Ted Turnau (PhD in Apologetics from Westminster) is a college lecturer who teaches Cultural Studies and Religion in Prague, Czech Republic. He’s married with three children. He recently wrote a book titled Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective. I appreciate his approach to popular culture. Instead of Christians enjoying popular culture uncritically or rejecting popular culture altogether, Turnau offers a more biblical approach. This is an excerpt from an interview I did with Turnau last year:
What do you say to those who believe Christians are free to participate in popular culture for the purpose of “mere entertainment”?
There’s nothing wrong with participating in popular culture for entertainment. There’s nothing un-Christian about having fun, listening to music that resonates in your soul, seeing a deeply moving movie, watching an awesome story on television, playing a gripping and absorbing video game. None of these things are sinful in and of themselves.
On the other hand, I’d also have to challenge the phrase “mere entertainment.” Entertainment is never “mere.” The pathways of pleasure and desire and play run deep, far deeper than we realize. If you want to know the real heart of a person, or a society, find out what entertains them, what delights them. We need to be aware of our own hearts as we expose them to the currents of popular culture. Entertainment is serious business, friends (and I’m not just speaking about money).
Furthermore, as Christians, we don’t belong to ourselves. Our hearts, so to speak, are spoken for. So we are not at liberty to let something else capture our heart in a way that is going to compete with our fundamental loyalty to God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I’d say that we are free to enjoy popular culture, but we are never free to enjoy popular culture uncritically. We always must guard our hearts, understand where we are vulnerable, what idols we shouldn’t feed, what entangles us so easily (see Hebrews 12:1). We don’t have the right to mess up our walk with God. Of course, we serve a forgiving God, and we foolish humans do find ways to go wrong in our cultural consumption. But our aim should be a wise enjoyment of popular culture. Anything less is sub-Christian and lazy…and potentially spiritually dangerous.