Q&A: Christian Journalism

Christian Journalism

Question

What are your thoughts on the state of Christian journalism today?

Answer

Well, I can't say that I have a any particular insight into journalism. As for Christian writing in general, a few things occur to me at this particular moment:

In my work in epistemology, the biggest job is trying to persuade people that knowing is an activity like any other human activity. It is therefore part of our service to God, under the authority of his Word, to be done to his glory.

So writing is the same way. We're not only writing about God and his world, but our writing is part of our service to Him. It therefore stands under his norms and promises.

The fruits of the Spirit should motivate our writing: love for readers and for the people we write about. Joy that God has given us such a fun thing to do with our time. Peace of mind, heart, conscience through Christ, and therefore no need in our writing to justify ourselves or make ourselves look good at others' expense. Patience when working on difficult projects, when meeting unreasonable editorial demands, and especially when encountering opposition. Kindness in dealing with others Goodness, faithfulness, gentleness with others (unless they're Pharisees--- then let 'em have it with both barrels. We need wisdom to know the difference.), self-control (in writing, anticipating objections, rethinking, rewriting, being aware personal weaknesses to guard against).

Anticipating objections is a theme I've harped on for many years, but I still see a lot of Christian writing in which the author doesn't even seem to have considered the most obvious arguments against his/her position.

If one is writing argumentatively (theology, apologetics, editorials), he/she needs to learn to argue well. Take a course in logic or legal evidence. There is so much shoddy argumentation in Christian circles I can't stand it sometimes. One of my pet peeves is people who substitute historical description for argumentation. Theology today seems to be dominated by historians (search for my "Traditionalism" on www.thirdmill.org.) And a lot of writers try to argue theological positions just by quoting historical figures they agree with, or contemporary figures they disagree with. And there's a lot of post hoc ergo propter hoc, naturalistic fallacies, etc.

I have some pet peeves with journalists: (1) When supposedly surveying people's opinions "evenhandedly," they will cite the worst arguments from one side and the best arguments from the other, making their bias painfully evident, but apparently meeting the standards of their editors. (2) Every time I've read a news story about something of which I have direct knowledge, I've found errors, sometimes fairly serious ones. It makes me wonder how much I can trust the news media in areas where I don't have direct experience. (3) It irritates me when I read something in one story, a second story then tells me the first was wrong, and then a third assumes that the first story was correct without even mentioning story two. I keep losing track of the twists and turns in a story from day to day. Journalists should include more review paragraphs for those of us who are not in the business.

World Magazine is great, though I wish they were more Kuyperian (transformationalist) and less Lutheran (two kingdoms) in its approach to Christ and Culture. (That's the way I perceive World, though I know there are Kuyperian trends there as well.)


Answer by Dr. John M. Frame

Dr. John M. Frame is Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.