Journalistic Truth in a Postmodern Age (Carl F.H. Henry)

In Memory of Carl F.H. Henry

1913-2000

 Mr. Carl Henry was born in 1913 in New York City. At 19, he became editor of The Smithtown Star and later was a stringer for The New York Times. He entered Wheaton College in 1935 and pursued graduate studies simultaneously at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned a doctorate. Mr. Henry eventually taught theology at Northern while pursuing a second doctorate, from Boston University, which he earned in 1949. In 1947, the first of Mr. Henry's major books, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, was published. Mr. Henry became Fuller Seminary's first dean in 1955 in Pasadena, CA. He left Fuller to become the founding editor of Christianity Today later in 1955. He left the editorship in 1968. After leaving the magazine, he went on to study at Cambridge, England, and to establish the Institute for Advanced Christian Studies. He later returned to the United States to teach at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mr. Henry completed his six-volume work God, Revelation and Authority in 1983. This 1999 WJI speech is one of Dr. Henry's last public addresses.

by Dr. Carl F. H. Henry

Speech delivered at the Closing banquet of the World Journalism Institute
Asheville, N.C., August 20, 1999

I daydreamed recently that instead of calling fishermen as disciples, Jesus called wordsmiths and spin-doctors -- the likes of you and me. What complicated this fantasy is that, in a sense, he did precisely that: the four evangelists are the writers of the four Gospels -- among the best known writings in the history of humanity. To be sure, the evangelists were uniquely and divinely inspired. Yet nonetheless you and I, too, have God-given gifts on lend-lease to tell redemption's story in written as well as spoken form.[1]

These gifts are not bestowed without a warning:

For every thoughtless word men utter they must give an account in the day of judgment, for it is by your words that you will be acquitted and by your words that you will be condemned (Matt. 12:36-37).

I take it that you and I who profess to follow the Lord Jesus Christ ought even more than others to guard against worthless chatter. Purposeless phrasing is a hallmark of our generation. It is seen in its routine incorporation into everyday speech of blasphemous and profane expressions, such as, "Oh, my God." At no place in its communication does our generation betray its poverty of speech more than in its defamation of the Deity.

My last formal address to journalists occurred at a secular university in Florida some 25 years ago. My remarks then, I fear, call now for a bit of revision. For I championed comprehensive objectivity in reporting, writing, and editing, over against subjective or partisan coverage. What I failed then fully to recognize is that all human thought and verbalization necessarily involves presuppositions, and that journalistic objectivity has some serious limits. I should have been alerted to this by the very first editor under whom I was trained in copy-editing, a gifted Brooklyn Daily Eagle retiree, who simply on sight struck the name of God from any and every piece of copy in which it appeared.[2]

When first I heard the topic "Journalistic Truth in a Postmodern Age," its intention seemed crystal clear. Truth is subject to a double distortion -- not alone by us word-crafters and spin-doctors, but also by a supposedly regnant postmodern culture.

If so-called "journalistic truth" preoccupies us, we may not be in touch with truth at all. Truth is indivisible. For the Christian, truth is what God thinks and wills and says. Truth is comprehensively structured by the divine Logos and by logical consistency. We can no more successfully isolate journalistic truth from an expansive context than one can ideally separate a faithful husband from his spouse.

We may be tempted, however, to say that "journalistic truth" is really fiction, a creative literary coordination of engaging events, and that to speak of "journalistic truth" is already to have ventured a fatal concession to the relativistic and compartmentalizing philosophies that sweep over much of contemporary life. Make no mistake about it: not a few present-day observers who profess to speak legitimately for the current cultural scene would reduce to pragmatism every truth-claim that journalists venture to affirm. One hears nowadays of postmodern expositions of art, architecture, history, law, literature, morality, music, and much else. Journalists and journalism are fed into the mouth of relativism in such forms as perspectivalism, deconstructionism, multiculturalism, feminism and postmodernism. The result is that whatever we affirm cannot elicit another mind's cognitive assent. Exposition involves no search for universal truth, since there allegedly is none, nor can anything any longer even approximate the truth.

At stake in this mental and linguistic rebellion in our time is not merely a defection from universally acceptable language and a repudiation of Victorian prudity, but a rejection also of straight-forward communication and a deliberate distortion of word meanings. This repeal of plain meaning involves more than a modern revival of Babel. To be sure, meaning is conveyed by sentences rather than simply by isolated words. But distortion and distrust of words is devastating for a religion of verbal revelation.

Not infrequently one hears today that the Bible itself contains sexually explicit material, and that whoever lives in the real world cannot escape such content. But too often unmentioned is the fact that such scriptural references occur in the context of moral judgment, and not of pornographic or salacious presentation. Those who engage in immorality are, in Scripture, held responsible, and are answerable to judgment. Christian journalism must in the postmodern world reach for language that is not invasive of sexual privacy, yet it must not conceal from the public what the public has a right to know.

The term "postmodernity" reeks with fluidity and ambiguity. In the history of philosophy, the term "modern" usually designates the post-medieval -- more especially, the empirical and naturalistic. Modernity, too, is a fluid concept; it relocates from generation to generation, and postmodernity therefore shifts along with it. Small wonder that John Silber, chancellor of Boston University, considers "postmodern" a senseless construct; what is now modern may soon become postmodern, and what is postmodern now may tomorrow belong to the past. There are indeed signs that postmodernism is already running low on gas.[3]

Two comments confront postmodernism's rejection of objective reality, of objective truth, and of objective good:

First, if in fact these disavowals really state the case, then postmodernism is self-destructive; it cannot logically contend that postmodernism itself gifts us with what is objectively true and factual. Postmodernism cannot readily exempt itself from its own insistence on universal subjectivity.

