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Five Principles for Discerning The News - Part 1

Christian Nationalism #4

Five Principles for Discerning the News

(Principles 1 – 2)

 

I recall a meeting with a community organizer many years ago.  On her wall was a framed Hagar The Horrible cartoon.  The caption said: “Allies come and go, but a good Enemy will last a life-time.”  I remember that because in the world of political organizing you need a good enemy.  However, what is pragmatic for politics is deadly for the Church and the Gospel.

Evangelicals need to be better at discerning the sign of the times, and a central part of that discernment is interpreting news.  In this blog, I want to suggest a couple of principles that will help us become better discerners of the news.

  1. The Gospel needs to be our filter.

Jesus lived in a time and culture where people felt under attack and desired clear boundaries and clear loyalties. Rome was the oppressor.  To compromise or cooperate with Rome made you “one of them:” an enemy to be rejected and feared.  May Jews took up arms and planned for insurrection against the Romans.  Into this environment, Jesus said: love your enemies.  His miracles cured both religious Jew and pagan Romans.  He accepted into his fellowship both the radical Zealots and collaborators with Rome such as Matthew.  His examples of righteous behavior used non-Jews as examples.  His teachings and his life style undermined any suggestion that the world was divided between “us” and “them.” 

We cannot be faithful to the Gospel and believe in a world divided between “us” and “them.”   This way of thinking is absolutely prohibited for the Christian.  This means that we must reject any narrative of events, conspiracy theory, or teaching that paints a picture of Christians at war with an earthly enemy. 

  1. We need to hear many sides and be humble in our judgment.

As a practical matter, if you only get your news from one source, you will have a distorted sense of the world, be that MSNBC or FOX News.  I recall not too long ago, I followed a link that seemed like news and it went to a story about a well-known celebrity moving into a community near my home.  This surprised me, but the article seemed genuine, so I believed it.  I shared this with a friend and to my great embarrassment, he pointed out just how wrong I was.  I fell for it.  What I learned is that this sort of thing can happen to anyone.  Fortunately, the misinformation was about something harmless.  However, when this type of information causes you to change your thought patterns or behavior, it is dangerous.  This is particularly dangerous when the misinformation “seems right.”  It fits into concerns or fears that we have, or it confirms something that we had been thinking.  At that point we are less inclined to be skeptical.

The Gospel answer is humility.  My need to know with certainty needs to be tempered with humility.  I might be wrong.  If the information causes me to behave or act in a certain manner, I need to ask: what are the consequences if I am wrong? 

 

In order to keep this blog to a reasonable length, I will cover principles 3-5 in the next blog

--- to be continued ---

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