If we seek to present an effective Christian worldview, survival demands honesty about the source of our moral and truth claims.
It demands diligence in testing their relevance beyond the flicker of the screen of popularity.
Tonight I struck a match to light a candle. The first match went out before I could ignite the wick. As I opened the matchbook to light another, I felt gratitude I was not cast away on a deserted island with only my wits and some sticks and stones. I have no real idea how to start a fire.
But I know people have survived on this important piece of information: you can start a fire by rubbing two sticks together fast, and with determination. I know this because I’ve seen it done on a regular basis since my childhood.
I saw “Cast Away” character Chuck Noland start a fire by rubbing sticks together–for days.
Much of what I “know” I can trace to the school of popular culture. There, “ER” demonstrated tracheotomies. Steven Spielberg brought World War II to life.
Our knowledge of Christianity often forms in much the same way.
Christians today can tell you what’s right or wrong with abortion and sexuality. And they can quote a bumper sticker or reference a popular Christian speaker for support.
“Postmodernism? It’s evil. I read about it in Christianity Today.” “Extraterrestrials? I’m conflicted. There’s ‘The X-Files’ and ‘ET,’ but two Christian radio talk-show hosts said no way.”
I can survive on knowledge and trivia I glean from the media because I don’t have to rub sticks together. I have a collection of matchbooks in the next room. But if I’m going to self-identify with Christianity, I owe it to myself to test its source, not something once removed.
“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” But can I tell you where this book derives its authority in today’s world, and does the book bear out the claims contemporary Christian culture makes for truth?
Or will I find, like “Cast Away’s” screenwriter who tested the survival tactics he claimed for the big screen, that rubbing two sticks together started no fire?
Rini Cobbey is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas. She holds an M.A. in popular culture.