T. David Gordon has written a book addressing the impact of video on our culture and how it has negatively affected preaching in America, and he recommends some important remedies. Dr. Gordon is a college professor and for 14 years served on the New Testament faculty at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. When Mr. Gordon was struck with cancer and given a short time to live, he sought to write a book that would embody what he felt most strongly about, biblical preaching. In his book, Why Johnny Can't Preach, he laments the problem of bad preaching and talks about how media and video has changed not just people, but communicators that preach God's Word.
In the era of video and cell phone usage, careful reading of a text for clear meaning and content has taken a back seat to entertainment because of the shortening of our attention span. As Americans increasingly obtain information through media, Americans also do not read carefully or don't read at all. Preachers have been affected by these changes as they fail to represent the underlying text that they ostensibly represent, because the preacher is not reading the text carefully and not seeking to communicate a clear, singular point. One of the helpful illustrations Gordon gives from preaching relates to the topic of preaching on love. Both Romans 5:8 and John 3:16 talk about love, but sadly when love is preached from these texts, it is often glossed over without digging into the intricacies of the text. Love is spoken of in both texts, but a careful reading yields two different audiences and two different truths about love that the preacher must address and apply.
Additionally, Mr. Gordon laments the demise of reading. In the past, reading was careful and wide spread, yet now people get their content through video and short text messages. This emphasis on video has blurred the difference between significant and insignificant. We think of something as significant if we see it on television, but sadly most of television is filled with the insignificant. Conversely, spiritual truths and Scripture are of enormous significance, yet the video age has shortened our attention span and given us the perspective of diminishing the importance of that which is not video.
This book is strong medicine for preachers, Christians and anyone who teaches or is involved in education. Gordon gives many practical examples of how good preaching is developed and encourages Christians to reading, the medium that God chose to give us his Scriptures.