By Donald P Ames
Several years ago, while living in Arkansas, we were working with some Baptist neighbors, who had become slightly prejudiced against the Lord’s church. In order to help break down that prejudice, while inviting and working with them to attend services with us, we volunteered also to attend services with them whenever ,hey had a meeting come up at the Baptist church as well.
About four months later they were having such a meeting, so we began making plans to attend at least one night of their meeting. Much to our surprise, as the meeting time arrived, instead of going to their meeting or even expressing a desire we go with them, they traveled to a nearby town each evening and spent the evening there. Finally, curiousity got the better of us, and we inquired why they were absenting themselves from their meeting. The reply was very revealing: The visiting preacher was using a dummy and practicing ventriloquism each evening to keep the kids interested. They did not feel such antics belonged in the pulpit where the desire should be to preach the word and not to put on a show.
The interesting thing about their reaction is that our liberal brethren are rapidly moving in the same direction as this Baptist preacher was. I have noted in calalogs put out by the liberals over the past two years a growing emphasis on a “puppet ministry,” which is also cropping up fairly regularly in certain church bulletins as well. Now, in the latest issue of the Gospel Services catalog on Audio Visuals is a half-page, back page ad on “Magic Object Lesson Material-easy-to-do tricks illustrate spiritual truths.” Here is an ad of four volumes of “simple but professional magic tricks” one can learn !o use in sermons-“effective tricks with talks to accompany each trick.” These four volumes of Sermons In Magic by H. P. Wells can also be accompanied by Spiritual Applications For Tarbell, Vol. I by Jule L. Miller-“a companion book to Volume One of the famous Tarbell Course in Magic.” It is described as “a store house of simple magic tricks and effective spiritual talks.”
It is beginning look as if our brethren have forgotten that the gospel is God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16), and no, he idea that we must set up a talent show to seek to provide entertainment and fun for the kiddies-plus coffee and donuts for the adults, no doubt! Makes me wonder: How long will it be till we are unable to get Dot only the denominationalists, but our own members, to attend because “such showmanship has no place in the pulpit?” Some of our brethren need to go back and relearn the impact of the message contained in John 6.
Truth Magazine XX: 37, p. 587
September 16, 1976