Friday, January 05, 2007

Crossing Over: Proving the Resolve Trailer

John MacArthur recently wrote this:
Let’s face it: Many of the world’s favorite fads are toxic, and they are becoming increasingly so as our society descends further in its spiritual death-spiral. It’s like a radioactive toxicity, so while those who immerse themselves in it might not notice its effects instantly, they nevertheless cannot escape the inevitable, soul-destroying contamination. And woe to those who become comfortable with the sinful fads of secular society. The final verse of Romans 1 expressly condemns those who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Even when you marry such worldliness with good systematic theology and a vigorous defense of substitutionary atonement, the soundness of the theoretical doctrine doesn’t sanctify the wickedness of the practical lifestyle. The opposite happens. Solid biblical doctrine is trivialized and mocked if we’re not doers of the Word as well as teachers of it.
I agreed, but I said he was inconsistent. I brought up the trailer for the Resolved youth conference marketed on his website, a gathering at which he would speak. Someone asked me to say what was wrong with it. Well, here’s my review. I want to know where I am wrong on this. You let me know. Here goes.

Cake is more than its individual parts—salt, baking soda, flour, etc.—but a mixture of many parts that make up a whole. One could start breaking the trailer into pieces and conclude nothing wrong—guitars are OK, darkness is OK, casual dress is OK, spotlights are OK, etc. That is not how anyone evaluates anything. It would be like looking at a Maplethorpe exhibit and saying, "Sculptures are OK. Dung is OK. Urine is OK. Etc." Do you understand? People are not arguing honestly when they do it that way. If I did a restaurant review and said—"Cold is OK. Food is OK. Sadness is OK. Dirt is OK."—and then concluded that a stinky pit of a restaurant was good when evaluating its individual components, you wouldn’t consider that a good review. If the medium does not affect the message, then the famous Salvador Dali painting of the crucifixion is fine. I don’t think you would agree on Dali. When I critique this trailer, I believe it is an honest evaluation. I don’t want to argue with dishonest takes on the trailer.

The look of the entire trailer is dark, dim, nightclub-like lighting. The first picture of a youth is a young man with a trendy stocking cap on his head indoors, part of the stereotypical American hip-hop fashion of baggy jeans and a stocking cap. The sound is a rock concert-like bass reverb characteristic of the beginning of so many rock songs that directly target the flesh. The youth culture is obviously being catered to with the casual dress on the teens, but also with the speakers. After the initial speech comes a strong bass guitar rift, then a sensual African drum beat. There is nothing wrong with guitars, but the fuzzy, deco zoom onto an electric guitar says: "You will be hearing rock music here, count on it." It also has nothing to do with what is being said unless God’s sovereign grace tends toward being in darkly lit rooms where rock music is going to be played with a sensual, dominating beat. The fuzzy, deco graphics with the Hollywood-apropos appearing and disappearing letters (ala Da Vinci Code), that say—"Go Deep"—are followed by a long look at a rock trap set, as if the key to going deep for God is to involve in rock music. We get more and more dimly lit rooms, dark rooms, theater-like—message: "You’re going to be entertained, count on it." We get a long look at an usher that looks again just like a theater usher opening the door up to a theater. The stage with the transecting spotlights, looks like a rock concert again. We get a man in a long-sleeve t-shirt with his eyes closed and hands out, nothing wrong specifically, except that this is what one sees at a Charismatic meeting, making spirituality this sort of existential, feeling-oriented, get-on-the-right-frequency experience. We see a boy rifting like Eric Clapton on an electric guitar, rock beat, and then a girl swaying rhythmically right after—choreographed sensuality posing as spirituality. We get a rock beat on rock drums with John MacArthur saying "the blazing glory of God," associating the two. We get a unisex-dressed girl playing a violin in a rock style, using it again as a rhythmic instrument rather than melodic, again with the dim lights, spotlights, and screens—theater, entertainment, and rock music. The boy playing the drums has on the trendy hip-hop konga hat. Then comes a fuzzy, psychedelic, drug-trip type of screen fading in and out. The names toward the end use a very worldly technique reminiscent of a modern horror movie, that kids into slasher movies will definitely associate with. At the finish is a curious, monastic chant sound, somehow attempting to make the thing, I believe, "religious."

The top picture above is actually from the Resolved Conference. The picture below it is an actual nightclub and the bottom picture is an actual rock concert. I give these three for comparison for the imagination impaired.


Nicholas Cardot said...

Yes...yes...and yes. These, of course, are my answers to your questions in the last paragraph. I am glad to see someone standing out against this type of worship and behavior. These pictures look disgusting to me.

Anonymous said...

Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. for it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. Ephesians 5:1-12


Kent Brandenburg said...

To a large degree, Tom, my analysis stands on its own. To start, Nicholas, or anyone else can make their own judgment on the trailer, because I LINKED TO IT in my post for an accurate and exact context. You failed to mention that. As a result anyone would know that the last two pictures did not appear at the concert. They were posted, however, right next to what they represented, that is, "nightclub" and "rock concert." I believe an objective reviewer would say that the second two looked like the first.

