Coffee House Chapel #6

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Dan Todd, Mar 20, 2005.

  1. Dan Todd

    Dan Todd
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    March 21

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    There are two interesting words in the first phrase of our text. “World” in the Greek is literally ‘age,’ meaning this present age - in contrast to some age in the future. “Be not conformed” comes from a root word that means ‘scheme.’ The message of our text is “Do not let the age in which you live force you into its scheme of thinking and behaving.” (Boice)

    Often, it is to our benefit to look at other translations when studying a verse. Today we shall do this with the first phrase of our text:

    New Jerusalem - “Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world.”

    NIV - “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.”

    Living Bible - “Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world.”

    J. B. Phillips - “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.”

    American Standard - “And be not fashioned according to this world.”

    New American Catholic Bible - “Do not conform yourselves to this age.”

    “The idea in each of these renderings is that the world has its ways of thinking and doing things and is exerting pressure on Christians to conform to them. But instead of being conformed, Christians are to be changed from within to be increasingly like Jesus Christ.” (Boice)

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    Dr Charle Davis (Jacksonville) used to say "Faith is living without scheming."

    The age forcing us into its scheme of thinking and acting is VERY real . .

    Thanks for the good reminder.
     
  3. Dan Todd

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    March 22

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    Over the next few devotionals we will look at the following words, and see how they relate to our text: worldliness; secularism; humanism; relativism; and materialism.

    Worldliness - what is it? I grew up in a fundamental church. As a young man, I was taught that there were several things that we were not to do or participate in as Christians - dancing, smoking, card playing, drinking, chewing, going to the movies, etc. I never learned to dance - in fact I don’t even care to dance with my wife in the confines of our home. I dabbled with smoking as a teen - but have no desire as an adult to pollute my body with that “nasty” habit. The total amount of alcohol that I have consumed - if consumed in one sitting would probably not make anyone drunk. I’ve never chewed tobacco - and cannot see any redeeming value in using that product. I feel uncomfortable attending a movie theater - even if it were to see a “Billy Graham film.” I must confess to card playing. I enjoy playing euchre with members of my family - at family gatherings - but I never use cards to gamble.

    When our text speaks of “world[liness],” is it speaking specifically about the list that I just mentioned? “To think of worldliness only in those terms is to trivialize what is a far more serious and far more subtle problem.” (Boice)

    When we look at our text, we see that Paul contrasts worldliness, and being conformed to it, with being transformed - by the renewing of our minds. Our text is primarily concerned with a way of thinking - rather than behaving. “Right behavior will follow naturally if our thinking is set straight.” (Boice) The worldliness that we are to keep away from is the world’s world-view - the world’s systematic way of looking at all things. “We are to break out of the world’s way of thinking and instead let our minds be molded by the Word of God.” (Boice)

    “In our day Christians have not done this very well, and that is the reason thy they are so often ‘worldly’ in the other senses too. In fact, it is a sad commentary on our time, verified by surveys, that American Christians in general have mostly the same values and behavior patterns as the world around them.” (Boice)

    Adapted from”Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  4. Watchman

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    "worldliness; secularism; humanism; relativism; and materialism."
    IMHO Dan the latter four could be considered a part of, and part of the definition of, the first (worldliness), with, no doubt, other "ism's" that also could be said to make up worldliness.
    It is a system. A rebellious system; and the rebellion is against God. It, and it's adherants, are under the delusion that we all can get by quite nicely without God thank you. Well, the worldly ones will get their wish-for all eternity.
     
  5. Dan Todd

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    March 23

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    There is no single word that can perfectly describe worldliness, but secularism is an umbrella word that covers many of the “isms” such as humanism, relativism, pragmatism, pluralism, hedonism, and materialism. Secularism describes the “mental framework and value structure of the people of our time.” (Boice)

    Secular comes closest to what the Apostle is speaking of when he talks of “the pattern of this world.” Paul is actually telling us “Do not be conformed to this age.” Another way to understand this would be, “Do not be secularist in your worldview.”

    We believers live in this world, and we’re to be concerned about the world’s affairs. Secularism is much more than this - it is a philosophy that does not look beyond this world - it is a philosophy that operates as if this world is all that there is.

