Sound Bites and Slogans

Authors are encouraged to “brand” themselves. (No, not get a tattoo! 🙄 ) Some develop taglines to identify their writing. One of the most successful, in my opinion, is Brandilyn Collins with her “Don’t forget to breathe” Seatbelt Suspense.

Then there are quotable lines. I read one this morning that I think is quotable (maybe you’ll disagree):

Christianity isn’t about being good enough, it is about being forgiven completely.

I don’t know about other writers, but I think having quotable lines, especially in fiction, would be fantastic—something like C. S. Lewis’s Aslan-isn’t-tame-but-he’s-good line. It cements a truth in our minds but also makes a story memorable.

All this seems to fit our contemporary culture. Possibly with the popularization of political slogans such as “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” in the 1840 Presidential election, we have become a society formed by sound bites.

TV commercials have raised sloganeering to a fine art! “It’s the real thing,” “Just do it,” “Where’s the beef?” probably evoke a product name in the minds of many long after the commercials have ceased to air.

Which, of course, is the point. We want people to remember. But here’s the question. Should thoughts about God be reduced to sound bites and slogans?

They are memorable, and people are apt to quote them. If they contain truth, then that seems like a good thing. Off the top of my head, I can think of two related to Christmas: Jesus is the reason for the season and Wisemen still seek Him (I even used the latter for a title of one of my Christmas bulletin boards when I was teaching).

But here’s the trap with sound bites in declaring something about God—inevitably they say far less than what is true, but people latch onto them as if the nugget said it all.

For example, Jesus is the Answer is another one of these Christian slogans. Well, yes, Jesus is the answer. But does that mean people shouldn’t work to discover how He is the answer to their particular question? Hardly, but some folks seem to think no other questions are necessary since we have the Answer.

I think the slogan might actually rob us of discovering more about Jesus—His character and plan and work that make Him the answer for me as much as for a first century Jew, an eighteenth century English slave trader, a twentieth century Auca Indian or middle-aged Dutch watchmaker.

In short, it seems to me God is too big for sound bites and slogans. Perhaps rather than campaigning for Christ, or advertising Him as if He’s a buy-now option we’re selling, we should look into some ideas Scripture brings up. Things like mediating on His word day and night.

Published in: on December 10, 2009 at 3:05 pm  Comments (4)  
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  1. I’ve always enjoyed how the slogan ‘Jesus saves’ got modified into ‘Jesus saves Green Stamps’ back in the day when most folks still knew what Green Stamps were….


  2. *laughs* Do not fear Nissa, I still know what they are. Though…my “contemporaries” do not I fear. Somethings are lost in the annals of time.


  3. Nissa, you bring up a good point. These kinds of slogans open the door to slams. It’s just as easy to come up with a sound-bite answer as it is to come up with a sound bite.

    And I’m with Sam, though I think my whole generation is. I definitely remember green stamps, and a sundry of others that followed.



  4. I thought of another one that is currently popular: “It’s a God thing.” What does that mean exactly? Are some things not under His sovereign oversight?



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