Used by Mass Media
Source: The Vigilant Citizen – 04.28.2010
Mass media is the most powerful tool used by the ruling class to manipulate the masses. It shapes and molds opinions and attitudes and defines what is normal and acceptable. This article looks at the workings of mass media through the theories of its major thinkers, its power structure and the techniques it uses, in order to understand its true role in society.
Most of the articles on this site discuss occult symbolism found in objects of popular culture. From these articles arise many legitimate questions relating to the purpose of those symbols and the motivations of those who place them there, but it is impossible for me to provide satisfactory answers to these questions without mentioning many other concepts and facts. I’ve therefore decided to write this article to supply the theoretical and methodological background of the analyzes presented on this site as well as introducing the main scholars of the field of mass communications. Some people read my articles and think I’m saying “Lady Gaga wants to control our minds”. That is not the case. [Lady Gaga may or may not want to control you, but it is certain that the antichrist system which controls her seeks to control your mind.] She is simply a small part of the huge system that is the mass media.
Programming Through Mass Media
Mass media are media forms designed to reach the largest audience possible. They include television, movies, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, records, video games and the internet. Many studies have been conducted in the past century to measure the effects of mass media on the population in order to discover the best techniques to influence it. From those studies emerged the science of Communications, which is used in marketing, public relations and politics. Mass communication is a necessary tool to insure the functionality of a large democracy; it is also a necessary tool for a dictatorship. It all depends on its usage.
In the 1958 preface for A Brave New World, Aldous Huxley paints a rather grim portrait of society. He believes it is controlled by an “impersonal force”, a ruling elite, which manipulates the population using various methods.
“Impersonal forces over which we have almost no control seem to be pushing us all in the direction of the Brave New Worldian nightmare; and this impersonal pushing is being consciously accelerated by representatives of commercial and political organizations who have developed a number of new techniques for manipulating, in the interest of some minority, the thoughts and feelings of the masses.”
– Aldous Huxley, Preface to A Brave New World
His bleak outlook is not a simple hypothesis or a paranoid delusion. It is a documented fact, present in the world’s most important studies on mass media. Here are some of them:
Walter Lippmann, an American intellectual, writer and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner brought forth one of the first works concerning the usage of mass media in America. In Public Opinion (1922), Lippmann compared the masses to a “great beast” and a “bewildered herd” that needed to be guided by a governing class. He described the ruling elite as “a specialized class whose interests reach beyond the locality.” This class is composed of experts, specialists and bureaucrats. According to Lippmann, the experts, who often are referred to as “elites,” are to be a machinery of knowledge that circumvents the primary defect of democracy, the impossible ideal of the “omnicompetent citizen.” The trampling and roaring “bewildered herd” has its function: to be “the interested spectators of action,” i.e. not participants. Participation is the duty of “the responsible man”, which is not the regular citizen.
Mass media and propaganda are therefore tools that must be used by the elite to rule the public without physical coercion. One important concept presented by Lippmann is the “manufacture of consent”, which is, in short, the manipulation of public opinion to accept the elite’s agenda. It is Lippmann’s opinion that the general public is not qualified to reason and to decide on important issues. It is therefore important for the elite to decide “for its own good” and then sell those decisions to the masses.
“That the manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. The process by which public opinions arise is certainly no less intricate than it has appeared in these pages, and the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough. . . . as a result of psychological research, coupled with the modern means of communication, the practice of democracy has turned a corner. A revolution is taking place, infinitely more significant than any shifting of economic power. . . . Under the impact of propaganda, not necessarily in the sinister meaning of the word alone, the old constants of our thinking have become variables. It is no longer possible, for example, to believe in the original dogma of democracy; that the knowledge needed for the management of human affairs comes up spontaneously from the human heart. Where we act on that theory we expose ourselves to self-deception, and to forms of persuasion that we cannot verify. It has been demonstrated that we cannot rely upon intuition, conscience, or the accidents of casual opinion if we are to deal with the world beyond our reach.”
– Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion
It might be interesting to note that Lippmann is one of the founding fathers of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the most influential foreign policy think tank in the world. This fact should give you a small hint of the mind state of the elite concerning the usage of media.
“Political and economic power in the United States is concentrated in the hands of a “ruling elite” that controls most of U.S.-based multinational corporations, major communication media, the most influential foundations, major private universities and most public utilities. Founded in 1921, the Council of Foreign Relations is the key link between the large corporations and the federal government. It has been called a “school for statesmen” and “comes close to being an organ of what C. Wright Mills has called the Power Elite — a group of men, similar in interest and outlook shaping events from invulnerable positions behind the scenes. The creation of the United Nations was a Council project, as well as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.”
– Steve Jacobson, Mind Control in the United States
Some current members of the CFR include David Rockefeller, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, mega-church pastor Rick Warren and the CEOs of major corporations such as CBS, Nike, Coca-Cola and Visa.
Carl Jung is the founder of analytical psychology (also known an Jungian psychology), which emphasizes understanding the psyche by exploring dreams, art, mythology, religion, symbols and philosophy. The Swiss therapist is at the origin of many psychological concepts used today such as the Archetype, the Complex, the Persona, the Introvert/Extrovert and Synchronicity. He was highly influenced by the occult background of his family. Carl Gustav, his grandfather, was an avid Freemason (he was Grand Master) and Jung himself discovered that some of his ancestors were Rosicrucians. This might explain his great interest in Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology and symbolism. One of his most important (and misunderstood) concepts was the Collective Unconscious.
“My thesis, then, is as follows: In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.”
– Carl Jung, The Concept of the Collective Unconscious
The collective unconscious transpires through the existence of similar symbols and mythological figures in different civilizations. Archetypal symbols seem to be embedded in our collective subconscious, and, when exposed to them, we demonstrate natural attraction and fascination. Occult symbols can therefore exert a great impact on people, even if many individuals were never personally introduced to the symbol’s esoteric meaning. Mass media thinkers, such as Edward D. Bernays, found in this concept a great way to manipulate the public’s personal and collective unconscious.
Edward Bernays is considered to be the “father of public relations” and used concepts discovered by his uncle Sigmund Freud to manipulate the public using the subconscious. He shared Walter Lippmann’s view of the general population by considering it irrational and subject to the “herd instinct”. In his opinion, the masses need to be manipulated by an invisible government to insure the survival of democracy.
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.”
– Edward Bernays, Propaganda
Bernay’s trailblazing marketing campaigns profoundly changed the functioning of American society. He basically created “consumerism” by creating a culture wherein Americans bought for pleasure instead of buying for survival. For this reason, he was considered by Life Magazine to be in the Top 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century.
In 1939-1940, the University of Chicago was the host of a series of secret seminars on communications. These think tanks were funded by the Rockefeller foundation and involved the most prominent researchers in the fields of communications and sociological studies. One of these scholars was Harold Lasswell, a leading American political scientist and communications theorist, specializing in the analysis of propaganda. He was also of the opinion that a democracy, a government ruled by the people, could not sustain itself without a specialized elite shaping and molding public opinion through propaganda.
In his Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, Lasswell explained that when elites lack the requisite force to compel obedience, social managers must turn to “a whole new technique of control, largely through propaganda.” He added the conventional justification: we must recognize the “ignorance and stupidity [of]… the masses and not succumb to democratic dogmatisms about men being the best judges of their own interests.”