You missed the whole cake analogy. The point isn't spotlights, hats, or guitars, but what that all says. Are you saying that at the actual nightclub and rock concert, those components are meaningless? Again, I will let people judge, and I would like to hear judgment here. You choose, instead to call me liar. I can't quite lie about something that is a review of something that EVERYONE CAN LOOK AT THEMSELVES. C'mon Tom!!

I think it is interesting that you don't think that a stocking cap being worn indoors by a boy means nothing or the hip-hop hat by the drummer. The point here was not to exegete Scripture. I have done that, incidentally in a book I wrote on music that deals with every passage in Scripture, essentially a Biblical theology of music. If you can't judge things in that video to be fleshly and sensual, that, when associated with the name of God and His holiness, are blasphemous, then you are an example of someone whose discernment has been greatly hindered.

You said a lot of amazing things, but just as an example---I didn't say that the way they showed the names and clips of the speakers was an actually slasher flick, but that it was in that style. I guess when you hear the Lone Ranger theme played with horses running, you think of William Tell. MacArthur talked about being able to judge fads. Did you notice that? He has written even more about CCM and music that is even more specific, very close to what I would say personally about it all. The point of the original post was inconsistency and hypocrisy. You won't admit that, but that doesn't mean that it isn't true.

Thanks for your participation, Tom.

Terry McGovern said...

I am amazed at MacArthur's apparent blindness to his own worldliness. I think the pictures you provide make an excellent point. It is hard to tell the difference between the wicked look of an actual nightclub, and the youth conference. How sad!

Micah and his mother, in Judges, mixed the holy and the profane. That is exactly what we see going on with this youth conference.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Pastor B.,

Having read your blogspot for quite some time, I have on multiple occasions agreed or disagreed with some of the things you have written. I have never felt the need to put fingers to keys to voice my opinion about your opinions...or lack of as the case might be. It does however seem to this reader that most of your opinions are very much just that.."opinionated". I suppose that is what all these things are about. Makes for a free-speech kinda thing. However, the confusing thing to me is how very biased your opinions are regardless of the subject. It crosses my mind that you could possibly, on a remote outside chance be wrong or live in a different world than the major portion of we people. The majority of your articles of disagreement are based on worldy pleasures; sins of the flesh; ungodly things, etc. While I understand all that...I must wonder about the need you have to be "correct" in all manner.

I believe in God the Father; God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I also believe God knew and knows we are not perfect and will never be and sins of the flesh are a part of that sinful nature man/ woman were born with. Hence the need for forgiveness and adherence to the daily need of the scripture and prayer. God knows me by name.

I have children and so do you. How did that happen? You are apparently an extremely intelligent man.....but, just that "MAN". All the books, churches, supporters, etc won't change that.

I am not a blogger; do not have a blogger name, but regardless...we know each other Kent. Remember, "To err is human, to forgive is divine".

Be Blessed of the Spirit

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Anonymous. I take a serious look at your critique. It is somewhat ambiguous, perhaps purposefully, so as not to offend. I am not the only one who points out the slide toward Gomorrah (the title of the Robert Bork book). The cultural issues are what distinguish us as much or more than anything. These are my opinions, true, and strong opinons are more interesting than weak ones; however, these are objective, based on quantifiable criteria that can be fleshed out of Scripture.

I am ready to forgive; no doubt. I believe MacArthur personally would agree with my critique. I believe there is a reason why he is not willing to judge and then separate, or at least say that he and they crossed a line with the trailer and the way the conference operates. He gives much more room to maneuver for a reason. At the same time, he cries loudly about the lack of discernment, the loss of conscience, the general lasciviousness all around. I share in these. There is a way to get rid of it, and perhaps I will get into that in the next post.

One more thing. I know I am biased and dogmatic. Many others agree with me independently, like Terry McGovern, Derek Makri, and Nicholas above. It is not that people err, but that they continue down a direction. This influences many others, so it should be pointed out. Yes, I err. I err and have erred quite a bit. I should be corrected when I do. I should admit it when I do, privately when private and publically when public, but a course change is a whole different subject. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Kent, I would not purposely offend you or your theology. It's not my style. Not to mention I would be extremely out matched by your intelligence and command of the English language, not even to get into your incomparable Biblical scholar.

Now, allow me to be sure I understand this. IF...these men agree with you...( Nicholas,Terry and Derek) is that the standard of approval? It has been my observation in the past they most always agree with what you write, as well as a number of other people, which is fine with me. I quite often agree with you myself (and that is not a recommendation of approval).

You are a tremendous writer; extremely intelligent with an inconceivable command of the English language and I think I am correct that you teach/read/write Greek and Hebrew? Amazing!!

Be Blessed of the Spirit