    On his television show, Cosmos, Carl Sagan was pictured standing before a spectacular view of the heavens with its many swirling galaxies, saying in a hushed, almost reverential tone of voice, “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” That is secularism as its worst. All that Sagan could see or touch - was all that was real to him. It is a tragedy that such “brilliant” men have to die before they realize that all they see and touch - and believe to be the only reality - is nothing but a small canvas picturing but a tiny part of God’s reality. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalm 19:1)

    The message of secularism is all about us. Such slogans as “You only go around once” and Pepsi’s “Now Generation” are merely the tip of the iceberg of this pervading philosophy. The sad part of all this is that most Christians do not seemed all that concerned with secularism’s invasive tendencies. I am convinced that if we keep ignoring secularism it will be to our own peril - and we shall pay for our non-concern with the spiritual lives of our children and grandchildren.

    R. C. Sproul writes, “For secularism, all life, every human value, every human activity must be understood in light of this present time....What matters is now and only now. All access to the above and the beyond is blocked. There is no exit from the confines of this present world. The secular is all that we have. We must make our decisions, live our lives, make our plans, all within the closed arena of this time – the here and now.” That my friends is the viewpoint we see all about us – each and every day.

    It is also the outlook to which Paul says we must refuse to be conformed. Instead of conforming to this world and its pagan views - we must see all things as relating to God and to eternity. Harry Blamires expresses this contrast as follows. “To think secularly is to think within a frame of reference bounded by the limits of our life on earth; it is to keep one’s calculations rooted in this-worldly criteria. To think Christianly is to accept all things with the mind as related, directly or indirectly to man’s eternal destiny as the redeemed and chosen child of God.”

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  6. Watchman

    Watchman
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    Thanks Dan.
    I thought it worthwhile to look at the definition of today's word. The online dictionary says:
    indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.
    But let's be more accurate:
    The indifference to, rejection and exclusion of God, or any consideration of Him in life and in society.
    The first thing that must be eliminated for man to have his secular utopia is the elimination of God's word from public view, from classrooms and even from churches if that is possible (and sound biblical teaching is, in fact, disapearing from the Churches.)
    There was a case some time ago where a basketball star got all of the way through his four years of college, and it was discovered that he couldn't read. Well, there are folks who get through seminary that do not know God's Word. They don't because of teachers who have rejected and excluded God from their lives, and therefore, that is what their teaching reflects.
    Hey, Hitler did say one thing that is very true:
    "Give me control of textbooks, and I'll control the world."
    Well, they are not in the control of Hitler, they are in the control of secularists.
    I'm not sure which is worse.
     
  7. Dan Todd

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    March 24

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    A proper concern for human beings is called humanitarianism. Looking at human beings, apart from God or making oneself a god is called humanism, more correctly, secular humanism, and its wrong and harmful.

    In the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar is the ultimate example of secular humanism. One day, as he was looking over his great city of Babylon, he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30) “It was a statement that everything he saw was OF him, BY him, and FOR the glory of his majesty, which is humanism.” (Boice)

    God did not tolerate Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance. He judged him with insanity, until he acknowledged that God is the true ruler of the universe, and that everything is for His glory, and He gives to men as He pleases. “And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:34-35)

    Humanism is opposed to God, and has no time for Christians. There are several documents published by the secular humanist that prove this point. From “A Humanist Manifesto (1933)” is this statement, “Traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to love and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter. Reasonable minds look to other means for survival.”

    We will continue our look at this godless philosophy, that Paul says we must not be conformed to - the next time.

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  8. Dan Todd

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    March 25

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    Two more of secular humanism’s self-incriminating statements are found in the 1973 “Humanist Manifesto II, “We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural,” and “There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body.”

    God has something important to say to these secular humanists, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1) In fact, this message is so important - God said it twice, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm 53:1)

    “Humanism leads to a deification of self and, contrary to what it professes, to an utter disregard for other people. In deifying self, humanism actually deifies nearly everything but God.” (Boice) Herbert Schlossberg, in his book, “Idols for Destruction,” shows how humanism has made a god of history, mammon, nature, power, religion, and humanity itself.

