Meditations (Web)Church

A year (and a bit) in the life of NewSpring's first Web pastor

If journalism about Jesus makes you mad, don’t read this

with 2 comments

I used to be a journalist and an atheist.

One of the things that became very clear once I became a Christ follower was how blatant the anti-Christian bias of most journalism really is. Religious faith drives journalists crazy because taking it at face value involves admitting that smart, rational people are questioning the modern world’s humanistic master narrative.

Man is the measure of all things. Man is innately good. Man can make the world a better place. And given enough “good information,” people will inevitably make “good” decisions, assuming the man isn’t keeping them down.

Christian faith, by contrast, undermines every one of those precepts. It isn’t always rational. Isn’t verifiable, at least materially. Assumes evidence of “things not seen,” and basically is seen by journalists as one giant cover up of a bucket full of other malign motives, such as power, money, sex and all sorts of vices.

I was reminded of all of this when I was reading this month’s issue of The Atlantic, typically one of the better written, more compelling magazines out there. One of the articles was from author Robert Wright, “One World Under God.”

Given the headline, I was pretty excited. What a let down.

To summarize his argument, the Apostle Paul basically was an entrepreneur who designed the Christian message to appeal to the maximum number of people and built the early church so it responded to the felt needs of a global society.

Wright argues Jesus was more or less besides the point, and paints him as a meager figure, not quite so good as we might think, and more of a handy brand or icon.

The Christian mission to love one another because Christ first loved us is reduced to a kind of accidental moral good that grew out of the social conditions of the time.

I guess it never occurs to a journalist that the reason that Christianity grew was because what it offered was true and because the power of the Holy Spirit was at work in the individuals who risked their lives to spread the good news.

I wouldn’t typically recommend that you read an article that literally is laughable simplistic. But i’s like rubber-necking a car wreck of bias and the pseduo-Biblical “scholarship” that journalists are always drawn to.

Here are the “highlights”

  • “Jesus wasn’t really Jesus; he didn’t really preach the deep moral truths that have given weight to the claim that he was the son of an infinitely good God. And, as if to rub salt in the wound: those truths, when they finally did enter the Christian tradition, emerged not so much from philosophical reflection as from pragmatic calculation and other disappointingly mundane forces.
  • The origins of Paul’s doctrine of interethnic love lie not in his own loving-kindness, though for all we know he mustered much of that in the course of his life. The doctrine emerges from the interplay between Paul’s driving ambitions and his social environment.
  • Thus, for the ambitious preacher of early Christianity, the doctrine of brotherly love had at least two virtues. First, fraternal bonding made churches attractive places to be, providing a familial warmth that was otherwise lacking, for many people, in a time of urbanization and flux… Second, the doctrine of brotherly love became a form of remote control, a tool Paul could use at a distance to induce congregational cohesion.
  • To judge by the book of Acts, many of Paul’s early Christian associates were, like him, travelers…. First, in an age when there was no public postal service, they could carry letters to distant churches. Second, they might even be able to found distant congregations. … The Roman Empire had made distant travel easier than at any time in history, and Christianity exploited this fact. The young church was, among other things, the Holiday Inn of its day.
  • History expands the range of non-zero-sum relationships—relationships in which two parties can both win if they collaborate, or lose if they don’t. Technological evolution (wheels, roads, cuneiform, alphabets, trains, microchips) has placed more and more people in non-zero-sum relationship with more and more other people at greater and greater distances—and often across ethnic, national, and religious bounds. … either people of different faiths, ethnicities, and nationalities get better at seeing the perspective of one another, and acknowledging the moral worth of one another, or chaos ensues.

Written by NickCharalambous

March 25, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Posted in ruminations

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks, Nick, for your insight & summary. I appreciate your insider’s view. I read the article earlier and was also blown away by the blatant bias and illogic.

    Brian Baute

    March 25, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    • The whole thing reminds me of Ravi Zacharias’ point that it is not that man doesn’t know the truth, but that he is bent on suppressing it …


      March 27, 2009 at 9:01 am

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