TV: To watch or not to watch

I came across this blog entry by Andy Naselli which is a lengthy compilation of John Piper quotes explaining why he (Piper) doesn’t watch TV and why Christians might want to consider following his lead.

Let me make two points:

1) Though this is the second time I’ve quoted John Piper recently, I am by no means a Piper disciple.

2) Though these quotes are great food for thought.  I’m keeping my TV, but I will confess that God has most certainly been displeased with the hours of my life that have been wasted in front of the idiot box.  I watch less now than ever before!

Read the whole entry for more challenging thoughts.  Here is a sampling.

First quote from, John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 120:

Television, the Great Life-Waster

Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you’re watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels. . . .

Second quote from, John Piper, Grow in Grace and in the Knowledge of Our Lord,” June 20, 1982:

I know that in my preaching I am addressing a visually oriented and TV influenced people. I know that 98% of you have televisions, and in 1971 the average adult in America watched 23 hours a week. I believe John Stott is right in his new book on preaching when he says that lengthy exposure to television tends to produce physical laziness, intellectual flabbiness, emotional exhaustion, psychological confusion, and moral disorientation. What this means for us preachers (especially me) is that we must improve our ability to communicate effectively and hold attention with no antics, no stringed orchestras, no violence, and no sex. But it does not mean that we can abandon our calling to preach the whole counsel of God. And therefore it should be expected that preaching will sometimes be the most demanding thing you hear all week. I can’t see how it would be otherwise, unless I make easy what the apostles couldn’t.

Finally from, John Piper, Pierced by the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2003), 77–79:

You Have One Precious Life: Is TV Too Big a Part of It?

IF ALL OTHER VARIABLES ARE EQUAL, YOUR CAPACITY TO know God deeply will probably diminish in direct proportion to how much television you watch. There are several reasons for this. One is that television reflects American culture at its most trivial. And a steady diet of triviality shrinks the soul. You get used to it. It starts to seem normal. Silly becomes funny. And funny becomes pleasing. And pleasing becomes soul-satisfaction. And in the end the soul that is made for God has shrunk to fit snugly around triteness.

Now there is some real food for thought.   I particularly like the second quote as it relates to preaching.    When he says,

that we must improve our ability to communicate effectively and hold attention with no antics, no stringed orchestras, no violence, and no sex. But it does not mean that we can abandon our calling to preach the whole counsel of God. And therefore it should be expected that preaching will sometimes be the most demanding thing you hear all week. I can’t see how it would be otherwise, unless I make easy what the apostles couldn’t.

I feel that!   There is a pressure on the preacher to accommodate the delivery of the message to what the average listener can tolerate based upon his cultural conditioned mind.  There is no excuse for my preaching to be boring, dry, or dispassionate, but neither should I strive to entertain or shock, just to keep people happy.

Many topics and many passages of God’s Word are weighty and complex and can not be explained and applied in a brief and simple manner.  The preacher has several options:  1) he may avoid the difficult passages and hard topics, 2) he may gloss over them without really showing and proving his conclusions from Scripture, or 3) he may risk appearing dry or even boring,  and he may risk “going overtime” but attempt to teach and explain the text of God’s Word as it has been Divinely inspired and given to us.

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