A few days ago, a magazine that I have been receiving for a number of years came across my desk. Charisma is one of the most avant-garde magazines in the contemporary Christian world. The charismatic section of Christianity is advancing rapidly and prognosticators are opining that this type of Christians will become dominant in the 21st century. There was a major shift in the leadership of the magazine this year. The new editorial team is as committed to the foundational principles of Charisma as their predecessors, but they are also technologically savvy and ready for the twenty-first century. While they are committed to maintaining current practices, they are also advertising a number of innovative things, such as digital issues and a Charisma app for Smartphones. These practices have been utilized by other groups for years, but they are new ideas to many churches and religious publications.
As I was rejoicing over the innovative ways that this magazine is moving into the future, I was thinking of the different kinds of people that from the time of Jesus have attempted to distribute the knowledge about Jesus Christ and his salvation.
I was thinking of Luke, the gospel writer, as he sought to write to Theophilus. His name means a lover of God. We do not know if this was his name from birth or if this is what he became when he met Jesus.
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4)
The apostle Paul likewise writes his epistle to the Colossians and tells them to send their epistle to the Laodiceans, and then for the Laodiceans to send their epistle from Paul to the Colossians’ church. The manuscripts were hard to get and scarce, but the message needed to be distributed.
During the Patristic Era (1st -4th century), the philosopher and theologian Origen from Alexandria and the wealthy Roman aristocrat Cassiodorus have scriptoriums where they employ scribes to copy the Scriptures in Greek, Hebrew and Latin so that they will be distributed throughout the Mediterranean world. One of the great things that monasteries have done during the Middle Ages was to copy and distribute the word of God. Church Historian Mark Noll argues that without the thousands of copies of Scriptures and other important literature, Europe indeed could have sunk in darkness.
Most Protestants regard Luther as the person who has changed the course of Christianity in Europe at the beginning of the 16th century with the posting of his 95 Theses on the doors of Wittenberg Cathedral in October of 1517. Yet there are historians arguing that without the invention of the printing press by Guttenberg, the reformation that Luther started would not have moved as fast or succeeded at all. For within less than three months, copies of the 95 Theses could be found in every corner of Europe. In the 16th century, the most dangerous profession was to be a printer.
In the early 1930s, Christians started to use the radio waves. One of the favorite verses from the song “Jesus Saves” was the 4th verse, “Give the winds a mighty voice, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.” Innovative and inventive Christians have been involved in every aspect of technology in the 20th century and they will be involved in every aspect of technology until the Lord Jesus Christ returns again.
In the 21st century, the command of Jesus to” go in the whole world and preach the gospel, teaching them to obey…” is still as valid for us as it was for the apostles on the day of Christ’s ascension back to the Heavenly Father in all His glory. Today as never before, we need to use all the available means – music, drama, art, the printed page, the most advanced technology - to make the name of Jesus known.