    Humanism disregards other people. The 1970s best sellers “Winning through Intimidation” and “Looking Out for Number One” attest to that fact. The philosophy of humanism is “Forget about other people; look out for yourself; you are what matters.” The “Me Decade” of the 1970s gave way to the 1980s “Golden Age of Greed.” Things have not improved in the 90s or the new millennium.

    Dr. Boice writes, “Remember, too, that this is the philosophy (some would say religion) underlying public school education. This is ironic, of course, since humanism is an irrational philosophy. How so? Because it is impossible to establish humanistic or any other values or goals without a transcendent point of reference, and it is precisely that transcendent point that is being repudiated by the humanists. Frighteningly, the irrationalism of humanism is appearing in the chaos of the schools, where students are using guns to kill other students and threaten teachers.” A 1992 ABC Prime Time Live special reported that one in five students come to school with guns and knives are ten times as prevalent. Medal detectors have become part of the landscape in many schools.

    What does the Apostle have to say about humanism? We, as Christians, are not to conform to the world’s standards - of which, humanism is but one of many. The first expression of humanism is not found in the 20th century quotes I’ve cited, nor even in the arrogant words of Nebuchadnezzar some six hundred years before Christ. The first humanist lie was the word of Satan in the Garden of Eden, when he told Eve, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  9. Watchman

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    Thanks Dan.
    It is ironic that Sunday in the Carpenter's Chapel (a cheap plug here), I come to the verse in Chapter 10 of John that refers to Psalm 82:6:
    "Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods?"
    Was the Lord Jesus advocating that people are what humanists make themselves out to be?
    As Paul might say now, "God forbid", tune in Sunday.
     
  10. Dan Todd

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    March 28

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    There are two more “isms” we need to discuss that are part of the sinful pattern of this age: relativism and materialism.

    We’ve previously stated that man becomes the focal point in secular humanism. When man is the focal point - there are no absolutes - everything becomes relative - and everything is “fair game.” In his book, “The Closing of the American Mind,” Allan Bloom writes, “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.”

    Bloom’s thesis is that education is impossible in a relative climate. People can learn all sorts of skills, such as driving a truck, operating a computer, handling financial transactions, “but real education, which means learning to sift through error to discover what is true, good, and beautiful, is impossible, because the goals of real education – truth, goodness, and beauty – do not exist.” (Boice) Relativist may admit that these goals may exist in some far-off metaphysical world, but it is impossible to find them, because it requires absolutes even to discover absolutes. With no real values – America is experiencing “a values vacuum.”

    Believers are not to be conformed with materialism. Carl Sagan’s philosophy is that the “cosmos is all there is or ever was or ever will be.” These people believe that if it isn’t material or measurable - then there is no value. The materialistic philosophy says, “Be as healthy as you can, live as long as you can, get as rich as you can.”

    The heroes and heroines of today’s youth are usually the “rich and famous.” Michael Jordan and Madonna are two examples. Madonna is a singer, an entertainer, and a sex symbol, but when she is defined by today’s youth - she is seen as “the material girl.” She represents the material things of this world, clothes, money, fame and pleasure, and this is what our young people want to be like.

    Compare that to our Savior. He was born into a poor family, was laid in a borrowed manger, He never had a home of his own nor did He have a bank account. He said of Himself, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) At His trial - He told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36) When He died - He was placed in a borrowed tomb.

    Jesus operated His life on the basis of values. If there was ever a polar opposite of Jesus Christ - it is “the material girl.” “But at the same time no one has ever affected this world for good as much as Jesus. It is into His image that we are to be transformed rather that being forced into the mold of this world’s sinful and destructive ‘isms.’” (Boice)

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  11. Dan Todd

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    March 29

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    There is an interesting but deliberate distinction between two important words in our text, conformed and transformed. “Conformity is something that happens to you outwardly. Transformation happens inwardly.” (Boice) The Greek word that our translators get “transformed” from - is the same word from which we get ‘metamorphosis.’ “It is what happens to the lowly caterpillar when it turns into a beautiful butterfly.” (Boice)

