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How to Participate in Popular Culture for God's Glory

We are living in a popular culture world, and we are all popular culture girls. If you know what song I’m referencing, you prove my point … and your age. The question for Christians is not, “Will we participate in popular culture?” The question is, “Will we participate in popular culture for God’s glory?”

In order to participate in popular culture for God’s glory, Christians must …

1. Know what the Bible explicitly says.

The various commands found in Scripture concerning what is good and what is evil must be committed to our memories. With Christ as the theme of Scripture, we must have the word of God hidden in our hearts for the purpose of not sinning against God (Ps. 119:11). It is impossible to be discerning as a Christian if we do not know what the Scriptures teach. Untruth is only recognized when it is compared with truth.

2. Know what the Bible implicitly says.

The various commands, narratives, etc. in the Scriptures imply truth as well. Understanding the natural outworking of theology is dreadfully lacking in Christianity. For example, if this world belongs to God, then all truth whether public or private belongs to Him. Thus, there is no such thing as a neutral approach to anything in God’s world. Everything is either likeminded with God or is anti-God. Therefore, every movie, TV show, song, book, etc. argues from a specific view of the world which is likeminded with God or is anti-God or, most likely, is a combination of both. This is why Christians must test all things.

Furthermore, since Christ claims to be the Way, the Truth and the Life, the only Way to God the Father, all truth must be rightly understood in light of His incarnation, life, death and resurrection (John 14:6). So when media speaks about God, the test concerning who they are really speaking about is their view of His Son, Jesus Christ. If they reject Jesus as the Only Way of Salvation, God the Son, the Way, the Truth and the Life, then they are anti-God regardless of whether or not they agree with the rest of the Bible (John 5:17-47).

3. Think about the surface ideas being presented.

Think about everything you are seeing and hearing. What is the point? What are the characters trying or hoping to accomplish? What do they reveal about their view of the world? Do they openly admit they live in our God’s world? What must you do to destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, in order to take these obvious ideas captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5)?

4. Think about the underlying ideas being presented.

This step goes beyond the characters and asks questions concerning the author. What is the agenda of the author? Why has he or she included the various characters, plots, subplots, themes, etc.? What is his or her point? These worldview implications may be more subtle and harder to recognize.

5. Compare and contrast all ideas with Scripture.

Does the idea that the popular culture is presenting line up with Scripture? Is it true, or must we correct it with Scriptural truth? What must we trash? What can we keep? Which truths reveal that the author lives in our God’s world? What truths must we pluck from the content and connect to God through Christ in light of Scripture?

6. Understand the author beyond what he or she is presenting.

Some ideas are very subtle, so subtle, in fact, that apart from possessing an accurate understanding of the author, the true meaning will escape us. Is there anything presented in the content which spurs us to examine the author’s beliefs beyond what he or she has written so we can have a greater understanding of the foundation from which he or she is arguing?

7. Possess a Christ-centered understanding of Scripture.

If we don’t see Jesus as the theme of Scripture, then we are tempted to view movies that merely emphasize biblical morality as “Christian,” and think God has been glorified. The problem is, the Bible is not mainly a book about morals, but, rather, it is a book about Jesus. The movie The Book of Eli, for example, teaches that the Bible is a moral guideline which humanity can accomplish perfectly. Jesus is not mentioned one time the entire movie, so it may be a fallacy to call it a “Christian” movie.

Since Christ is the theme of the Bible, it is impossible to be biblical without understanding what Christ has accomplished in the place of sinners through His life, death and resurrection. For this reason, it is very important that popular culture is not merely compared and contrasted with the Scriptures morally, but is also compared and contrasted with Christ being the remedy for all the evil that exists in the world, the Cure for the sin disease. Popular culture often presents a problem, then offers an answer to the problem. You must compare and contrast popular culture’s problem and answer for the problem with Scripture.

