Thursday, July 4, 2013

Speaking Their Language

Cultural exegesis is one of the most crucial tools to be employed when attempting to spread truth. If one is to present truth in a loving, yet relevant way, one must seek to understand where those who believe lies are coming from, and how to effectively communicate with them. An analogy I've heard in the context of foreign missions fits here--the analogy of a seed and a husk. Whatever truth one is seeking to present to another (e.g., a presentation of the gospel, or of a biblical view of abortion or same sex "marriage") is the seed, while the avenue in which it is presented is the husk. The seed cannot and must not ever change, but the husk can and should change to accomodate one's audience so that they understand what's being presented, so that effective communication takes place. In missions context, this is called contextualization. Many missionaries have an unhealthy and unbiblical view of contextualization, but that's a topic for another post.

Artists such as musicians, poets, and cinematographers are masters at presenting their views through their art, including views that contradict a biblical worldview. One recent example of such art is the music video Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, which propagandizes the support of same sex "marriage" by appealing to raw emotion and re-interpreting historic cultural trends and biblical truth.

Now, I don't have an artistic bone in my body, and I feel woefully inadequate in trying to present the seed of truth in a husk that they can understand. My approach to such matters is usually to pick apart an unbiblical worldview and apply Scripture to the situation in an analytical way. As good and needed as such an approach may be, this husk is not helpful when communicating with artists. As Bryan Baise and R.J. Snell have pointed out, there is a need for Christians to be on the scene, displaying biblical truth in culturally relevant ways that everyone can understand, including artists. I'm glad there are Christian movies out there like Facing the Giants and Fireproof, but where is the art that gets the world's attention? Where is the art that appeals to raw emotion and presents God's design for marriage and life? Where is the art that that presents a passion for the craft in which it is presented and a passion for the gospel? One such artist that is doing this well is hip-hop artist Lecrae. I pray for Christians will exegete our culture and spread seeds of truth encased in husks that connect with different people on every level.