    This Greek word is found four times in the New Testament: once here, once in 2 Corinthians 3:18, and two times in the Gospels in reference to the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus. Jesus went up into the mountain with Peter, James, and John. While there - Jesus “was transfigured before them.” (Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2) In our text, Paul uses the same word to describe the transformation that takes place when our minds are renewed, so that we will not be conformed to this world, that Matthew and Mark used to “describe the transfiguration of Jesus from the form of His earthly humiliation to the radiance that Peter, James, and John were privileged to witness for a time.” (Boice)

    2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Here, Paul says, “It’s happening.” In our text, Paul says, “Let it happen.” The responsibility (but not the power to accomplish) is upon us. “How does it happen? Through the renewing of our minds; and the way our minds become renewed is by study of the life-giving and renewing Word of God. Without that study we will remain in the world’s mold, unable to think and therefore also unable to act as Christians. With that study, blessed and empowered as it will be by the Holy Spirit, we will begin to take on something of the glorious luster of the Lord Jesus Christ and become increasingly like Him.” (Boice)

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  12. Dan Todd

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    March 30

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    We live in a mindless age. Harry Blamires, a student of C. S. Lewis, wrote “The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think?” Blamires main thesis is - “There is no longer a Christian mind.” Blamires is telling us that there is no longer a distinctly Christian way of thinking. Blamires admits seeing, to some extent, a Christian ethic, and even somewhat of a Christian way of life and piety. But he saw no distinctly Christian frame of reference, no uniquely Christian worldview, with which to guide our thinking in distinction from the way the secular world around us thinks.

    Blamires wrote his book in 1963. Now, over 40 years later, this situation has not improved. In support of Blamires contention, I offer this observation, in my two years as a member of this board, I’ve seen arguments (discussions) espousing both sides of the following issues: abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex, divorce and remarriage, use of alcohol, and a host of other issues to numerous to mention. I dare say that 200 years ago, even 100 years ago, Christians would not have been taking both sides of these issues. In those days there was a distinct Christian view concerning these issues - and you could readily tell the difference between the Christian view and the world’s view. Dr. Boice writes, “Today, not only is there little or no genuine Christian thinking, there is very little thinking of any kind. The Western world (and perhaps even the world as a whole) is well on its way to becoming what I have frequently called a ‘mindless society.’”

    Dr. Boice goes on to say, “Since Christians are called to mind renewal – our text says, ‘Do not conform any longer to the patten of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ – this cultural mindlessness is a major aspect of the ‘pattern of this world’ that we are to recognize, understand, repudiate, and overcome. We are to be many things as Christians, but we are especially to be thinking people. We are to possess a ‘Christian mind.’”

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  13. Dan Todd

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    March 31

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    What is the cause of this generation’s mindlessness? Dr. Boice writes, “Western materialism, the fast pace of modern life, and philosophical skepticism, to name a few – but I believe that the chief cause is television.”

    Ted Koppel spoke at Duke University’s 1987 graduation. The Ten Commandments was one of the things Koppel used in his address. He deplored the decline of the moral tone in our country, and reminded his audience of the validity of this “religious standard.” Ted made two memorable statements, that they are Ten Commandments - not “ten suggestions,” and that they “are,” not “were” the standard. Koppel also stated that America has been “Vannatized.”

    “Vannatized” refers to Vanna White of “Wheel of Fortune” fame. For years Vanna was totally silent on the program, as she gracefully turned the letters on the board and applauded after each turn. Yet - the silent Miss White was one of the most popular of TV personalities. Why? Why would a silent letter turner be one of the most popular of TV personalities? Koppel’s answer was - that since no one really knew who she was and what she was like - she could be anything anyone wanted her to be. “Is she a feminist or every male chauvinist’s cross, non-threatening, and non-judgmental to a fault.” (Koppel)

    Koppel “was analyzing our culture. And his point is that Vanna White’s appeal is the very essence of television and that television forms our way of thinking or, to be more accurate, of not thinking.” (Boice) Many claim that TV is the great teaching tool, but it does very little in the way of positive teaching. Most lessons learned from TV are of the negative type, and not to be greatly desired. TV seldom challenges us to think deeply. It rather - in its thirty second bites - presents events and images “upon which we are invited to project our own vague feelings.”
    (Boice)

    “If all we are talking about is game shows and other forms of television entertainment, none of this would matter very much, except for the amount of time our children spend watching these banal, mind-numbing diversions rather than disciplining their minds by serious study. But if television is really conditioning us not to think, as Koppel and I maintain, then television is a serious intellectual, social, and spiritual problem.” (Boice)

    Our text tells us to “renew our minds.” The best way to accomplish that is to study the Word of God.

