Gray Matters: Navigating the Space between Legalism and Liberty

Gray Matters: Navigating the Space between Legalism and Liberty

by Brett McCracken
Gray Matters: Navigating the Space between Legalism and Liberty

Gray Matters: Navigating the Space between Legalism and Liberty

by Brett McCracken


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Culture is in right now for Christians. Engaging it, embracing it, consuming it, and creating it. Many (younger) evangelicals today are actively cultivating an appreciation for aspects of culture previously stigmatized within the church. Things like alcohol, Hollywood's edgier content, plays, art openings, and concerts have moved from being forbidden to being celebrated by believers. But are evangelicals opening their arms too wide in uncritical embrace of culture? How do they engage with culture in ways that are mature, discerning, and edifying rather than reckless, excessive, and harmful? Can there be a healthy, balanced approach—or is that simply wishful thinking?

With the same insight and acuity found in his popular Hipster Christianity, Brett McCracken examines some of the hot-button gray areas of Christian cultural consumption, helping to lead Christians to adopt a more thoughtful approach to consuming culture in the complicated middle ground between legalism and license. Readers will learn how to both enrich their own lives and honor God—refining their ability to discern truth, goodness, beauty, and enjoy his creation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781441242754
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/01/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 272
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Brett McCracken is a Los Angeles-based journalist. He is the author of Hipster Christianity and has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post,, the Princeton Theological Review, Mediascape, Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Relevant, IMAGE Journal, Q Ideas, and A graduate of Wheaton College and UCLA, Brett currently works as managing editor for Biola Magazine and teaches journalism at Biola University. Follow him at his blog, The Search, at

Table of Contents

Introduction: Into the Gray 7

Part 1 Eating 25

Interlude: Food as Worship 27

1 Food and Faith 29

Interlude: A Timeline of Food Memories 48

2 Where We Go Wrong (and Right) in Eating 51

Part 2 Listening 71

Interlude: Music Means 73

3 Christians and "The Devil's Music" 75

Interlude: Is Smoking Pot Okay for Christians? 92

4 What Are You Listening To? 95

Interlude: Eight Transcendent Music Moments in My Life 112

5 A Christian Approach to Music Appreciation 115

Part 3 Watching 131

Interlude: Four Christian Approaches to Film 133

6 A Brief History of Christians and Movies 135

Interlude: Comments on My Film Reviews 151

7 Where Do We Draw the Line? 153

Interlude: Thirty-three Films That Take Faith Seriously 169

8 The Art and Pleasure of Moviegoing 171

Part 4 Drinking 189

Interlude: No Drinking Here! 191

9 A Biblical History of Intoxicating Beverages 193

Interlude: The Summer of the Pub 202

10 Christians and Alcohol: Defining the Relationship 205

Interlude: Drinking as Communion 222

11 The Godly Enjoyment of Alcohol 225

Interlude: To My Generation: Let's Stop the Pendulum 240

Conclusion: Gray Matters for Mission 243

Acknowledgments 260

Notes 261

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