The Gospel: Does the medium affect the message?

H ow many times have you heard this line, “The methods must change as long as the message stays the same.” Shane Hipps makes short work of this commonly-invoked principle in this article on Leadership Blog: Out of Ur: The Gospel According to Electronic Culture: What if the medium really is the message?.

I’ve occasionally wondered about the applicability of Marshall McLuhan’s famous phrase to my communications; Shane has applied it to the Gospel message.

Unfortunately, it fails to account for what our media and methods truly have the capacity to do and undo. And so we encounter them with the proverbial slip on the banana peel. We remain quite oblivious to the ways our message and our minds are being shaped by our methods and media.

But make no mistake, despite tearing into the “changing methods, changeless message” mantra, Shane is no fundamentalist poster-boy. The foreward to his book, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, The Gospel, And Church, is written by none other than the Emergent guru Brian McClaren. The conclusion to Hipps article is this:

This is not simply another call for a Luddite resistance to technology or new methods. Such a strategy is like trying to resist the wind and the tides; never mind that the Bible itself is a technology—a printed book. This is a call to take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

This is thought-provoking stuff. I’d like to read his book!

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