Christian Newspapers and Heart Publications
I was recently handed the December / January edition of Heart, a Christian newspaper, which has a strapline “Sharing Christian News Across the Nation”. See here for its website.
“I want to celebrate Christians’ achievements, their work in the community, and the changed lives resulting from an encounter with God,” says publisher and editor Melanie Symonds.
“To see local Christians unified and strengthened, sharing information and building trust across churches by providing a meeting place, a marketplace and forum for the local Christian community. To inform and stimulate concern about local and national issues relevant to our society. HEART celebrates local Christians’ achievements; readers have often testified to feeling encouraged at knowing what is happening to other local believers and non-churchgoers who are given HEART can read of Christians’ successes and testimonies. By taking HEART, churchgoers know what is going on in their area using one paper delivered direct to the county’s churches”.
The friend who handed me the newspaper thought it would be something right up my street. I read with interest, albeit with a degree of initial scepticism, based on past experience that every Christian newspaper or magazine I ever read usually had a position to maintain and a particular theological and world view bent and, without exception, I have not been fully agreeing with any. These days, I do not regularly read newspapers, Christian or otherwise. While “Fake News” is a rather strong term, those in the otherwise camp too often fail when it comes to truth and balance. As for Christian, none have sufficiently captured my interest or passed my scepticism test, making it worthwhile to read, even if not in line with all my views, which actually is not a bad thing, since we should question everything, and welcome that which challenges one’s prejudices etc. Instead, I find a lot of what I want to know on the Internet, especially social and that termed Alternative media (sometimes purporting to be Christian but often more in tune with New Age spirituality), and often derided as entertaining conspiracy theories. I am mindful too that in a time before the Internet and, before that, radio and television, newspapers, magazines and journals played a significant part when it came to providing news and perspectives, and this was certainly the case with earnest and thoughtful Christians. As for my own brand (Plymouth Brethren) it played an important part bringing together people in that group and provide direction and consistency among different Assemblies.
All these thoughts went through my mind when reading Heart and then going to the website to find out more, notably past editions of the newspaper. Again, being of that ilk, I tried to figure out where the newspaper editors stood in the theological and ecclesiological spectrum. My conclusions were it was strongly Evangelical (of the more conservative variety), evangelistic in its endeavours to share an old-fashioned gospel message, community minded in its dealing with issues temporal and spiritual, inter-denominational, insofar it did not appear to endorse one or other group or style, Charismatic leaning and showing an interest in Bible prophecy to do with end times and in what the modern day prophets had to say, albeit steering clear of some political prophets, e.g. those predicting a Trump second term. On the Christian awake to awoke spectrum, it was more awake but not to the extent of fully subscribing to the notion of a tiny globalist cabal running planet Earth and behind much evil. While its views on the establishment, e.g. the monarchy, government and Church of England, are more charitable than mine and its news coverage less extensive or in depth than it could (all imho of course), I like its winsome approach such that those, who like me may have a different take on things, need not feel excluded.
While my initial cursory read was mixed when coming to a view, as I read more deeply, particularly past editions, I became more impressed, especially at its attempt to cover many different facets of Christian news in a balanced and fair-minded way. I thought its 28 pages of content, given in tabloid format, with only a small part given over to adverts specifically appealing to its readership, covered a lot of ground and it was worth taking the time to go through. Its front-page article “Who will you worship this Christmas” did well to take to task the “10 Climate Commandments” unveiled at the recent COP27 Climate Conference. While not being quite as scathing as I would if given the platform, the newspaper gave a fair Christian response to some of the issues of our day and seemed to have the measure of certain global organisations, such as the World Economic Forum. I felt its “The great last days money deception article” was particularly pertinent. There was so much more relating to today’s culture war, such as the sexualisation and indoctrination of our children, pushing of the trans human / gender agenda, the abortion debate, freedom of religion and conscience, with good points being made and for those so inclined to pray over. Then there were items of local news and testimonies, invariably uplifting and regarding which I would not have been aware but for this newspaper. And there is so much more worth reading. I was heartened that the different ministries / interests of two Christian friends were sympathetically covered. I loved the testimony of a 12-year-old how she came to terms with the Corona lockdown. While not quite calling out the Covid-19 hoax or the poisonous jab for what it is, the newspaper gives heart to those sent to “Christian Coventry” for sharing our views and may help to foster unity that was lost.
I conclude by thanking my friend for thinking of me when handing me a newspaper I did not know existed. It is one that could be given to people in our church because we all do well to know the content covered, firstly for encouragement and secondly it can inform our response on how to act given the precarious times are living in. While saddened that elements of today’s church may have lost their way when it comes to responding to what the Lord would have us do (me included), what I read in Heart inspires me and gives cause for hope. What has become clear to me in recent years is spiritual and doctrinally sound Christians do not always sing from the same hymn sheet (evident in the newspaper’s letters section) and fall out as a result. The editorial team have adopted, what in the circumstances, is a wise middle course in rightly tackling the issues of the day. Given the true Church is God’s great idea and His designs for her are glorious and His purposes will not be thwarted, I commend those who seek to bless her members, e.g. through publications like this, who have wide ranging perspectives, knowledge, journeys, but needing good pastoring and teaching. I congratulate those putting together this newspaper and wish them well and pray godly success in their future endeavours for Him.