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  14. Watchman

    Watchman
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    Thanks Dan.
    I have been away for a couple of days and I have been reading your posts that you have made for the last few days.
    Two things in particular struck me: when you talked about this board and when you mentioned television.

    This Board:

    When I came on here I was shocked to see a creation/evolution debate forum. I thought "what in the world is there to debate here?" Is not this the Baptist Board? Are they not Christians? What part of "In the beginning God created" does someone not understand?" It told me right away that there are those that do not take God's word very seriously. All Scripture, all of it, was God breathed. When one therefore rejects any part of God's Word, they reject what God has breathed.

    Television:

    While I am not sure I will say that television is the root of all dumbing, it is definately a root.
    While some of the stuff I saw on the tube growing up was sometimes a bit silly, it was halfway acceptable. Today however, I see it as oh, 70 percent total garbage.
    One time there was a conversation with relatives about a show that is so nice to watch. Of course, I raised some eyebrows when I called it the most dangerous show on television. The show? "Touched by an Angel."
    The why of course, is Who it leaves out-totally:
    The Lord Jesus Christ. If you do not have the Son, you do not have the Father. If you do not honor the Son, you do not honor the Father.
    Then there was the fact that it did not make any difference how a person lived, or what they believed, there was good ol' Andrew ready to take the person into God's presence.
    Also the lead character is played by an actress that is an ordained minister in a "church" with horrible doctrine.
    And so, even what is supposed to be one of the best things to watch on television does not do God service.
     
  15. Dan Todd

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    April 1

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    Neil Postman’s 1985 “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” looks at the negative impact of television. Postman’s book arrived on the scene one year after the year popularized in George Orwell’s futuristic novel, “1984,” with its dark vision of a society ruled by fear. Orwell’s “Big Brother” ruled everything with an iron fist. Another novel, “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, gave us an altogether different chilly look at the future. Huxley saw no need for “Big Brother,” rather he saw a future in which technologies stripped away people’s ability to think.

    Postman writes, “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea if irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture....As Huxley remarked in ‘Brave New World Revisited,’ the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for diversions.’”

    It would appear to me that Western cultures succumbed to Huxley’s fears, just as the communist countries fell prey to Orwell’s fears.

    Postman’s book discusses the difference between the “age of typography” and the “age of show business.” Typography refers to words in print - which are usually rational and analytic. Postman writes, “To engage the written word means to follow a line of thought, which requires considerable powers of classifying, inference-making and reasoning. It means to uncover lies, confusions, and over-generalizations, to detect abuses of logic and common sense. It also means to weigh ideas, to compare and contrast assertions, to connect one generalization to another. To accomplish this, one must achieve a certain distance from the words themselves, which is, in fact, encouraged by the isolated and impersonal text. That is why a good reader does not cheer an apt sentence or pause to applaud even an inspired paragraph. Analytic thought is too busy for that, and too detached.”

    Postman illustrates the strength of the age of typography using the Lincoln-Douglas debates of the mid-eighteen hundreds. People were able to listen - understand - and form opinions about what they heard - even though the debates lasted from three to seven hours. (Pity the preacher who thinks of delivering a sermon lasting a mere hour!) During Lincoln’s time - the country was dominated by the printed word, and on oratory based on the printed word. At that time - the country could think!

    Television does not operate by rational means of communication - it uses images. The result of these images is a “mindless society.” Paul tells us that we are to renew our minds - and letting our minds be controlled by images is not the path to that renewal!

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  16. Dan Todd

    Dan Todd
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    April 4

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    In his book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business,”
    Neil Postman details three areas of bad influence as he describes mindlessness.

