Three questions with Marvin Olasky

Communications Staff — November 20, 2009

Marvin Olasky is provost of The King’s College in New York City, and editor-in-chief of World magazine. An accomplished writer, Olasky has released 20 books and has had articles appear in World, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Olasky delivered Southern Seminary’s most recent Norton Lectures in September.

1. How significant is the Gospel to develop an explicitly Christian view of political and cultural engagement for the church?

It’s huge for lots of reasons. The Gospel is a great protection against dictatorship because the good news is that, while we are broken actors on a broken stage, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us and therefore we can be saved from our sins. But we are still fallen sinners – that goes for followers, leaders, all of us: all have fallen short of God’s glory – so when you understand that, when people in a country understand that, they are not likely to look upon a particular person as the savior. When you don’t have that (perspective), there tends to be a growth in dictatorship.

We have a system of checks and balances in America, essentially a decentralized system set up by the founders of the nation and a separation of powers because the understanding is that no one, not even someone who looks to be wonderful, can be trusted with centralized power because of the sinfulness of man.

2. What do you see as the future of print media?

I would like the future to be bright. I grew up in newspapers and still like seeing things in the paper, but I don’t read newspapesr much anymore. I get my news on the Internet. I actually find it very useful to see one story and jump to another and so forth and sometimes get different perspectives on the same thing. So, it’s really an advantage to have the Internet available and as other people see that too, I don’t see much future for newspapers in paper form. Twenty years ago, I was able to write in my book “Prodigal Press,” that the future of newspapers was dim and now we are seeing it. I think some magazines with particular emphases will continue. But I think the future is largely on the Internet as far as writing is concerned.

3. How would you define Christian journalism? Is writing about the things Christians do different than writing news out of a Christian worldview?

The second (option) is the way to go, I think. There is room to cover church activities and informational things, but in a way that is more public relations than journalism, but I think Christian journalism should be biblically-objective journalism. That is, our goal in the realization that we are fallen sinners, is to read the Bible and see the way God’s writers perceive things and then try to go and do likewise. So, when we send reporters out to do news, the idea is to try to think through how one of God’s inspired writers might cover it. None of us is inspired and we have limitations, nevertheless we’re not just trying to present a Republican view, a Democratic view, a liberal view or a conservative view, we are trying, as best we can, to present God’s ideal and I hope we approach that with humility or else we’re in trouble. But nevertheless, that’s our goal: biblical objectivity and that is the only objectivity there is.

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