Scandal and the New Media – How Should Christians Respond?

By Jay Rogers

(Originally posted on http://www.forrunner.com on November 11, 2010. Note: This article is not copyrighted and may be reproduced in any form without permission.)

I got an email recently notifying me of an advertisement that U.S. Representative Bob Barr (R-GA) is appearing as a speaker on the Cruise for Liberty in January along with a couple of Christian authors whose work has greatly influenced me. The problem is that Barr, a former Libertarian candidate for president, brings a new meaning to the slogan, “Cruise for Liberty.”

Controversies over Bob Barr’s personal conduct

In 1999, during Clinton’s impeachment trial, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt offered money to anyone who could provide evidence that a prominent Republican had engaged in an extramarital affair. According to the American Journalism Review investigators for Flynt said that Barr was “guilty of king-size hypocrisy.” According to a sworn affidavit by Barr’s ex-wife Gail: Barr (a longtime outspoken opponent of abortion) had acquiesced to and paid for the termination of his then-wife’s pregnancy in 1983. In accordance with his public offer: Flynt subsequently paid a sum of money to Gail Barr after she had made her sworn affidavit. Barr never publicly disputed the contents of his ex-wife’s affidavit. Investigators also reported that Barr invoked a legal privilege during his 1985 divorce proceeding, so he could refuse to answer questions on whether he’d cheated on his second wife with the woman who is now his third.

In the early 1990s, Barr was photographed at a fundraising event licking whipped cream off of a woman. According to the Washington Post, “Two people who observed the act say it wasn’t exactly a bosom lick but more like a neckline lick, at the sort of event where business and civic leaders perform dares to raise money. ‘Not exactly Mr. Effusive’, says Matt Towery, the former chairman of Newt Gingrich’s political organization, who observed the brief and awkward licking. ‘You can hardly get the guy to smile.’”

I realize that conference speakers sometimes have to appear on a platform with people who they don’t agree with. However, this is billed as a Christian event with speakers who supposedly uphold God’s Word as a blueprint for liberty. It’s ironic that they feature Bob Barr, a man who is on his third wife and was accused by his second wife of having committed adultery and having paid for an abortion.

Or am I just being a busybody? Am I participating in scandal-mongering by posting this? Even if I knew nothing about the abortion and adultery allegations, it would still irk me that a man on his third wife is lecturing Christians about liberty.

The epistemologist (one who studies belief systems) should understand how compromise works to hijack our worldview. We end up allowing the worst demons of our own depravity to share a platform with the angels of our better nature. We wink at a little indiscretion from time to time due the excuse that we are “all sinners saved by grace.” We slowly allow this to turn slowly into an egregious violation of God’s moral law. In this case, the other conference speakers are winking at an allegation of adultery and murder through abortion. I don’t know if the allegations are true, but I also don’t see where other Christian speakers have addressed the propriety of appearing alongside this man.

To be completely fair, I should address that fact that the “dirt” on Barr was uncovered by Larry Flynt, a pornographer with an open political agenda, during the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings. However, it appears that the allegations were substantial and had enough traction to make it into the mainstream press. Here is an interesting article from the American Journalism Review that discusses the propriety of the “main stream media” exposing the Bob Barr scandal. It also discusses the role of the Internet as the driving force behind the “new media.”

The conclusion I have drawn after 15 years of administrating Forerunner.com is that the Internet is no different than a newspaper press except that it requires no money or training to publish. Therefore, scandal in the new media is so common that most take it with a grain of salt. The downside of this is that nothing is shocking anymore. If scandalous behavior becomes Internet “news” or is already part of public record for those who will connect the dots, then we are repeating what may already be found elsewhere. We should realize that allowing others to read public record and draw their own conclusions cannot be avoided. Most of the time people are commenting on what has already been commented on a thousand times before – Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods, Bob Barr, and so on – even before a civil suit can be written or jury can render a verdict. For better or for worse, the new media is the police, judge, jury and executioner of human character.

For many years, people found it acceptable for journalists to blow the lid off political and private life scandals if the story made it through the rigorous grid of ethical procedural journalism. This was their job. They knew best. Or did they? Now with the Internet, anyone may by pass through this ethical grid with no rigor. As Christians, we are dealing with a new species of animal with the ability to reach thousands at our fingertips in a few microseconds.

The ethics of doing so needs to be examined, but we’ve passed into a time when the genie is out of the bottle. By the time of the Cruise for Liberty in January, many of the attendees will know all about Bob Barr due to the Internet and they will have drawn their own conclusions.

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Jay Rogers is the Founder of The Forerunner International (a/k/a Media House International) and has been writing since the 1980’s. Jay has also acted as script writer and associate producer for several Christian videos, including The Real Jesus and God’s Law and Society. He has a heart for Missions, is a fierce pro-life advocate and activist, and is currently the Director of The Forerunner – http://www.forerunner.com . He and his lovely wife Kalia now live in Kissimmee, Florida.

