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The Daily Mail and Following Jesus

I wonder today whether we should make buying, or even simply reading the Daily Mail a church membership issue, writes Andy Goodliff


If the low point of US media is Fox News, surely the low point of UK media is the Daily Mail. I am deeply concerned that so many Christians buy it, read it and so absorb its vile view of the world. I wonder if Christian discipleship would grow if we could just agree that reading the Daily Mail was a stumbling block to following Jesus.

We won’t of course because we have largely separated membership from discipleship. Membership for the early Baptists was a matter of political conviction and ethical conduct centred on obedience to Christ. Obedience to Christ is to recognise that when we claim that ‘Jesus is Lord’ we are claiming a peculiar politics and ethics. By peculiar I mean it doesn’t look like the ordinary politics and ethics of the world. We have lost the ability to make political and moral judgments as church communities, despite the fact that we claim to follow Christ and Paul says that we have his ‘mind’.

In his letter to the Philippians, which as Baptists, we are being encouraged to study and read this year, Paul writes that ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is admirable, if there is anything morally excellent and anything praiseworthy, focus your attention on these things’ (Phil. 4.8, translation comes from Stephen Fowl’s Two Horizons commentary).

Now of course the Daily Mail would claim that they seek to offer that which is true, just, admirable, etc and yet Paul’s message is that these things require discernment according to Christ. As Fowl says, Paul recognises that ‘these terms can be used in diverse and incompatible ways’ and the letter is thus a call to discernment (see 1.9-10, 27, 2.5, 3.8, 4.9), to ‘live a life a worthy of the gospel.’

A life worthy of the gospel cannot be a life reading and absorbing the Daily Mail. Now of course no newspaper, news programme is entirely true, noble, just, pure, etc, and so discernment is always needed, but I would argue that in the case of the Daily Mail, too many Christians have been led into thinking that the politics and ethics of this paper are not at odds with the gospel. To which Paul might say ‘Wake up, o sleeper! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!’ (Eph 5.14)

 

The Revd Andy Goodliff is minister of Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend-on-Sea

Andy Goodliff, 04/10/2013
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