COMMUNICATION 12 - Foundations

God is communication
  • God is a Trinity (Gen 1:1-3, Mth 3:10-17, Mth 28:19, Jhn 1:1-2, …).
  • The Trinity presupposes communication within the God-head himself.
  • The Trinity is shown as constantly communicating with each other (Gen 1:26, Mth 3:10-17, Mrk 1:35, Jhn 14:10, Jhn 17, …).
  • The Bible is God’s communication. Why would God write a 1000 page book if he didn’t want us to hear and understand who he is?
  • God created the universe by his spoken word (Gen 1:3-26).
  • Jesus’ title is ‘the Word of God’ (Jhn 1:1-2, Heb 1:1-2)
  • Jesus reveals the Father (Jhn 14:9, …)
  • The Holy Spirit leads into all truth (Jhn 16:13).
  • God’s creation – his handiwork – reveals God (Psa 19:1).
  • God speaks, reveals, proclaims, shows, explains …
Humans are communicators
  • Humans – made in God’s image – are also communicators.
  • Humans cannot live in isolation and absence of relationship.
  • Humans are made to relate and to interact.
  • Babies that are not spoken to or touched die.
  • Everything God makes communicates.
  • Everything we make communicates … something.
Communication’s presuppositions
  • What is necessary for communication to happen? Communication presupposes …
  • Personhood
    • only beings with self-awareness can communicate (on a higher level than animals).
    • only beings who think and decide can communicate.
  • Human are sovereign beings
    • only if I can tell whether a thought is mine or somebody else’s is communication possible.
    • only if I can reject or accept incoming things is communication possible.
    • communication is offering a statement and considering an other’s statement.
  • There is an outside reality
    • about which both communicator and listener can know something.
    • if nothing is really there I will never know anything about anything …
    • and will never be able to communicate anything about anything to you.
  • Words have real meaning and can be understood
    • if everybody understands something different by any given word, we will never be able to communicate, meaning will never be able to be communicated.
  • There is such a thing called truth
    • if nothing is true, nothing can be said.
    • if nothing is true, nothing needs to be said.
Human sovereignty
  • God is sovereign, powerful to choose, powerful to implement.
  • Humans – made in God’s image – are sovereign, powerful to choose, to implement
  • God, as Creator and true Authority is sovereign over everything he wishes to be sovereign over (unlimited sovereignty)
  • Humans are sovereign over a few things, especially ourselves (limited sovereignty)
    • we can accept or reject truth when presented with it
    • we can obey or ignore the voice of conscience
    • we can choose to see only certain things
    • we can follow or refuse counsel
    • we should not sin, but we can sin, we do not have to spend eternity with God
  • Different humans see, perceive and are aware of different things.
  • We strongly filter what information we let in or retain, based on our prior thinking.
  • Our different perspectives, thinking or world view influence our perception.
  • We attach meaning and importance to things according to prior experience.
  • In court completely identical statements are rejected as fabricated.
Power of the media?
  • We Christians tend to believe that the media is very powerful. We say
    TV destroys people
    video games lead to aggressive behavior
  • Does hearing or seeing something ‘make me do it’?
  • If media was so powerful, why can’t Christian Gospel broadcasting convert the whole world in 24 hours?
  • And an Hindu broadcast a day later would convert everybody to Hinduism?
  • Is it really this easy?
  • Media in itself is not powerful, but it may give good or bad, true of untrue content.
  • People basically listen to what they want to hear.
  • People basically watch what they want, what they like.
  • People basically watch what they want to be influenced by.
  • Media is an influence, we choose to empower it … or not to empower it.
  • Dennis Peacock says: “The mind justifies what the heart has chosen”
Empowering influence
  • Example: Shampoo commercial. If I watch it thinking ‘oh, if only I had hair like that, then everybody would like me’ I empower the commercial, I accept its suggestions, believe its message, agree with its statements, judge myself by its values.
  • But if I watch the commercial thinking ‘Yes, she’s got nice hair, many have nice hair, so what?’ the same commercial doesn’t touch me in the least.
  • Therefore: The popularity of a message is not a reflection of the power of a message … but a reflection of the will and values of the audience
