Over the course of the roughly 2000 year existence of Christianity, the Church has seen culture morph and evolve (or perhaps devolve) time and time again. As culture has changed, Christians in various eras have adapted the communication and defense of the Christian message to be understandable to those in their current context. The Church was initially established in a predominantly oral culture with a burgeoning interest in the written word, and as such the gospel was communicated primarily via preached sermons and supported by letters and codices. In the Middle Ages, people were unable to read and Christians focused instead on images as a means of explanation. With the advent of the printing press and the rise of literacy, the Church advanced through theological tomes and printed sermons. During the Enlightenment preachers such as Edwards and Whitfield would travel to neighboring cities to deliver intellectually dense sermons. With the invention of the radio similar preachers could broadcast their message to a much wider audience, though usually with a less dense content. As technology has continued to evolve and influence culture, the church has continued to augment its approach to communication.
In 2012 we live in a culture of perpetual entertainment and communication. There are thousands of channels on TV, billions of dollars spent to produce movies, constant advertisement, and dozens of social networking internet sites. We have cell phones that can send pictures within minutes, tweet any thought that enters a person’s mind (assuming its only 140 characters long) and play a person’s favorite song any time. The highest rated shows on TV are competition shows which, along with YouTube and reality shows, offer everyone the opportunity to achieve instant fame and afford others the ability to relish in the hopeful star’s failure. Barnes & Nobles now has a section in their store dedicated to books of the “Teen Paranormal Romance” genre, and the top grossing movies of the past ten years have involved wizards, vampires and/or superheroes. All of these developments along with a myriad of others, none necessarily good or bad, shape our society and our way of thinking. In this cultural milieu, how does the church adapt? Does the church embrace pop culture as means of defending the faith? Or does the church see pop culture as inherently destructive and worry that using it as a means of apologetics would taint the gospel? These are the considerations that will be addressed in this panel.
- Sam Welbaum, Apologetics.com
- Brian Godawa, Screen Writer/Author
- Dr. Todd Bates, Associate Professor of Philosophy at California Baptist University
- Dr. William Dyrness, Fuller Seminary
- Moderator: Bruce Paolozzi, Apologetics.com