Karl Barth, the famous theologian, once said, “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”
It is too easy to let the media – not just newspapers these days, as we are also bombarded by online news channels on TV which run 24/7 and news from a plethora of sites on social media – shape our thinking and our moods. In these circumstances, the world’s narrative shapes our worldview (or ‘Weltanschauung’, as the Germans put it!) We are influenced by what others tell us is happening and by their interpretation of it. We very rarely question if this is correct or not because ‘mass media’ overwhelms us.
Karl Barth was not against knowing what the newspapers report. Jesus himself said that his followers remain in the world (John 17:11) and did not pray for us to be taken out of the world. (John 17:15) Instead, he acknowledged that we are not of the world (John 17:16). It is therefore imperative that Christians learn to balance the torrent from the media with God’s word and ultimately allow God’s word to shape their understanding, to ‘interpret newspapers from your Bible.’
God’s narrative, His take on human history and His personal involvement in that history, will rarely be reported in newspapers. Their worldview is godless; their narrative is dictated by politicians and powerful rich people. The kingdom of God does not work like this.
In recent times, I have felt it prudent to turn off the news to some extent becuase its narrative is so unrelentlessly negative and actively promotes fear and desperation. Christians should not be dependent on Government pronouncements or regulations to feel secure. Our security, hope and confidence must be in God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’ (Rev 1:8) Anything else will ultimately fail us.