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A Review of Eyes Open Wide: Looking for God in Popular Culture

Christians can neither dive into current culture thinking the Bible is irrelevant to daily life, nor can they remain on the diving board and, thus, aloof from the waves of culture below.

  • Byron Snapp,
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In John 17:15, Christ prayed to His Father, "I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world but to keep them from the evil one." How are Christians to work out Christ's petition in today's world?

Christians can neither dive into current culture thinking the Bible is irrelevant to daily life, nor can they remain on the diving board and, thus, aloof from the waves of culture below.

Having been created in God's image recreated spiritually by Christ and living in a fallen world, the redeemed must interact with popular culture in a Biblically discerning manner. Writing from this thesis, the author provides much instruction as to how this is to be accomplished.

Romanowski correctly points out that Christians can and have used wrong criteria for judging whether or not media works are Christian. For example, the absence of open sex, blasphemy, or violence, or the existence of a happy ending does not make a film a Christian work. One must look for the existence of themes, such as humanism, that would separate the production from Biblical teaching. In such humanistic productions, no more thought is given to God than is given in an overtly perverse one. Also, Christians must realize that a film can be Biblically based without bringing to the screen a story from Scripture, or the conversion account of the film's hero — although there may be nothing wrong with such media productions.

Having laid this foundation, Romanowski provides the reader with a wealth of practical advice and insight regarding the implementation of Christian thinking into the various art forms.

This is extremely important in any generation. Romanowski stresses the importance of popular art as a teaching mechanism. The story it brings to the canvas, in print, or on CD contains a worldview, but so do the quality of production, its aesthetic features, and the existence of character development.

Who are better qualified to do this than Christians? The author correctly observes that Christians are uniquely qualified for this endeavor. Christians know the heart of man and how even Christians must wrestle with sin and many times will travel immoral paths that have disastrous consequences before they repent. Christians know answers to cultural problems. Such answers can be and need to be portrayed in all the media forms for the populace to view. Christians, by their art, can point their viewers and hearers to the fact of objective standards and to the reality of eternity. Thus he issues a clarion call for Christian artists.

A similar call is echoed for the viewer to examine art in a way that honors God. One appendix provides many helpful questions under appropriate topics that encourage Christians to more ably critique what they hear and view. A second appendix implements these questions in a critique of the popularly acclaimed movie "Titanic."

Throughout the book, Romanowski uses appropriate illustrations from a wide-range of art forms to make his points.

Artists and all who are interested in discerning art Biblically will find much though-provoking material in this very practical volume.

  • Byron Snapp

Byron Snapp is a graduate of King College (B.A.) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He was Associate Pastor at Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hampton, Virginia, from 1994 until his retirement in December 2014. He is a native of Marion, Virginia.  He has had pastorates in Leakesville, Mississippi, and Gaffney, South Carolina.  He served as Assistant Pastor in Cedar Bluff, Virginia prior to his ministry at Calvary Reformed. He has served as editor of the Presbyterian Witness and was a contributor to A Comprehensive Faith and Election Day Sermons. He is currently a member of Westminster Presbytery in the PCA. He and his wife Janey have 3 children and several grandchildren. 

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