I was speaking with a couple of friends and one mentioned a book he was reading that spoke of the Image centered church of the Middle Ages and the Word centered church emerging from the Reformation. The church of the Middle Ages employed Image by reason of societal illiteracy and its own theological presuppositions and institutional needs. The church of the Reformation changed its theological presuppositions and institutional philosophy and Image gave way to Word. The prevailing of the Word over Image has done much to shape the western world, but today, a media saturated culture is promoting Image over Word.
In the course of this conversation I said that it will be interesting to see what wins out – Word or Image. But I think that verdict is in – Image is eclipsing Word. This same friend told me of a theological discussion he was having with his nephew. My friend recommended a book to his nephew and his nephew wanted nothing to do with any printed media. He wanted his uncle to direct him to Youtube or maybe something on Facebook. He didn’t know how to relate to Word, Image dominated his learning processes.
Image is eclipsing Word.
Please note, this young man wasn’t disposed against truth, but inclined toward truth conveyed by Image. This calls for a few comments and questions – and please add your own.
- The church in utilizing Image, should not change its theological presuppositions and minimize Word.
- To what extent should church employ Image in service of Truth?
- Is the media redefining the essence of the church or just the methodology of the church?
- When does Image become image – aesthetics devoid of content? When does Image become image – Image for appearance’s sake?
- Image is not to supplant Word, both should be employed in service of Truth.
- Is Image the same as Word in a different form? Do Image and Word convey the same content?
- The church’s greatest mistake will be to understand that the emphasis on Image is to be translated mainly into media.
- The church’s greatest opportunity in this milieu is not creating cool graphics and relevant film. The church’s greatest opportunity and challenge is creating true Image – the Image of Christ. We are being conformed to Image of Christ – Image is crucial! As the saints are transformed into Image, Image joined with Word and alongside Word can be a formidable apologetic.
- Community should be Image.