D. H. Williams, “Contemporary Music: The Cultural Medium and the Christian Message”

D. H. Williams, “Contemporary Music: The Cultural Medium and the Christian Message”

“While church leaders rightly want Sunday services to be accessible, they should also be asking about the limits of this strategy.”

“… it is instructive to see how the church’s “welcome” to the world was tempered by exclusionary safeguards to its identity and integrity, especially in the early centuries. . . . Failure to preserve the uniqueness of Christian motives, insights, and commitments jeopardizes both the meaning and holiness of the church’s life. I would argue that, far from snobbishness or spiritual elitism, this is a crucial part of the gospel message.”

“In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education commentary, Timothy Beal observed that “a hallmark of American evangelicalism, at least since the 1940s, has been its ready willingness to adapt its theological content to new media technologies and popular trends in the entertainment industry. Implicit in that openness is an evangelical counterdeclaration to Marshall McLuhan’s: The medium is not the message; the message, or the Word, transcends whatever media are used to convey it. But in the long run, is the constant evangelical adaptation of the Word unwittingly proving McLuhan right? I think so. That is partly why we find so little coherence within and among the various groups and movements and productions that pass as evangelical.” At some point, style of presentation affects the substance of Christian identity and teaching, often by blunting its sharper edges. It is probably no accident that many contemporary churches offer a diet heavy in biblical images and metaphors, leaving actual biblical theology in short supply.”

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