ADVERTISING
 
Friday, December 6   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Jonathan Tame
 

Two public leadership issues for 2018

Decisions are increasingly influenced by the fleeting diktat of popular opinion

JUBILEE CENTRE AUTHOR Jonathan Tame 08 JANUARY 2018 18:30 h GMT+1
Social media shapes our decision-making. / J. Ufkes (Unsplash, CC)

At the Jubilee Centre, we are constantly engaged in working out what it means to think biblically about public life today. It is good to be wise to the trends which are shaping public life, and as I look ahead to 2018, two dilemmas around public leadership concern me.



The first is the contrast between what is popular and what is right. Populism has been on the rise in Europe and the US for a few years, baffling pundits and contributing to ‘surprise’ election results. But populism doesn’t only apply to politics. Social media, often considered to be a more democratic and participatory kind of media, and measured through ‘likes’, is being given more and more weight in all kinds of decision-making. Surveys and polls proliferate, offering a quasiobjective sounding of the public mood.



Yet we know that internet likes are easily manipulated, ‘fake news’ abounds and the online public is notoriously fickle. Somehow we have ended up in the thrall of social media, and decisions are increasingly influenced by the fleeting diktat of popular opinion. It’s never been easier to know what’s popular, never been harder to know what’s right.



But who is to say what ‘right’ is? The biblical narrative provides a rich moral and ethical framework of what constitutes right and wrong, both for individuals and society. It also explains why people sometimes make choices – even ‘popular’ ones – that are not good for them or society. Yet in a culture ruled by individualism, there is no foundation for leaders to critique popular opinion, since we lack an agreed higher authority to appeal to.



So our challenge is to keep finding ways of expressing biblical wisdom to a secular, liberal society that doesn’t accept divine authority. This is why we find Relational Thinking so valuable in Jubilee Centre, since the framework and language of relationships is both true to biblical revelation, and also makes sense to ordinary people.



The other issue I’m concerned about is the way we regard the past behaviour of individuals, both public-facing and private. Over the last few months, a flood of accusations of sexual harassment have been made against celebrities and public figures, often going back decades. The internet has the power to amplify such allegations at a phenomenal speed and scale, with the result that people can become instantly toxic to their colleagues, businesses and organisations.



Positively, the #metoo hashtag has given courage to a huge number of women to speak up about ways they felt used. However, there is a downside to ‘Trial by Twitter’. It can quickly discard the hard-won human right to be considered innocent until proven guilty and encourage a vigilante culture, where the accused may face instant real-world repercussions.



Nonetheless, I find myself more deeply troubled by the way that these cases demonstrate how the idea of repentance is being steadily removed from our cultural vocabulary. The assumption is that people’s beliefs and values don’t fundamentally change. If you made a deeply offensive comment on Facebook as a teenager, it’s assumed you still have the same basic attitudes a decade later. You may apologise when you’re exposed, but the lack of a narrative of repentance – and a mechanism to wipe the online slate clean – means that you are defined by your past and tarnished for life.



Of course, criminal offences must always be brought to justice, but we must extend grace and give all people room to change their minds and hearts, renouncing character flaws, immature attitudes and foolish behaviour. For without repentance, there can be no gospel, nor any hope of enduring change and transformation.



Jonathan Tame, Director of the Jubilee Centre (Cambridge, UK).



This article first appeared on the Jubilee Centre website and was republished with permission.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Two public leadership issues for 2018
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Min19: Childhood, family and the church Min19: Childhood, family and the church

The first evangelical congress on childhood and family was held in Madrid. Pictures of the event, November 1-2.

 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference

Images of the fifth EFN gathering. Experts, activists, counsellors and church leaders met in Pescara, Italy.

 
VIDEO Video
 
World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly highlights World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly highlights

The World Evangelical Alliance's General Assembly 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia, brought together 800 evangelicals from 92 countries to pray, worship and cast vision for the new decade of holistic discipleship.

 
What defines a godly leader? What defines a godly leader?

Adrian Reynolds, Associate National Director for the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC), explains how a godly leader should be.

 
Kanye West sings to Jesus with inmates Kanye West sings to Jesus with inmates

The hip-hop artist and his gospel choir performed ‘Jesus Is King’ songs in a Houston prison. Images of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

 
How can we encourage believers to serve Jesus with us? How can we encourage believers to serve Jesus with us?

“It is not just pastors who do ministry. When the saints are doing the ministry too, the Body of Christ is build up and grows towards maturity in the faith”, says Greg Ogden, Chairman Global Discipleship Initiative.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.