Pet.5:8-9)There is a fine line here. While we should avoid the blatantly sinful things in things we watch and listen to and read, it will always be there in some form, whether blatant or disguised. You can’t avoid it so long as we live in a godless culture. The step to take against it, therefore, is to identify the specific godless worldview presented and to refute it. This can actually be quite an exercise with some movies. But if you walk away from some hedonistic film and think, “Wow! That was a GREAT movie!” you can be sure you’ve been infected with humanism. The remedy is a steady dose of the opposite: God-centered books starting with the Bible, the revelation of the mind of God. If we are careful to study God’s Word and to obey it, then we can expect to start hating the things that God hates, and loving the things that God love. Only then will we learn again to blush.

    Ephesians 5:11-12: And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

    – Jesse Murch


Cultural sins we overlook: all things entertainment

Often we are given the opportunity to look back in history and see the development of the church of Jesus Christ. When we do this, we are often struck about how blind they seemed on points! How could there be times in history where the church thought that torture was acceptable? Or, as in the case of the witch trials in New England, how could the Puritans be swallowed up in superstition and unbiblical ways of adjudicating the matters set before them? We may even point to things like slavery in the 1700 and 1800’s and just stand amazed at what the church missed in terms of its duty and in terms of its violation of that duty.

Then again, we recognize that we are men and women of our cultures. It is quite difficult to see beyond that, though indeed it is possible if we humbly look to Scripture for all matters of doctrine and practice and the Holy Spirit illumines our understanding to receive His Word. Nevertheless, we seem to imply that we have no such blotches that are glaring as that of the past church. Oh, we are not torturing people or holding people unjustly in slavery (although there is a such thing as biblical slavery), but,  I say, we have glaring inconsistencies in the church of Christ. But what are they?

Before I embark on this subject, I will add that I am not referring to the general apostate church in America. We see that, in terms of the apostate church, we have accepted as normal all sorts of abominations, from sodomy, to women preachers, to mass adultery and divorce, to peddling the Gospel, etc. etc. But I am not referring to these since these things are normally accepted in churches that hold no semblance of the Gospel any longer are synagogues of Satan.

But in the faithful church of Christ, the proverbial white elephant that is standing in the room that no one wants to acknowledge is the obsession with all things entertainment. We see bumper stickers that say “If it’s not fun, why do it?” and the Hollywood industry which is solely that of entertainment, is one of the most successful businesses in America. As Americans, we’re about fun and this has carried over into the church. We choose our churches based on fun programs and get together dinners. Our “fellowships” are around sports activities, recreational programs and tea parties. We seem to think that in any setting where we want to give people the Gospel, we need to have some sort of “goodie” that will entice them to listen. Our churches start looking more like circuses and our pastors more like clowns and we give people free doughnuts instead of the Bread of Life and Living Water.

Ask yourself these questions and see if this applies to you: how much time do you spend in matters of entertainment per day. Most families have a tradition of watching a movie every night. Most movies last about 100 minutes, a little more than an hour and a half. Multiply that by 7 and divide by 60 and you have about 12 hours a week on the one specific entertainment of movies (doubtless there are more). Now, ask yourself how much of that time in the week do you take up in Christian duties, prayer, praise, God-centered work, reading God’s Word and Christian fellowship? Is there even a comparison? This is not to make categorically all leisure activities as sinful. My point is that we have made an idol of it.

Life is more than just fun. In fact, Christianity as such isn’t about “fun” at all. It is about Christ and His reign in heaven above and, no, He isn’t exalted and subduing all His enemies under his feet so that you can have fun. He gives you a cross (Mt 16:24) and a commission (Mt. 28:19-20). 1. To live a life of self-sacrifice and self-denial, and 2. a commission to evangelize the nations for His Glory and Kingdom’s sake. What He does promise is contentment, joy unspeakable and full of glory, tribulations and the faith to endure them, encouragement by His Word and His Church, the body of Christ, and to be conformed more and more to the image of His dear son, Jesus Christ. Is this fun? No; the two are incomparable. The point in all this is not to show that Christianity is about some austere life that we need to live. The point is that we have traded fun and games with the unspeakable and matchless glory of Jesus Christ. We have, like Esau, traded our birthright for a mess of pottage.

If future generations are going to evaluate us like we do the church in the past, undoubtedly the criticism they will raise against us will be that, while our culture was at its lowest and the Gospel of Christ comprehensive rule over all things for the church was preached the least, we were playing games, watching movies and joining the circus. That when we should have been the light of the world, the salt and preservative agent of society and culture, we were too busy with all things entertainment.

