Canadian evangelicals have not yet got the message of Pierre Berton’s book, The Comfortable Pew, even though most would consider the book and its challenge old hat by now. Berton, himself a communicator, faulted the Church for failure to take seriously the mass media, especially radio and TV. This criticism was repeated in the sequel, The Restless Church, in an essay by the well-known television personality Patrick Watson. Marshall McLuhan, Malcolm Boyd, and a host of others have repeatedly sounded a similar theme. Yet little or nothing is happening as a result.
At the time of the Reformation, a man with a Bible in his hands was a supremely modern man—a man with the product of the latest technology (the printing press) at his service. Today evangelicals in Canada act, for the most part, as if radio and TV had not yet been invented. Unlike the Apostle Paul, who was fully committed to flexibility in his evangelistic endeavors—“I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22)—we still persist largely in a blind devotion to yesterday’s methods. This is a real hang-up, to use the current phrase.
Since we are stewards of the Gospel, two factors underscore the urgency of this issue:
1. One cynic has said, There is no god but the electronic tube and McLuhan is its prophet.” The reader may feel that if McLuhan is a prophet, he is a false one; but one idea he has hammered home cannot be ignored. When he says that the medium is the message, we need to listen. The way in which a message is presented is important, sometimes even more important than the message itself. If we continue to rely on antique methods for presenting the Gospel, we are saying loudly and clearly to the world that we have not ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more