Lasswell extensively studied the field of content analysis in order to understand the effectiveness of different types of propaganda. In his essay Contents of Communication, Lasswell explained that, in order to understand the meaning of a message (i.e. a movie, a speech, a book, etc.), one should take into account the frequency with which certain symbols appear in the message, the direction in which the symbols try to persuade the audience’s opinion, and the intensity of the symbols used.
Lasswell was famous for his media analysis model based on:
Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What Channel (with) What Effect
By this model, Lasswell indicates that in order to properly analyze a media product, one must look at who produced the product (the people who ordered its creation), who was it aimed at (the target audience) and what were the desired effects of this product (to inform, to convince, to sell, etc.) on the audience.
Using a Rihanna video as an example, the analysis would be as follows: WHO PRODUCED: Vivendi Universal; WHAT: pop artist Rihanna; TO WHOM: consumers between the ages of 9 and 25; WHAT CHANNEL: music video; and WHAT EFFECT: selling the artist, her song, her image and her message.
The analyzes of videos and movies on The Vigilant Citizen place a great importance on the “who is behind” the messages communicated to the public. The term “Illuminati” is often used to describe this small elite group covertly ruling the masses. Although the term sounds quite caricatured and conspiratorial, it aptly describes the elite’s affinities with secret societies (Freemasonry, Rosicrusians, Luciferian and Mystery Religion cults, New Age groups, Theosophy, etc.) and occult knowledge. However, I personally detest using the term “conspiracy theory” to describe what is happening in the mass media. If all the facts concerning the elitist nature of the industry are readily available to the public, can it still be considered a “conspiracy theory”?
There used to be a variety of viewpoints, ideas and opinions in popular culture. The consolidation of media corporations has, however, produced a standardization of the cultural industry. Ever wondered why all recent music sounds the same and all recent movies look the same? The following is part of the answer:
As depicted in the graph above, the number of corporations owning the majority of U.S. media outlets went from 50 to 5 in less than 20 years. Here are the top corporations evolving around the world and the assets they own.
“A list of the properties controlled by AOL Time Warner takes ten typed pages listing 292 separate companies and subsidiaries. Of these, twenty-two are joint ventures with other major corporations involved in varying degrees with media operations. These partners include 3Com, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, Citigroup, Ticketmaster, American Express, Homestore, Sony, Viva, Bertelsmann, Polygram, and Amazon.com. Some of the more familiar fully owned properties of Time Warner include Book-of-the-Month Club; Little, Brown publishers; HBO, with its seven channels; CNN; seven specialized and foreign-language channels; Road Runner; Warner Brothers Studios; Weight Watchers; Popular Science; and fifty-two different record labels.”
– Ben Bagdikan, The New Media Monopoly
AOL Time Warner owns:
– 64 magazines, including Time, Life, People, MAD Magazine and DC Comics
– Warner Bros, New Line and Fine Line Features in cinema
– More than 40 music labels including Warner Bros, Atlantic and Elektra
– Many television networks such as WB Networks, HBO, Cinemax, TNT, Cartoon Network and CNN
– Madonna, Sean Paul, The White Stripes
– CBS, MTV, MTV2, UPN, VH1, Showtime, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, TNN, CMT and BET
– Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, MTV Films
– Blockbuster Videos
– 1800 screens in theaters through Famous Players
“Disney ownership of a hockey team called The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim does not begin to describe the vastness of the kingdom. Hollywood is still its symbolic heart, with eight movie production studios and distributors: Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Miramax, Buena Vista Home Video, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Buena Vista International, Hollywood Pictures, and Caravan Pictures.
The Walt Disney Company controls eight book house imprints under Walt Disney Company Book Publishing and ABC Publishing Group; seventeen magazines; the ABC Television Network, with ten owned and operated stations of its own including in the five top markets; thirty radio stations, including all the major markets; eleven cable channels, including Disney, ESPN (jointly), A&E, and the History Channel; thirteen international broadcast channels stretching from Australia to Brazil; seven production and sports units around the world; and seventeen Internet sites, including the ABC group, ESPN.sportszone, NFL.com, NBAZ.com, and NASCAR.com. Its five music groups include the Buena Vista, Lyric Street, and Walt Disney labels, and live theater productions growing out of the movies The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and King David.”
The Walt Disney Company owns:
ABC, Disney Channel, ESPN, A&E, History Channel
Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Film Corp., Dimension and Buena Vista International
Miley Cyrus/ Hannah Montana, Selena Gomez, Jonas Brothers
Vivendi Universal owns:
– 27% of US music sales, labels include: Interscope, Geffen, A&M, Island, Def Jam, MCA, Mercury, Motown and Universal
– Universal Studios, Studio Canal, Polygram Films, Canal
– Numerous internet and cell phone companies
– Lady Gaga, The Black Eyed Peas, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z
– Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Classics
– 15% of US Music sales, labels include Columbia, Epic, Sony, Arista, Jive and RCA Records
– Beyonce, Shakira, Michael Jackson, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera
A limited number of actors in the cultural industry means a limited amount of viewpoints and ideas making their way to the general public. It also means that a single message can easily saturate all forms of media to generate consent (i.e. “homosexuality is a normal lifestyle and homosexual marriage is desirable”).
The merger of media companies in the last decades generated a small oligarchy of media conglomerates. The TV shows we follow, the music we listen to, the movies we watch and the newspapers we read are all produced by FIVE corporations. The owners of those conglomerates have close ties with the world’s elite and, in many ways, they ARE the elite. By owning all of the possible outlets having the potential to reach the masses, these conglomerates have the power to create in the minds of the people a single and cohesive world view, engendering a “standardization of human thought”.
Even movements or styles that are considered marginal are, in fact, extensions of mainstream thinking. Mass medias produce their own rebels who definitely look the part but are still part of the establishment and do not question any of it. Artists, creations and ideas that do not fit the mainstream way of thinking are mercilessly rejected and forgotten by the conglomerates, which in turn makes them virtually disappear from society itself. However, ideas that are deemed to be valid and desirable to be accepted by society are skillfully marketed to the masses in order to make them become self-evident norm.
In 1928, Edward Bernays already saw the immense potential of motion pictures to standardize thought:
“The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today. It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions. The motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation. Because pictures are made to meet market demands, they reflect, emphasize and even exaggerate broad popular tendencies, rather than stimulate new ideas and opinions. The motion picture avails itself only of ideas and facts which are in vogue. As the newspaper seeks to purvey news, it seeks to purvey entertainment.”
– Edward Bernays, Propaganda
These facts were flagged as dangers to human freedom in the 1930’s by thinkers of the school of Frankfurt such as Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse. They identified three main problems with the cultural industry. The industry can:
1. reduce human beings to the state of mass by hindering the development of emancipated individuals, who are capable of making rational decisions;
2. replace the legitimate drive for autonomy and self-awareness by the safe laziness of conformism and passivity; and
3. validate the idea that men actually seek to escape the absurd and cruel world in which they live by losing themselves in a hypnotic state self-satisfaction.
The notion of escapism is even more relevant today with advent of online video games, 3D movies and home theaters. The masses, constantly seeking state-of-the-art entertainment, will resort to high-budget products that can only be produced by the biggest media corporations of the world. These products contain carefully calculated messages and symbols which are nothing more and nothing less than entertaining propaganda. The public have been trained to LOVE its propaganda to the extent that it spends its hard-earned money to be exposed to it. Propaganda (used in both political, cultural and commercial sense) is no longer the coercive or authoritative communication form found in dictatorships: it has become the synonym of entertainment and pleasure.