The Ministry of Prayer and the Reformed Church

So many conferences, so little time. Conferences for pastors and leaders in the church abound every year, and it seems as if the Reformed camp is the most enthusiastic about gathering in large groups to discuss theology, history, and any number of church practices. Not to mention the great times fellowshipping with like-minded people, catching up on each other’s families, showing off baby pictures, graduation pictures and the like..

But this article by Tim Challies really caught my attention, and I knew I needed to repost it.

Challies calls attention to something I think may be overlooked a lot simply BECAUSE the Reformed camp is so male centered – Prayer. (Ouch!) So, you male leaders of the Church, suck in your breath and start reading… and start praying (if you haven’t already been doing it).

“This isn’t an easy ministry. Nor is it a visible one; nor is it one whose results are easily seen. And yet they are committed to it. It’s all kinds of awesome.” ~~ Tim Challies on the ministry of Prayer

LINK: Notes from True Woman – Prayer Warriors

War of the Worldviews with Eric Holmberg to air Monday evenings on the NRB Network

TRFW is excited about the new shows on the NRB Network –

Prime time is heating up with Apologetics programming featuring many great teachers, one of whom we have spotlighted right here on our blog.

War of the Worldviews with Eric Holmberg will air every Monday evening on the NRB Network – channels 378 on DirecTV and 126 on Sky Angel – 8 pm Central Time, 9 pm Eastern. War of the Worldviews is a new series from well-known Christian cultural apologist, Eric Holmberg (Hell’s Bells 1&2, Sound of War, Red Pill Forum, Marks of a Cult, and more). Eric is the founder and national director of The Apologetics Group and Reel to Real Ministries.

The first show will be Monday, May 17th.
8-9 pm CST
9-10 pm EST

Meant to challenge both the believer and non-believer, this program takes the truth of God’s Word to the frontlines of popular culture, philosophy, theology, and politics.

The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is located in Nashville, Tennessee, and offers non-profit programming distributed through a channel on DIRECTV. Please check your local provider for details.

Watch for updates weekly – invite your family, friends and co-workers to watch!

http://www.nrbnetwork.tv/schedules/Pages/default.aspx

War of the Worldviews with Eric Holmberg to Air Monday Nights on NRB Network

The Reformed Faith Weblog interviews Eric Holmberg, The Apologetics Group

The Reformed Faith Weblog (TRFW) recently had the good fortune to sit down for a confab with Eric Holmberg, Founder and CEO of The Apologetics Group (TAG), where he discussed TAG’s Amazing Grace video as well as some other intriguing upcoming TAG projects.

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TRFW: This is the quincentenary year of Calvin’s birth and the great man hasn’t been this much in the news for a long time – even making Time magazine’s “10 Ideas That Are Changing the World” – speaking specifically to the theological system that bears his name. To what degree do you think your video “Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism” has contributed to this growth in popularity?

ERIC: Only God knows how these things shake out. I would like to think we played a small part. Certainly the video is selling almost as well now as it did when it was first released four years ago; over 50,000 copies and counting – which is pretty amazing for an over four-hour documentary film on “non-sexy” topics like history and theology.

TRFW: Any testimonies you would like to share?

ERIC: Sure, tons. I recently ministered on the campus of Kansas State. The church that brought me in was an independent, non-denominational charismatic church and the entire staff – around twenty people I guess – had gone through the video systematically over a period of weeks. The result was that a majority of them became convinced Calvinists and even the ones who didn’t became much more self-aware of their soteriological systems as well as some of its potential inconsistencies and were appreciative of the iron-sharpening-iron dynamic. This type of thing has happened hundreds if not thousands of times. Right now I am working on a video on open-air preaching and I am finding men that do it – from England to New Jersey (where I just got back from filming) have seen and been powerfully impacted by the video. Given the strong Arminian – even full-blown Pelegian – leanings if not out-right convictions that characterize a lot of the public preachers, this trend towards the theology as well as the practice of Whitefield and Spurgeon is wonderful.

TRFW: Tell us about the new Study Guide for “Amazing Grace.”

ERIC: The first version wasn’t as thorough as the video and didn’t adequately address some of the most common objections people had after watching the DVD. Though I have been extremely busy with new projects, re-launching our web site, and family stuff (my second grandchild is to be born any day now) I carved out at least a month of total time over the last year to both re-do and expand the guide. I am very pleased with the results and many who have gone through it agree. And in keeping with our desire to do what we can to advance the neo-Calvinist revolution – particularly in the face of the extremely sobering signs of growing apostasy in the West and potential cultural collapse – not only have we reduced the price on the DVD significantly but we have made the Study Guide free of charge.

TRFW: Any lessons learned through all these escapades that are of a more corrective nature?

