I am by no means a political person. The very word politics cause my eyes to glaze over, as I picture myself listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Waa waa waawaa waaa…”
However, without a doubt, I can clearly detect propaganda being spread throughout our country. It is alarming to see America being turned into something that our founding fathers never intended. Nevertheless, the intent of this article is not to address the political agenda, but the spiritual. Sadly, the things we observe in the natural only mirror the state of the church.
The word propaganda has been mulling over and over in my mind lately, so I thought I would do a little study of the word. What I found made me very uncomfortable. As you read the following ways propaganda is generated, see if you can detect any of these within the post-modern church.
Techniques Used for Generating Propaganda:
Ad hominem: A Latin phrase, which has come to mean attacking your opponent, as opposed to attacking their arguments.
Ad nauseam: This argument approach uses tireless repetition of an idea. An idea, especially a simple slogan that if repeated enough times, may begin to be taken as the truth.
Bandwagon: Bandwagon and “inevitable-victory” appeals attempt to persuade the target audience to join in and take the course of action that “everyone else is taking.”
Beautiful people: The type of propaganda that deals with famous people or depicts attractive, happy people. This makes other people think that if they buy a product or follow a certain ideology, they too will be happy or successful.
Glittering generalities: Glittering generalities are emotionally appealing words applied to a product or idea, but which present no concrete argument or analysis.
Half-truth: A half-truth is a deceptive statement, which may come in several forms and includes some element of truth. The statement might be partly true, the statement may be totally true but only part of the whole truth, or it may utilize some deceptive element, such as improper punctuation, or double meaning, especially if the intent is to deceive, evade blame or misrepresent the truth.
Intentional vagueness: Generalities are deliberately vague so that the audience may supply its own interpretations. The intention is to move the audience by use of undefined phrases, without analyzing their validity or attempting to determine their reasonableness or application. The intent is to cause people to draw their own interpretations rather than simply being presented with an explicit idea. In trying to “figure out” the propaganda, the audience forgoes judgment of the ideas presented.
Quotes out of Context: Selective editing of quotes, which can change meanings.
Rationalization: Individuals or groups may use favorable generalities to rationalize questionable acts or beliefs. Vague and pleasant phrases are often used to justify such actions or beliefs.
Red herring: Presenting data or issues that, while compelling, are irrelevant to the argument at hand, and then claiming that it validates the argument.
Repetition: This type of propaganda deals with a jingle or word that is repeated over and over again, thus getting it stuck in someone’s head, so they can buy the product.
Alarming, is it not?
The thing that I lament over the most is how far have we been removed from truth? This troubles me. I don’t know how many times I have been reading a chapter in the Bible and come to a familiar verse (usually removed from the rest of the verses and waved in the air as a new revelation) and have not been able to receive it within the context of that passage. I have been so grieved over this as the Holy Spirit has opened my eyes. I find myself saying over and over again, “How long have I believed this?” So, I continue to examine everything I have ever learned, especially pet verses, in context of what was being said.
In Acts, we find the Bereans did exactly that.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)
In today’s churches, if someone is charming and has a big name, we tend to receive everything that person says, without searching the scriptures ourselves. How dangerous this is! We have too many people who are “carried about with every wind of doctrine”.
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. (Eph. 4:14)
Some days, I feel like standing on my roof and shouting at the top of my lungs, “WAKE UP!!!!!” But, I know it would do no good. God, Himself, must awaken the church. We must pray. We must travail in prayer like never before and be willing to be His mouthpiece at the time He chooses.
O Christian, I beg of you, search the Scriptures daily.