An Apologetics Primer:

Caribbean Apologetics Issues, No. 3

GEM ’85, this rev. Aug. 2002a

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect . . ."     (1 Peter 3:15)

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3.3       The Media and Education

Issues of communication, control, credibility and clarity are critical if the church is to speak effectively to the people of the Caribbean during this generation.  If we fail to be clear, credible, and relevant, we will simply be isolated and dismissed as other sources and their messages take over our region.  For, a message is comprehended only by those who find it clear; it is believable only to those who give its sources a high credibility; it is effective only for those who find it relevant.

Unfortunately, credibility is not the same as truth — it is a perception that a particular source is believable. As well we know from the study of Rhetoric, messages and arguments can be extremely persuasive, even if they are not true or sound.  So, demagogues and other misleaders have long since discovered that if one tickles itching ears with what they want to hear, self-deceived people will believe it and trust you, even in the teeth of the actual evidence.  [2 Tim. 3:1 – 8, 4:1 – 5, cf. 3:12 - 17.]

Moreover, unless their current belief system is manifestly failing, people generally accept what accords with what they already believe and reject whatever does not accord with what they already believe, so once a false ideology has taken root in a community, it is very hard indeed to uproot.

This brings out the critical strategic roles played by major community institutions.  For, as we grow up, our core beliefs and values are accepted from and shaped by authorities such as parents, churches, schools, the media, our peers on the street, popular leaders and politicians — it is only later in life, if ever, that we critically assess them.  As a direct result, the key battle in the war of ideas is always political: which authorities and agendas will dominate the media, the school and the academy.  Victory or defeat in these three institutions determines the dominant ideas, perceptions and messages that spread through a given community — and, in an ever more global age, the world.

Over the past several decades in our region, the tide of this battle has clearly been shifting to the secularists and their post-modern fellow travellers, especially as the dominant media power of the United States spreads through our region.  Key factors include: penetration of satellite/cable TV and the Internet; the messages spread by popular music, art forms and entertainment; the spin put on news and issues in the global media and international forums such as the UN; the dominant secularist ideological underpinnings of higher education; and even project requirements of major funding agencies.  If we simply drift with this tide, our region will increasingly be pulled into the orbit of the latest trends in North America and Europe, often to our demonstrable detriment. 

Consequently, if we are to counter the tide, and fulfil our calling to be effective as Christian leaders working to disciple the nations in our region, we must be ever alert to the various philosophies, ideologies, agendas and underlying values and beliefs that are being communicated to our communities, whether openly or subtly.  We must also understand how the various persuasive techniques work, and learn how to effectively respond.  Most of all, we must be willing to respond effectively, using art-forms, schools, media-houses, books, and whatever other legitimate means are at our disposal.


NOTICES: This course module was originally created by Gordon Mullings, in 1985, for use as part of a manual for Cell Group Leaders for the UCCF, in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. It has been subsequently revised and developed, to date. (DISCLAIMER: While reasonable attempts have been made to provide accurate, fair and informative materials for use in training, no claim is made for absolute truth, and corrections based on factual errors and/or gaps or inconsistencies in reasoning are welcome.) FAIR USE: The contents of this module are intended for use as a support for learning about responding to the typical intellectual challenges to the Christian Faith and gospel that are commonly encountered in the Caribbean, especially in tertiary education and in commentary in the regional and international media. Permission is therefore granted to link to this page for fair use under intellectual property law, and for reasonable citation of the linked content on this site for church- or parachurch- group related training and/or for personal or academic use; this specifically excludes reproduction, linking or citation for commercial, controversial or media purposes without the Author's written permission -- especialy where matters relating to the validity and value of Faith/Religious/Atheological Commitments and Truth-Claims are being debated or disputed. PDF version available, under similar terms. COPYRIGHT:GEM 2002. All rights are reserved.