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Why do we need the printed word?

By Jay Rogers
Published April 3, 2008

In the early days of America, newspapers often printed sermons preached from the pulpits of the local churches in the colonies. The pastors and Christian leaders of that day knew that it was important to be continually getting the printed word out to the people. The Christian world view was so prevalent at that time that almost everyone thought according to godly principles.

You can see this in the writings of the Founding Fathers. A Christian view of every area of life was held to – you can see it in the art and literature of the day, as well as in the form of government they devised. The truth of God was diffused into every area of life.

The literature that was going out at that time was teaching the American people on a day-to-day basis the biblical principles of what God had to say about society. This created a sentiment in our society that produced the Revolutionary War and our form of democratic government.

Now it is sad to say that unlike centuries ago, most Christians put little or no emphasis on the printed word. We don’t see a need for it. Most of our literature evangelism is limited to a few tracts telling people how to get saved or saying the four spiritual laws. We are limited to a salvation only message. Now it’s very important to get people saved before we can really change our society from the inside out, but the salvation-only message is not what The Forerunner is all about.

The purpose of The Forerunner is to saturate the market place of ideas – the university campuses – with a Christian world view that applies to every area of life. When this Christian world view is spoken on a consistent basis – not only will many be saved – but we can expect the hearts and minds of the students to be affected and changed on a larger scale.

The Influence of the Printed Word

In the 1700s, the Great Awakening came to an end because of the influx of rationalistic thinking from Europe in the form of literature. Revival waned because books containing the philosophy of the Enlightenment were disbursed on the college campuses by the ton. Books containing rationalistic principles were given out to the students for a few pennies. If they wouldn’t buy them they would be given to them for free.

The effect on U.S. colleges was disastrous. Students looking for an excuse to rebel against Christianity embraced Rationalism. Bible colleges became centers of skepticism. Students formed societies calling themselves by the names of the French philosophers of the Enlightenment. One group forced the resignation of a Bible college president. Another group attempted to blow up a campus building. This sounds like the 1960s, but it was the late 1700s!

The Second Great Awakening

Certain Christians had the courage to fight this trend and the Second Great Awakening broke out in the early 1800s. It should come as no surprise to you at this point ito know that the leader of the Second Great Awakening, Peter Cartwright, believed that the distribution of Christian literature was the force that seeded this awakening.

Peter Cartwright was a Methodist circuit rider who would travel on horseback in Kentucky and the other western states of America and preach. This is what Peter Cartwright said:

“For more than 50 years, I have always believed that it is part and parcel of a Christian’s sacred duty to circulate religious literature. The press is destined to minister salvation’s grace to the perishing millions of the earth.”

20th Century America

The difference between this time period and 20th century America, is that Christians have done little to sow seed in the form of the printed word. To make matters worse, while the Church has been sleeping, tares have sprung up in abundance.

Daniel Webster, the 19th century American statesman, saw a disturbing trend. Listen to this quote and ask yourself if this is what has become of America:

“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, then error will be. If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendency. If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will. If the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of this land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.”

Daniel Webster saw it coming. The disturbing trend was that Christians weren’t getting the printed word out to the people. Daniel Webster feared that the devil would soon come in and sow the seeds of corruption in America.

So what is the most effective way to turn the tide of evil in the late 20th century?

Literature containing the Truth of God’s Word needs to be disbursed among the students. When God’s truth is presented in any form, it will always gain ascendency over the godless philosophies of the world because it is the Truth of God. The main result of getting literature out is to change the students’ thinking. If we don’t confront the students thinking through the printed word then godless philosophies will definitely win out.

What is a practical plan to start saturating your campus with Forerunners?

The only obstacle is raising the money. But as the numbers of Forerunners increase, the price per newspaper goes down. At 15 cents a copy, 1000 Forerunners are $150. And consider that doing this is like having 10 full time evangelists out on campus every month. Then realize that there are a couple of practical ways to raise the money to do this:

If every Christian in America understood the importance of getting the printed word out to the people, we would see the same effect that has happened throughout history. And our nation would be changed for all time and eternity.

“And the one on whom the seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; and indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”


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