The Church and the Media
Is there a God-ordained role for the media?
Thinking “Christianly” about the current concern over the media forces us to ask the question: What is the God-ordained role of media? I suppose this begs the question of whether there is a God-ordained role for the media. Or government, or any other societal institution.
In the larger picture, Christians believe in the sovereign God of the Bible who has chosen to do his work on earth through humans. We are not classical Deists who believe in a very distant and uninvolved God who seldom, if ever, gets personally involved with the affairs on earth. We embrace the gracious God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has made his creatures partners with him in managing creation.
The Word of God
We also affirm that God has graciously spoken and that his word carries the authority of his person. He has not hidden his will and ways. However, if we refuse to listen to his word we seal our fate as deceived creatures who will make of mess of creation-management. If we revere him and his word we will flourish in our task and become channels of blessings.
The lesson is obvious: It is a serious mistake for a society to disdain or ignore the word of God and the people who cherish it. It is a choice for anarchy and chaos.
Historically Christians have acknowledged that God has delegated managerial authority within society for productive human interaction. These include:
- The family as the primary structure for nurture, training and education of the young
- The civil government for protection against enemies that threaten people, their possessions and their pursuit of destiny
- The church for holding all people and societal structures accountable to the truth
- And the marketplace for the production of goods and possibility of trade.
When these are ignored, or when they operate outside of their purpose, society falls into chaos or tyranny.
The Media’s Role
With that brief summary as a starting point, let’s address the media’s legitimate role in a society. Those in media often remind us that freedom of the press is necessary for societal structures to be accountable. We agree. However, we also question what happens when the people are not being informed. When, instead, they are being programmed by a media that has no standard of truth by which to hold anyone accountable. When media outlets are competing with wave after wave of fake news, what happens to reality? No one is accountable, including the media.
The Church’s Retreat
In a flourishing society, the church acts as the ground and pillar of truth. (1 Timothy 3:15) Reality as defined by God’s word is the standard for accountability. In early western civilization, the poets, artists, playwrights, novelists and journalists spoke both for and to society. When societal structures began to stray, they were rebuked by those media voices anchored to the truths revealed in Scripture.
Then came the Enlightenment, when mankind supposedly “came of age.” The church’s role began to shrink. It was pushed to the periphery, told to “go into your buildings, deal with ethereal matters, and help people get to heaven. But stay out of the public square.”
Sadly, much of the church did that. The secular media became the high priest of society. The man-made civil government became viewed as the sovereign provider of all needed things. The family began to deteriorate. The “gospel message” that carried the day was one of human potential and inevitable progress. This Enlightenment-civil-religion slowly displaced the church in polite society. Those supposedly charged with holding society accountable (the media) stood on nothing but their own evolving relativism.
Now we endure both tyranny and chaos. The secular media has taken the role that was the stewardship of the church. The church has retreated to its buildings to debate each other. Those who are being informed are in confusion.
Standing for Truth
It is time we stop cheering for our favorite source of fake news and stand up for truth. The church can reclaim the role it was given by God.
Christ paid the price to redeem all that has been captured by evil. We must look at the role of the media and declare, “This belongs to God, and we will be responsible to manage it under his loving rule.”
We submit ourselves to God and his word and seek to declare such truth that all people and structures will know the path of real freedom.
I trust that when the people of the church reclaim the role we are given, a revival of purpose and unity will engulf us. First, we must repent of abandoning our post. We must then embrace our call. God’s unlimited resources are available to those who revere him and his word.