With the omnipresence of social media and other ways for people to directly express opinions, Christian writers should take extra care to be aware of the facts when it comes to both theology and society.
Since Christians actually believe there is truth and it is knowable, Christian writers should be a lot more like classic journalists, researching, studying, and reporting truth, rather than simply expressing opinions.
Over five years ago, I wrote this piece on the agency blog addressing fake news and the Christian writer. The issue isn’t new to 2022.
If we were to use a courtroom comparison to some Christian writing, it would be deemed invalid because it is hearsay. I am sure some people reading this post are much more versed in legal issues than I am, but every Christian writer should work to use original sources and quotes and not quote someone quoting someone or giving an opinion of data and information from someone else, rather than discerning it themselves.
Despite all the craziness of media in today’s world, you can find a lot of information about society, the church, and our world today by looking.
For sure, doing your own search of the Scriptures and using tools to help navigate them yourself is a preferred method of writing about its contents. Certainly, a well-placed quote about a passage is always a good idea; but like pastors, Christian writers need to know what they are talking about firsthand. When in doubt, let the Scriptures speak for themselves and take them at face value.
Many Christian writers find they must be students of the Scriptures to keep them on track, either through formal education or less formal methods. Regardless, good Christian writing starts and ends with the Bible.
Every person in the world is a theologian of one kind or another, some with biblically accurate views on the meaning of life and our relationship to God, but many with completely inaccurate perspectives based on their opinions, sprinkled with Bible verses, and a healthy dose of evil influences, combined to make them feel good.
Knowledge about the world is also available, generally not on social media or cable news though. It is probably only me, but US census data is an interesting read.
Now that I think again, it likely is only me.
Another interesting source of societal data can be found at USAFacts.org. Go ahead and bookmark this site; and I guarantee you will find something interesting on everything from population data to abortion, marriage, divorce, finances, and even slavery. You can subscribe to a regular email reminding you of various new reports and updates of existing reports.
News of the world will keep you informed on the global church. Premiere Christian News out of the UK is very informative. Ministries like Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs are great sources of information and reminders of the daily battle of Christian brothers and sisters around the world. You could probably add more sources that you particularly enjoy.
The point here is that Christian writers should be diligent searchers and explorers of the truth. It is too easy to fall into the trap of writing from memory or, worse, from our flawed human perspective.
Jesus said the rocks would sing
(He really is a pistol!),
and so I shall this concept bring,
that He is into crystals.
Hey, you cannot make this up,
and my opinion needs a voice;
best that you should just say “Yup!”,
and make my book your choice.
And hey, He spoke of other sheep
in John 10:16…
what strange secrets did He keep,
and did He really mean
that He would go to offer grace
to aliens way out in space?
LOL love the last lines !!
So glad that you enjoyed this, Claire!
Thank you Dan! There are so many times I pine for the journalists of the past who I trusted to objectively bring me the news (oh, Walter, I mss ya.). Thanks for the reminder how greatly this is needed by Christian writers instead of offering opinions. And thanks for the laughs (“healthy dose of evil influences” for one). That’s needed also.
There is an immeasurable difference between Christian writing and inspired writing. God spoke in Conversations with God. When I was writing my chapter on the Temptation of Christ God told me where to look in Nature for information. Logic and intelligent thinking was what separated the Pharisees of the Old Covenant from Jesus the New Covenant. Truth is indefinable and has to be revealed
This is excellent! Thank you.
Terrific post, Dan, and for my own writing, timely. Thank you for the resources you shared. Much appreciated.
US Census data is very useful. I used it to build a realistic randomized name generator based on all the first/last names in the US:
Thank you for this post, Bob! My heart is so grieved by the lack of solid writing tied to the actual Bible taken in context. So much of the Christian writing industry has become so self-focused rather than God-glorifying. I am realizing more and more how much I have personally contributed to this trend. My daily prayer now is that God lead me into Truth and prevent me from deceiving my readers – Scripture over my opinions!
I continue to pray for us all to keep God and His Word our foremost focus as we write.
Jan Rogers Wimberley
Bob, Thank You…you are a man after God’s own heart for truth. Your posts always resonate with me…probably because I write mostly non-fiction.
Jan Rogers Wimberley
Be a Berean. They searched the scriptures every day to verify Paul’s message. If I don’t recall a scripture that is pertinent to the context, I’ll look it up. Bible school was a perfect place to learn how to parse works from faith, yet like James, who already assumed his readers were justified, challenged believers that ‘faith without works’ is dead (they are still saved. A lot of folks get uncomfortable with this book).
Get the Greek and Hebrew parallel translations out. Discern what Jesus said vs. the OT. If the two match, then great. If the two don’t match, go with what Jesus said. Without being Bereans we risk becoming involved in cults or worse. Last, pass it by a respected pastor. Your research in biblical truths are more important than the research into satellites. Although that’s important to get right, too.
Although I did post a joke on my regular page about the IRS coming after 20 dollars my grandmother gave me 15 years ago along with a picture of the police “chasing” OJ, and got fact-checked. Facepalm. I have contested that as a joke, and if they disagree, I’ll remove it. Facebook jail is good for one thing: I get way more writing and reading done.
If you have an author page, do not post political stuff there. God decides who is in office and if you rail against that person, you rail against God himself. Unless your audience is 100% Christians, and if your understanding of scripture is off, you’ll lose readers.
Lots of werid theology out there these days. Beware false teachers. Be that Berean. Too many Christians haven’t opened their Bibles and rely on what pastors say. Take notes. I’ve been accused of that but when I go to scripture I can see yay or nay and give the facts about it.
God is immeasurable and so is His word. To claim to understand the Bible because we have read it is one of our shortcomings.
Thanks for the USAFacts link, Dan. I didn’t know about that one.
One resource every Christian writer should have bookmarked is the Blue Letter Bible https://www.blueletterbible.org/
It has 16 English translations including both ‘95 and ‘20 editions of NASB, the Latin Vulgate, the Spanish RVR60, Hebrew OT, the Textus Receptus Septuagint and Greek NT, the Morphological Greek NT, and the Open New Arabic version. They can each be used in parallel with each other or read individually. Being able to see so many translations of a verse on one screen is invaluable for selecting which to quote and to avoid misunderstanding what the original Greek said.
It has copyright information for each translation that gives you the exact words to put on your copyright page or the link to contact for permission to use when required. I use different translations in my novels when my Roman-era characters are quoting what they would have had in the original Greek, so the copyright info has been super handy for me.
There are many study resources: Bible commentaries, maps and images, Bible encyclopedias and dictionaries, charts and outlines, language resources and tools, theological resources, topical indices, and multimedia.
There are also devotionals that you can read there or have emailed to you daily.
It’s a wonderful online resource for any Christian, not just for us writers.
Thanks, Carol. Very much.
This is such a timely post about the need for us Christians to do our research and be sure of our facts! Thanks, Dan!
John Keats: “Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty, That is all we know on earth and all we need to know.” The challenge is how to convert Beauty (Nature) to Truth. Read Emerson, America’s great philosopher, who states that Truth emerges through the spiritual experience of Revelation