ERIC: I am glad you asked. There is a trend I have seen in the Reformed world – some call it the “truly reformed” (TR) world – towards spiritual pride, reductionism and a type of neo-gnosticism. By the latter I mean a tendency to think that because we have gained a special knowledge of God and His ways as pertains salvation and the true nature of man, we are somehow special; better and more useful (and even more acceptable) to God than those poor Arminians. While I have known all manner of faithful Calvinists who are loving, humble and among the most Godly people I have ever met in the broad world of the Church in which I have been blessed to travel, I have also run into a more than a few…I’ll just call them less that way. And what is equally bad, and maybe related to this unfortunate reality, is the reductionism, the all-too-common tendency for some to reduce Calvin to his soteriology, to the famous five-points that “Amazing Grace” explores. Anyone who knows Calvin – and those that carried the torch he helped light – knows that eclipsing his view as to the fine points of the true nature of God and man and how God then saves His elect – as important as those are – was his passion for the kingdom of God, the Lordship of Christ over the nations, winning souls, conquering sin, reforming cultures and the priesthood of the individual believer and the holiness of their calling and work as a primary means by which God would cause the “knowledge of the Lord to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” In this sense, and the last few years have helped me see this clearly, Wesley was a far better Calvinist that more than a few of the TR’s I have encountered.

In that “Amazing Grace” subtly fed that reductionism by focusing on Calvin’s soteriology rather than the bigger picture, I regret that I may have contributed to this all-too-common problem. We hope to “fix” this with two follow-up projects to “Amazing Grace” that explore both “the big picture” as well as how its implementation has “rocked the world” throughout history and will no doubt rock it again.

TRFW: Sounds very interesting and exciting; I can’t wait to hear more about them. Any other new projects in the works?

ERIC: We always have a half-dozen or more ideas in varying stages of development. That’s my curse, too many ideas and too little time, hands and money. Besides the doc on the public proclamation of the Gospel I have already alluded to, Jay Rogers and I are finishing up “The Abortion Matrix: Ending Child Sacrifice and the Decline of America” that I trust will help to do just that. And Larry Tomczak and I are well into a project that will tackle another boring, non-controversial issue: homosexuality.

There are other things as well, but let me end with another Calvin project. To celebrate his quincentenary we commissioned an artist, Caleb Fairies is his name and his work is really amazing, to do a bust of Calvin. The first bronze should be cast before the end of the year. These will be signed and numbered limited edition run – probably just ten will be made – and they will cost several thousands of dollars and be a real collector’s item. But there will be a resin model that will look almost as amazing – that will come in at the “I can afford to get this for my husband/pastor/dad/Christian school” price. We did that for people like me.

TRFW: And me! Where can we learn more about this?

ERIC: Keep checking our web site. Once the bronze is done we will announce it, posting pictures as well as detailed video of the bust on YouTube.

TRFW: Thanks for your time, Eric. May God grant you a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

ERIC: And may He do the same for you. Thanks.

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Eric lives in Tennessee with his lovely wife, Ronda, and in addition to Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism, Eric has produced in the neighborhood of 30+ other Christian educational videos and documentaries.

Please visit his website – The Apologetics Group
You can also follow The Apologetics Group on The Apologetics Group Facebook Page and TheApologeticsGrp on Twitter.

Featured Ministry – The Apologetics Group, A Ministry of Eric Holmberg

Many years ago when God first called me out of the darkness (with me very confused as to why he did that…) I saw a film in my church that changed the way I looked at the effects of music on my spiritual life forever. That film was Hell’s Bells, and it opened my eyes to the spiritual war going on that was right in front of me that I’d been totally unaware of. It revolutionized the way I looked at music and made me much more acutely aware of how music effected my life and the lives of my family.

The Apologetics Group, or TAG, once known to many as Reel to Real Ministries, was created by current CEO Eric Holmberg in 2003. Both TAG and Reel to Real have produced presentations such as Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism, The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity & Divinity of Christ, God’s Law and Society, and many more great ministry tools.

Eric’s nearly 30 dedicated years of ministry has produced relevant media which has touched many thousands of lives worldwide. He has worked with some of the Reformed world’s greatest theologians, such as the likes of Dr. George Grant, R.C. Sproul, Dr. Stephen Mansfield, Dr. Ted Baehr… and the list goes on.

Anyone who has ever been to one of Eric’s seminars has had the opportunity to experience Eric’s unique and discerning view of media and popular culture from a Christian worldview. Indeed, if you didn’t leave the seminar changed in some way then perhaps you weren’t really paying close attention…

The focus of Eric’s ministry is educating the Christian (and anyone else who has ears to hear) about the world around them – culture, media, church history, doctrinal issues, the abortion industry, etc. Any of the various DVDs produced by TAG can be utilized in such educational settings as a home school, Sunday school, small groups, and as evangelical presentations or outreaches in a church or on a local high school or college campus.

For more information about The Apologetics Group or Eric Holmberg, check out their official website – The Apologetics Group.

Please note: Eric Holmberg and The Apologetics Group (a subsidiary of Reel to Real Ministries) is located in Tennessee and is not affiliated with the website nicenecouncil.com or it’s DBA parent company, Apologetics Group, Inc., which is located in Virginia.

Hope this clears up any confusion.