Book Reviews

CHRIST AND THE MEDIA, by Malcolm Muggeridge; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 127 pp., $5.95. (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko) 

Malcolm Muggeridge was formerly editor of Punch, a British satirical paper which had an international circulation. For over forty years he was active in work with the media: newspapers, radio, and television. In the course of his life he has converted to Christianity and has spoken often in evangelical circles. In 1976 he was invited to give three lectures at the London Lectures in Contemporary Christianity. This book contains those lectures as well as the script of the question and answer session held at the end of each lecture. The author examines the role of the media (especially television) in Christianity and the propagation of the Christian faith. He is a skilled, witty, and articulate writer and speaker—somewhat on the order of C. S. Lewis. 

The basic theme of this book is that the media (and particularly television) have an extremely evil influence on our civilization. This influence will, in the author’s opinion, grow worse with the passing of the years. Nor is there any hope that this can be improved because the media, being what they are, are not neutral and therefore capable of being used for good or evil; they are rather always tending towards evil and geared to promote evil. “The technical complexities, necessity of editing, and the demands of the public make the television producer turn reality into fantasy.” 

Reality for Muggeridge is the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The media can do nothing else but create a world of fantasy which drives people away from the true reality of the kingdom. It is for this reason that the media will only serve the deterioration of society as we have known it. 

The book is a very powerful analysis and condemnation of all the media, but especially of television. If I had a television set in my house, the book would have persuaded me to get rid of it as quickly as possible. In fact; the book makes one really wonder whether it is good to have newspapers and news magazines come into the house. Muggeridge speaks from a long association with the media and knows whereof he speaks. While we do not know very much about the author’s Christianity, we can recommend this .book to our readers. In fact, it is almost “must reading” for all who have a television set and who make use of it daily. If this book is not sufficient to frighten ardent TV watchers, there is nothing really that will. We urge those who make abundant use of television to purchase the book and read it. It will be worth the time and money. 

Treasury of the World’s Great Sermons, compiled by Warren W. Wiersbe; Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Mich. 662 pp., $12.95 (hard cover) (Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema) 

This is a large volume, finely printed, and containing a massive amount of material. The sermons in this volume range from the period of the church fathers to the present. Among these 123 sermons a very wide variety of preachers is represented. 

A certain amount of attentive reading of worthwhile sermons by other preachers is a very good thing both for ministers of the gospel and students who are preparing for the ministry. This volume offers ample opportunity for such reading. 

Which sermons belong among the world’s great sermons is of course, a matter of subjective judgment. My judgment and choice would certainly not in every instance agree with that of the compiler of this volume, Warren W. Wiersbe. While there are surely several very worthwhile sermons by notable preachers. in this volume, there are also sermons which I would not classify as being great; and there are preachers represented in this volume whom I would not classify as great preachers. Besides, the principle of choice in these sermons did not become evident to this reviewer. Moreover, there appears to this reviewer to be a lack of proper balance with respect to various periods in the history of preaching. I made no exact count, but it appears to me as though overwhelming attention was paid to sermons from the nineteenth century. 

Nevertheless, one could certainly do worse than to spend $12.95 for a book of this kind. Recommended with reservations.