“In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or it might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies — the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”
– Aldous Huxley, Preface to A Brave New World
A single piece of media often does not have a lasting effect on the human psyche. Mass media, however, by its omnipresent nature, creates a living environment we evolve in on a daily basis. It defines the norm and excludes the undesirable. The same way carriage horses wear blinders so they can only see what is right in front of them, the masses can only see where they are supposed to go.
“It is the emergence of mass media which makes possible the use of propaganda techniques on a societal scale. The orchestration of press, radio and television to create a continuous, lasting and total environment renders the influence of propaganda virtually unnoticed precisely because it creates a constant environment. Mass media provides the essential link between the individual and the demands of the technological society.”
– Jacques Ellul
One of the reasons mass media successfully influences society is due to the extensive amount of research on cognitive sciences and human nature that has been applied to it.
“Publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public’s perception of a subject. The subjects of publicity include people (for example, politicians and performing artists), goods and services, organizations of all kinds, and works of art or entertainment.”
The drive to sell products and ideas to the masses has lead to an unprecedented amount of research on human behavior and on the human psyche. Cognitive sciences, psychology, sociology, semiotics, linguistics and other related fields were and still are extensively researched through well-funded studies.
“No group of sociologists can approximate the ad teams in the gathering and processing of exploitable social data. The ad teams have billions to spend annually on research and testing of reactions, and their products are magnificent accumulations of material about the shared experience and feelings of the entire community.”
– Marshal McLuhan, The Extensions of Man
The results of those studies are applied to advertisements, movies, music videos and other media in order to make them as influential as possible. The art of marketing is highly calculated and scientific because it must reach both the individual and the collective consciousness. In high-budget cultural products, a video is never “just a video,” Images, symbols and meanings are strategically placed in order to generate a desired effect.
“It is with knowledge of the human being, his tendencies, his desires, his needs, his psychic mechanisms, his automatisms as well as knowledge of social psychology and analytical psychology that propaganda refines its techniques.”
– Propagandes, Jacques Ellul (free translation)
Today’s propaganda almost never uses rational or logical arguments. It directly taps into a human’s most primal needs and instincts in order to generate an emotional and irrational response. If we always thought rationally, we probably wouldn’t buy 50% of what we own. Babies and children are constantly found in advertisements targeting women for a specific reason: studies have shown that images of children trigger in women an instinctual need to nurture, to care and to protect, ultimately leading to a sympathetic bias towards the advertisement.
Sex is ubiquitous in mass media, as it draws and keeps the viewer’s attention. It directly connects to our animal need to breed and to reproduce, and, when triggered, this instinct can instantly overshadow any other rational thoughts in our brain.
What if the messages described above were able to reach directly into the viewers’ subconscious mind, without the viewers even realizing what is happening? That is the goal of subliminal perception. The phrase subliminal advertising was coined in 1957 by the US market researcher James Vicary, who said he could get moviegoers to “drink Coca-Cola” and “eat popcorn” by flashing those messages onscreen for such a short time that viewers were unaware.
“Subliminal perception is a deliberate process created by communications technicians, by which you receive and respond to information and instructions without being consciously aware of the instructions.”
– Steve Jacobson, Mind Control in the United States
This technique is often used in marketing and we all know that sex sells.
Although some sources claim that subliminal advertising is ineffective or even an urban myth, the documented usage of this technique in mass media proves that creators believe in its powers. Recent studies have also proven its effectiveness, especially when the message is negative.
”A team from University College London, funded by the Wellcome Trust, found that it [subliminal perception]was particularly good at instilling negative thoughts. There has been much speculation about whether people can process emotional information unconsciously, for example pictures, faces and words,” said Professor Nilli Lavie, who led the research. We have shown that people can perceive the emotional value of subliminal messages and have demonstrated conclusively that people are much more attuned to negative words.”
A famous example of subliminal messaging in political communications is in George Bush’s advertisement against Al Gore in 2000.
Right after the name of Gore is mentioned, the ending of the word “bureaucrats” — “rats” — flashes on the screen for a split second.
The discovery of this trickery caused quite a stir and, even if there are no laws against subliminal messaging in the U.S., the advertisement was taken off the air.
As seen in many articles on The Vigilant Citizen, subliminal and semi-subliminal messages are often used in movies and music videos to communicate messages and ideas to the viewers.
In the past, when changes were imposed on populations, they would take to the streets, protest and even riot. The main reason for this clash was due to the fact that the change was clearly announced by the rulers and understood by the population. It was sudden and its effects could clearly be analyzed and evaluated. Today, when the elite needs a part of its agenda to be accepted by the public, it is done through desensitization. The agenda, which might go against the public best interests, is slowly, gradually and repetitively introduced to the world through movies (by involving it within the plot), music videos (who make it cool and sexy) or the news (who present it as a solution to today’s problems). After several years of exposing the masses to a particular agenda, the elite openly presents the concept the world and, due to mental programming, it is greeted with general indifference and is passively accepted. This technique originates from psychotherapy.
“The techniques of psychotherapy, widely practiced and accepted as a means of curing psychological disorders, are also methods of controlling people. They can be used systematically to influence attitudes and behavior. Systematic desensitization is a method used to dissolve anxiety so the the patient (public) is no longer troubled by a specific fear, a fear of violence for example. […] People adapt to frightening situations if they are exposed to them enough.”
– Steven Jacobson, Mind Control in the United States
Predictive programming is often found in the science fiction genre. It presents a specific image of the future – the one that is desired by the elite – and ultimately becomes in the minds of men an inevitability. A decade ago, the public was being desensitized to war against the Arab world. Today, the population is gradually being exposed to the existence of mind control, of transhumanism and of an Illuminati elite. Emerging from the shadows, those concepts are now everywhere in popular culture. This is what Alice Bailey describes as the “externalization of the hierarchy”: the hidden rulers slowly revealing themselves.
Occult Symbolism in Pop Culture
Contrary to the information presented above, documentation on occult symbolism is rather hard to find. This should not come as a surprise as the term “occult”, literally means “hidden”. It also means “reserved to those in the know” as it is only communicated to those who are deemed worthy of the knowledge. It is not taught in schools nor is it discussed in the media. It is thus considered marginal or even ridiculous by the general population.
Occult knowledge is NOT, however, considered ridiculous in occult circles. It is considered timeless and sacred. There is a long tradition of hermetic and occult knowledge being taught through secret societies originating from ancient Babylon, to Eastern Mystics, to the Knights Templar to modern day Freemasons. Even if the nature and the depth of this knowledge was most probably modified and altered throughout the centuries, mystery schools kept their main features, which are highly symbolic, ritualistic and metaphysical. Those characteristics, which were an intricate part of ancient civilizations, have totally been evacuated from modern society to be replaced by pragmatic materialism. For this reason, there lies an important gap of understanding between the pragmatic average person and the ritualistic establishment.
“If this inner doctrine were always concealed from the masses, for whom a simpler code had been devised, is it not highly probable that the exponents of every aspect of modern civilization — philosophic, ethical, religious, and scientific — are ignorant of the true meaning of the very theories and tenets on which their beliefs are founded? Do the arts and sciences that the race has inherited from older nations conceal beneath their fair exterior a mystery so great that only the most illumined intellect can grasp its import? Such is undoubtedly the case.”
– Manly P. Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages
The “simpler code” devised for the masses used to be organized religions. It is now becoming the Temple of the Mass Media and it preaches on a daily basis extreme materialism, spiritual vacuosity and a self-centered, individualistic existence while remaining in conformity to a New World Order. This is exactly the opposite of the attributes required to become a truly free individual, as taught by all great philosophical schools of thought. Is a dumbed-down population easier to deceive and to manipulate?