  • Example 1856: Darwin’s “of the origin of species” was an instant success not because it was indeed scientific, but because it was what colonialist post-Christian Europe wanted to hear:
    • ‘the Europeans races are superior to other races’
    • ‘the stronger has a right to rule the weaker’
    • ‘therefore colonial empires and exploitation are justified’
    • ‘there is no God and there are no morals > I can do what I want.’
How does God communicate?
  • God offers truth.
  • God gives understanding. He explains reality to us.
  • God shows us: “if this … then that”. He explains “cause … effect” to us.
  • As a human I now take God’s input and:
    • I can compare it with what I already know.
    • I can weigh it, evaluate it, verify it.
    • I can accept it or reject it … Humans are indeed sovereign!
  • God could easily override or overpower human sovereignty.
    • but he doesn’t just manipulate our brains to think right.
    • he doesn’t just force our hearts to be obedient.
    • he doesn’t overwhelm us with supernatural effects, miraculous firework, a megaphone blasting the gospel from the moon to the earth.
  • God communicates in such a way that you can ignore him at any time, if you want to.
    • God entered the world as a baby, vulnerable and simple.
    • God – in Jesus – entered the world as one voice among many.
How does Jesus communicate?
  • He is one voice among many voices.
  • He offers truth in the same way others also may offer their opinions or supposed truths.
  • He does miracles, but those who want to ignore them or find other explanations, can (as the Pharisees’ reactions show).
  • He explains, but doesn’t argue anybody into the corner by his superior knowledge.
  • He brings understanding, but the unwilling are not forced, many walk away.
  • He knows everything, but doesn’t use that to cower others or to overwhelm.
  • He offers new thinking, but only if you engage
  • Why does Jesus use parables? Why is he not stating things straight?
    • stories are easier to remember (oral culture)
    • stories engage the mind, capture thoughts, convict the heart.
    • those who want to can easily ignore them as silly stories, nobody is forced.
    • parables make a difference between seekers and on-lookers.
  • Everyone who asks for the meaning of the parables gets an explanation, but not all people ask (Mrk 4:10-11)
Freedom of speech?
  • Is Jesus for freedom of speech? Even if lies are spoken?
    • Jesus spoke the truth freely.
    • Jesus defended his right to speak.
    • Jesus challenged his opponents, argued his points, contradicted them.
    • but Jesus did not silence his opponents, even when they were wrong.
    • Jesus only silenced demons, not humans.
Truth versus lies
  • Freedom of speech is defended by Jesus.
  • Example: Gutenberg printing press developed in 1525 AD. Printing can produce Bibles, school books, but also pornography. Proverb: “Paper accepts anything”
  • Example: Internet today
    • Don’t silence, but publish and communicate the truth!
    • Fight for the right to speak, even an opponent’s right to speak!
    • Offer people a choice, inform them!
    • Evil is present, but therefore offer good and true alternatives!
    • Ask: What is not being said that should be said?
  • God believes that truth (when offered) speaks for itself.
  • God says that light (truth) is stronger than darkness.
  • Freedom of press in a nation correlates with the development of the nation.
  • Example: Daniel is a light and lives a life in a very ungodly Babylon.
  • Example: First newspapers were printed by Christians ‘People have a right to know’.
  • Example: Soviet Union after 70 years of brainwashing and propaganda, less than 25 % of the population actually believed the propaganda
  • God does not try to control us, but he seeks to communicate the truth.
  • God seeks to offer choice.
  • Words do not have the power of control, but the power of influence.
  • We empower words by accepting them.
  • God made us sovereign. He wants us to learn to recognize truth & lies, good & evil and learn to choose right.
  • God does not hide evil, God does not remove lies, but he offers truth, enables us to recognize lies and choose wisely.

How does this apply to raising children?

  • For a time you as parent have to limit the child’s exposure to certain things, but parents ‘forever controlling exposure’ is not the goal.
  • The real goal has to be to teach children to recognize truth & lies, good & evil and for them to learn to choose what is good and right on their own.
  • Learn to choose wisely what you empower and what you expose yourself to.