Dr. Gregory Alan Thornbury, President of King’s College in New York, NY, recently gave a lecture at Southeastern Seminary about Cain, Abel, Kanye West and cultural engagement. Here are the highlights:
What’s wrong with our attitudes toward culture?
“Things that people deeply, deeply care about in things like popular culture, our Christian thinkers and theologians… seem to have this imperious, disdainful, sarcastic, critical attitudes toward…. We just regard it all as ridiculous and absurd. And we think that’s going to get people running into the arms of the church. Not so fast. My guess is probably not.
“So when I know people with elite art degrees [who] went the week before last to Madison Square Garden with thirty thousand other people to be inspired by the new Yeezy fashion line and Kanye’s new album The Life of Pablo, these are not dumb bunnies. These are not people that are complete idiots. And if we want to talk with the people that fill those kinds of stadiums, I think it would be helpful for us to think about our role as shepherds in this culture.”
Where are the Christian culture makers?
“Do we have people on our team like that on our team right now? … Who do we have on our team that is [creating culture]? Who can we point to?”
What practical steps can local churches take to develop culture makers?
“The level of engagement on the faith and work question in most churches is so weak. You can go months, and months, and months on end to many churches that I have been to and you can hear wonderful expositional preaching. And you can hear fantastic theological doctrines, all preached without a whiff of heresy, and yet at the end of the day, 95 percent of it seems to have very little bearing on the life of someone at work.”
Where can we begin making culture?
“Probably the last place that can be rescued right now is politics, but that’s the thing that we run to first. But politics is downstream from culture….
“When the Protestant Reformation hit the Netherlands, as opposed to the pre-reformation mentality that the entire life of the parish was centered at the altar, in the mass, after the Reformation hit the Netherlands, during the week they would shutter the doors. And the explicit message was that you were to be ‘out there’ connecting the dots.”