I write regularly in different Christian media – up until a few weeks ago I wrote a twice weekly column for the Christian Today website. I have written for conservative, liberal and mixed Christian media. My only condition for writing is that I am allowed to write what I want. Sometimes one has to exercise self-restraint remembering the prospective readership. My hope is always to seek to put forward biblical truth, encourage critical thinking and engagement with the culture and proclaim Christ.
Some have recently written to me and asked why I have ceased writing for CT in the midst of a series on Ecclesiastes. Was I fired? Did I resign in disgust? Neither. Basically Christian Today is in financial trouble and has had to let go a number of its staff. The financial model is not working. I have my own ideas about that – but there is something that I think is a factor. Christian media have to walk a fine line in terms of the content and the editorial line they take. On the one hand they want to avoid a narrow and legalistic line in order to get as wide an audience as possible, on the other they need and want the resources and support of evangelicals who tend to be more committed than most.
In this regard yesterdays article on Steve Chalke is apposite =- Steve Chalke and the Cross of Christ Christian Today (like Premier and other mainstream sites) like to present Steve Chalke as one side of the argument and people like yours truly as the other. In one sense of course that is right but in another it does a great deal of harm. In presenting issues like the atonement, or the Bible as ‘in house’ Christian debates equivalent to discussions about baptism, the millenium and speaking in tongues, they give a wrong picture of the importance of these issues. They suggest that they are in effect peripheral issues which are open for Christians to disagree about.
My problem is that this is indicative of a wider problem. These organisations would not for a minute countenance a racist being given a free platform on their platform. They are (rightly) totally opposed to racism. So why give a heretic who does as much harm to the Gospel as any racist, a platform?
I suspect that this is something that is played out in many evangelical churches and organisations. People like Chalke and Campolo (before they go totally public with their views) act as ‘honest brokers’ with the ‘on the one hand this, and on the other hand that’ approach. But that introduces and endorses the poison of heresy in the Body of Christ. It’s my job – and the job of every pastor, teacher and undershepherd to protect the sheep from the wolves (whether their heresy is right wing or liberal). We should never endorse or imply that heresy doesn’t matter. (Of course we need to be careful not to call heresy that which is just a difference about a secondary matter).
I don’t believe that the Lord will prosper Christian organisations which end up promoting anti-Christian teaching. There is a warning in there for all of us. The choice is not between being legalistic or liberal. Christian media should not be the Trojan horse for heresy. There is a better third way – the way of Christ.