Our world is nearly drowning in a rising tide of words that pour forth through every kind of medium. Books, pamphlets, magazines, and newspapers emanate from high-speed, automated typesetters and presses. From radio and TV come cascades of words. Even the skies are profaned by devices reflecting words that cross all boundaries.

If Christ returned to this word-choked world, could his voice be heard?

Imagine his appearing on the West Coast, where he would find a Babel worse than that depicted in the Bible, and one with greater capacity for self-promotion. Or in Washington, D. C.—would he be drowned out by the cacophony of conflicting pronouncements? Would the truth and universality of his words rise above competition from religious hucksters?

Or what if he appeared in New York City’s Central Park and repeated the words he once spoke in Galilee? What would happen? Probably, the police would pick him up for his own protection. At precinct headquarters, skeptical reporters would relay to city editors the bare details about another self-appointed saviour claiming to be divine.

If the press of Babylon-on-the-Hudson then sensed a story, imagine the scene: popping flashbulbs, blazing floodlights, flying questions, imploring reporters, TV cameramen moving in with their zoomar lenses, the crowd pressing in. Questions … questions!

“Give us a bit from the Sermon on the Mount.… Louder, please!… Look this way.”

If Christ were to come in his full power, mass communications might make his task easier. But if his ministry were like that which he had on earth before, one shudders to think of the danger and stupidities he would surely have to endure.

Christ is not present bodily in the world today, but Christians are. They must confront the marvels and menaces of mass media to transmit his message. They face the possibility of instantaneous worldwide transmission of the message through communications satellites. Increasing literacy expands the audiences they can reach in less dramatic ways. And journalism schools have contributed skillful insights into what must be said and how it can best be said. (In a future issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, I shall discuss what Christians can learn from the new achievements in communication theory.)

Often, however, Christians have surrendered the airwaves and columns of print to the insipid drone of an uneasy, materialistic society. Many conservative Christians do not have access to these media or, if they do, lack the sophistication to do more than repeat shopworn homilies.

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Polished liberals have the style but are bewildered about the content of the message. The height of confusion is reached in Dr. Gabriel Vahanian’s book The Death of God, in which generalization replaces accuracy and semantic confusion hides the simple truth that God lives for all those who seek hint through Christ.

Another source of difficulty is destruction of communication between nations, some of which is intentional, as in the raising of the Iron and Bamboo Curtains. This product of deliberate policy, which has endured now for half a century, has corrupted the meaning of political concepts and nomenclature and aroused suspicion and hatred around the world. No politically organized people has escaped this semantic poison.

Another type of breakdown arises because some “Christians” cannot communicate what they should, since they do not believe the truth of their cause and perhaps never did. Not only in secular universities but also in some seminaries, church colleges, and pulpits, there is a growing denial of the need for communication with God, even denial of its possibility. Instead, one is told to establish rapport with the crowd and to relate to his own group. Out of this, a supposedly, well-adjusted, socialized being will develop. Morals are relative, and anything goes if the crowd and the circumstances are right.

These pitiable communicators in classroom and pulpit have never found the spirit and soul of Christianity and the transformation it brings to human hearts. They do not share the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit and his guidance in daily living. Nor do they know from experience that the Spirit of God unites with the spirits of men so that, while yet on earth, men may fellowship with God in eternity. They little know how to communicate with the Triune God, so they are lost leaders. Not knowing the way, they can only lead others into spiritual confusion and misery.

One who comes fresh into the knowledge and acceptance of Christ’s saving work on the Cross from a career in mass communications, as I did, can scarcely believe the complacency with which some Christians greet the ever-fresh truths of Jesus Christ—their eternal verity, and the worldwide light they might cast on current political and social problems! Only through Jesus Christ is there a solution to this crisis in spiritual and ordinary human communication.

Christians must communicate not only with those apart from the truth but with one another. Some ministers no longer understand what their own parishioners think and feel. As a result, only habit takes laymen to their Sunday seats before God, and habit is not enough to fill their hearts. Bewildered church leaders accept certain fashionable beliefs about the inadequacy of Christianity to meet today’s problems. Some ministers cannot even communicate among themselves. The confusion is enhanced by subtle new variations on the meaning of the words used to communicate God’s truth (as in the case of biblical terms like “revelation,” “reconciliation,” and “redemption”).

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What forces are disrupting man’s communication with the Creator, without which he cannot communicate spiritual truth to other men?

One destructive force is the drive for excessive security—freedom from want of food, clothing, shelter. All these are necessities, but our world exalts them above the God from whose generous hands they come. Christ’s precepts leave no room for pursuit of unnecessary worldly goods and may require many to “sell all … and give to the poor.”

Another is status-seeking. The status-seekers want approval of their associates instead of their God. Christ-inspired humility ends dependence on the opinion of others. Meekness, always disadvantaged in the pursuit of wealth, brings earth’s greatest treasures, none of which is for sale in stores or likely to be highly prized by non-believers.

The frenetic pace men follow to achieve success inevitably creates tension that shatters the inner calm without which they can scarcely hear the Holy Spirit’s voice. Even in a more placid society, Christ drew apart and went up into the bills to commune with the Father.

Other internal states that distract and upset one’s emotional balance are anger, anxiety, resentment, fear.

At a time when ecclesiastical communication is diminishing, when the use of mass communications to impart spiritual values is endangered by the worldwide struggle between the two great rival political philosophies, when channels of communication between the Creator and the Christian contract or vanish, when God’s death on earth is announced by some theologians, let spiritual communication start now with you as you read this. Let your cry be:

“Lord Jesus, I open my heart to thee, my Saviour. Forgive my errors and accept my life. As I live for thee, let me hear thy Holy Spirit telling me what I ought to be and ought to do. In knowing thee as the Truth of God and the Way to the Father, may I know the truth and the way under God to real communication with mankind.”

Only in this way will there be a start toward solving the appalling breakdown in worldwide communication. First must come recognition that the real crisis is between man and God, and then must follow restoration of communication among men—on God’s terms.

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