Christian News

When Dr. Jack Kevorkian helped four women end their lives, the Chicago Tribune spoke out in favor of assisted suicide. Who can tell another person how much pain to endure? the editors asked. "Whose life is it, anyway?" Contrast that to another editorial written more than 100 years ago. It counseled people tempted by suicide to practice "faith and persistence"; to remember that "Providence has some design in continuing our existence." What a difference in perspective. The first editorial expresses a today's thoroughly secular outlook. It says in effect, I belong to myself; I make my own choices. The second editorial on the other hand says, I belong to God; my life is a trust from Him. News articles often reveal a journalist's deepest beliefs. Yesterday I discussed how to detect a secular bias in the media. But is there a Christian approach to journalism? Absolutely, says Marvin Olasky, author of the book Prodigal Press. The Bible itself provides a pattern. Much of the biblical text consists of historical reports. And these reports don't read like modern history books—dry lists of facts and figures. The Bible writers dig down to the spiritual themes beneath the physical facts. Newspaper writing can do this as well. The nineteenth-century editorial quoted above, which urges to trust divine Providence, is an example. A hundred years ago, words like these were not unusual in a local newspaper. In fact, many of our country's newspapers once assumed a Christian perspective. Consider the way they treated natural disasters. When the Boston Reporter ran a report on an earthquake, it didn't just describe physical events. It also mentioned that multitudes were driven to the Lord. Survivors of the quake crowded into churches, the reporter wrote, "eager to learn what they must do to be saved." Compare that to any modern news clip. Today reporters assume a roulette-wheel view of reality: The wheel spins . . . and one person prospers while another pines. It's all a matter of chance. Consider another subject: abortion. In the last century, the National Police Gazette took up a crusade against abortion, decrying it as "rude and savage butchery" and calling abortionists "child destroyers." But contemporary newspapers treat abortion as a right, and portray abortionists as altruists who just want to help women. Finally, think of foreign affairs. In the 1800s the Baltimore Chronicle carried the story of a European king who was struggling to rule over a warring nation. The paper bemoaned the "mangled limbs and bleeding bodies," and suggested that Divine Providence might be proving "the worthlessness of human grandeur." But today's newspapers ignore the spiritual dimension to foreign affairs altogether-even when the spiritual factor is clearly dominant, as it was in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. How can we encourage Christian journalism in this secular age? We can start by of supporting Christian news publications, like World magazine. In addition, we ought to encourage young Christians to develop their gifts in writing, and to seek positions in journalism. One old-time editor put it well: The press, he said, is "the great schoolmaster of the age." You and I had better not sit back and let the secular world do all the teaching.? [Part 5 in a series on Prodigal Press, by Marvin Olasky.]


Chuck Colson


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