By Dave Brewer -----
The Bible teaches us that we Christians are in a spiritual battle against the forces of darkness, so we are called to live loving lives of truth and integrity, to “Shine like stars in a crooked and depraved
generation.” (Philip. 2:15) We are to speak the truth and discern the false. The culture that we live in, however, since it has moved away from God, has no higher obligation to be truthful, and often promotes the false for their own purposes.
The original fake news was put out by the religious leaders of the first century A. D. to discredit the resurrection of Jesus. They told their cronies to spread the rumor that the body of Jesus was stolen by the disciples so that they could claim that he was the Messiah. They were the forerunners of the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels who said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will
be believed.” The Pharisees were champions of the Law of Moses, the guardians of religious truth. At one time they had the power and prestige of the people, because they controlled the teaching and religious ceremonies at the temple in Jerusalem. But the teaching of Jesus had made him the people’s hero. He stole their thunder, robbed them of their prestige, and worst of all, ridiculed and embarrassed them in front of the people. Thus the Pharisees hated Jesus and wanted to destroy him. These leaders were also secretly aligned with the crooked money changers in the temple, who incurred the wrath of Jesus for turning the temple of God intended for prayer into a den of thieves. Jesus said, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)
But fake news was not confined to the ancient world. Walter Duranty was a prominent reporter for the New York Times from 1922-1936, who totally misled the American people on Soviet Russia. He downplayed the evil reign of Stalin, and covered up the terrible famine which killed millions of people in 1932-33. Duranty was awarded a Pulitzer Prize despite the fact that he knew he was reporting falsehood. Thomas Jefferson said: “He who permits himself to tell a lie often finds it much easier to do it
a second and a third time, til at length it becomes habitual.” His fake news was accepted by the Times, ignoring the atheistic, Marxist track record of Lenin and Stalin who imprisoned and killed millions of their own people, and made war against the Church. The editors and fellow journalists at the Times were incredibly gullible and irresponsible. The heroic Christian Soviet writer Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, who spent years in a slave labor camp, criticized western journalists for these failures: “Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the 20th century, and more than anywhere, this disease is reflected in the press.”
When a free press has journalists who are no longer committed to objectivity and integrity in reporting, the public becomes ill- informed, and assumes opinions that are not based upon truth, but on misconceptions and falsehood. Because journalists disagree with a person’s opinion, their reporting may turn into personal attacks. Teddy Roosevelt said this about lying and slander:
“Great is the danger to our country from the failure among our pubic men to live up to the 8th Commandment, from the callousness of the public which permits such shortcomings. The danger is quite as great from those who violate the 9th Commandment by bearing false witness against an honest man."
Some journalists are “whistle blowers” who are true heroes who expose corruption. But many journalists see their calling to be changing our society in their image according to their world view. Because the vast majority of the journalists are secular humanists, they have no higher sense of conscience, no moral compass or accountability to God to be honest, truthful, or to admit when they have been wrong. Educated by liberal professors to be leftist in their thinking, committed to being multicultural and politically correct, they become so anxious to get a story that fits their narrative, that they do not adequately check their sources. Relying on their emotions rather than critical thinking, they lose their objectivity. Jeremiah condemned people in his day who had moved away from God, saying: “They make ready their tongue like a bow to shoot lies; but they are not valiant for truth.” Jerem.9:3
Liberal journalists tend to paint conservatives with negative terms because they are viewed as being narrow-minded, intolerant, racist, sexist, or religious bigots. Patrick Buchanan wrote: “With the rejection of Christianity and its moral code by scores of millions in America, we have no common moral ground on which to stand. The matters on which we clash multiply. Now we fight not only over politics and economics but over abortion, embryonic stem cell research, homosexuality, assisted suicide, public displays of religious symbols, the teaching of evolution, and what children should and should not be taught about God and morality in public schools.” (The Suicide of a Super Power, Thomas Dunne p. 71)
In the midst of all this distortion and chaos, God raises up burning and shining lights who have integrity and a biblical world view. Marvin Olasky is the editor-in- chief of World magazine, a wonderful Christian publication. Olasky trains a whole new generation of journalists to have God’s plumb line of the Bible as the basis of their objectivity, because our God is a God of truth who sees the world accurately. (Isaiah 65:16) Olasky states, “Thus we know what man should do.” Check out World magazine for an evangelical perspective on contemporary news. (Prodigal Press, Presbyt. & Reformed, 2013, p. 92)
Since we have neglected to teach critical thinking in our schools, and a healthy skepticism when discerning truth, the public is often unable to filter out truth from the chaos in public media. Alan Bloom in his work The Closing of the American Mind said: “Students are not able to distinguish between the sublime and trash, insight and
propaganda.” This is where Christian parents need to step up and make sure that they teach their children the importance of discernment, of learning to be skeptical, and learning the fundamental biblical teaching that men are sinful by nature. They need to learn to choose friends carefully, and to discern truth from error before they go off to college. Parents and youth leaders like Doug Raraigh and Robby Grunwald at Christ Church teach teens that their moral compass is not to be based on their feelings, but upon the unchanging Word of God. We should encourage young people to consider a calling to a position of influence in our society such as becoming a teacher, journalist, pastor, or lawyer, or to get involved in the media, politics, etc. to carry the impact of Jesus Christ and his Word into our culture to advance the Kingdom of Christ. No matter what our calling, all of us can support ministries that are strategically making a difference in this world.
Lastly, because it is the season of Lent, let us remember three admonitions of Paul in Colossians:
“Do not lie.” (3:9)
“Let the word dwell in you richly.” (3:16)
“Devote yourselves to prayer.” (4:2)