Dr. Pepper, Evolution, and Engaging with Culture

Let’s say you’re on Facebook one idle evening, and you come across someone who has “shared” Dr. Pepper’s Facebook page, so you click on the link and check it out. When you get there, this is what you see:

Dr. Pepper/Facebook

Upon seeing and digesting the ad, do you…
1) Chuckle a bit to yourself at the cleverness of the ad?

2) Find yourself suddenly craving a Dr. Pepper and drive to the nearest 7-Eleven?

3) Immediately (and very smart-like) identify the underlying anti-God agenda within the advertisement and vow never to drink another Dr. Pepper again, thereby vanquishing once and for all the foe of evolutionary thought and those who believe evolution ought to be regarded as fact?

Several Facebook users opted for number three and left comments about the ad indicating so. These comments reveal a very disturbing trend of Christians responding to ideas that contradict a biblical worldview with unjustified anger, offensive one-liners, and sometimes even hate. Rather than engage with these ideas that are in the “marketplace of ideas” and therefore inevitable for us to encounter, many followers of Jesus instead opt to respond in varying degrees of unhelpfulness, from ridicule (if you were smart, you’d love Jesus!) to boycott (you’ll cry when you go out of business because you didn’t love Jesus!) to lawsuits (I’ll pretend to be persecuted by you, when really I’m just angry!).

The Dr. Pepper example is tragic because 1) Commenters who vowed to boycott Dr. Pepper immediately shut down any possible chance at conversation and gave those who think Christians are clowns just one more reason not to give Jesus a second look, and 2) The nature of many of the comments are just plain sinful, because of their antagonism and lack of love.

Instead, followers of Jesus need to learn how to lovingly and intelligently engage culture and foster conversation. There are plenty of people who would be interested in having a lengthy discussion about Intelligent Design and its implications on scientific thought if we would perhaps stop arguing with people on blogs and social networking sites like Facebook and be simply be willing to present our ideas and listen to others’ ideas. There is a time to stand together with righteous indignation when there are people who are being hurt, taken advantage of, or murdered. A Dr. Pepper ad with a funny take on evolution is not one of those times. We would do well to learn how to have kingdom-minded, God-honoring conversations with people about issues which–if resolved–might allow them to take another look at Jesus.

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