In his blog, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian wrote this,
The only way to musically communicate God’s timeless activity in the life of the church is to blend the best of the past with the best of the present. In other words, we must remember in our worship that while “contemporary only” people operate with their heads fixed frontwards, never looking over their shoulder at the stock from which they have come, and “traditional only” people operate with their heads on backwards, romanticizing about the past and always wanting to go back, the Church, in contrast from both extremes, is called upon to be a people with swiveling heads: learning from the past, living in the present, and looking to the future. That’s the only way to avoid in worship what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.”
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
Is it possible to glorify God through the enjoyment of music, movies, literature, etc. produced by secular artists?
Yes. I assume the computer you are holding there was probably not built by Christians, and I hope that you are glorifying God as you tap away at it. And of course out from there, there are a 1000 things that we use all day long, and God says, ‘whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.’ And he knows that you are eating this meat that may have been sacrificed to idols, so that means it was probably butchered by an unbeliever, or handled by an unbeliever, shipped by an unbeliever, it may have been cooked by an unbelieving cook. And here you are savoring the product of all those unbelievers’ work because you are in that moment giving thanks to God for it, recognizing that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof and taking the strength and the joy that comes from it to render back to him.
Now with the arts and with media it is more morally complex than with food. But it is the same principle. The complexity of it is, in those moments what do you do with the moral elements of it that are so contrary to your faith?
I’ll just point out one principle because we can talk about this forever. What concerns me is the distinction between entertainment and cultural analysis. To watch something, to study the culture, learn from the culture, be more able to interact with unbelievers for the sake of the glory of Christ is one thing. To just sit and bask in nudity, or bask in fifty f-words, or bask in a world view that is shot through with arrogance to the core, and enjoy it? Hmm. That seems to point to something going on in the heart. And frankly, I have tasted it big time. I think today we are going to have to work at not being shaped by the world because the world has made its world view so scintillatingly attractive.
Movie after movie after movie has come out and most young reformed people are, I would say, indiscriminate. “Let’s go to a movie tonight.” OK, and then we just choose the best. None of the movies in that theater at that night are any good, probably. But you are just going to do it, because that is what you do. You go to the movies on Friday night, or whatever. And then of course you think, we’ve got to Christianize this thing somehow.
I just think we need to test our hearts big time. Big time. Why are we able to enjoy hell bound, God ignoring, Christ dishonoring, false world views because we can give it a little twist at the end that it taught us this or that about the world? So, I think the main thing I’m saying there is, test your heart as to whether entertainment is defaulting to the world, or to something more wholesome. We live in an age where we tend to default to the world for entertainment.