    One chapter in the book, entitled “Now...This,” delves into the individual news segments which last, on the average, forty-five seconds. At the conclusion of those forty-five seconds, it’s on to another forty-five second segment, or a commercial. The phrase, “now ... this” means that what you are about to hear next has no relevance to what you have just seen - or will being seeing. “Rational thought requires such connections. It depends on similarities, contradictions, deductions, and the development of probable consequences. It requires time.” (Boice) Books and other serious print media gives you these needed connections, but TV does not. The TV viewer is not given time to think or to foster thinking. TV news is nothing more than a diversion.

    Postman says that television gives us “news without consequences, without value, and therefore without essential seriousness; that is to say, news as pure entertainment.” TV news is generally mindless, and it teaches us to be mindless. In fact, “we even suppose that our ignorance is great knowledge.” (Boice)

    Friends, this should not be the case with Bible-Believing Christians. We need to be transforming our minds, and we do that by seriously studying God’s Word. We have grown so used to those forty-five second sound bits that “Headline News” is noted for, that we are satisfied with getting our “Bible fixes” in the same manner. We need to be entertained by the preacher - not fed. We need to hear the truths of God’s Word in such small sound bites - that anything that takes more than a few seconds bores us or confuses us.

    I recently listened to a message by James White, the subject was Sola Scriptura. When asked why there are so many Christian churches in the world today? White answered, “... the vast majority of the reason that there are different Christian churches today is because people will pick and choose what they will and will not believe in the Bible. That is they have their own traditions, they have their own viewpoints, and instead of testing those traditions by the Scriptures, instead of believing all that the Scripture has to say on any particular issue, they instead choose to reject parts of Scripture. They rarely come straight out and say that, but they’re picking and choosing what they will and will not believe in the Bible.” This ought not to be! I believe the chief reason this takes place is that believers do not spend the time in the Word needed to renew our minds.

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  17. Dan Todd

    Dan Todd
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    April 5

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    Postman’s second area of bad influence is politics. The chapter in “Amusing Ourselves” covering politics is “Reach Out and Elect Someone.” The late Ronald Reagan once said, “Politics is just like show business.” “But if this is so, then the object of politics on television is not to pursue excellence, clarity, or honesty, or any other generally recognized virtue, but to appear as if you are pursuing these things.” (Boice)

    Richard Nixon’s political advisers felt that he lost the 1960 election to John Kennedy because Kennedy had a better television image. After Nixon’s successful 1968 campaign, Joe McGinniss wrote “The Selling of the President 1968" which chronicled winning Nixon’s strategy. McGinniss reported that William Gavin, a chief Nixon aide, advised, “Break away from linear logic; present a barrage of impressions, of attitudes. Break off in mid-sentence and skip to something half a world away....Reason pushes the viewer back, it assaults him, it demands that he agree or disagree; impression can envelop him, invite him in, without making an intellectual demand....Get the voters to like the guy, and the battle’s two-thirds won.”

    Campaigns today are generally not won by discussing the issues. Boice writes, “...because that is a sure way to get defeated – any position on any issue, unless it is utterly meaningless, is certain to offend somebody. The way to win elections is to present a pleasant television image and to keep the candidate out of trouble for as long as possible.”

    Ronald Reagan won a decisive battle in 1980 and an even more decisive battle in 1984. Though his positions greatly differed from Jimmy Carter’s and Walter Mondale’s positions - it was Reagan’s long movie career and his mastery of television that won those elections. Reagan “projected an image of a strong decent man we could trust.” (Boice)

    1988's election pitted George H. W. Bush against Michael Dukakis. There were many important issues in which the candidates greatly differed. But the contender’s stands on the issues were not what decided the election. The election was fought and won by Bush overcoming his perceived “wimp” image with a vigorous and attaching campaign against Dukakis. Of course the media complained about this “unfair and nasty” campaign against Dukakis. “Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings were predictably self-righteous and offended. They called it the least substantial, meanest campaign in memory. But how hypocritical! It was mindless, but it was mindless precisely because that is what television demands. It demands images and not thought.” (Boice)

    We could continue analyzing more recent elections, but we would find the same types of patterns. Americans do not generally know much about the real candidate, because all they’ve seen is images, not substance. My fear is that many (perhaps I should say most) of our churches today are plagued with the same problem. We (professing Christians) are so used to images and quick sound-bites that we are offended when we hear a man of God preach the unvarnished truth of God’s Word. We want our ears tickled and our senses left unchallenged. What we need is what our text calls, “the renewing of our minds.” May God give us the spiritual spankings we need, until we begin to listen to and study His Word in great detail.