I am speaking mostly of those of my generation, though doubtless it applies to those of older generations as well: are you just living life in “cruise mode”, as it were? Is your life about the new fun thing,  great band, epic movie, new celebrity, or weekly sports? Now, I don’t mean to condemn all movies or music, but that is not my point. Do you delight in the Word of God? Do you, like David, hunger and thirst after God? Does your life reflect the fact that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God? We are decayed, my brothers and sisters. It is no doubt that we are like the valley of dry bones; lifeless and unable to rise unless God grant us a great measure of His grace and mercy.

Mediocrity is unacceptable. The thicker the darkness in our culture, the more brilliant our light should shine. But it has been the exact opposite. It seems as if the darkness has swallowed us up and we can’t even conceptualize what light should look like anymore; our fellowship becomes shallow, our life’s example to a lost and dying world lamentable, and our senses to discern good and evil almost gone entirely.  We start looking like the darkness we profess to hate. Why? Because we absorb it through all the media and entertainment we occupy ourselves in, and we become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The sad thing is that we don’t even realize it. We are men and women of our cultures.

What then? What we need is to cry out to God to have mercy upon us.  Christ is our strength, and this is a testimony of our lack of strength. We cannot perform what is our duty to perform. We cannot love what we should love or hate what we should hate. If God should withhold His hand of grace, immediately we turn to dust and are undone. We need to learn to pray the prayer of St. Augustine, “Lord, give what Thou commandest and command what Thou wilt”. We need to live in conscious dependence upon Christ and repent of our sloth and complacency. Why would we trade a life of glorious service to the Lamb of God, our High Priest and King of Kings, Jesus Christ, for a life of vanity that serves no purpose beyond temporal and shallow pleasure?

-Jesse


The Biblical Philosophy of Art

(Left: Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa". Right: Pablo Picasso's "Dora Maar au Chat".) Is there really any comparison? No.

In this brief post I wish to expound three basic points in the philosophy of art that have been greatly perverted in our day: the definition of art, the motive for art, and the goal of art.

What is Art?

Some dictionaries define art as “the products of human creativity”, others define it as “the means by which a community develops for itself a medium for self-expression and interpretation”, and many other ones define it similar to these two. The first definition is extremely vague—if the definition of art is as broad as a “product of human creativity” then almost everything could be considered as “art”; everything from Advanced Technology, to the post I now write, to throwing up on a canvas.

The second definition is not much better: if “art” is merely “a medium for self-expression and interpretation”, then it would be plausible to say that for a mad man to scribble on a piece of paper is “art” because he’s expressing himself.

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” We ought to model our art after God’s art.

The secularists cannot define art because they seek to change what art is supposed to be. The so-called “artist”, Picasso said,

“Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon (or rule).”

Picasso had an antinomian (anti-law) world-view, and thus, did not like to conform his work and art to God’s Law; he believed that man is the definer of right and wrong. Picasso often referred to the brain, or what he thinks, to be the final authority for his actions instead of the Scriptures.

In opposition to the secularists’ definitions, visual art, as we Christians ought to define it, is a tool by which we may reflect upon God’s creation and attributes through images.  “All things were created by Him and for Him,” including art.

Most of what is considered today as “art” therefore, is not art, but is the fruit of deluded and depraved minds that seek to destroy any remembrance of God from the world.

The Motive for Art

The motive for art has probably been the most butchered out of all of its aspects. Most people today think that the sole purpose of art is “self expression”; but we should ask the question “Is such a motive founded by Scripture?”

I Corinthians 10:31 states,

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

The anthropocentric artist Picasso said, “I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.” The problem with this is that “the imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is evil continually,” the work above shows the result of his depraved mind and ideology.

This passage does not give an exception for art, but it says whatsoever we do our motive ought to be soli Deo gloria (to the glory of God alone). A question may arise: “Is there no room for self-expression?” The question is, “What is the motive for expressing yourself?” If anyone’s motive is any less than glorifying God, that man has a sinful and an anthropocentric motive. When the motive of art is anthropocentric (man-centered) instead of Theo-centric (God-centered) art degrades to be more and more twisted and more and more nonsensical and you end up coming up with some twisted thing that does not even resemble true art.

The Goal of Art

What should be the goal of our Art? Should our goal be to make people feel good? Or is it to let the world know how you’re feeling today? What should the aim of art be? To make people feel good about themselves isn’t even necessarily even a good thing; what if the person is under the wrath of God, and should actually feel really bad about himself and thus flee to Christ for refuge? And who on earth will care how you feel when you’ve been buried six feet deep for a thousand years?

Without an eternal goal—i.e., a goal that is Christ-ward, for His Kingdom, the conversion of sinners, and the edification of the saints—art is useless. You might as well twiddle your thumbs.

II Corinthians 10:5 says that we are to,

“Cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

– Evan Murch