Communication Breakdown

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest blog post by Mike Burnette.  Mike “MoonDog” Burnette is a newly retired U.S. Air Force veteran who has worked 30 years for American Forces Radio & Television and commercial radio stations.  Mike has a Bachelor’s in Telecommunications from Liberty University and an M.A. in Public Administration from Bowie State University.  He is now a media consultant and creator of “MoonDog’s Media House.” He has proven success increasing the attractiveness and effectiveness of communication, awareness, understanding, participation, and production of key themes and messages for television, radio, and social media.  You can view his website at moondogsmediahouse.com.

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We now live in an over-communicated global society where, as the great philosopher Harry Nilsson said, “Everybody is talking, but I don’t hear a word they’re saying.” Language has become so abstracted in popular culture that quite often our words have no logical relationship with objective meaning or purpose. In our conversations we give nearly no thought to this deeper meaning or purpose. Our communication today is so riddled with self-stylized, relativistic blathering that we have no idea what we’re hearing. Francis Schaffer warned us of this in his book, The God Who Is There; however, most of us continue to speak as though the listener should understand our meaning—and we should understand theirs–that’s the danger!

Communication expressed by a person, relative to their own self-created truths is an unfounded bridge to relativism–in their attempt to say something of objective meaning–they’ve said absolutely nothing.

I believe there is objective meaning and purpose founded in God’s natural and special revelation. It is in God’s Word that we discover objective truths–that there is one God, the world was created, and that it’s wrong to lie, steal, kill, etc. It is from that foundation we can communicate that “this is good” or “this is bad” and “I know what you mean.” All other serious attempts for a universal communication may be, at times, illuminating, but ultimately is a bridge to nowhere.

We have evolved into a society of producers and consumers. We understand how to create attractive products and market to consumers–that doesn’t require defining objective meaning—just new ideas and a good market share. We used to sell tooth paste based on the professional recommendations of a dentist—today we market the smile of a beautiful young model. Since we are an over-communicated society it takes a lot to get someone’s attention—because we’ve seen it all. To succeed in the music industry the simple formula is to cross-pollinate Cher with Elton John to produce a Lady Gaga–and then, “BANG, POW”, market the heck out of her; until you just want to ‘Poke-Her-Face.’

Often the only part of “meaning” that pertains in much of the philosophy, art, music, culture or theology of today–is “me”. Because, when relativism reigns–communication is anchored to self. Even in our churches issues are sometimes vetted via the unquestioned popularity, charisma, or status of an individual. It is a sad and scary state of affairs when someone can attract loyal followers– who will follow them without question–to the point of publicly condemning a person or dismissing an issue without thinking it through.

The most recent example of a communication breakdown comes from SBC blogger Tim Rogers, a critic in the Michael Licona, Matthew 27: 52-53, historical truth or apocalyptic imagery controversy: http://risenjesus.com/audio-and-video. Rogers apparently doesn’t believe he needs to read Licona’s book in order to know that he (Licona) is wrong. Who can really blame him—he did get direct revelation from Norman Geisler. [Prerequisite “we all love, admire, and owe Norman Geisler a huge debt of gratitude” statement inserted here]

Rogers views concerning the ICBI, ICBH, E-I, E-I-O issues are best read while humming Old MacDonald had a farm! Norman Geisler IS a giant of the faith–none-the-less a giant who puts his giant pants on one leg at a time. Except in this case he didn’t put his pants on—and Tim Rogers is possibly afraid to tell the emperor his has no clothes—or of unemployment. It could be that he has started to believe his own press and succumbed to doing anything to be heard in this over-communicated blogger-war. Although in Jack’s…I mean Tim’s defense—it’s probably wise to blog positively about the giant while up–what he interprets as the bean-stalk. [quiet here he comes] “Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of inerrancy!

While serving in the U.S. Air Force [retiring with 26 years on Dec 13, 2011], I always briefed my troops that there are three ways to be in charge: rank, position, and knowledge. Of the three, the most preferable is knowledge. We don’t want our people to follow blind orders from tyrannical authoritarians–the U.S. Air Force wants to develop efficient and effective Airmen—not scared, brainless lemmings.

I’m not the brightest blogger in the blogger-sphere—just wait to “uncritically” examine Roger’s next response of me or renowned apologetics blogger Max Andrews or Nick Peters to truly understand just how wrong and misled we are: Max Andrews:http://sententias.org/ and Nick Peters:http://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/a-further-reply-to-tim-rogers/.

But, I know when I don’t know something. When it comes to this argument about whether Matthew 27: 52-53 is historical truth or apocalyptic imagery—I DON’T KNOW. But, I’d like to know, and I’m studying the issues. It appears to be an interpretive issue to me, but I’m no New Testament scholar. I do; however, understand decent research, good arguments, bad arguments, and arrogant bullying. I also know that as Christians we should welcome and encourage this dialogue without condemnation of opposing views.

There is a definite communication breakdown going on over this issue—and perhaps it’s being over-communicated through our flashy mediums. Yes, we all blow it from time-to-time, miss-communicate, get hot-headed, and get caught up in our own self-importance. Even in our in-house theological disagreements the “me” stands out in our understanding of meaning and purpose. But, our communication has meaning, and purpose founded on the truth we discover in God’s inerrant Word. As we endeavor to bring a little compassionate treatment to these types of issues–let’s all remember that “mercy” has “me” in it as well.

1. William Lane Craig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmPMxIyLG8g
2. Paul Copan:http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/11/paul-copan-on-the-mike-licona-controversy/
3. Other endorsements: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUUcVS-_IMo

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One Comment to “Communication Breakdown”

  1. Pastor Tim really needs to consider James 3:1 and think about the example of critiquing someone without really reading their work and being willing to cut off their livelihood for it.

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