Image: A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)
This past week I’ve had a couple of people ask me what I think about the new History Channel mini-series “The Bible,” which opened earlier this week to huge ratings. Though I had not heard of the series till this week there has apparently been an active marketing campaign for the series, especially aimed at evangelical Christians. Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California, for example, hosted a 90 minute preview of the series the day before it opened. This raises the whole issue of whether “Christian” film is an appropriate method for either evangelism or edification.
With that thought in mind I also ran across an article this week written by CMA pastor A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) titled The Menace of the Religious Movie. The title indicates Tozer’s final evaluation. In the introduction, Tozer observes:
The temptation to introduce "new" things into the work of God has always been too strong for some people to resist. The Church has suffered untold injury at the hands of well intentioned but misguided persons who have felt that they know more about running God's work than Christ and His apostles did. A solid train of box cars would not suffice to haul away the religious rubbish which has been brought into the service of the Church with the hope of improving on the original pattern. These things have been, one and all, positive hindrances to the progress of the Truth, and have so altered the divinely-planned structure that the apostles, were they to return to earth today, would scarcely recognize the misshapen thing which has resulted.
He later adds:
We of the evangelical faith are in the rather awkward position of criticizing Roman Catholicism for its weight of unscriptural impedimenta and at the same time tolerating in our own churches a world of religious fribble as bad as holy water or the elevated host. Heresy of method may be as deadly as heresy of message. Old-line Protestantism has long ago been smothered to death by extra-scriptural rubbish. Unless we of the gospel churches wake up soon we shall most surely die by the same means.
If you want to read or listen to Tozer’s entire article, you can find it in several places online (here is one place where you can read it and one place where you can hear it read).
May we not deviate from the revealed means that God has given for converting sinners and edifying saints: the preaching of his Word (1 Corinthians 1:21).
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
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