Sunday, June 28, 2015

True or False with A.W. Tozer

It's time for another round of TRUE OR FALSE featuring the quotes of A.W. Tozer. Two things you should know.

First, all of the quotes are about entertainment and society.

Second, all of the quotes originally date from 1950 to 1955.

So the original audience is several decades past, but, are the quotes still relevant or perhaps more relevant than ever? Does he go too far in his condemnation? Is there any truth in what he says? And what can we take away from his words of warning, if anything?

1) True or False:
A German philosopher many years ago said something to the effect that the more a man has in his own heart the less he will require from the outside; excessive need for support from without is proof of the bankruptcy of the inner man. If this is true (and I believe it is), then the present inordinate attachment is evidence that the inner life of modern man is in serious decline. The average man has no central core of moral assurance, no spring within his own breast, no inner strength to place him above the need for repeated psychological shots to give him the courage to go on living. He has become a parasite on the world, drawing his life from his environment, unable to live a day apart from the stimulation which society affords him.
2) True or False:
For there are millions who cannot live without amusement; life without some form of entertainment for them is simply intolerable; they look forward to the blessed relief afforded by professional entertainers and other forms of psychological narcotics as a dope addict looks to his daily shot of heroin. Without them they could not summon the courage to face existence.
3) True or False:
The all-out devotion to entertainment as a major activity for which and by which men live is definitely something else again. The abuse of a harmless thing is the essence of sin. The growth of the amusement phase of human life to such fantastic proportions is a portent, a threat to the souls of modern man. It has been built into a multimillion dollar racket with greater power over human minds and human character than any other educational influence on earth.
4) True or False:
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 gotten 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.  
 5) True or False:
"Gospel" boogie singing now furnishes for many persons the only religious joy they know. Others wipe their eyes tenderly over "gospel" movies, and a countless number of amusements flourish everywhere, paid for by the consecrated tithes of persons who ought to know better. For multitudes of professed Christians today the Holy Spirit is not a necessity. They have learned to cheer their hearts and warm their hands at other fires. And scores of publishers and various grades of "producers" are waxing fat on their delinquency.
These quotes come from several chapters within The Root of the Righteous. Can you see why some of these caught my attention?! Was Tozer being too harsh? Were his observations true then? Are his observations true now? Tozer makes very little--if any--distinction between worldly entertainment and Christian entertainment. He condemns both as dangerous--if consumed recklessly, thoughtlessly. And he seems even more angry at the idea of Christian entertainment. I have no clue as to what "Christian entertainment" was in the 1950s. So I'm not sure if his statements were fair then or not. But is there any truth in his assessment that we can use to evaluate Christian entertainment now?

I invite your comments and insight!

I'll work my way backwards. Tozer was concerned--if concerned is the right word--that the Holy Spirit was being replaced by Christian entertainment. That Christians were getting worked up--"moved" emotionally--not by the Spirit but by the entertaining music. That the joy of the Spirit was being replaced by the emotional joy or thrill of a song. Is there some truth in this? I don't want there to be any truth in this honestly. But is there some danger present? Could worship in churches be leaning more towards entertainment than actual worship? If there is some truth in this--is it the music's fault? Or is more a matter of people misusing it? Consider also Christian music in general--outside the church. Is your only "dose" of God for the day coming from Christian music? Is Christian music the only place you're getting "fed" truth and theology? I could see how if it's your only source, that could be problematic, in need of correction. But should the misuse of it by some lead to general condemnation of all? I say no. But I think discernment is important. Also balance.

It is easier for me to be in agreement with the fourth statement: Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. I do think that in some cases entertainment and the need to "bring them in" and "keep them in" outweighs the need to consistently, accurately proclaim the whole truth of God. Not every single church in every single denomination, of course. But I do agree the focus should be on God--and his glory--and not on entertainment and pleasing ourselves.

The third statement I think definitely has some truth--as painful as it is. No one particularly wants to admit that "the abuse of a harmless thing is the essence of sin." But how we spend our time does effect us: spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally. God is with us. Always. That is a blessed privilege. Are we wasting our time and filling it with things that can never satisfy us? Tozer also wrote: "Some things may be neglected with but little loss to the spiritual life, but to neglect communion with God is to hurt ourselves where we cannot afford it. God will respond to our efforts to know Him. The Bible tells us how; it is altogether a matter of how much determination we bring to the holy task."

The first and second statements are harsh in tone. But harsh or not, is there a bit of truth there? How dependent are we on entertainment? on technology? on social media?  on having something to entertain and amuse us all the time? something to fill all our moments? Do we want to avoid being alone with our thoughts? Do we avoid the serious and the real and always seek escape? How can we focus on the serious things of God if we are always trapped in the trivial moments?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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