“These blind slaves are told they are “free” and “highly educated” even as they march behind signs that would cause any medieval peasant to run screaming away from them in panic-stricken terror. The symbols that modern man embraces with the naive trust of an infant would be tantamount to billboards reading, ‘This way to your death and enslavement,’ to the understanding of the traditional peasant of antiquity.”
– Michael A. Hoffman II, Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare
This article examined the major thinkers in the field of mass media, the media power structure and the techniques used to manipulate the masses. I believe this information is vital to the understanding of the “why” in the topics discussed on The Vigilant Citizen. The “mass population” versus “ruling class” dichotomy described in many articles is not a “conspiracy theory” (again, I hate that term), but a reality that has been clearly stated in the works of some of the 20th century’s most influential men.
Lippmann, Bernays and Lasswell have all declared that the public are not fit to decide their own fate, which is the inherent goal of democracy. Instead, they called for a cryptocracy, a hidden government, a ruling class in charge of the “bewildered herd.” As their ideas continue to be applied to society, it is increasingly apparent that an ignorant population is not an obstacle that the rulers must deal with: It is something that is DESIRABLE and, indeed, necessary, to insure total leadership. An ignorant population does not know its rights, does not seek a greater understanding of issues and does not question authorities. It simply follows trends. Popular culture caters to and nurtures ignorance by continually serving up brain-numbing entertainment and spotlighting degenerate celebrities to be idolized. Many people ask me: “Is there a way to stop this?” Yes, there is. STOP BUYING THEIR CRAP AND READ A BOOK.
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Author: Douglas S. Winnail
Source: TomorrowsWorld.org – 2003 January-February
Television, movies and the Internet are having an effect on mankind that would have been unimaginable even a century ago. The media—print and electronic—shape our lives and our minds in ways that most fail to realize, and with sobering effects!
Television, radio, movies, the Internet and print extend their influence upon our culture, our behavior and our brains! What is behind the powerful force of modern media?
We are witnessing a major cultural revolution that is having an incredible impact on our society. Yet, despite numerous warnings, few seem to understand what is really going on or where this surging wave of social change is taking us!
In the last 50 years the electronic media—radio, television, movies, video games and now the Internet—have enveloped the globe and transformed nearly every aspect of our lives. More than a decade ago, educator Neil Postman described the ascendancy of the Age of Television and the decline of the Age of Print as “the most significant American cultural fact of the second half of the twentieth century” (Amusing Ourselves to Death, p. 8). Modern media executives acknowledge that “television is undeniably the most powerful influence in our society today… we can communicate anything we choose almost anywhere in the world… instantaneously, in a puff of electrons” (Down the Tube, Baker & Dessart, pp. x, xiv). Educator Vincent Ruggiero has described the modern electronic media as “the most powerful force that has ever influenced the human mind and heart” (Nonsense Is Destroying America, p. 95).
However, this incredible power has a darker side. Because of its tremendous potential to influence culture, television is the most “effective propaganda vehicle” available today (Redeeming Television, Schultze, p. 49). Communication professionals lament that the average person is “remarkably naïve” about how mass media operates, the personal agendas of scriptwriters and producers, the ultimate consequences to society of what is portrayed on the screen and how watching hours of television affects the developing human brain. Yet that information is available.
Many assume today that when and what we watch is merely a matter of personal taste. Some claim that only “extreme right wing religious fanatics” become upset over the content of films and television and that “mature” individuals prefer the “adult content” of modern media entertainment. However, these assumptions are self-serving myths unsupported by the actual evidence! In fact, knowledgeable members of the media and communications fields are increasingly vocal about the extremely detrimental effects of this modern electronic revolution. You need to understand how the media molds the world and the potential consequences of indiscriminate viewing on yourself, your children, your community and your country—because there is more at stake than many critics realize!
Profits, Pleasure and Propaganda
Just how did the electronic media take over the world? What drives the spread and acceptance of this powerful medium? The bottom line is: money! Some of the first radio stations in America were founded by department stores that made money selling radios. The major television networks in America are owned by large corporations that are in business to make money. The goal of film studios is to generate profits through box office receipts. Television studios make money by attracting sizable audiences and “selling eyeballs” to advertisers. This is one of the reasons sex and violence play such prominent roles in films and television. Sex and violence sell—they attract audiences—and that translates into cash!
Another reason for the popularity of films and television is that viewers seek things that provide immediate gratification—pleasurable entertainment! Television and movies are easy to watch—and most people find initial viewing relaxing. The cares, worries and routines of life can be forgotten—momentarily. When the human mind is constantly bombarded with images it is unable to think and reflect. The immediate availability of novelty, excitement and titillating thrills provide a pleasurable escape for people who find their existence boring, empty, lonely or frustrating.
A third factor influences the content of modern films and television—the personal agendas of writers and producers who desire to reshape society along the lines of their preferences. The movers and shakers in the media industry “are generally liberal… inclined toward secularism… left of center… [with a] radical bent for shaking up the status quo” (Schultze, pp. 151, 156). Surveys indicate that 90 percent of Hollywood executives favor abortion, more than half feel that adultery is not wrong and almost 75 percent see nothing wrong with homosexuality (ibid.). Nearly 45 percent of this group claim no religious affiliation, and 93 percent seldom or never attend church. Entertainment created by such individuals is often in direct conflict with Judeo-Christian values that have anchored western societies for centuries. Film critic Michael Medved explains that this small group of liberal-minded social revolutionaries has turned the Hollywood dream factory into a “poison factory” that attacks religion, assaults the legitimacy of the family, promotes sexual perversions and glorifies ugliness (Hollywood vs. America, p. 3). When we view entertainment, we enter a world created by people whose values are often totally at odds with our own—we should be alert!
Social Pathologies Are Increasing
The last several decades reveal the tragic consequences of this attempt to use mass media to remake society. While Hollywood denies that violence on the screen makes society more violent—the facts indicate just the opposite! Researcher James Hamilton notes that “large literatures exist on the impact of television violence on society… the laboratory evidence firmly establishes that violence on television causes children to be more aggressive… children learn scripts of behavior from television that lead them to be violent in later life” (Channeling Violence, pp. 6, 30). More than 1,000 studies have established links between television violence and behavior that emerges later in life (U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 11, 1995, p. 66). When entertainment industry leaders deny that violent entertainment spawns violent behavior, it is like tobacco company executives denying that smoking causes cancer—they are simply ignoring the facts!
Today we are witnessing the horribly tragic results of such misguided thinking. Increasingly, younger children are killing their peers and others who get in their way—then laughing and bragging about their exploits. Press reports repeatedly document the direct link between violence on the screen and human behavior. When television films on teen-age suicide were aired, researchers noted a significant increase in the number of teen suicides or suicide attempts (Boston Globe, Sept. 11, 1986). Films depicting characters playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun have inspired children to imitate this deadly game (Arizona Republic, March 16, 1998). A teenager who watched extremely violent videos killed a classmate—with a machete, while wearing a mask—just like a character in one of the videos (Boston Globe, Dec. 19, 1988). Recently in France another teenager killed a school friend with a knife while wearing gloves, a black cape and a mask like a movie character. After watching a horror film he commented: “I just wanted to kill someone” (Irish Times, June 6, 2002). When children watch more than 100,000 acts of violence on television before leaving elementary school, it has an effect! Continuous exposure to violence hardens us. Growing children, “bombarded by violence… begin to view life as cheap and expendable” (Atlanta Journal, March 18, 1992). This has serious implications for society.
