Pastor Chris Tweitmann
We live in a soundbite culture.
In a world inundated with information, where everyone’s schedule is busy, and therefore, our time and attention are limited, we have grown accustomed to living off of bite-sized portions of news, teachings, and even instructions. The shorter the length, the more likely we are to actually pay attention. The more concise the content, the better. As a result, much of our knowledge and opinions are the byproduct of headlines, bullet points, and tweets.
The fancy name for this phenomenon is reductionism. Reductionism is about taking something complex, large, and difficult and making it simple, small, and easy to grasp. This can be a good thing to some degree. After all, we can’t be an expert on everything. A quick summary enables us to operate on limited information. Sometimes it is necessary to shorten a story to get to the point. Communicating ideas and concepts by metaphor or analogy often turns confusion into comprehension.
Reductionism is problematic when it becomes the norm. When soundbites are the primary or only way by which we receive and process information, our knowledge and understanding become disastrously skewed. Matters of depth are shrunk into shallow, over-simplifications. Complex issues are reduced to one-sided distortions. Stereotypes are created. Generalizations are accepted as truth without specifics. Our view of reality narrows. Our perception of the world becomes limited rather than holistic.
The hazards of reductionism have plagued Christianity for centuries. It is all too easy and convenient to have one’s faith formed by clichés and catchphrases drawn from isolated Bible verses. But a life-giving and sustaining relationship with Jesus is rooted in the full revelation of scripture, a well-rounded knowledge of the Gospel story, and tangible experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Our latest sermon series aims to counter the dangers of reductionism by seeking to wrestle with the deeper meaning of core themes of the Christian faith. To do this we are getting beyond our English translations of certain, repeated biblical words by defining them as conceived in their original language – either Hebrew or Greek. Our primary text for this series is Deuteronomy 6:4-6. Last week, we began by unpacking the first word of these verses – a word that also has become the nickname of this specific passage: SHEMA (LISTEN).
You’re invited to join us this Sunday as we look at the word from this passage translated into English as LORD. The actual word in Hebrew is YAHWEH – the name of God. We might wonder why there is such a discrepancy between the original language and the English translation. The answer to this question will be where we start, but as we’ll soon discover, there is much more for us to learn. Together as we consider the name of God, we will realize the vastness, wildness, and infiniteness of our God defies reductionism. And yet at the same time, through our reflection, we also will come to appreciate how God, in giving us His name, seeks to be known and to accommodate our desire to recognize His presence in our lives. Prepare for an exhilarating journey!
Grace to you!