Truth vs. Technique -- By: John F. Macarthur, Jr.
RAR 3:4 (Fall 1994) p. 17
Truth vs. Technique
Toward the end of the nineteenth century ... the Age of Exposition began to pass, and the early signs of its replacement could be discerned. Its replacement was to be the Age of Show Business. 1
In this Age of Show Business, truth is irrelevant; what really matters is whether we are entertained. Substance hardly matters; style is everything. In the words of Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message. Unfortunately, that kind of thinking rules the church as surely as it does the world.
A.W. Tozer wrote these words in 1955:
For centuries the church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was—a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability. For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers. So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate “producers” peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it. 2
By today’s standards, the issues that so inflamed Tozer’s passions seem trifling. For example, churches were attracting people to Sunday evening services by showing Christian films. Young people’s rallies featured up-tempo music and speakers whose specially was humor. High energy games
RAR 3:4 (Fall 1994) p. 18
and activities were beginning to play a key role in church youth work. Looking back, it may seem difficult to understand Tozer’s distress. Hardly anyone these days would be shocked or concerned about any of the methods that seemed radically innovative in the 1950s. Most of them are generally regarded as conventional today.
Tozer, however, was not condemning games, music styles, or movies per se. He was concerned with the ministry philosophy underlying what was happening in the church. He was sounding an alarm about a deadly change of focus. He saw evangelicals using entertainment...
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