The story of sex on the screen is similar. While Hollywood claims that only religious fanatics object to sex on television and that it merely gives society what it wants, studies show that more than 70 percent of Americans feel there is too much sex and vulgarity on television (Medved, p. 4). While writers and producers suggest that their films and programs only reflect society, they ignore that they are profoundly influencing the values of society. One college educator addressing the question “Is TV corrupting our kids?” states that “because much of the content of television and other mass media involves issues of sexual conduct, the potential for influence in this area is especially great” (Atlanta Journal, May 24, 1992). Another professor observes that “the media are so compelling and so filled with sex, it’s hard for any kid, even a critic to resist… I think of the media as our true sex educators” (USN&WR, Sept. 11, 1995)—yet films and television rarely show the serious consequences of promiscuous sex. The continuous portrayal of promiscuity as exciting, adultery as natural and divorce as acceptable plays a powerful role in molding attitudes and behaviors. It has a devastating effect on traditional Judeo-Christian moral values.
More than 150 talk shows are viewed by millions of Americans every week. For many, this is just part of the way to spend a day. However professional psychologists are concerned that “talk shows contribute to and even create more problems than they solve” (Tuning in Trouble, Heaton & Wilson, p. 4). To attract viewers, these shows focus on the bizarre and promote a distorted view of what it means to be “normal.” They offer unrealistically simple solutions to complex problems, dispense dangerous advice and ignore the off-camera consequences for guests who have been encouraged to “courageously” reveal deeply personal aspects of their lives. Regrettably, millions of children who watch these programs “are soaking up the same doses of pathology, perversity and interpersonal aggravation that their adult counterparts tune in to every day” (ibid., p. 169). Topics and behaviors presented on talk shows are eroding the foundations of a morally and mentally healthy society.
Today the average child watches between 25 and 30 hours of television a week. Yet Dr. Jane Healy warns that our “changing lifestyles may be altering children’s brains in subtle but critical ways” (Endangered Minds, p. 9). Neuro-anatomists know that the internal structure of the brain is modified by how it is used. Visual experiences register primarily in the right side of the brain. Language and reading exercises are focused in the left side of the brain. When children watch television several hours a day (where little conversation or thinking is involved) and read only 5–10 minutes a day, experts fear a detrimental effect on brain development. Since reading and watching television make very different demands on the brain, extensive television viewing could “reduce stimulation to left-hemisphere systems critical for development of language, reading, and analytical skills… may affect mental ability and attention by diminishing mental traffic between hemispheres… [and] may discourage development of ‘executive’ systems that regulate attention, organization and motivation” (ibid., p. 209). Watching television can also be addictive (cf. Scientific American, February 2002).
These fears correlate with what teachers observe in the classroom. Students today have shortened attention spans; they struggle with reading and writing assignments, exhibit less creativity, are easily bored and distracted, lack perseverance, give up easily and have difficulty remembering instructions and thinking through problems (ibid., pp. 13, 42). A Canadian study reported that these problems increased noticeably in communities after the introduction of television (see The Impact of Television, Williams). This study also found that “television may have a negative impact even for adults on creative problem-solving performances and persistence” (ibid., p. 124); many would rather escape from problems than find solutions! However, research also indicates that better students watch less television, and that “personal interaction with adults is critical” for the development of problem-solving, language, and listening skills (ibid., pp. 198, 266). Dr. Healy relates that “children who have been talked to [and asked questions] and had stories read to them are at a real advantage” because “they’ve learned how to listen and pay attention”—and learned how to think (Healy, p. 80). We can understand the serious consequences of watching too much television when we realize that the brains of children who watch less television may actually develop differently than the brains of their couch-potato peers!
What does the future hold for countries whose citizens watch 20 to 30 hours per week of entertainment saturated with sex, vulgarity and violence? What will come of a nation whose people get most of their news from television, where the average story gets 30 seconds of coverage? What happens to a nation when its scriptwriters and producers deliberately undermine the moral values upon which it was founded? Perceptive observers see danger ahead! Ken Burns, award-winning producer of the PBS series The Civil War, believes that “television is rapidly eroding the strength of our republic from within” (Atlanta Journal, March 13, 1991). In a column titled “Television and the Slide of Civilization,” writer William Murchison laments the modern “inability not just to distinguish between [good and bad, beauty and ugliness, truth and falsehood] but even to admit the possibility of a distinction” (Dallas Morning News, October 13, 1993).
Nearly 20 years ago, Neil Postman stated that “television has culture by the throat… when a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is re-defined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public discussion becomes baby-talk, when… a people become an audience and their public business becomes a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; cultural death is a clear possibility” (USN&WR, Dec. 23, 1985, p. 59; Postman, pp. 155–156). Postman also warned that, because of our constant exposure to the present-centered medium of television, “we are being rendered unfit to remember” (ibid., pp. 136–137). This is sobering when historians point out that “in the great empires of history we see a picture of our own world… virtually every one of the symptoms of decline that can be detected from history is present in this nation today… to ignore such lessons is to court disaster” (When Nations Die, Black, p. 4). Columnist John Leo observed similarly that “we are living through a cultural collapse” (USN&WR, March 27, 1995, p. 16) and that the media are often guilty of “cheerleading for the unraveling of the social structure” (USN&WR, June 1, 1992, p. 19). Judge Robert Bork has warned that “television is showing the end of western civilization in living color” (Slouching Towards Gomorrah, p. 335). Do we grasp what is being said?
But why would individuals in the media seek to undermine the foundations of a society where they enjoy more freedoms than ever before? Why would nations tolerate films and programs that sow seeds of self-destruction? Why do we ignore obvious lessons of history as we gorge ourselves on trivial amusements? Film critic Richard Grenier believes we have allowed a small class of self-proclaimed intellectuals who dominate the electronic media to “capture” our culture. The ideas of this reactionary group that disdains the fundamental ethical values of western Judeo-Christian culture “come spewing forth out of every TV” and permeate the scripts of nearly every film—that we watch by the hour (Capturing the Culture, pp. xx–xxi). Television critic Medved makes the perceptive observation that Hollywood is “following its own warped conceptions of artistic integrity, driven by some dark compulsion beyond simple greed” (Medved, p. 286).
In our modern, politically correct culture, certain topics are carefully avoided—especially theological topics that hearken back to an earlier “pre-enlightened” era. Yet these intellectually taboo topics hold real answers to the questions that we have just raised. The Bible, a book held up to ridicule by many in the media, explains why the most powerful and influential means of communication yet devised has been used to such warped and perverted ends. The Scriptures reveal this world is actually under the sway of an extremely cunning spirit being—Satan the devil. The Bible refers to Satan as “the god of this world” who has blinded the minds of those who do not believe (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is also called the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). The name Satan means “adversary”—and Satan has been in rebellion against the way of God from time immemorial (Isaiah 14:12–15; Ezekiel 28:14–18). This is the dark force who works through people to generate and promote the warped content of the media that degrades the values and behavior of our modern world—yet many do not even believe that Satan exists!