8. Keep our minds working throughout our participation in popular culture.

If we are not intentional, we will daydream or lose focus while processing nothing through our “Christian filters” as we take in popular culture. Not thinking is directly forbidden in Scripture (Phil. 4:8). The problem with not thinking on truth is we are commanded to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Thus, everything must be taken in and filtered through God’s perfect Word in light of Christ’s finished work. Christians then must carry out the command found in Philippians 4:8:

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

As we participate in popular culture, here are some good questions to ask of the various ideas being presented in light of Philippians 4:8: 1) Is this true? 2) Is this honorable? 3) Is this just? 4) Is this pure? 5) Is this lovely? 6) Is this commendable? 7) Is this excellent? 8) Is this praiseworthy? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, then the idea being presented must be discarded or corrected in light of Scriptural truth. We must be actively dissecting everything we see and hear, trashing lies while keeping and thinking on truth.

9. Know how Christianity answers man’s basic worldview questions.

Nancy PearceyTotal Truth author and tutor at Rivendell Sanctuary, lists three worldview subjects all humanity examines, questions and answers:

1) CREATION: How did it all begin? Where did we come from?

2) FALL: What went wrong? What is the source of evil and suffering?

3) REDEMPTION: What can we do about it? How can the world be set right again? [1]

The Bible argues:

1) CREATION: The only God who exists created all things, including you, for His own glory (Gen. 1 (especially Gen. 1:26); Col. 1:16-17).

2) FALL: Adam and Eve sinned against God, and all creation, including humanity, fell into sin (Gen. 3; Rom. 3:10-23; Rom. 8:20-22). Thus, all humans are sinners, which means we are what is wrong with the world (Rom. 3:23; Gal. 3:22).

3) REDEMPTION: God the Son incarnate, Jesus Christ, came to earth to fix what Adam destroyed. Jesus Christ, through His life, death and resurrection, is the only Answer for the sin problem (Rom. 8:1-39; John 14:6).

Almost every movie, TV show, song or book seeks to answer at least one of the above questions, and many try to answer all of them. The problem is, most of these forms of media provide the wrong answers. Discernment, therefore, is essential for Christians living in a media world where wickedness and lies are placed side by side and interlaced with truth.

10. Possess a basic understanding of philosophy.

The movie, The Matrix, is based on a specific philosophical idea that cannot be understood properly by simply watching the movie. Furthermore, The Matrix trilogy of movies presents many other philosophical ideas throughout. Christian ideas make their way into these movies, but these ideas are placed directly next to Buddhist and Gnostic ideas. If you understand the Scriptures, you may recognize these Buddhist and Gnostic ideas are not true, but if you hope to understand why the author includes these ideas and what specific worldview the author presents, you will need a basic understanding of philosophy.


To summarize, Christians should engage their cultures, find the common examples of God’s image therein, extract these common truths, and add Scriptural Truth to them:

1) Man is sinful (Rom. 3:23).

2) God’s answer for the sin problem is Christ’s redeeming work in reconciling sinners and creation to His Father (John 14:6).

As you participate in popular culture, ask at least these three questions:

1) What ideas should I accept because they are in full agreement with Scripture?

2) What must I reject because it is in full disagreement with Scripture?

3) What half-truths, in order to be made completely true, must be extracted from popular culture and connected to God’s Word in light of man’s sinful condition and Christ’s creating, sustaining and redeeming work?

A Final Hint

Since most of popular culture says nothing about God or Jesus Christ, in most cases there is nothing that can be accepted or received by Christians based on its own merit without adding truth. Everything will need to be dissected. As a result, as you watch and hear the various ideas presented by popular culture, you will only have two choices:

1) Trash what you see and hear, or

2) Qualify what you see and hear with Scripture to make it obey Christ according to the entire Bible.

How will you respond?


This is an excerpt from a book I wrote titled, The Harry Potter Bible Study: Enjoying God Through the Final Four Harry Potter Movies. You can purchase it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback ($7.99), or you can purchase it for your E-reader: ($1.99) on KindleSmashwordsNookIpadLuluKobo, Sony and others.

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Jared has served in pastoral ministry since 2000. He is the pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY. He is the author of 10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need to Be Tipped. Jared is married to Amber and they have four children. He is a teaching assistant for Bruce Ware at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and a PhD Student in Systematic Theology at SBTS. You can take Jared's Udemy Course, "How to Enjoy God Through Movies, TV, Music, Books, etc." with this link for 43% off. Engage popular culture with Scripture. Enjoy God through popular culture.