He Gets Us May Be Flawed, But Is Aimed at the Right Target
Many companies pay top dollar to create and run showpiece advertisements during the Super Bowl to showcase their brand. But this year’s Super Bowl will feature an unusual advertiser: Jesus.
A group of wealthy Christian donors launched an advertising campaign last year called “He Gets Us” designed to re-introduce Jesus to the world as someone who they can relate to and to whom Jesus can relate. Two of these ads will run during this year’s Super Bowl at a cost of $20 million. The campaign was originally supposed to cost $100 million, but according to Religion News Service is now budgeted at $1 billion.
He Gets Us has been controversial, and has drawn criticism from a number of quarters. It is not my intent here to refute those criticisms or defend the campaign as a whole. But I am going to point out that the campaign is targeted at a legitimate need in today’s world, that for a pre-apologetic which prepares the way for evangelism.
Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God was a national bestseller that sought to justify Christianity as true. After writing it, he recognized the need for an even earlier step in the process, the pre-apologetic, which he focused on in a follow-up book called Making Sense of God. In the introduction to that book he wrote:
Some years ago I wrote a book called The Reason for God, which, as the title suggests, provides a case, a set of reasons, for belief in God and Christianity. While that book has been helpful to many, it does not begin far back enough for many people. Some will not even begin the journey of exploration, because, frankly, Christianity does not seem relevant enough to be worth their while.
In other words, you can’t convince someone Christianity is true if they don’t even care enough one way or the other to listen to your pitch. In some of his subsequent work, Keller looked to increase the receptivity of people to the Christian message through what is in essence pre-apologetic work. One example is in the area of suffering, which Charles Taylor in A Secular Age notes poses a particular challenge to today’s secular man. Keller’s 2013 book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering directly addresses this weak point of the secular condition. Suffering is inevitable, and the secular life provides poor tools for living with it, whereas Christianity has a better answer. Suffering is one of the, as it were, pain points of modern society that can be used as leverage for gaining a hearing for the gospel even in a secular age.
Looking at contemporary America through the lens of my three worlds model provides another angle on this problem.
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