Monday, February 19, 2007

More Electronic Culture

This is the second book I read today. Learning from Hugh Hewitt about blogs, he recommends that blog posting be short. Hence I decided to break the posting about electronic culture into two. See, I am learning.

Shane Hipps,(2005) The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel, and Church. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan)

Shane Hipps is the pastor of Trinity Mennonite Church. Before becoming a pastor, Hipps works as a strategic planner in advertising. Shane examines the influence of electronic media on the church. This is an example of the media becoming the message. It is also an exploration of modern and postmodern knowledge (knowing).

Modern knowledge is based on the metaphor of the printing press. "Knowledge as Building". Also known as foundationalism, knowledge is conceived as having one foundation and subsequent knowledge is built on it like bricks forming a wall and then a building. This leads to a linear sequential type of thinking.

Post modern thinking is based on the metaphor of the telegraph. "Knowledge as Web". Developed by Willard V. Quine in 1970 as "web of belief", knowledge is conditioned by our experience and claimed truths. These claimed truths are interconnected and informed, but not formed by experience. The more connections we have, the more we know. Like a telegraph, the more lines, the more people we can speak to and ask. Knowledge is two-way. Experience shapes belief and belief shapes experience.

According to Hipps, the effects of electronic culture on the church are

*Electronic culture intensifies a right brain encounter with God, corporate approaches to faith, and, our reliance on intuition and experience for God.

*When electronic culture is taken to an extreme, it reverses into relativism. It also reverses our capacity for abstract thought and critical reasoning skills.

*Electronic culture retrieves Eastern Orthodox and medieval Catholic spirituality (i.e. contemplating icons). It also retrieves the gospel story of Jesus as central to the faith.

*Electronic culture obsolesces our belief in the metanarrative. It obsolesces our belief that conversion is a one-time, binary event. Finally, it obsolesces the role of abstract propositional faith and the full impact of Paul's letters.

These are very serious effects that Hipps highlights in his book. Especially worrying is that fact that "abstract propositional faith" and "Paul's letters" become obsolete. If that happens, where will we be as a church?

soli deo gloria

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