From Fabienne (7-17-03)
David Ringer's letter on the "Comments - The Matrix" page (the next comment below) were very well thought out. He certainly makes a good case for Christians who are well-grounded in the Scriptures and prayer (and I assume he means **well-grounded** -- who spend a great deal of time with the Lord and His Word) making a point of seeing movies and reading books that are being acclaimed by the world in order to be able to understand where non-believers are coming from when trying to share the gospel with them.
[Of course, we are referring to adults here, not children.] Paul the apostle was obviously knowledgeable about some of the pagan literature of his day (although that may have been due to his education prior to his conversion, of course). You read books like the HP series and watch movies such as The Matrix so you can point out how dangerous they are to those who are young and not on their guard spiritually.
I think that, like another recent correspondent, David misses the point of your efforts. Your warnings and advice are aimed at parents bringing up children and at young people. He says that what he's "driving at is the difference between building walls and wearing armor." I can see what he means, but there is a difference depending on whether you're talking about adult believers *well-grounded* in God's Word or young children who have to be "trained in the way they should go" and protected from evil. For parents
of these children, it is wonderful to have someone who can help them see the dangers in the books and movies that are aimed at children these days.
He also writes, "Is it not, then, more important to help our brothers and sisters learn God's Word for themselves than to fight distracting battles against SOME of the things we see in the culture around us?" Does he mean that we are not to warn each other of the dangers around us? Actually, you do a great deal of helping people to read the Bible for themselves, by constantly pointing to God's Word (has he seen the Bible studies and other Bible articles on your website?).
The fact is that most Christians in the English-speaking West (with well over 100 versions of the Bible in English to choose from!!) are far from being grounded, let alone *well-grounded*, in the Scriptures. Knowing God's Word simply isn't a priority in the Western church. Even in the Bible study group we belong to some people are very quick to ask for a break from Bible study whenever an excuse is available (not everyone turns up, school holidays are on, etc)!
I would like to ask David, in his years at LeTourneau, how many young Christians has he met who are truly well-grounded in God's Word and who wear God's armour consistently? LeTourneau does have certain requirements for its students (my eldest son wanted to study there but we had no way of paying for it), so the percentage of young people whose first priority is Jesus Christ may well be higher there than in the average local church.
Most of the young people (teenagers and under-30s) I've met who say they are Christians spend most of their spare time (that is, time when they're not in class or at work) having fun -- playing sports, going to movies, reading books (such as sci-fi, HP, Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, or "Christian" romances), playing computer or virtual reality games, or simply "hanging out". In other words, they live much the same way as their non-Christian peers (most of them also dress the same way). Very few of them make Bible reading and prayer a priority (not so surprising, since very few of their parents do either). They cannot see what harm the world's amusements can do to them. Jesus Christ is seldom, if ever, a topic of conversation among them.
Every minute spent filling one's mind with the world's rubbish is a minute NOT spent with the Lord. Every minute spent walking the world's way is a minute spent walking away from God. Minutes have a way of going past very, very quickly, and before we know it we have been spending hours, days, weeks, walking away from God. If we read books or watch movies we must ask ourselves honestly WHY we are doing it. Is it really so that we will have a tool to help us explain the Gospel to non-believers, or is it because we
are curious, we want to fit in with our peer-group, we "feel" like it ("I just want to relax a bit"), etc.? If the reason really is that we want to help others and share the gospel, then we'd better (like you do, Berit) pray a great deal beforehand, ask for prayer from others, and go wearing God's armour and wielding the Sword of the Spirit. We then may well find ourselves walking out halfway through the movie or throwing the book away long before finishing it!
In the last several weeks I have been reading a fair bit about believers in the suffering church as well as about Christian pioneers such as George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, and others. Having lived in Asia for many years I personally know many believers who have suffered a great deal because of their love for Jesus Christ. What strikes me most in every case is that their whole life was/is lived for the Lord. Everything they did was consciously and consistently backed by a great deal of prayer and a thorough knowledge of God's Word. One man my husband and I spoke to, exiled from his own country because of his faith, told us he found it hard to cope with the Western churches, where he found very, very few people who spoke of the Lord as Someone real in their lives. Mostly they spoke about movies, books, amusements, the weather, sports, and sometimes about world events [I remember the shock I felt as a new Christian when I found that after the service people were discussing the relative merits of different brands of fod and drink...]. Every time he spoke to a church group it made him want to weep -- "The church here is asleep," he said, "It is too comfortable."
How comfortable? One church youth group I know of has a weekly Bible study -- followed by a Tolkien movie, game or discussion (most of them are Tolkien fans). I am not sure how many times they have seen the two movies now, but I know they can quote far more of Tolkien than they can of the Bible...
What David says about encouraging others to read and study the Scriptures for themselves is always timely. However, I do not agree that we need to be so knowledgeable about the world's writings and entertainments. If we knew God's Word as thoroughly as we should and if we spent as much time with the Lord in prayer as we could, we would always be ready to tell others about Him and to answer their questions or challneges, because we would not be depending on ourselves but on the Holy Spirit and His Word. It is God, after all, who draws people to Himself -- we are only His instruments. In Jesus' love,