Half A Poison Pill Won't Kill Me: Thoughts on Worldliness - Part 1

The content of this blog is taken from a booklet entitled: Half A Posion Pill Won't Kill Me: Thoughts on Worldliness and the media that promote it. Joshua Harris author of; "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" and "Stop Dating the Church", is the author of this booklet.  I will publish parts of this blooklet over the next several days.

Dear Friend,

In 2001 Covenant Life Church heard a series of sermons on the Bible’s teaching on “worldliness.” We were concerned that the world was having more influence on us that we realized. We especially wanted to examine how the media—in all its forms—affects the ways we think and live.

Those sermons made a big impression on us. We heard people saying “I didn’t realize how much time I wasted browsing the Internet,” or “I’m watching less TV news and spending more time studying the Bible,” or “Music has been an idol in my life, I’m learning to use it for God’s glory.”

This booklet features quotes, both from quoted authors and from the speakers in the series — CJ Mahaney, Bob Kauflin and myself. We had many requests for these quotes so that our people could continue to be aware of our calling to be “in the world but not of the world.” We hope it will help you develop and maintain convictions that will allow you to live a life pleasing to God.
In grace,
Joshua Harris

Worldliness Defined
“Worldliness is departing from God. It is a man-centered way of thinking; it proposes objectives which demand no radical breach with man’s fallen nature; it judges the importance of things by the present and material results; it weighs success by numbers; it covets human esteem and wants no unpopularity; it knows no truth for which it is worth suffering; it declines to be a ‘fool for Christ’s sake’. Worldliness is the mind-set of the unregenerate. It adopts idols and is at war with God.” —Iain H. Murray Evangelicalism Divided
In Love With Our Shadow
“The tragedy of the world is that the echo is mistaken for the Original shout. When our back is to the breathtaking beauty of God, we cast a shadow on the earth and fall in love with it. But it does not satisfy. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust them...For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” —John Piper, The Dangerous Duty of Delight
Everything Has Changed, Nothing Has Changed
“When John wrote his epistle two thousand years ago he could not have imagined our modern world and its technology. We have television that gives us constant access to entertainment, an internet that provides instant connection to any imaginable content not to mention computer games, movies, books and magazines.
“But even though John couldn’t foresee modern media, his warning against loving the world is just as relevant. Because even though technology has advanced, the basic principles of this world have not changed. They’re still founded on, ‘the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and boasting in what he has and does.’ Modern media has simply done a better job of delivering the old, corrupt principles of this world.
“In an age where it is impossible to escape the reach of secular media John’s admonition not to love the world is all the more important. Technology allows the world’s values and attitudes to influence us nearly every moment of the day.”—Joshua Harris

Too Much
“A raft of studies from several decades indicate that Americans consume vast quantities of television—an average of about four to five hours per day, with many taking in much more. Televisions are also becoming nearly omnipresent, imperialistically colonizing automobiles, airports, restaurants, classrooms, bars, daycare centers and computers. They are even being placed on some gasoline pumps.... Nearly 100 percent of American homes have at least one television, and three out of four have more than one. Eighty-four percent of households have at least one VCR. Many have elaborate home-theater systems costing thousands of dollars. And half of all Americans say they watch too much television!” —Douglas Groothius, Truth Decay
John Piper’s Television Advice
“Turn it off! It isn’t necessary for relevance. It is a deadly place to rest the mind. You are least capable of critical interaction. Its pervasive banality, sexual innuendo and God-ignoring values have no ennobling effect upon the human soul. It kills the Spirit. It drives away God. It quenches prayer. It blanks out the Bible. It cheapens the soul. It destroys spiritual power. It defiles almost everything.”—John Piper from a sermon
Straight for the Heart
“Media rarely if ever attempts to reason with us and convince us to love the world. Instead it stirs up feelings and emotions that bypass our minds and grip our affections. The incredibly wicked power of media is that it can make something evil look good or exciting. It can make sin seem harmless and enjoyable. It can sway our hearts to think that we deserve what we crave, that what we see is all that matters.”—Joshua Harris
Half a Poison Pill Won’t Kill Me
“Trying to figure out how much sinful content from media you can handle and still be ‘okay’ is like a person who takes half a poison pill every day because ‘only half’ won’t kill you.

“When it comes to what we watch or read or listen to we shouldn’t ask how many halves of poison pills we can take. We need to examine the cumulative effect of our media habits on our attitude toward God and sin and the world.” — Joshua Harris
TV and Truth
“A culture that is rooted more in images than in words will find it increasingly difficult to sustain any broad commitment to any truth, since truth is an abstraction requiring language.”—Ken Myers, “Image Over the Word: Discourse In Distress”
Easily Bored
“[The] increasingly rapid pace of television’s images makes careful evaluation impossible and undesirable for the viewer, thus rendering determinations of truth and falsity difficult if not impossible. With sophisticated video technologies, scenes change at hypervelocities and become the visual equivalent of caffeine or amphetamines. The human mind was not designed by its Creator to accommodate to these visual speeds, and so the sensorium suffers from the pathologies of velocity. This means that one simply absorbs hundreds and thousands of rapidly changing images, with little notion of what they mean or whether they correspond to any reality outside of themselves. The pace of this assault of images is entirely imposed upon us; it bears little if any resemblance to reality.
“Habituation to such imposed velocities tends to make people intellectually impatient and easily bored with anything that is slow moving and undramatic—such as reading books (particularly thoughtful ones), experiencing nature in the raw and engaging in face-to-face conversations with fellow human beings. Hence, the apprehension of difficult and demanding truths suffers and withers. The pace of television’s agenda disallows edification, understanding and reflection. Boredom always threatens and must be defended against at all costs. The over-stuffed and over­stimulated soul becomes out-of-sync with God, others and itself. It cannot discern truth; it does not want to. This apathetic attitude makes the apprehension and application of truth totally irrelevant.

The acquisition of knowledge (warranted belief in what is true), requires intellectual patience and fortitude. One must linger on perplexing notions, work them through, compare them to other ideas and attempt to reach conclusions that imply wise and rational actions. Before God, one must shut up, listen and be willing to revolutionize one’s life accordingly (see Ecclesiastes 5:1– 7) . God’s word—‘be still and know that I am God’ (Ps 46:10)—simply cannot be experienced through television, where stillness and silence are only technical mistakes called ‘dead air.’ Television thus becomes a strategic weapon in the arsenal of postmodernist cynicism and apathy.”—Douglas Groothius, Truth Decay