Musings on Christian Themes
What the Puritans called Jingles
by C. Matthew McMahon
Jingles – pithy sayings that get your limited attention in today’s sound byte technological age. The Puritans called anything unstudied which communicated a “sound byte” in thier day “a jingle.” Such Christian clichés go something like this –
“Just Pray No!” 16th Annual Worldwide Weekend of Prayer and Fasting organized by the “Just Pray NO!” nonprofit corporation. This is a group of crazy-matic (charismatic?) intercessory prayer warriors that pray to break bondages and to pull down the strongholds of addiction from every state in the United States and from six continents. Steven Sherman, is Founder of the jingle “Just Pray No!” I think he must have been around for Nancy Regan’s “just say no” campaign.
“Woman, Thou Art Loosed” TD Jakes, an avowed modalist, continues to tout his theological moronity with these crazy-matic (charismatic?) sayings and pithy sound byte allusions to his ideas surrounding deliverance ministries.
“Expand your borders”. Bruce Wilkinson, the author who wrote “The Prayer of Jabez” now has the modern church encouraging one another to expand your borders. The book, not Jabez’s actual prayer, promises rewards from God that God does not promise in the Bible. Wilkinson believes that mantraism (prayers of repetition like the Romanists) somehow unlock magical formulas for earnest believers.
Even in the realm of “acceptable theology” we find some of these pithy sayings unleashed.
“Discipline without direction is drudgery.” Donald Whitney in his book, “Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life,” uses this pithy phrase to outline the steps to Christian fulfillment in sanctification through all 249 pages.
Or how about this one:
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” John Piper’s book “Desiring God” attempts to summarize the Christian life in a pithy saying. With such a saying, the Christian has everything he needs to understand life His life before God. Piper claims the Westminster Puritans thought this way as well. That is why he used the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s first question and answer to set the stage for his entire work.
There is a problem with pithy sayings and Christian clichés that have an adverse affect on the elect’s sanctification. The problem is that 21st century Christendom is only age in the history of the church that created pithy sayings to summarize entire doctrinal strata.
Augustine has clever sentences, but no pithy sayings that summarize one of his entire works. He wrote thousands of pages on hundreds of subjects comprising the Christian life. One cannot run to Calvin, or Luther and find pithy sayings or clichés that summarize entire doctrinal ideas. Certainly, the Puritan era up and through Jonathan Edwards had no interest in trying to summarize the Christian life in a single sentence.
It’s quite the opposite.
William Jenkyn wrote 1500 pages on the single chapter of Jude. William Green wrote over 3200 pages on the book of Ezekiel. James Durham wrote over 2000 pages on Revelation. George Newton wrote 1600 pages on the 17th chapter of John. Thomas Jacob wrote 1550 pages on the 8th chapter to the book of Romans. Martin Luther has over 52 volumes in his writings. Calvin, the same, or more.
Clever marketing jingles that allow Christians to remain ignorant and unstudied are not the message pastors and theologians need to send to the masses. Men like Jakes, Wilkinson, Osteen, Hinn, Sherman, Copeland, Hagee, and others who thrive on the inane, moronic theology that attracts the masses which infect people around the globe should be locked up and banished to some pacific island together. And the marketing strategies of even theologically sound ministers, ought to be tossed out.
Christ desired his people to know the word. Not to sum up the word in a single sentence to make it easy to remember.
Paul did not say that pithy sayings will make you wise to salvation. Rather, he said, very clearly, in 2 Timothy 3:15, “that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Learning takes a lifetime.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15).