Sunday, March 05, 2006

the declining cost of information: a benefit and a potential drawback

a benefit

When I was in seminary, I somehow found out about available recordings on cassette of a former Dallas Theological Seminary Systematic Theology professor named S Lewis Johnson. He was an elder at Believers Bible Chapel in Dallas, TX. The church provided these cassettes for free, requesting no donation. When I pressed them, they let me know that the tapes cost ab $3 each. I would send them $3 and get a tape. I don't know how many I ordered and enjoyed listening too. Dr. Johnson loved God and was a very intelligent and educated lecturer, who went to be with God in 2004.

Recently, I discovered that someone(s) at Believers had put up what appears to be all of Dr. Johnson's sermons up for free listening or download here. I have been happily downloading message after message, importing them into iTunes and then putting them on my Nano.

Some of the audio recordings are quite old, though I cannot see where the dates are ever listed. In one talk in his series on Isaiah I was just listening to, Dr. Johnson mentions as contemporaries former Secretary of State Dean Rusk and President Lyndon Johnson. I know that in the series I'm listening to now on Daniel, Dr. Johnson is speaking in 1979 because he mentions the year, SALT II, and President Jimmy Carter.

Dr. Johnson's tapes were sent by Believers Bible Chapel all over the world. I have been marveling at the fact that now in 2006, 12 years after his death, Dr. Johnson's wonderful teaching has a far wider reach.

Another benefit of the declining cost of information.

a drawback

A few days ago during my commute I was struck by something else: When Dr. Johnson at one point mentioned another verse in Daniel, all of a sudden in background I heard the rustling of what sounded like scores of pages. In this day of Scriptures on Powerpoint in Sunday morning messages, I cannot even remember the last time I've heard that sound.

I realized for all my triumphalism about the declining cost of information, one can argue that something has been lost too. There was an intimacy with the Scriptures that I heard. A Berean like eagerness reflected in the suddenly rustling pages. It was truly a beautiful sound.

Yes, of course one's Christianity can only be about information. Transpropositionality is not optional.

Yes, of course the declining cost of information is a good thing.

But for the first time this experience made me appreciate how the actual physical handling of the pages of Scripture is not a bad thing if it represents and advances somehow a more intimate relationship with what God has to say.

image from stock.xchng


Lew said...

I have a cd I made of SLJ. He starts with a lesson on epistemology-the first of 40 such lessons. Do you have an URL where I can download them again?

Stephen said...

Hi lew,

all of the SLJ online teachings I"m aware of are here:

hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

FWIW: SLJ went to be with the Lord in 2004, not 1994.

Stephen said...

thanks for the correction. I'll amend the text