biblical and historical Christianity, and which, if accepted by the reader, leads to certainimplications about ways of using and thinking about communication.
What Is Communication
?The dictionary tells us that communication is: first, the act of transmitting; second, facts or information transmitted; third, written information, conversation, or talk; fourth, access between persons or places; or fifth, interchange of thoughts or opinions.
The problem with all of these definitions is that they place communication in a third-party role, asif it were something that occurs between two people or things. None gives sufficient emphasis tocommunication as a relationship which involves persons and things, a relationship of which we areall an integral part. Trying to understand communication without these relationships is like tryingto understand a human being through an autopsy -- the life is missing.I find more useful the following definition: communication is the process in which relationshipsare established, maintained, modified, or terminated through the increase or reduction of meaning.This allows us to examine the process of communication in a way which includes the "relateds"and how they are always affected as objects which become subjects, affecting and being affected,as well as the changes in meaning and in messages which become filled or voided of meaning asthe process, and those related to it, constantly change.Another problem is that communication is so integral to what we mean by "human," and even towhat we mean by "existence," that it is easy to use the term universally to include almosteverything, and so to render the term meaningless. Arguments have been put forward thatcommunication is education,
that it is incarnation,
While each of these connections contain helpful insights, and while in a sense communication is aconstituent of everything, sometimes a more arbitrary and limited definition must be employed if the word is to be of practical value.We need to explore both aspects of communication -- its role as a part of everything, of all of being, and also how it functions in everyday life. The challenge at this point is a little like trying tounderstand water. Water is essential to all living things, and we need to understand that. But wealso need a theory of hydrodynamics, which tells us how water works. We need both.Therefore, we shall examine, first, how communication is essential to being (its ontologicalaspects); second, how communication functions in society (its ethical aspects); and finally, howcommunication works among practicing Christians today (its confessional, pastoral aspects).
Communication and Being
Websters New International Dictionary (Springfield: Merriam, 1963), p. 460
Philip H. Phenix, Intelligible Religion (New York: Harper, 1954).
Dulles, "The Church and the Media."
Knud Jorgensen, "God's Incarnation: the Centre of Communication," Media Development 27 (1981): 27-30.
Johannes Heinrichs, "Theory of Practical Communication: A Christian Approach," Media Development27 (1981): 3-9.