Do Christians run the risk of blindly following the popular teachings of the day? With this question I am not pointing to the teachings of the world but rather, the teachings of the church. Has it become popular to follow, en-mass, the “christian” bestsellers and celebrities of the day?
There is a great danger in our media-saturated world. Many in our generation grew up on television and radio. How many hours were spent watching TV or listening to top 40 radio? I expect the answer would be countless. How many hours were spent with God in prayer and studying his word? I believe this answer would be much less. I suspect that how our time was spent had a great influence on our thinking. We are conditioned to follow.
Do you remember the movie E.T.? It was groundbreaking in many ways. This is the movie where product placement caught everyone’s attention. In 1998, BusinessWeek featured a Product Placement Hall Of Fame that included the Reeses Pieces in E.T. (sales shot up by 65% after these candies appeared in the movie itself). Ever since then, the role of product placement in all kinds of mass media has become so important that companies pay large sums of money to ensure that their product gets in.
What does this have to do with Christians? In case you haven’t noticed it, niche marketing is hot, and niche marketing to Christians is very hot. A market that used to be made up of small, locally-owned Christian bookstores, is now dominated by big business. In fact, there are very few Christian publishing houses any more. The largest Bible publisher, Zondervan, is owned by HarperMorrow, which is owned by News Corporation. If you are not familiar with News Corporation, it is a multinational media giant that includes 20th Century Fox, Fox Broadcasting Company and DIRECTV.
We are warned by God.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. — 2 Peter 2:1-3 (KJV)
The phrase, make merchandise of you, is one that we must especially heed today. Many wares that the modern “christian” marketeer pitches has been designed to sell through deception. It looks good at first glance. There are Bible verses in the book or song. It may be only a sprinkling, with much of it being taken out of context. Perhaps the author picks the perfect verse from a myriad of versions in order to express just what he wants to say. The marketing of these products is effective and dangerous.
I remember noticing in a local Christian bookstore, a “christian” version of the Goosebumps series. These are horror stories written for children and this store had a line of books that looked remarkably similar. The same thing happens with music. Much of modern “christian” music is indistinguishable from secular music. Do you think there might be deception at work here?
A large portion of what is marketed to Christians today does not contain sound doctrine. It is not grounded on the truth of God’s word. Rather, it caters to psychological or emotional needs. It is designed to make you feel better. It will lead you in the wrong way.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. — 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (KJV)
Are there some good books and music? Yes, there are some. Be cautious and prove everything!
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. — Acts 17:11 (KJV)
Do you take what was taught you and search the scriptures to see if it is true? Do you do this with the music you listen to, or the books you read? Do you question the teaching to make sure it is solid? How could the Bereans do it so well as to be commended. Can we not do that too? Yes we can do it! God’s word is plain for our understanding and the Holy Spirit is there to teach us its meaning.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. — 1 Corinthians 2:12 (KJV)
God has not left us without a Helper to discern the meaning of scripture and the times that we live in. Oh, that we would walk with God and prove every teacher. Search the scriptures daily and test it for truth, whether it is from a book, in music, or taught from the pulpit.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. — Matthew 7:15 (KJV)
God bless, Mike