While doing a little spring cleaning the other day around our house, I ran across something from the publishers of LIFE magazine. It was a special periodical titled, “The 100 Most Important Events & People of the Past 1000 Years.” It chronicled all kinds of inventions, wars, discoveries, great individuals, outstanding leaders, etc. While thumbing through it, many of the entries were obvious: “The Invention of the Telephone – 1876,” “The Industrial Revolution – 1769,” “Man Walking on the Moon – 1969,” and “The Cultivation of Penicillin – 1928.” Some were not so obvious, like: “The Invention of Plastic – 1907,” “Checking Accounts – 1407,” “The First Restaurant – 1120,” and “Selling the World a Coke – 1886!”
But guess what a secular magazine listed as the number ONE most important event of the last millennium? “The Printing of the First Bible on the Gutenberg Press – 1455!” What?! How could that be? How could the printing of this single book be so important? Their reasoning was that throughout history, the ability to read and write had been confined mostly to tiny elites of nobles, priests and scribes. The hunger for knowledge in Europe led Johann Gutenberg to create an initial run of 200 gorgeously typeset Bibles. It literally unleashed an information epidemic that rages to this day. By the year 1500 an estimated half million books were in circulation.
After contemplating this for a while I realized an interesting parallel with Christian broadcasting. The Gutenberg press was the first use of modern technology to try and propagate the gospel to the masses! Up until that point in time, individuals traveling to foreign lands and reading from handwritten manuscripts communicated the message of Christ – a technique that was slow and inefficient at best. But with the cutting-edge technology of the “printing press,” the message of peace and hope could be mass-produced, more easily distributed, and more efficiently communicated.
What’s also interesting is that throughout history the first uses of other technologies have almost always included the propagation of the gospel. Thank God for Christian pioneers in music, radio, theater, television and cinema. Why we as Believers aren’t still the leaders in all of those industries is kind of sad to me. It seems that some Christians want to shun new technologies as opposed to embrace them. When Pat Robertson, my parents – Paul & Jan Crouch, Lester Sumrall, Garth Coonce and others saw the potential television had in the 1970’s they, too, simply wanted to use the latest technology available to teach the masses, then evangelize the world – something that I know was in the heart of Johann Gutenberg over 500 years ago.
Please continue to pray for all Christian broadcasters and those in the media. We must all rely on the Lord’s direction as some of these new “opportunities” become available. There is a hurting, lonely and dying world out there that needs to hear the Gospel. I can make you a promise from my heart, that with your help, I will not rest until everyone has heard at least once.
Paul F. Crouch Jr.