When we compare what is projected on the silver screen with what the Bible reveals about Satan’s influence, the connection is obvious. The Bible explains that when people reject God and His ways, God gives them over to a “debased [Satan-influenced] mind” which revels in sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, murder, strife and all kinds of evil—including homosexuality and other perversions (Romans 1:18–32); an accurate description of modern media entertainment! God also allows us to reap what we sow (Jeremiah 2:17–19). We are told that, because our society has forgotten God and rejected the ethical values of the Bible, “in the last days perilous times will come”—people will be selfish, materialistic, callous, brutal, “despisers of good… lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1–5)—again, a dead-on description of our age! Isaiah describes the society of modern Israelite nations as “sick” from head to toe (Isaiah 1:3–6), where people are determined to “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). God proclaims through the prophet Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of [right] knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being a priest for me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children” (Hosea 4:6). These are sobering warnings to a society that has been willingly misled by the corrupting influence of modern, misguided media.
A Better Way
How can you survive a cultural collapse? How can you live and raise children in a society where religion has been watered down and corrupted, and moral values are under constant attack by the most powerful medium ever invented? What hope is there for the future? Again, the Bible provides informative answers.
The Apostle John reveals where our human civilization is heading. He writes that “the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). The Apostle Paul admonished Christians in the vulgar, secular city of Corinth to “come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:14–18). Peter urged his listeners to “repent” so they might “be saved from this perverse [corrupt, misguided] generation” (Acts 2:38–40). Repentance is turning with sorrow from a way of life that you realize is wrong, and following God’s instructions. Those instructions provide guidelines for living in our media-saturated age—if we will use them.
David knew that he had to “turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things” (Psalm 119:37). Isaiah wrote that “he who walks righteously [according to the commandments of God—Psalm 119:172]… stops his ears from hearing bloodshed and shuts his eyes from seeing evil” (Isaiah 33:15). Paul admonished the Corinthians to “flee [avoid] sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:12–18). These are biblical guidelines for dealing with the sex and violence that permeate the media today—such degrading amusements should be avoided! This requires thinking and decision-making on our part—the very activities that watching television tends to discourage!
The challenge for parents in this age of media is still to “train up a child in the way that he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). This does not happen when television is used as a babysitter. If children watch television or videos, adults should be present to provide guidance and perspective. It is even better if adults can show—through instruction and by example—there is an exciting real world beyond television, movies and video games. Libraries are full of books about animals, science, geography and literature, and of biographies of people who have learned powerful lessons about life. Encourage children to be physically active and to think about what they want to do with their lives (Proverbs 4:26). Help them to see the needs of others, to discover their own talents and to develop skills and abilities to serve other human beings. Teach them the benefits of living according to the laws of God (Deuteronomy 4:1–9), and that consequences come from rejecting and violating those laws. Encourage children to use their time wisely (Ephesians 5:15–16), and to focus on things that are true, noble, just and pure (Philippians 4:8) so they can avoid the pitfalls of this age.
The real hope for anyone with the courage to come out of this world and believe the Gospel of the coming kingdom of God (Mark 1:14–15) will be the opportunity to work with Jesus Christ and the saints in re-orienting our misguided society and restoring true values. The Bible indicates that when Jesus Christ returns there will be a “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19–21), the saints will become the teachers of God’s way of life (Isaiah 30:20–21), and the laws of God will be proclaimed from Jerusalem to the whole world (Isaiah 2:2–4). This is what Tomorrow’sWorld.org is all about. This message of God’s way is what modern religion has forgotten, and the secular media has replaced with sex, violence and trivia.
In the Millennium, the media will proclaim God’s way of life to every human being. You can have a part in this mission if you resist being molded by the media of our present age and develop your own talents and abilities to serve your Creator.
Where will you go when you die?
The world is full of people who believe they will go to heaven. Tragically, churches are also full of people who believe they are going to heaven. The truth is….heaven is one of two possible places people go when someone dies. The other place many people go when they die is hell.
2 Thessalonians 1:8 – “…in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let’s face a stark reality about our day. Hell is not a popular subject, but it’s one that demands our attention. Unfortunately it is a subject rarely discussed in churches today. That is a shame, given the eternal consequences and the reality of hell.
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“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 24:45)
Let’s begin by looking at what the world thinks and what a majority of churches teach about the reality of hell. Then we’ll look at what the word of God tells us about hell and how our view of hell shapes the way we live and interact with others. The world has many false notions regarding hell and here are just a few ranging from pop-cultures view right down to the average Joe on the street.
Here are some common misconceptions:
“A loving God would never send people to a horrible place like that.”
“I don’t think I’ll go to hell because I’m a pretty good person…I believe I’ll go to heaven.”
Here are some quotes from famous people:
Bonnie Raitt: “Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell…spirituality is for people who have already been there.”
Mark Twain: “I don’t like to commit myself about heaven-hell, I have friends in both places.”
Katy Perry: “I don’t believe in a heaven or a hell, or an old man sitting on a throne. I believe in a higher power bigger than me because that keeps me accountable.”
ACDC “Highway to Hell” lyrics: “Goin’ down, party time…My friends are gonna be there too. I’m on the highway to hell. On the highway to hell. Highway to hell…I’m on the highway to hell.”
People have all sorts of false notions about hell. We have all seen the cartoons with the devil in his red tights and pitchfork prodding the cartoon character to get back to work. Some apostate teachings offer ways to avoid or dismiss the possibility of hell all together.
Roman Catholicism teaches that a sinful life can be remedied in a place called purgatory…a place the Word of God never mentions. This false teaching is deceiving many people by offering an alternative atonement for sins…an atonement other than the atonement Jesus Christ purchased for us on the cross.
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I want to briefly mention the fact that hell is a subject that’s not being preached in a majority of churches today. Jesus spoke about hell and eternal punishment over forty times in the gospels. I don’t understand why hell – a reality of eternal consequences – isn’t being widely preached or taught in many churches today. Especially when the Lord Jesus Himself taught about hell so often.
Maybe it’s because hell isn’t a popular, feel good message. Or it isn’t the kind of subject that we feel will keep visitors returning. Those notions fly in the face of what Jesus, the early church, and saints through the centuries have taught.
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The message of judgment, hell, repentance, and atonement may not fill the largest section of the “Christian” bookstore or fill the largest churches, but that message is what matters for eternity. Many fellowships are ignoring subjects of eternal significance, focusing on seeker sensitive messages, and teaching a different gospel that is “me” focused…not Christ focused.
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Churches aren’t supposed to be life enrichment centers, they are supposed to be places where people hear the undiluted gospel message. Here is what some teachers and evangelists from the past have said about the importance of teaching about hell; God’s judgment; our hopeless state without Jesus; and repentance:
John Wesley: “I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans.”
Charles Spurgeon: “If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
Jonathan Edwards: “Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering.”
A. W. Tozer: “The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.”
Thankfully some churches in our day still teach about the reality of hell. Although it’s an unpleasant subject, the message of salvation must involve an understanding that our sin is an affront to a holy God and His righteous judgment. The Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ is a message which produces godly sorrow which leads to genuine repentance. Marriage seminars, youth rallies, and men’s conferences are all just fine, but our primary task is to go preach the gospel. Without it, all we are engaging in is temporary behavior modification.
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A. W. Tozer sums up the eternal tragedy of a “religious experience” without repentance:
“It is my opinion that tens of thousands of people, if not millions, have been brought into some kind of religious experience by accepting christ [sic] and they have (not) been saved.”
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Eternity is rushing upon people and every day tens of thousands enter it without a Savior because they believed they were good people. I’ve known pillar of the community and salt of the earth types both inside and outside of church. These are the folks others speak of and say, “He/she would give you the shirt off of their back.” The fact is even our best works and efforts are soiled without Jesus — we are lost for eternity without Him.
