TCL3320EN - Theology of Media & Communication

Course description

How has God spoken in word, deed, and through a variety of “media,” including nature, natural objects, and word pictures? Students examine Scriptural and historical examples, various theories of communication, and practical missional concerns to develop a theology for telling the Good News in a variety of media.

How this course benefits students

For the last century or so, daily life in much of the contemporary world has been increasingly intertwined with evolving communicative technologies (often grouped together under the term "media"). The proportional alterations in the pace, materiality, and sensory experience caused by these technologies - and accompanying changes which they bring to the form and structure of communal life in among churches and societies - mean that today's students are growing up in a world which is foreign to their parents and pastors. To faithfully orient themselves in this dizzying process of continual change, students need: a) a balanced Biblical theology of what is theologically, ethically, and practically at stake in various communicative forms and choices, based on b) a careful attunement to themes of media and communication in Christian Scripture, developed in conversation with c) a considered critical analysis of the cultural and media context. All of these are nothing more than sub-elements of seriously asking the question "what does it mean to preach the gospel, today?"

Why this course is important

Human life in the twenty-first century is integrally structured in and around networks and combinations of new communicative media. The question of how to witness to God in this new communicative context raises the larger question of how God communicates with us. This course considers both media and communication in conversation with biblical texts and contemporary voices, leading to awareness of the challenges, stakes, and opportunities presented by various media for the communication of the Gospel.

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

A central component of this course is the examination of the various media taken up by God to reveal Himself to humans as presented in the Bible. Students receive a basic introduction to numerous communicative passages in the Bible and engage with several on a more profound level.

Missionally driven

Considerations of various media and questions of the form and content of communication are framed by the command to be God's witnesses which drives the missional posture of the Christian life.

Contextually informed

This course contextualizes a biblical theology of media by helping students reflect on how the communicative conditions of their own time and place change the form and content of lived and proclaimed witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Interculturally focused

By comparing and contrasting communicative conditions and choices in various historical eras and geographic areas, students gain a measured understanding of the particularities of their own context, of foreign contexts, and of the ways in which new communications media have created a postmodern transcultural 'context' which itself calls out for considered gospel proclamation.

Practically minded

This course develops students' aptitude to analyze and understand the way that their context and communication is affected by the media around them, facilitating increased awareness of the presence of God in their daily lives and a more nuanced ability to embody the Gospel in their own time and place.

Experientially transformed

Reflection on the "mediated-ness" of their daily lives in their own time and place leads students to greater awareness of their own implication in, formation by, and theological implications of media and communication, both in a general and theological sense.