Since first reading and analyzing Brian Chapell’s ideas of Christians in the world of journalism, in his essay “A Christian Journalism,” my views on the topic have shifted somewhat. After our recent class discussions going back to the topic at hand, I have realized that, while I still support many of Chapell’s arguments, I think his entire point can be summed up rather concisely through one idea: intentions.
As Christians, we are called to live holy lives, to serve God and serve others, ultimately yearning to draw nearer to Him. But to do all of these things, we must have the right intentions – ones that are good and Christ-like, ones that benefit others and put others before ourselves. To be like Christ means to have intentions that respect all humans, showing grace and forgiveness, respect, kindness and love.
So if we are Christians and are striving to be Christ-like and have good intentions, the four aspects of Christian journalism, as suggested by Chapell, should naturally follow. If we have the right intentions, what we write will always be true. Striving to be Christ-like means we will always be truthful, and our intentions will be that we never write something that is anything but true.
Following Chapell’s truth piece, he suggests that Christian journalism should also be provable. This, in a way, simply builds on his previous point regarding Christian journalism being true, because truth is always provable. If we are writing truthful material, all the material we right should be provable. As stated before, if our intentions are in the right place, truthful writing will result, and provable truth will also result.
Chapell also suggests that Christian journalism should be edifying, ultimately providing morals or sharing instructive principles. As Christians, we should be holding ourselves up to a moral standard, as denoted in the Bible. This goes hand-in-hand with the idea of intentions, as our intentions will align with the morals we hold, and they should be good if we are following God’s word. So if our intentions are good, we should be exemplifying morals in the writing we do, whether it is outright in the way we write, or simply in the way we treat the subjects we interview or interact with.
Christian journalism should also be redemptive, according to Chapell. When first reading this section, I was under the impression that this meant that all stories need to have a happy ending, in a way. However after revisiting this material, I now have a different perspective. Instead of this simply meaning that redemption must be a storyline in all of our writing, I think this idea, again, comes down to our intentions. We must show a chance for redemption in our stories – to not close the door to anyone we cover. Our job as journalists is to present the truth, and there isn’t always a happy ending. But we don’t always know what is in store – so we must show this fact and not dismiss anyone or anything, simply because of our own judgments. In this way, I think if our intentions are right – if we show compassion, grace and respect like God asks of us, we will write pieces that have a chance for redemption.
Ultimately, while my views have changed slightly in regards to Chapell’s “A Christian Journalism” piece, they have mostly stayed the same. As a whole, I think it is less about what “Christian journalism” needs to be, and more about what we need to be. We need to be Christ-like, treating all individuals with the respect, grace and compassion that Christ shows to them. If we do this, Chapell’s four principles should then be manifested in our writing automatically, because our intentions are in the right place and our work will be glorifying to God.