SOCIETY: Christian Citizens and the News Media—2 Parts (Mohler, 040927, 040928)

CHRISTIAN LIVING: The Unchurched Next Door: A New Look at the Challenge (Mohler, 031114)

CHURCH: America’s Vanishing Protestant Majority—What Does it Mean? (Mohler, 040809)





SOCIETY: Christian Citizens and the News Media—2 Parts (Mohler, 040927, 040928)


THEME: Because of the frequent bias in the news media, Christians should be cautious in the way they get the news and understand the news.




What kinds of biases are found in the coverage of news?

·         Principle 1: In a fallen world, everyone is biased. There is no such thing as absolute objectivity. As a matter of fact, everyone comes to the news with some bias. Evangelical Christians therefore have no excuse for being surprised when bias appears—we should expect it, and judge accordingly. At the same time, we should be aware of our own bias and submit our own assumptions to careful analysis. Example: global warming, an issue that causes division among evangelicals; similarly gender neutral Bibles.

·         Principle 2: News reports are heavily filtered—and the filters matter. The decision about what to cover is as important as decisions about how to cover any given issue or event. Actually, it may reflect only what individuals in the filtering process want us to see, read, or hear. Readers and viewers should keep asking: Why was this story considered newsworthy?” Example: a biased story from the liberal New York Times that over half of Americans are not married.


What kinds of biases are found in the explanation of news?

·         Principle 3: The media are driven by commercial interests. Thus, producers and news directors are driven to cover stories that offer visual interest, regardless of news value. As the old newsroom adage goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Images often displace words, and a distorted picture of reality results.

·         Principle 4: The media elite is demographically and ideologically removed from the world inhabited by most Americans. They are highly educated, socially mobile, metropolitan in focus, and overwhelmingly liberal in terms of ideological bias. A large majority opposes government regulation of sexual activities, upholds a pro-choice position on abortion, and rejects the notion that homosexuality is wrong.

·         Principle 5: Headlines often lie and language often misleads. But headlines often lie—and careful readers will often discover that the claim made in the headline is completely undermined by the content of the article. Will the reporter describe a suicide bomber as a terrorist, or as a freedom-fighter? With the culture of political correctness now invading newsrooms across America, this usually means that those arguing for an overthrow of moral restraint are referred to in a positive light, while defenders of traditional morality are referred to as repressive and negative.


What methods can Christians use to counter the bias of news media?

·         Principle 6: The likelihood of being uninformed and misinformed increases as the number of news sources decreases. Christian citizens should develop the discipline of wide reading and selective viewing—checking reports against each other for accuracy and bias. Do not trust just one network, one cable news program, one newspaper, or one commentator.

·         Principle 7: Beware the error of following the crowd. As the crowd grows larger and larger, the content may grow smaller and smaller, and the opportunity for thoughtful engagement with the issues of the day may virtually disappear.

·         Principle 8: Those who get their news only from broadcast media are missing much of the story, and much of its significance. Televised news reports tend to be image-driven, more superficial, and more simplistic than the print media. There is no substitute for reading, and a diet limited to broadcast news will impoverish the mind.

·         Principle 9: When it comes to issues of importance, turn off the tube and think. Christians must learn to think about the issues covered in media reports, and resist the temptation to be narcoticized by an endless stream of disconnected reports of unequal significance.

·         Principle 10: Use the news media as material for worldview analysis. Thinking in explicitly Christian terms, armed with the full measure of Christian conviction, the Christian must reason from biblical truth to the issues of the day. We cannot accept the issues as framed for us by the news media, but we must continually reframe in light of Christian truth. Otherwise, we will commit the error of attempting to reason to a Christian worldview from a secular premise.

·         As with every dimension of life, our engagement with the news media reveals our deepest convictions and our true beliefs. Christians must engage the news media as Christians, ready to think, to analyze, to make judgments, and to draw accurate conclusions. Inevitably, Christians will either lead or be led.




CHRISTIAN LIVING: The Unchurched Next Door: A New Look at the Challenge (Mohler, 031114)


THEME: Rainer’s book The Unchurched Next Door provides Christians necessary understanding on how to share the Gospel with neighbours.




Are our non-Christian neighbours generally hostile against the Gospel?

·         Rainer (professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) suggested 5 levels of responsiveness to the gospel. “U1” highly receptive; “U3” neutral; to “U5” mostly unresponsive and highly antagonistic. The percentage distribution of the unchurched from U1 to U5 is: 11%, 27%, 36%, 21%, 5%.


Is there a difference between the genders?

·         Women tended to predominate in both U1 and U5, perhaps indicating that women are more likely to place a high value on the issue of faith, and thus tend to be more passionately Christian or secular.


What can Christians do to share the Gospel?

·         The first step is to invite the neighbours to church. Most Americans have never been invited to church—never. Yet, 82% indicated that they would be at least “somewhat likely” to attend church if invited. Every year, only 2% of church members invite an unchurched person to church.


What are the factors that afflict evangelistic effort?

·         a creeping inclusivism in the pews: Inclusivism, the belief that personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not fundamentally necessary for salvation, has been growing among some Christians for decades. Driven first by liberal theologians who intentionally sought to redefine the faith, inclusivism now fits the cultural mood, and allows Christians to claim simultaneously to be believers in Christ and to deny the gospel.

·         a growing disbelief in Hell among the public: Far too many Christians see Hell as an embarrassment rather than as a motivation for sharing the gospel.


What is the proper attitude in evangelism?

·         We cannot predict who will respond to the Gospel. This is an important reminder to us that every single conversion is a miracle of God.




CHURCH: America’s Vanishing Protestant Majority—What Does it Mean? (Mohler, 040809)


THEME: The rapid decrease in the proportion of Christians in North America is caused by the loss of orthodox faith. This is the lesson for those who are concerned about church growth.




What are the main causes for the decline in the number of Protestants?

·         Americans identifying themselves as “Protestant” fell from 63% to 52% between 1993 and 2002—a massive decline in less than one decade. Even worse, this number even includes the Mormons and some New Age devotees.

·         The main causes are: (1) failure in evangelizing and assimilating their own youth and young adults, and (2) the immigrant groups have not followed the older pattern of eventual identification with the nation’s Protestant majority.


Is there any main reasons that can explain the decline?

·         Among mainline Protestant denominations, theological liberalism has eroded the entire system of Christian doctrine, leading to the evaporation of faith and the secularization of those churches. All the denominations affiliated with the liberal National Council of Churches have all experienced steady decline. Accommodating themselves to the spirit of the age, these churches embrace theological and moral relativism in an effort to remain “relevant” to a pluralistic culture.

·         Without a clear “faith boundary,” identification with Protestantism—and Christianity itself—becomes socially meaningless.

·         The churches that are most insistent on being relevant are those most willing to sacrifice biblical truth and the structure of Christian doctrine in order to prove their commitment to cultural expectations. Eventually, these churches become so identified with the culture that all distinctiveness disappears. Authentic Christianity is abandoned and all motivation for membership disappears. If beliefs do not matter, the churches themselves do not matter.


Do all Protestant groups encounter the same problem?

·         Despite the overall decline, there is continued growth of conservative and evangelical Protestant groups. They maintain clear boundaries between belief and unbelief. The existence of these boundaries explains the strong sense of membership and the high rate of participation. The survey shows that orthodox Christian belief is the single best predictor of church participation.

·         The trend-line is clear: With a firm grasp of the Gospel, a bold commitment to biblical authority, and a clear vision for evangelism, churches and denominations can avoid the decline.