A.W. Tozer was very much against the use of film by Christians — should we be too? There is a lot of debate in the Church today as to whether using modern art forms can help us reach the culture with the Gospel, or whether going this direction will cause us to compromise the truth. And there isn’t a pat answer to that debate, because it all depends on the nature of the art form being used. In my new video, I explain what I mean by this. Join me for a thought-provoking discussion about reaching a lost and dying world in creative ways, without compromising the Truth of Jesus Christ.
A.W. Tozer was very much against the use of film in Christians. I’ve had a lot of people come to me because I love A. W. Tozer and say, “Well, A. W. Tozer was against movies — Christian movies,” and [is it okay] to use that as a medium of communicating truth. I’ve said, “Well, it depends on the nature of the film.”
In other words, if the film is compromising truth in order to try and win an audience, I’m in agreement. But if film — as a medium — were used to represent an unblemished, unvarnished truth and communicate the Gospel in a way that people could understand it and hear it, I actually am for that. So when you get to the issue of modern culture and how it can be used, that’s a tense issue and it creates a friction that I’m very sensitive to. In other words, I would never want to push someone past what their conscience is allowing, nor would I want to prescribe something as just carte blanche okay to do.
Film is an illustration that has a lot of vulnerabilities to it. And both of us have had a lot to do with film. We’ve been around a lot of film, and we’ve seen it used in such a powerful way to distribute the Gospel that we would stand back and say, “It would be inappropriate for someone to say, ‘That was wrong.'” At the same time, we’ve seen Christians utilize film in such a way as to kowtow and cater to a culture, to try and be sensitive to a culture which actually is pandering and it’s not proclaiming. So, as a result, there’s a tension. And that has to do with if it’s flesh and self-driven, or if it’s spirit-driven. Ultimately, I would say it depends. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible answer to give to any question, but it depends on how it’s being used.
Everything that we have in our hand, everything that we’ve been given, money for instance, could be used for the flesh or could be used for the Spirit. But money itself doesn’t have a moral quantity or quality to it, it’s an amoral object. So are most things in God’s creation. So the fact like film, music, and things like that — they have a potential to be used for God’s glory, and they have a tremendous potential to be used for man’s glory. The holder and the possessor of it needs to be marked by the fear of God and humility. And if Jesus Christ is preeminent, God can use all sorts of things to proclaim His glory.
As a result, I would say, it depends on a lot of factors of how we utilize the culture. Paul is going to stand on Mars Hill, he’s going to go directly into the center of that culture, and he’s going to speak the words of life. You’re going to see an invasion into a cultural element, and he is going to appeal to bring the words of life to bear. However, that doesn’t become a prescription, that’s just a description of what Paul did. It’s very important that we, as Christians, don’t say, “Well, Paul did this, therefore, I’m going to do this.” We have to be led of the Spirit and be marked by the fear of God and humility and be moved by the focus and the preeminence of Jesus Christ in all that we do.
If you’d like to take these trues deeper, join us here at Ellerslie for one of our upcoming discipleship programs.