Ancient baptismal formulas required the candidate for baptism to verbally renounce the ways of the world and embrace the ways of Christ right before he or she went under the water. In order to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, one needs to say ‘no’ to other things. There are some things that cannot go with you into your new life. You must leave them behind. You must renounce them.

This is how Josh Ross sets up his third core principle for navigating an election season without losing our witness. The book is Coreology.

#3 – I will resist allowing any media outlet to become the primary way I think about culture and the world.

Josh warns Christians against allowing cable news and social media to be our only source of information about what’s happening in the world and certainly against watching it and/or listening to it multiple hours every day. He calls for resistance and restraint because our phones and our streaming news channels are intentionally dividing us and forming us into individualistic humans.

Mainly, they succeed by shaping us to think and react in binary ways. According to social media and most cable news, you are either a Republican or a Democrat, you are either a liberal or a conservative. There are only two possibilities, only two boxes. This is how our culture operates now. You know it. You feel it. On every topic that comes down the pike, you have to immediately make clear decisions and take firm positions and then dig in. And if you’re not in my box, there’s only one other box for you to be in. You’re the opponent. You’re the enemy. When Christians are thinking that way–when churches are thinking and behaving that way–we are less likely to love others, less inclined to serve others, less able to evangelize.

In this chapter of his book, Josh gives us three reasons to resist the transformative power of digital media.

One, these outlets mainly rely on fear as a weapon to motivate.

“Fear is profitable. Fear is fuel. Fear motivates. Fear gets people to buy security. Fear unites people around a cause. Fear creates common enemies. Fear isolates. Fear creates unnecessary forms of anxiety. Fear strangles joy. Fear does not bring about hope in God or hope for the world. Fear does not bring about a deeper love for God, for God’s mission, or for God’s world.”

Fear-based messaging has been proven to be almost twice as effective as any other type of messaging. As children of God and followers of Christ Jesus, we must guard against being motivated by fear, which is the opposite of faith.

Secondly, Josh claims that the truth in our culture and in our world is really hard to find. And we are increasingly more susceptible to believing fake news because of the urgent and hurried nature of our constantly streaming digital media. According to MIT cognitive scientist David Rand has conducted research that shows, on average, people are inclined to believe false news at least 20% of the time. But when people resist making snap judgments, they are harder to fool. You just have to stop and think. The real problem is that the platforms today demand high speed decisions. So we don’t pause to think. We’ll repost and share and forward information without even clicking on the link.

Thirdly, projection impacts engagement. When we project upon people a certain stereotype or ideology, we hinder our willingness and desire to meet people where they are. When you see a car with a Trump or Biden sticker on the back, what do you think? What’s going through your head? And your heart? If you pull into the same restaurant, are you likely to speak to that person? Or have you already made up your mind about them?

“For Jesus-followers, our beginning place must be that all people are created in the image of God and are worthy of redemption and community. No matter what bumper stickers or t-shirts they display, all people are redeemable. They are not our enemies. Therefore, we approach them as image-bearers of God, not as enemies of the cross. We don’t allow other humans or human news sources to generate the narratives for us. Jesus Christ is our narrative.”

Say ‘no’ to the other voices so we can always say ‘yes’ to our Lord Jesus. And to all the people he loves.