Whole Reality is my personal exploration of ways to understand and present the Gospel by using ideas from today’s increasingly secular world. It seems the success of science and technology have blinded many people to the reality of spiritual truths. Modern advances have made great strides in explaining the natural world and providing physical comforts, and as a result, there is powerful perspective of Godlessness in the midst of a culture that used to be mostly Christian. Jesus said we would take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, but now the ends of the earth have come to us.
The result looks like a post-Christian darkness that needs new witnesses to speak in that language.
Seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Whole Reality intends to present spiritual concepts through essays and interesting metaphors that draw from the very technology-driven worldview in which people are immersed, sort of like modern parables. The starting point uses a different type of photography, virtual reality photography, as a way to explore the need to deliberately open one’s eyes, both physically and spiritually. While exploring this, experience has already shown how God will use it to open even hardened hearts, and VR photography is just the first of many possibilities. Working as one with a variety of believers to bring many such parables together is a ministry dream that will unfold as God leads and provides.
Until then, Whole Reality is a means to seek the Spirit’s wisdom and guidance, put the leading into practice, and share the opportunity with other believers.
In more detail, it’s as if darkness is growing as the success of science and technology is growing, despite the church’s best efforts. Clearly, something is wrong.
In the West, this especially means moving away from Christianity. To me, the world today is post-Christian because many people have heard of the faith, and may even think they understand it, but they don’t like what they hear. It’s as if they have heard something other than the Gospel, or heard the Gospel in a way that doesn’t speak to their heart. To them, Christianity has come and gone, so they are no longer interested in hearing about it. If we are to speak truth into this world, we may need to use approaches that are far from standard Christian contexts and ideas. In that sense, we act as if we are far from the church, at the ends of the Earth. We learn to speak of spiritual matters in ways that are not obviously Christian at first, even though they eventually lead to the cross.
So the first part is to understand how working at the ends of the earth requires one to speak truth without bringing well-known Christian religion and culture to mind.
Speaking with people outside Christian context also requires listening to and understanding their perspectives, and learning to speak in their terms. The Holy Spirit enabled people to speak in others’ languages at Pentecost, then continued to lead believers to be all things to all people so that some might be saved. This must be more than just contextualization, for to speak to people’s hearts requires discernment of their heart’s true needs, which only the Spirit can provide. Once again, we need Him to help us speak in their terms, in ways compatible with growing technological successes, while remaining focused on the Gospel. Whole Reality is an exploration of this path, a venue for the Spirit to work out a way of doing this.
In other words, just speaking the Gospel in new ways is probably not enough — we need to seek Spirit-led ways that echo the languages of the lost.
Truths in Scripture were frequently taught using symbols, such as using a physical object to represent a spiritual concept. Horns represented kingdoms, water represented the Spirit, bread represented eternal life, vines represented intimate relationship, etc. These used a familiar natural object to represent unfamiliar spiritual concepts. In today’s technology-saturated world, the possibilities for doing this seem more diverse than ever before, which means there are many ways for the Spirit to speak to people’s hearts.
In fact, imagine a collection of interactive symbols that is compelling enough to draw people and engage them in thoughtful consideration and conversation, without being explicitly Christian. Almost art, almost science exhibits, they could be used to speak to both secular and Christian audiences. If they were collected together in a venue that attracted inquisitive people, they could be led to consider spiritual things in new ways. This would reach right into spaces filled with skeptics, and open doors that are closed to standard evangelism.
So, using symbols is a way for the Spirit to speak to those at the ends of the earth, without using conventional Christian terms that people have already heard, and Whole Reality is a path for allowing this dream to grow as God leads and provides.
Many types of symbolism can be created, some physical and some abstract, but one that the Lord has specifically highlighted for me is photography. Images are always important, and people are taking and sharing pictures more than ever before. One type that stands out in the vast flow of images, and works especially well as a symbol of spiritual openness, is virtual reality photography (or VR photography). Like Google Street View, this type of picture shows a sphere, so the viewer can look around. It allows the viewer to see beyond the frame, and so clearly illustrates the possibility of seeing more, of looking around and being sensitive to the spiritual in addition to the physical.
In other words, VR photography is a Spirit-led way to illustrate spiritual principles in ways that fit today’s technology-focused culture, without relying on well-known Christian terms.
Unlike standard pictures, viewing VR photos involves some sort of interactive display, so they are usually presented on the internet. Therefore, Whole Reality naturally involves a web site. Rather than being just another example of VR photography, Whole Reality is about exploring and learning, instead of showing off something finished. It invites viewers into a journey of discovery, thus appealing to those interested in always hearing something new. A related blog includes both technical topics and the artistic aspect of exploring spirituality, using suggestive metaphors to engage those seeking their own unknown god.
Thus, Whole Reality Photography is a site for chronicling my journey to learn VR photography, and to use it to explore spiritual matters. “Learning to see” means learning to see both visually and spiritually, in a way that will speak to today’s technical, post-Christian culture, far from church.
The goal is to find new ways to introduce Christ to people in the modern post-Christian context. However, addressing this culture does not seem to be a common evangelistic focus, especially using the secular world view itself (ie, speaking in their language). Thus, there’s a lot to be learned about the spiritual concepts behind this path, and insights learned while seeking the Lord are also worth sharing. In addition, VR photography is certainly not the only possibility, and part of the seeking involves understanding the Lord’s will for other spiritual expressions. Through His leading, a vision has grown of such expressions collected together as a sort of spiritual gallery, and developing this vision is another way to expand beyond my own focus.
Therefore, there are two blogs — one for Christians, to understand and share these principles, and the other for nonbelievers, to present photography and use it as a means for exploring the spiritual.
In summary, starting with the special darkness of today’s world, there is a unique way of proclaiming light using metaphors and apologetics. Drawing from Biblical models and years of seeking, Whole Reality uses my personal exploration of photography as a metaphor to explore spiritual topics, and proclaim light into this darkness.