Oxford Dictionaries chose ‘post-truth’ as its Word of the Year for 2016. Western media seems to be full of examples of how we live in a post-truth world, as well as frequent discussions about it. What is the state of the media in a post-truth society? Why does fake news circulate so fast in social media? How should we respond as Christians?
I enjoyed following the conversation on the threefold media challenge from Cape Town, subsequently reiterated by the 2012 Lausanne Regional Consultation on the Gospel and Media in Kristiansand. It has brought back memories of my younger years in the world of media in Denmark, Ethiopia, Geneva and Norway – some of these years were actually in Kristiansand with the International Mass Media Institute where we were deeply engaged in the trinity of awareness, presence and ministries. Since then my life and focus have moved into leadership, missiology, theology of religion and other obscure matters, but when the smell of media reaches my nostrils, I can still smell the sawdust of the circus. My small contribution to the conversation will focus on two interconnected issues: the worldview of the media and a Christian worldview; and the absolute need for Christians to be involved as salt and light.
I am writing this on a plane, having endured several minutes during take-off without my electronic equipment turned on. But as soon as the seatbelt sign went off, my laptop went on and I got down to work, slightly frustrated that so few flights have WiFi yet. I’m not the only one who waited for the signal to spring into action. Around me, many passengers now have earphones in: some watch movies on iPads, some listen to music on iPods. A few absorb themselves in the more traditional media of newspaper and books.
Wherever we live in today’s world, information and communication technologies increasingly influence and impact our human lives, our Christian witness, and our Christian ministries. The varieties of local, global, and ‘glocal’ media messages provide complex contexts for the task of making the case for the truth of Christ in the 21st century. The missional issues related to media engagement are therefore of real significance to the global church.
News media play a significant role in the everyday lives for most of us. Therefore we need to actively engage the news by asking key questions. In 12 Questions to Ask When Watching the News, I suggest the following question as the final one:
How do a classical Christian view of humanity and the world help us to understand the wider context of the major news stories?
In the final part of this six-part series on using films in Christian communication, we reflect on why using film in Christian communication is helpful. This series was first published on tonywatkins.uk, and is based on lectures given at Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communications, Kristiansand, Norway. The series is available to download as a PDF. Why use film in Christian communication? lthough aspects of …