Friday, December 09, 2005


I have just finished reading James Montgomery Boice’s book “Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? Rediscovering the Doctrines that Shook the World.” I have read Boice before, his commentaries on Genesis are some of the best around, but I had a hard time tracking with him some of his thoughts in this book. I am sure that you can chalk it up to my own ignorance, but there were a couple of things that I just did not really follow.

There were really only two things that I did not really grasp. The first was his criticism of TV in chapter 2, and the second was his evaluation of music in chapter 8. Admittedly I am coming to the table with some preconceived ideas about both of these issues, but I just couldn’t track with him. I will only look at his view of TV today, maybe as I work through it I will begin to grasp his logic.

When it comes to TV maybe I didn’t necessarily agree with Him because I love TV. One of my favorite things in the world to do is to sit down and watch a baseball game. This is probably why I had a hard time grasping JMB’s criticism of TV. Here is what JMB had to say:

“…the chief cause of our mindlessness is television” pg 51

The chief problem with television is that, for those who watch it consistently, it undermines and eventually destroys the ability to think. This is because it communicates primarily through images, not by words, and words are necessary if we are to perceive logical connections and make judgments as to what is right and what is wrong. An image cannot be true or false. Images just are. Although images can tell a story or establish a mood, they cannot make an argument.” Pg 52

Speaking about the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas JMB goes on:

Those debates were held in public fairgrounds. They lasted six or seven hours, and after the debates were over the reporters sent the essences of the arguments over the telegraph to the newspapers, in which they were read and discussed by people everywhere the next morning. In those days people were able to hear, understand and form opinions about such complex issues as slavery, the authority and limits of federal government, and states’ rights because their minds had been nurtured by the printed page. Unfortunately, television does not operate by or foster rational communication, which is why we are becoming an increasingly mindless culture.” Pg 54

First of all, I think that TV can be a very dangerous thing. Just like everything else it must be in moderation. Too much TV means not enough time in God’s Word, not enough family time, not enough service, not enough fellowship, and not enough time reading good books. All this being said, I am not sure that there is something inherently bad about the medium of TV.

I am not really sure what JMB means with the second quote that I have given you. Sure TV uses images, but we are no loner in the age of the silent movie. An image cannot make an argument, however an image of a person accompanied by the sound of a person making an argument can. Right? For instance, I know that there are video tapes of JMB giving lectures. I would have loved to have been at those lectures, but isn’t the same information being presented via TV on the tapes?

As to the last quote that I have given, I am not exactly sure what to think of it either. My first reaction was “What if the debate had been televised?” Wouldn’t the people have had a more honest representation of the fact of the debate? They wouldn’t have had to read about it from the perspective of someone else’s world view. I am not a pre-civil war historian, but the apperance given by JMB is that everyone understood the issues and had meaningful coversations concerning the issues. Here is a little excerpt from the first of seven debates between Lincoln and Douglas:

Douglas' Speech:
In 1854, Mr. Abraham Lincoln and Mr. Trumbull entered into an arrangement, one with the other, and each with his respective friends, to dissolve the old Whig party on the one hand, and to dissolve the old Democratic party on the other, and to connect the members of both into an Abolition party under the name and disguise of a Republican party. (Laughter and cheers, hurrah for Douglas.) The terms of that arrangement between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Trumbull have been published to the world by Mr. Lincoln's special friend, James H. Matheny, Esq., and they were, that Lincoln should have Shields's place in the U. S. Senate, which was then about to become vacant, and that Trumbull should have my seat when my term expired. (Great Laughter.) Lincoln went to work to abolitionize the Old Whig party all over the State, pretending that he was then as good a Whig as ever; (laughter) and Trumbull went to work in his part of the State preaching Abolitionism in its milder and lighter form, and trying to abolitionize the Democratic party, and bring old Democrats handcuffed and bound hand and foot into the Abolition camp. ("Good," "hurrah for Douglas," and cheers.)

To me this sounds a lot like the rhetoric, and crowd pandering of today's presidential debates. I know that this is only an excerpt and that there was meaningful debate, but it is obvious that those in attendance were not so focuesed on meaningful conersation that Douglas couldn't pander to them by mocking his opponent.


Overall I think that this book is a great book. I do agree that we live in a somewhat mindless culture. I am not sure if it is progressively becoming more and more mindless, or if it has always been this way, but I am saddened to see the church influenced by a spiritually mindless culture.


Blogger Morgan said...

Great post Paul! Hey REALLY off topic, check this out... Ryan Perrilloux. Urban might be wetting his pants when this kid's redshirt comes off ;). Geaux Tigers!

13/12/05 3:15 AM  

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