July 7, 2013
Lots of great thoughts in this post, Parler.
The question for myself is, how do I define the Gospel?
This seems like a very simple question but like many other terms in our faith, I often assume we all mean the same thing but in reality we are articulating and believing different parts of the whole Gospel message (see N.T. Wright's 'How God Became King').
So most certainly the message is the medium for our understanding.
As good protestants, we lean hard into the death, the sacrifice of Christ as a model and language of how we define the Gospel - and how we understand how God engaged His creation and what kind of life He invites us into. Yet there is a great hesitance to lean into the resurrection AND the ascension of Christ as equally defining moments of the fullness of what the Gospel is - often only giving it lip service.
Might what Paul does in 2 Corinthians and what the DD crew does might be shining a light to a fuller understanding of what the Gospel is? Regardless, our awareness of this allows us to engage the 'entertainment' and all the other societal influences in their proper manners.
Christians like to bash on entertainment being used to propagate the Bible. It's our way. But let's face it folks, Holy Scripture doesn't speak ill against these things. "Whatever you do, do it for the Lord" is what Paul has to say about these things.
Everybody brings something unique to the evangelism table, let's not depreciate the skills and abilities of others because we think our way is superior.
The one thing I appreciated that Branson nuanced in this article was not that entertainment industry was intrinsically bad - but more so, how we choose to communicate a message, what mediums we use can and does shape the message itself.
This is a reality in all forms, shapes, and styles of communication. The saying 'don't kill the messenger' might actually be wrong because the messenger (or medium) might actually be stating things that was not the intention of the message. And no, I'm not advocating killing or not engaging certain things instead continually asking the questions of why and how to use a medium in a manner that is consistent with the heart of the message.
I totally agree with your point, that televised entertainment is a Spiritually poor means of Ministry. However, despite the internet also having the potential to be that, I think one of Jesus lessons is applicable. This is with respect to every Christian having a need within, to substantiate individual innocence. Don't condemn or judge others, just because we suppose we are on higher ground; but simply believe they do their best in their own circumstances, to follow Jesus as they receive of his teaching. You never know, but there could be youth who perceive Christianity as not outside their own social means, just because of who they see on TV practicing following Jesus.
In response to "All things are lawful," Paul also notes that "not all things are beneficial." I think Adam notes a key point in response here as well: the medium affects the message. So, we need to be careful as we think about when and how the medium we use might actually present a different gospel. And I tried to be clear in the post that I'm not criticizing the DD folks per se, but rather to ask how their popularity might shed light on how our entertainment culture shapes and forms Christians and whether or not that's a good thing.
I agree with the point that Christians should not just easily condemn others, and that the DD folks may connect in ways with some people who wouldn't be reached through other means. But I think our calling as Christians is to collectively try to judge whether or not what we're doing is wise in the way we go about making disciples. It's not for the sake of simply being judgmental, but for the sake of faithful witness to who God is. If we are unfaithful in that, we will have to answer to much more than just other Christians or online critics.
Branson - really great article. I appreciate the nuance in your perspective.
The two things we can't do are 1. create rules about "what's an appropriate container and what's not," in terms of medium. There's so much grey to this. 2. Act like all medium containers are equally good receptacles for the Gospel.
I'm always fascinated at how Jesus deliberately avoided (and in John 6, ran off!) crowds. We explain this away by talks of Jesus timing out his own death, but the context of the Scriptures make it seem like Jesus was actually wary of the crowd mentality as a medium.
In crowds we see people treat Jesus as a magician, a coup-creating revolutionary, or a politician. In other words, in a crowd setting people tried to co-opt Jesus's message to fit their own. And so instead Jesus constantly withdraws, hangs out with His disciples, and reinforces the message of the Kingdom face to face, eye to eye.
I suppose my point is I think Jesus modelled how the medium matters ... now we have to live in the tension of figuring that out as well.
Lately the 1 Corinthians 3 passage has come to mind a lot in thinking about the wide stream of thought within our faith. It was spurred by the response that I was seeing after some of the Supreme Court rulings when James K.A. Smith tweeted:
'Today is a good "Twitter feed test day": if you're only hearing one side, your feed is an echo chamber.'
Immediately, conviction arose because I realized that often I only want to hear what I already believe. I demonize the other 'side' - I don't read work by Christian thinkers that I have been turned off by some of their words and actions towards other believers. But if the Church is, if I am, serious about unity, we must remember what we share and also hear the voices we disagree with.
For some follow Paul, some follow Apollos - some follow Piper or Bell or Driscoll or Knight or Smith or Hybels or Wright and so on. We have heard this before, but if we all affirm who Christ is as articulated through ancient creeds - might we celebrate that, though it might be a mystery us how Christ is using some thing, we trust that He still is.
So we jump not to the judging card when we ask the questions of the individual or groups, but instead ask of each other and of ourselves, are we stewarding it well - both the message and the medium?
I get the point of the article and it's good to ask thought provoking questions. I think it's a little presumptuous to speak about whether or not God is leading him in this decision. That's between him and God. The Bible says to do everything as if doing it for the Lord. He wants to work with his family. There may be people who would never darken the doors of a church but who will watch Jase's testimony on YouTube because of the show. I don't have a problem with that.
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