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the “new” journalism


Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”

(Luke 1:1-4)

Years ago I was approached by a young man from the University of Winnipeg who expressed his desire to write a story on me and my ministry. He told me that he was a student of something called the new journalism. All journalism, he explained, is a quest to discover and convey truth. The new journalist goes much further in this quest than is typical. Instead of conducting a few interviews and then writing his story, the new journalist spends as much time as possible with his research subjects. In my case, this young man shadowed me for weeks, participating in the Bible studies I was leading and in our regular downtown outreaches to the poor. He believed that this new journalism was a superior way of really getting at the truth before writing his story. I told him that though I agreed with the rightness of the intention and the superiority of the method, this new journalism was in fact not really new at all. The biblical writer named Luke was engaged in this kind of journalism 2,000 years ago! Luke, who wrote the Gospel that bears his name as well as the Acts of the Apostles, was a faithful friend and traveling companion of the great apostle Paul (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11). Though Luke did not personally witness the events recorded in his Gospel, his account of these things comes directly from those who did (Luke 1:2). Much of the Book of Acts, however, is his direct, firsthand account (chapters 16:10-19:41; 20:4-28:31). If the new journalism is a superior way to discover and convey truth, then we have good reason to regard Luke’s writings as reliable. These suspicions are confirmed when we compare what Luke wrote to what we know about the ancient world at that time. Luke shows accurate and precise knowledge of the geopolitical divisions that existed, the names and titles of regional rulers, the details regarding the legal systems and various cultural norms. He also displays exceptional nautical knowledge. Everywhere we can test his claims, Luke appears correct and exact. In all, this historian of the first rank names 32 countries, 54 cities, and nine islands without error. Let us not forget, however, that Luke was more than a careful researcher; he was a writer of inspired text (1 Timothy 5:18; Luke 10:7; 2 Corinthians 8:16-18). Let us therefore approach his writings with renewed confidence, joyful enthusiasm, and humble gratitude.

God bless you as you search the Scriptures daily,

Pastor John


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