The Great God Entertainment
by A. W. Tozer
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 to every form of entertainment 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.
Schleiermacher held that the feeling of
dependence lies at the root of all religious worship, and that however high the
spiritual life might rise, it must always begin with a deep sense of a great
need which only God could satisfy.
If this sense of need and a feeling of
dependence are at the root of natural religion, it is not hard to see why the
great god Entertainment is so ardently worshiped by so many. 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 courage to face existence.
No one with common human feeling will object
to the simple pleasures of life, nor to such harmless forms of entertainment as
may help to relax the nerves and refresh the mind exhausted by toil. Such
things, if used with discretion, may be a blessing along the way. That is one
thing, however, 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 men. 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.
And the ominous thing is that its power is
almost exclusively evil, rotting the inner life, crowding out the long eternal
thoughts which would fill the souls of men, if they were but worthy to
entertain them. The whole thing has grown into a veritable religion which holds
its devotees with a strange fascination; and a religion, incidentally, against
which it is now dangerous to speak. 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
given 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.
Many churches these days have become little
more than poor theaters where fifth-rate "producers" peddle their shoddy wares
with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in
defense of their delinquency. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it.
The great god Entertainment amuses his
devotees mainly by telling them stories. The love of stories, which is a
characteristic of childhood, has taken fast hold of the minds of the retarded
saints of our day, so much so that not a few persons manage to make a
comfortable living by spinning yarns and serving them up in various disguises
to church people.
What is natural and beautiful in a child may
be shocking when it persists into adulthood, and more so when it appears in the
sanctuary and seeks to pass for true religion. Is it not a strange thing and a
wonder that, with the shadow of atomic destruction hanging over the world and
with the coming of Christ drawing near, the professed followers of the Lord
should be giving themselves up to religious amusements? That in an hour when
mature saints are so desperately needed vast numbers of believers should revert
to spiritual childhood and clamor for religious toys?
"Remember, 0 Lord, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach. . .
The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned ! For this
our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim" AMEN. AMEN.
Root of the Righteous,
Harrisburg, PA:Christian Publications, 1955, p. 32-33
Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats
by C. H. Spurgeon
An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord,
so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice
it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for
evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has
seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their
mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.
From speaking out as the Puritans did, the
church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the
frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has
adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.
My first contention is that providing
amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function
of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it?
ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature"
That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added,
amusement for those who do not relish the gospel."
No such words, however, are
to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.
"He gave some, apostles; and
some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the
work of the ministry"
(Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy
Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they
amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.
Again, providing amusement is in direct
antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was
the attitude of the church to the world? We are not sugar candy, —
"Ye are the
(Matt. 5:13) ---something the world will spit out, not swallow. Short and
sharp was the utterance,
"Let the dead bury their dead"
(Matt. 8:22) He was in
Had Christ introduced more of the bright and
pleasant elements into His mission, He would have been more popular but,
because of the searching nature of His teaching, many turned away. I do not
hear him say,
"Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a
different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little
preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will
be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow."
pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.
In vain will the Epistles be searched to find
any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is,
"Come out, keep out,
keep clean out!"
Anything approaching foolishness is conspicuous by its
absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other
After Peter and John were locked up for
preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray,
unto Thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation
we may show these people how happy we are."
If they ceased not from preaching
Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by
persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world
upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of
all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to
Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to
effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless
and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and
testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep
silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God's link
in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission
of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today's ministry is
believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from
the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood
and felt, that it sets men on fire.
"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...For this she got herself
abused roundly by the sons of this world...She appears to have decided that if
she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with
A. W. Tozer
"When amusement is necessary to get people to listen to the gospel there will
be failure. This is not the method of Christ. To form an organization and
provide all kinds of entertainment for young people, in order that they may
come to the Bible classes, is to be foredoomed to failure."
G. Campbell Morgan
"Churches are always asking for money. But we are going to turn it around",
said Rev. Tim Dyson of Church Alive in Tampa, FL. The church plans on giving
away checks and gift certificates to newcomers—the most, a check of $2,004.00.
Friday evening's event will include clowns, a light show, and music from rock
musician Clint Brown. Dyson says, "It takes creativity to reach out to new
members". This from a minister who roars into services on a Harley-Davidson
motorcycle. He has delivered sermons from a boat hauled into the sanctuary, and
set up a boxing ring to fight demons of drugs and divorce."
"Church Offers Lure of Almightly Dollar"
Tampa, FL, USA
Jan. 21, 2004
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