Monday, April 30, 2012

The bombardment of images and graphics

In Sunday's paper, Mitch Albom crafted a column about Ernie Harwell that I found interesting.  Albom wrote a play about Ernie's life as the Tigers' radio broadcaster.  Last summer, I had the opportunity to see the play and enjoyed the theatrical retrospective of Ernie's broadcast career.
 Albom contrasted Ernie's deft ability to engage an audience using words to the NFL's glitzy draft coverage that over-analyzed everything from position breakdowns to the hats, jerseys and fancy suits of each NFL hopeful.  Albom explained why he enjoyed Ernie more than the imagery-saturated hype of the NFL draft:
  • The image of him alone in a studio, reading ticker tape, bringing you an event from hundreds of miles away, an event with no pictures, no screens, just his voice telling you the story -- well, it feels almost prehistoric in today's information-heavy era...It meant we got to sit and hear a story told to us -- not with the bombardment of images and graphics and instant analysis, but with a soothing, laconic, Georgia-twanged voice that made us feel young and old at the same time. - Albom
Unfortunately, the same can be said in many churches.  If the pastor spends more time picking out PowerPoint fonts than clearly teaching about the blessings of the baptismal font, something isn't right. If the pastor spends more time searching Google images for thirty-three variations of a cross than searching scripture and orthodox sources to preach theology of the cross, something isn't right.  If the pastor relies more on images, pictures and screens than clearly preaching Law and Gospel, something isn't right. 

As people who daily and desperately need the certainty of salvation and the peace that is found in Christ's atoning sacrifice, we crave much more than images of a waterfalls, relevant fonts and tempestuous seas. We don't need a "bombardment of images and graphics;" we need a bombardment of Law. In his second evening lecture C.F.W. Walther stated:
  • What is the effect of the preaching of the Law?...In the third place, the Law does indeed produce contrition. It conjures up the terrors of hell, of death, of the wrath of God. But it has not a drop of comfort to offer the sinner. If no additional teaching, besides the Law, is applied to man, he must despair, die, and perish in his sins. Ever since the Fall the Law can produce no other effects in man. Let us ponder this well.
We don't need a "bombardment of images and graphics;" we need a bombardment of Gospel

C.F.W. Walther continues:
  • The effects of the Gospel are of an entirely different nature...The second effect of the Gospel is that it does not at all reprove the sinner, but takes all terror, all fear, all anguish, from him and fills him with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. At the return of the prodigal the father does not with a single word refer to his horrible, abominable conduct. He says nothing, nothing whatever, about it, but falls upon the prodigal’s neck, kisses him, and prepares a splendid feast for him. That is a glorious parable exhibiting to us the effect of the Gospel. It removes all unrest and fills us with a blessed, heavenly peace.
  • In the third place, the Gospel does not require anything good that man must furnish: not a good heart, not a good disposition, no improvement of his condition, no godliness, no love either of God or men. It issues no orders, but it changes man. It plants love into his heart and makes him capable of all good works. It demands nothing, but it gives all. Should not this fact make us leap for joy?
  • Rom. 1, 16 Paul says: I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Here we have a record of something glorious. Can there be anything more glorious, more beautiful, more blessed, more precious, than what the Gospel gives - eternal salvation?
We don't need a "bombardment of images and graphics;" we need a bombardment of clear teaching and preaching of Christ crucified for the sins of mankind.

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