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  18. Watchman

    Watchman
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    Thanks Dan, well put.
     
  19. Dan Todd

    Dan Todd
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    April 6

    Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    Postman’s third area of bad influence is religion. The chapter in his book covering this topic is entitled, “Shuffle Off to Bethlehem.” Dr. Boice writes, “Religion is on television chiefly in an entertainment format. With the possible exception of Billy Graham, who has an international following quite apart from the television medium, and some other teaching pastors such as Charles Stanley and D. James Kennedy, the religious television stars are mostly entertainers. Pat Robertson is a master of ceremonies along the lines of Merv Griffin. Jimmy Swaggart is a piano player and singer as well as having been a vivacious and entertaining speaker. Even televised church services, like those of Jerry Falwell and Robert Schuller, contain their requisite musical numbers and pop testimonies, just like variety shows on secular television. The proper name for them is vaudeville.”

    It is extremely difficult to make religion (worship) real on television. Most of the time – God is missing. Postman writes, “Everything that makes religion an historic, profound and sacred human activity is stripped away; there is no ritual, no dogma, no tradition, no theology, and above all, no sense of spiritual transcendence. On these shows, the preacher is tops. God comes out as second banana....CBS knows that Walter Cronkite plays better on television than the Milky Way. And Jimmy Swaggart plays better than God. For God exists only in our minds, whereas Swaggart is there, to be seen, admired, adored. Which is why he is the star of the show....If I am not mistaken, the word for this is blasphemy.”

    Someone may be asking, “What harm is done as long as genuine religion is still to be found in church on Sundays?” Dr. Boice answers, “I would argue that so pervasive and normalizing is the impact of television that pressures have inevitably come to make church services as irrelevant and entertaining as the tube. In the vast majority of church services today there are virtually no pastoral prayers, while there is much brainless music, chummy chatter, and abbreviated sermons. Preachers are told to be personable, to relate funny stories, to smile, and above all to stay away from topics that might cause people to become unhappy with the church and leave it. They are to preach to felt needs, not necessarily real needs. This generally means telling people only what they want to hear.”

    I must echo what I have said in the last two devotions! Friends, this ought not to be. We believers are to be renewing our minds as the text tells us. London’s John Stott wrote a book entitled “Your Mind Matters.” In the book, Stott tells of six spheres of Christian living, and argues that each sphere is impossible without a “proper and energetic” use of our minds. The six spheres are: Christian worship, Christian faith, Christian holiness, Christian guidance, Christian evangelism, and Christian ministry.

    Stott argues that “anti-intellectualism...is...part of the fashion of the world and therefore a form of worldliness. To denigrate the mind is to undermine foundational Christian doctrines.” Stott asks, “Has God created us rational beings, and shall we deny our humanity which He has given us? Has God spoken to us, and shall we not listen to His words? Has God renewed our minds through Christ, and shall we not think with it? Is God going to judge us by His Word, and shall we not be wise and build our house upon this Rock?”

    Friends - think on these things!

    Adapted from “Romans” by Boice.

    In Christ,
    Dan Todd
     
  20. Watchman

    Watchman
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    "He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48)
    Revelation 20:12 tells us that at the Great White Throne judgement that books will be opened, and I feel quite positive that one of those Books will be the written record that God has given to us -
    the Bible.
    One can almost rest assured that the same Bible will be opened also at the Judgement seat of Christ for those that are His.
    Whether saved or lost, it shall matter none what the late night talk show host, the news anchor, or a television or movie star has said, what will matter is what God has said to us.
    Those that are the Good Shepherd's sheep will not follow another, but can the sheep sometimes either ignor His voice, or, conveniently, forget what He has said?
     

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