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Isaiah 64:6 – “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Romans 3:10 – “As it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
The world needs to hear about the love of Jesus, His grace, mercy, and gentleness. But your words will fall on deaf ears if they aren’t taught in light of His holiness, glory, and coming judgment. Heaven is the eternal reality for everyone who is saved. Hell is the sad eternal reality for those who remain unrepentant.
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There has been a lot of nonsense published in recent years about people visiting heaven and hell. In light of this, let’s see what the Bible says about the reality of hell:
Revelation 21:8 – “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Matthew 13:49 – “The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
2 Thessalonians 1:8 – “…in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Matthew 13:41 – “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 25:41 – “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Most Bible teachers agree hell is a place of eternal conscious torment. As Christians, we must warn people about hell, God’s wrath, and coming judgment. In Ray Comfort’s excellent book God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life he describes the fallacy of having people accept Christ. Throughout the book he drives home the point that we are churning out false converts if people don’t see their sin as an offense before a holy God and come to repentance. He provides a quote from D. L. Moody regarding godly sorrow and conviction:
“It is a great mistake to give a man who has not been convicted of sin certain passages that were never meant for him. The Law is what he needs…do not offer the consolation of the gospel until he sees and knows he is guilty before God. We must give enough of the Law to take away all self-righteousness. I pity the man who preaches only one side of the truth – always the gospel, never the Law.”
How does the reality of hell and eternity affect the way we live today? It should affect the ways we live our life and interact with people. We are all sinners and deserve God’s righteous judgment in hell, but thanks to his unmerited grace and mercy Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. If we repent and follow Jesus as our Lord, His blood covers our sins and we are adopted into God’s family. We will be His sons and daughters – no longer enemies.
Many people wonder how a loving God could send people to hell. I included Matthew 25:41 above and the section which says that eternal fire is prepared for the devil and his angels. I highlighted this fact because God intended hell to be a place for that purpose. People freely choose to go to hell by remaining unrepentant and rejecting the salvation that only Jesus offers.
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2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
Romans 5:8 – “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Why does the reality of hell matter? It matters a great deal because unsaved people need to know of the eternal danger they are in. It matters because the reality of hell affects the way we present the gospel and as individuals…the way we witness to others. It may be easier to tell someone about your church, great youth group, or just try to win them through relationship. Those things are all good, but over the years people are becoming less responsive to these methods just as Ray Comfort mentioned in his book.
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We must present the reality of an eternity away from God in hell and the wicked condition of the human heart apart from Jesus. It’s not an easy message to share with people, but it is the only message that will matter to them 100 years from now.
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What does hell and repentance have to do with Bible prophecy? The reality of hell has everything to do with Bible prophecy because whether Jesus returns in our lifetime or not, we are all going to meet Him soon either as our Savior or Judge. Some religious people accuse Christians of teaching an antiquated “fire and brimstone” message regarding hell. This comes from a gross misunderstanding of how much is eternally at stake and an underestimation of God’s holiness.
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It is a loving thing to warn people about God’s soon coming judgment and His salvation through Jesus on the cross. Heaven, hell, and the reality of a long eternity is a sobering prospect for people when they are finally told the truth. Jesus is coming soon, but for the person who dies today eternity is instant. If you are a Christian, engage people with a renewed fervor to tell them about the soul saving and life changing gospel.
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Hebrews 9:27 – “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
If you are reading this article and don’t know Jesus as your Lord, please come to Him while the door is still open. If you do….you will be His and be with Him for all of eternity. If you reject Him, you will face Him as Judge when He returns or when you die. If you have questions about what it means to follow Jesus…click here.
All for Him,
Please view this short excerpt of a sermon by Bro. David Wilkerson:
“Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
How has the past five years passed so quickly? My 15 year old son was just ten. I turn around and the daughter that was as high as my belt not long ago is now as tall as I am.
Where is life going? Where has it gone? How have the past 50, 30, 20, 10, 5 years passed so quickly? What have I done? What is the present counting for? What does the future hold and how long do I have? If the next 10 years pass as quickly as the previous ten, I find that I am, at times of weak faith, actually scared or at least very sobered by it all; what can I do to redeem my remaining time? What can I do to have no regrets when I am dying? Such thoughts often fills the mind of one who is in the second half of life.
O, how fast is life. It is a vapor, a mist, a disappearing cloud; it is churning away and passing like a bullet toward its target- eternity. The brevity and speed of this life reminds us, as dear Geoff Thomas says, that we are not here to stay but we are here to go, and while we are in this world we are strangers on a swift journey. This certainly becomes more real with each passing year, especially when birthdays come around.
Birthdays, for younger folk, are times of celebration and encouragement, with feelings that are affirming and uplifting. You are glad to be getting older and feel that you have 500 years to yet live. But not so for those who are getting older. When people get into their forties, fifties and beyond, birthdays become a different thing altogether. They are not the fun things they were when young, but rather are sobering reminders that the days have quickly turned into years and you are feeling the great reality – “I don’t have many years before it will be my funeral that others will be attending and I will not be here– I will be in eternity.” This is what becomes more and more real with second-half birthdays. By second-half, I mean birthdays that come in the second half of life. The second half has become very, very real to me.
If we are realistic, when one turns forty, he is already in that “second-half”, because Scripture promises three score and ten — 70 years; but we all know that it is not a promise that is certain for all believers; there have been many wonderful Christians who have died before the age of ten, twenty, thirty, and forty. So those thirty-nine and older ought to welcome themselves into the second half of life. Everyone’s life is passing away and will soon be gone.
We tend to live life before fifty as if we are never going to die; intellectually, we know we will die, but we don’t feel it and we certainly don’t dwell on it enough; it is not real to us; we don’t prepare for it like we ought to; we don’t meditate on itenough and develop an eternity-conscious mentality. Then when our later years are upon us, we are not ready for the reality that comes with it– “O my, I am approaching sixty– seventy– where have the years gone? what have I accomplished? What do I do now? How can I best use the few and fleeting years I have left, whatever that might be?” This can bring with it a dampening, depressing feeling which can cast one down for months if they are not mindful of it and don’t guard themselves against it.
What is the remedy for such a trap? It is the Bible. And more specifically, particular needed graces that the Bible alone and Christ alone gives — an eternal perspective, a deeply satisfied heart that is satisfied in Christ alone, and a life that is truly kingdom-centered. Any heart that is attached to this world will feel sadness as they realize that before long they will be leaving it. But the heart that is in heaven, that has its mind set on things above, that longs for Christ, that sees this vile world for what it is — temporal and passing vanity — such a heart will not continually be cast down with the passing of time and the second half of life. Each passing day, month, and year brings the true Christian closer and closer to being with their Saviour forever and forever. Can you imagine the moment when you actually see Him and know that you are now with Him forever?
More and more, I find myself saying to my close friends, “It won’t be long before one of us will probably be standing at each others’ funeral.” We know it’s coming. At that time, as someone has said, I seriously doubt that anyone on their death bed will ask, “Would you read me the amount I have in my bank savings account and the summary of my financial port folio?” No one will be asking that. Rather, all earthly things are behind them and they are starring death and eternity in the face big time. Then — at that moment — nothing except Christ Himself will matter. That day, the day of our death, is fast approaching for you and for me. We ARE going to die. John Wesley was right, “This life is only a dressing room for eternity.”
