Sensationalism According to the Bible with Commentary


Lord’s Library contributor Jared Helms offers this short study on sensationalism according to the Bible, with key Scriptures and commentary. Check out Jared’s YouTube channel and two blogs: A Light in the Darkness and Blind Faith Examples.

Ministry Leaders Series BadgeThese are individuals hooked on a feeling, discerning good and evil based on their very subjective experience of events. They seek out a kind of religious high that gives them some fleeting happiness. If they do not feel God is close, He is not there. If they do not feel moved, there was something lacking in a service. If it feels good it is good, and if not it is bad.

They serve their sense and emotions rather than the clear truths of God’s Word which is forever settled. See Psalm 119:89: “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” So, their theology and morality are never settled, and prone to be washed away by the storms of life. See Matthew 7:24-27: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

For this reason, they have little or no security, are often fearful, and so quite needy.

The Gospel

Sensationalism According to the Bible

D. Martyn Lloyd Jones said: “Faith, obviously, is not a mere matter of feeling. It cannot be, because one’s feelings in this kind of condition can be very changeable. A Christian is not meant to be dejected when everything goes wrong. He is told to “rejoice.” Feelings belong to happiness alone, rejoicing takes in something much bigger than feelings; and if faith were a matter of feelings only, then when things go wrong and feelings change, faith will go. But faith is not a matter of feelings only, faith takes up the whole man including his mind, his intellect and his understanding. It is response to truth.”

It is important to note that the sensation in question does not have to be overtly positive; fearmongering is an effective tool for misleading the masses. The rise of YouTube, social media, and search engine optimization has encouraged sensationalism through the use of scare tactics, soliciting outrage, and a host of emotions associated with controversy. We do not say that SEO or these other tools are wrong, only that they may lead well-intentioned believers to abuses that undermine their intents (Editor’s note: Lord’s Library exists to solve this very problem!).

It is easy to slip from teaching truth to seeking an emotional response, for such responses appear very gratifying.

The cure for this disease is to get back to the objective truth of Scripture and to allow that truth to engage our emotions and senses as it will. We do not want sensations removed from our faith; we want them present because of the very fact of our faith.

Martin Luther said: “You should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the Word which the Lord who receives sinners preaches to you.”

Of course, the objective, unchanging, and eternal truths of the Bible ought to engage our emotions moving us wholly closer to God. It is not wrong for a preacher or his hearers to become emotional under the proclamation of the Word of God, but such emotions are never the goal for which we aim.

J.C. Ryle said: “It is no answer to tell me that you disapprove of a religion of feelings. If you mean by that that you dislike a religion consisting of nothing but feelings, I agree with you entirely. But if you mean to shut out feelings altogether, you can know little of Christianity. The Bible teaches us plainly that a man may have good feelings without any true religion. But it teaches us no less plainly that there can be no true religion without some feeling towards Christ.”

Jonathan Edwards said: “I should think myself in the way of my duty, to raise the affections of my hearers as high as I possibly can, provided they are affected with nothing but the truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with.”

Should our readers have more questions about religious affections, we can do no better than to direct them to Jonathan Edwards’ excellent book simply titled, The Religious Affections.

We would emphasize a particular variety of sensationalism that prizes the new and novel as the ultimate good. Chasing trends has become the order of the day for many churches. It is claimed that the latest thing is needed to reach the culture, or “stay relevant.” In actuality the new is exciting, and being excited is fun. However, Christianity is an ancient faith standing the test of time by age-old means and methods.

Whatever is new in theology tends to be heresy. It is impossible to separate our practice from our theology. Therefore, chasing the latest trend simply because it is the latest trend is a poor idea indeed. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is as relevant today as it has been for the past two millennia.

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Timothy Andrew

Tim is the Founder of Lord's Library. He believes the Bible commands us to minister "as of the ability which God giveth" (1 Peter 4:11). Tim aspires to be as The Lord's mouth by "taking forth the precious from the vile" (Jeremiah 15:19) and witnessing The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4) to the whole world.

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