For nearly 30 years, I have watched a particular network for my source of evening news coverage. Over the last few months, however, I have become increasingly disillusioned with this outlet, for now, more than ever, it seems that it has an ax to grind. I have known since high school, having been introduced to Francis Schaeffer’s How Should We Then Live? , that all news agencies have biases (even Christian ones). But I have never seen it so glaring as I have in the last few months as this particular agency seems to start every news cast with the premise that they hate President Trump. And every lead story is a twisted caricature of events in order to discredit the president.
Let me hastily say that I am not the biggest Donald Trump supporter in the world, and of the multiple choices available during the Republican primaries, he was way down my list. He, however, to my chagrin, did win both the nomination and the presidency. I do believe that he has made in these opening days of his presidency a sincere attempt to keep the vows that he made during the campaign. I have not liked everything that he has done, but I have to be candid that I feel there is a lot of “fake news” concerning our president these days.
Wikipedia has defined “fake news” as “a deliberate spread of misinformation . . . with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically.” And I believe it is happening, not from social media or tabloid newspapers, but from traditional media markets. This onslaught of “fake news” has caused me to do some introspection in my own life and ministry.
Christians should not be guilty of fake news. When we are distraught over a conservative president being falsely represented in the news, we should be reminded that liberals are equally frustrated when they believe that their candidates are being misrepresented by conservative pundits. Distortion and misrepresentation are always wrong no matter who is doing it.
It is possible to tell the truth with the wrong intent. Curtis Hutson used to illustrate guile with the pastor who was asked if he had read every book in his library, to which the pastor responded, “I have read some of them twice.” Obviously, he had read some of them twice, which was true, but he had not read every one of them once, which is what he had implied. “Truth told with wrong intent beats all the lies you can invent.” We should never slant the truth to create a false impression. Someone has once said that if the press were at the feeding of the five thousand, the headline would have read “Itinerant preacher takes boy’s lunch.”
We should desire the success of those placed over us regardless of their party affiliation. Obviously, my political philosophy is at variance with Barak Obama, but I wanted him to be a successful president, for if he was, America was the beneficiary. We should never desire that a corporation go up in flames because we hate the chief executive officer of that corporation.
Preachers, especially, who are leaders of local churches should be men of truth. We should not be “double-tongued.” We should say what we mean and mean what we say. Our illustrations should not be embellished beyond the bounds of truth for the sake of effectiveness. We should not twist the Scripture to get our personal agenda across. And we should never distort the views of our theological opponents in order to win ecclesiastical debates. Ministers to the best of their abilities should not create straw men.
This task is indeed hard, but when people look to the church house, they should see “the pillar and ground of truth.” Let us be guilty of spreading the good news, not fake news.