I must confess that I at times feel dread at the though of dying and leaving my children and grandchildren in this world without me. It casts me down at times. But then I remember that, though every Christian must pass from this life, the God and Father of that Christian lives on and He can and will work in the lives of those descendants of ours we love so much. I can trust Him with their future here without me. I can’t keep them now; I can’t protect them now; so why should I worry about their future life when I am gone? God is real; He is able; He is the everlasting God and Father. I can trust Him with their lives present and future.
It ought to be our continual prayer: “Lord, teach me to number my days and teach me to apply my heart to wisdom; give me enabling grace to redeem whatever days and years I have left and fit me for eternity, as well as enabling me to leave a Christ-fragrant legacy behind when I am gone.” It was just such a person with such a perspective who wrote:
“Only one life Twill soon be past; Only what’s done For Christ will last.
And when I am dying How glad I shall be, That the lamp of my life Has been burned out for Thee.”
For those who want to learn to number their days and apply their hearts to wisdom, Isaac Watts is always a help:
O God our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come; Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home.
A thousand ages in Thy sight Are like an evening gone; Short as the watch that ends the night Before the rising sun.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream, Bears all its sons away; They fly, forgotten as a dream dies at the opening day.
Any funerals to attend soon? Yes, O yes, for each of us. And precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
From a dying friend to a dying friend, hopeful that we will spend one bright eternal day forever together.
Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Author: J. Robert Smith
Source: American Thinker – 04.08.2015
Let’s not hear this insipid and misleading talk from Washington Republicans anymore: “Barack Obama is incompetent and naïve.” That better describes them.
Barack Obama is a committed leftist working through his agenda to “transform” America. Washington Republicans do injury to the cause of liberty with timid language. That the president and the left bungle or misstep at times detracts little from their successes. In terms of advancing leftist aims, the Obama presidency is historic.
Remaking America didn’t start with Obama. It won’t stop without him, either, unless the left is stopped, period. Split differences with this foe? How so when the left works to erode liberty and pursues policies damaging to national security? We’ve entered days of the starkest differences between the left and us — days that demand from us hard-eyed appraisals and resolute action.
The left has been marching through America for decades, destroying traditional America as it goes. Ransacking our institutions. Torching our values and virtues. Shredding constitutional rights and undercutting the rule of law. If it’s possible to ransack, torch, shred, and undercut by enfolding actions in the language and symbols of traditional America, and the language of “compassion,” the vintage left did so. The telling contrast is that today’s left is dropping the cloak. It still pays lip service to compassion (toss in fairness and equality). But the modern left’s approach contains stridency, brazenness – open brutality… more of the naked iron fist.
Brutality – in service of a cause. Brutality – in the pursuit of power. Leftism and statism go hand-in-hand. Statism and truncheons go… hand-in-hand. Obama isn’t shy about forcing his will on the nation. Ditto the left. Obama imposes his will through executive action. He unfetters federal bureaucracies and agencies. He’s doing so through foreign policy. He did so with help from the last Democratic Congress, which legislated a landmark health care law against majority will. He roughs up Republican Congresses.
Let’s start with Obama’s dealings with Iran over its nuclear weapons development program. In a trenchant column, Wesley Pruden, the Washington Times’ emeritus editor, stated:
“Describing Mr. Obama as an appeaser, in the tradition of Neville Chamberlain caving at a similar nexus of history in 1938, misses the point. Mr. Obama may not be appeasing at all, but enabling. Everything about Barack Obama suggests that he believes America must be cut down to size, that it’s the arrogance of thinking America is something special, the exceptional nation, that is the source of intractable trouble in the world. Once America is brought to heel, men of wisdom, brilliance, kindness, intelligence and good will — rare men just like himself — can make the rough places smooth and forge a lasting peace.” [Emphasis added]
If Pruden is correct, the president, along with the rest of the left, wants an enemy to develop nuclear weapons in order to diminish the U.S. Iran is developing ICBMs, too. The implications are stunning. Any deal Obama strikes with Iran will only be about forestalling nuclear weapons attainment.
The consequences of Obama humbling his own nation: a nuclear armed Iran sparks a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race. (Sunni Saudi Arabia won’t tolerate Shia Iran menacing it.) Iran, with delivery capability, can strike targets in the U.S. Thirty-six years of hatred toward America, and calling for America’s death, by Iran can’t be shrugged off.
Obama’s Iranian gambit is a type of brutality. It’s violence against U.S. national interests. Doing so imperils Americans.
Now let’s jump back to ObamaCare. Liz Peek wrote for Foxnews.com in 2013:
“Are you afraid of the Obama White House? If you challenge the president’s beloved health care plan, maybe you should be. Consider the fate of William White, the Washington, D.C. Insurance Commissioner, who voiced skepticism about President Obama’s hastily assembled “fix” for the millions losing their insurance policies.
A day after suggesting that the new demands on insurers could destabilize the marketplace and lead to even higher premiums, White was canned.”
Telling the truth about ObamaCare is risky.
We see bullied government officials. Bullied health insurers and providers. Even a stage-four cancer patient, Edie Sunby, who had the nerve to recount in an op-ed that the ACA cost her insurance coverage, was bullied by the White House. Sunby was one of millions of Americans forced out of insurance policies.
There’s the Ferguson, Missouri, racial strife. About that, the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, Jim Pasco, had this to say last August:
“I think what he has to do as president and as a constitutional lawyer is remember that there is a process in the United States and the process is being followed, for good or for ill, by the police and by the county and by the city and by the prosecutors’ office […]”
Pasco should know that constitutional processes matter less to Obama and the left than results. The Constitution was declared “living” during the New Deal. It lives as left-wing judges want it to. Increasingly, it lives as the president wants it to.
Peter Kinder, Missouri’s lieutenant governor, criticized the Obama administration for “[inciting] a mob” in Ferguson recently:
“It’s bad enough the [Ferguson] protesters were behaving that way, but we have a right to expect much more from the attorney general, the head of the Justice Department of the United States, and the president of the United States. And instead, what we got too often from them was incitement of the mob, and, uh, encouraging disorder in Ferguson and disrupting the peaceable going-about of our daily lives in the greater St. Louis region.” [Emphasis added]
Welcome to the new world of leftist brutality, Lieutenant Governor, where cause trumps law and order; where nothing is abstract about the violence that a leftist president and his attorney general are glad to fuel or provoke.
We can go on, discussing the harm done through the president’s lax borders and amnesty efforts. There’s violence along the nation’s southern border and higher crime in U.S. cities thanks to illegals. Violence being done to the nation’s fabric; injury to the rule of law. All to achieve a political end: to expand and nourish (at taxpayer expense) constituencies for the Democratic Party.
Lastly, Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana. The pizzeria’s owners were threatened and intimidated by leftist and homosexual jackboots and fellow travelers. Threatened because they answered a reporter’s question consistent with their religious beliefs. Where was Obama’s and Holder’s outrage at the violence done to small business owners exercising their rights to conscience and religious freedom?
About Indiana, Memories Pizza, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Clarice Feldman wrote for American Thinker:
“They [public accommodation laws] need to be pared back if we are to continue as a free people with the right to free speech, free association, and the freedom to practice our religion. If we don’t, we open the doors to totalitarians that decide what we can do and mobs like the Chinese Red Guards enforcing this week’s cultural fashion.”
That’s the point, isn’t it? The left doesn’t really want a free people. It wants power — power to radically change America. Laws that enable the left to do so are exploited. Laws that don’t are ignored and actions taken to secure the desired end… nowadays, with brutality… more and more.