1. bainespal says:

    I don’t really mind it. It looks like it comes from the same culture of snarky, passive-aggressive hostility by which atheists also criticize us in the public square. Sometimes that public hostility can be truly harmful, but I think Christians can engage in it lovingly.

    I think it does portray God’s glory to a small degree, because it follows the “rules” of its own particular kind of medium. It’s an effective piece of information design. In contrast, if it said “ATHEISTS ARE GOING TO HELL” or even “JESUS LOVES ATHEISTS,” then the criticism of being tacky, artificial evangelism would be valid. As it is now, I don’t think it’s deliberate evangelism at all, which is part of the reason that it works.

    Let’s show more creativity. Just as the Creation Museum shows. Think “incarnationally.” Appeal, as the best evangelists did, to Biblical truth shown in imagination.

    I agree with you on all that, but I think your definition of imagination might be somewhat narrow. Neither storytelling nor visual arts are the only ways to employ God-given creativity, even if they are the most obvious and abstract ways. Can’t the skillful communication of an edgy message through creative use of color, shape, and typography glorify God, too? If it can’t, that would suggest that all Christian designers could only use decorative, gothic, “Arts and Crafts” style designs in informational media.

    • I definitely agree with all that. Yet I also see even more benefit from the creative, “this is who we are, unashamed of it, and watch us work for God’s glory” approach. Because AiG is already doing that, and making local inroads and being such a great witness for proactive Christian presence in the world, I think it might help if they took more of that approach in their nationwide outreaches.

  2. Galadriel says:

    I’m not a communications or marketing major, but I’m sure there’s some way that ads can start a conversation….but I think starting is as far as you can get without a person.

  3. R. L. Copple says:

    I’ve seen few, if any comments that critiqued that message in the fact that it didn’t give the whole gospel message in a nutshell. I did see critiques that it didn’t convey the spirit of the gospel. But the only place I saw this discussed much at length is on Mike’s blog. So I may have just missed them.

    But I have run across that attitude among Christians evaluating a Christian novel. It’s like if you don’t have a list of events happening–sinner in need of saving, spiritual mentor who knows it all, some form of gospel presentation, sinner converted–it isn’t a Christian book. A Christian novel can’t simply plant seeds, or encourage the faithful, or explore a moral dilemma.

    I think most people wouldn’t expect a billboard to convey a whole gospel message. What they designed it to do, gain traffic at their site, I’m sure it did in some measure. Question is, was it effective at reaching and convincing atheist and agnostics to take a serious look at the concept of God and who He is?

    One, the billboard probably generated traffic, but I’d be interested to know (and I doubt they do know themselves) what percentage of their traffic was Christians who agreed with them, and what percentage was real atheist and agnostics? My gut tells me the atheist and agnostics who follow the link to the site will do so in hopes of refuting whatever logic they find, not to sincerely investigate.

    Two, I looked at their site and video. If I were agnostic or an atheist, none of that would be very convincing. What they will hear is, “We have it right. Trust us.” That’s not going to convince very many people. The fact is, they don’t trust we have it right. First you have to convince them of that before you can use it in an argument.

    Three, maybe God will, can, and has used this to convert some people. After all, He used Jonah’s poor excuse of an attempt to convert a whole giant city. His message as he walked through the city basically said, “Get ready. God’s coming, and you’re all going to Hell.” Maybe only God knows how many this actually changed minds and started them seeking God. And only God knows how many potential converts this may have turned away.

    Four, as I stated on Mike’s blog, this billboard doesn’t open up to real dialog as much as draw fighting lines and put people on the defensive. Never a good idea if you want real dialog with them, if that’s the goal.

    Five, upon going to their site, I saw no opportunity for dialog. Just being preached at. And from a perspective I’m not in full agreement with as a Christian.

    Six, related to four, it portrays Christians as more about proving we’re right than about engaging in respectful dialog to convince them of the truth.

    Seven, it simply doesn’t convince them of the truth of Christianity because it starts on the wrong foot. Jesus didn’t say they will know you are Christians by your snark.

    Could the Holy Spirit use this to save someone through engaging in further dialog? I believe He can. He’s good at taking our feeble three fish and five loaves and doing something great with them. Could this have given God something more to work with? I think I hear you saying yes, and I agree with you.

    It does, however, parallel the debate in Christian fiction as to what is more effective evangelism. Subtle, preachy, in-your-face, or sneaky.

    • Mostly agreed, brother. Which is why the Creation Museum takes a far better approach thanks to its creativity and professionalism, and simply by existing as a proactive, safe (yet challenging), and non-reactionary “incarnate” place.

What do you think?