A second comment recalls the Bible's counter-emphasis that all human beings are fashioned in God's image -- an image that includes universal distinctions of truth and morality. However distorted the divine image may be due to humanity’s fall into sin, some aspects of that image survive nonetheless in every human. These aspects include objective, rational, and moral elements integral to the essence of humanity.

The century now ending has imposed Herculean changes on the world of communication; in undreamed of ways, it has transcended the invention of the printing press. The changes concern content no less than method. The Protestant reformers could enlist the marvel of printing to send the Gospel of Christ around the world. But our century has remodeled the real world and transformed the nature of news.

Insofar as the press professes to serve truth, decency, and society, it has an obligation to pursue these objectives aggressively. In challenging deception and untruth, the media must not dwarf its own public responsibility.

The defection from universal rational and moral distinctions accommodates a costly distortion of the human species. In our time, an epidemic of talk shows has arisen in which civility is often at a premium. The lack of synthesis and of comprehensive summation tends to enforce the fragmentation of culture.[4] Television networks now cope with diminishing viewers and soaring program costs. Research and development is more sure that TV inevitably will be transformed than it is sure of the nature of anticipated changes. Some believe Internet or on-line news delivered whenever one wants it will soon replace newspaper, radio and television news. Cable competition keeps cutting into traditional viewership. While their audiences slump, network payments to local affiliates remain contractually fixed. In the long run, both the networks and even some cable TV shows seem more and more to be moving toward irrelevance. No less disconcerting than the intellectual decline of much television is its channeling of entertainment into triviality, ineptitude and even idiocy.

Culture commentators debate what prompts the eruption of teen-age violence in our supposedly civilized society. That the fault line lies with human nature itself seems unthinkable to many moderns. We are all woven of the same fabric as are cultural rebels, and are ourselves potential sources of similar violence. It remains for Christian commentators, however odd this seems to the cultural mainstream, to indicate God's Spirit's effect on human behavior. Believers must note the contrasting consequences of the Spirit's withdrawal from rebellious society, versus the Spirit's regeneration of penitent humanity.

In the long run, mind-control and will-control are more determinative than gun control, important though that may be. That in the United States the present culture incorporates violence-triggering elements is true enough, but it is human nature itself that needs changing. The problem is one of right and of truth. A spiritual vacuum and theological emptiness now prevails in much of American life. God is considered irrelevant in much cultural contemplation, or He is treated only as an explanatory principle of vast cosmic power.

Nobody knows more than editors and publishers how highly controversial has become national news reporting and disclosure. Material that a decade ago would have been carried only by the most sensational tabloids in our time finds its way even into a prestigious daily like The New York Times. Publication of sexual intimacies of public figures has multiplied demand for more accountable news coverage. Yet the press feels obliged to expose shameful and scandalous conduct by purported moral examples, among them political pacesetters and influential clergy, and the press calls for greater responsibility amid the deteriorating cultural outlook. Some public figures meanwhile hide behind a disrobing culture and its tabloid indecencies. Spokespersons for the press claim that the flight from standards only reflects a general tendency, and that the public itself has an accelerated interest in lurid sex. Not only has sex on television moved from the living room to the bedroom, but the issue concerning its portrayal is no longer whether to feature it, but how to do so. The lame excuse that television has a duty to educate and influence society and the culture cannot conceal the ready inclusion of raunchy advertising.

Television educates and influences whether it aims to do so or not. What is important is the nature of its impression on lives and the audience response it elicits.[5]

Who can gainsay that television disproportionately publicizes the grievous injustices that occasionally shadow contemporary history? Is it unfair to say that the tube tends to obscure the engulfing justice that the courts quite routinely achieve? Yet topmost leadership has, under oath, degraded its morality and exhibited deception, perjury and untruth. The insistence by Western theists that faith in a divine Creator- Judge and in universal human dignity are vital political supports is now compromised by the growing belief that, even more than justice, skillful trial lawyers are finally most decisive for the outcome of legal conflicts.

Assuredly, we must not ignore the need for judicial reform. The rule of law is a governing principle in a stable democracy, and no society can confidently preserve its political foundations if it fails here. But without an anchorage in transcendent revelation, law loses its ultimate authority and moral power. The United States has recovered from the Nixon era and it may recover also from the Clinton era. Yet recovery from any and all possible future deterioration is not assured, for America is in unstable transition. The coming storm already has over-taken a weakened political arena and a crumbling culture, whose champions of virtue now readily lose their majesty amid a superficial popularity. The current recipes for recovery tend not to be life-changing.[6]

In an early essay in Christianity Today, I cautioned that Jerry Falwell would ultimately march to a different drumbeat. The Moral Majority channeled into political activism much evangelistic zeal, which long required the spiritual transformation of individuals as the necessary precondition of a new society. Leaders of this religio-political movement, moreover, soon contended with each other for their own personal public relations advantage, and for personal political influence and opportunity.[7]

Paul Weyrich doubts that any Judeo-Christian values-majority currently survives. He thinks Christians have probably lost the culture war and he calls for Christian separation from institutions that are already captured by the prevailing culture. This verdict seems in principle to contrast with present-day longings by Evangelicals and Catholics together to entrench Judeo-Christian priorities by cooperative effort. Yet Weyrich does not think Christians should forsake political engagement, for it remains important to try to rescue government and other institutions from takeover by opponents of traditional Judeo-Christian culture.

Weyrich contends that the "the United States is very close to becoming a state totally dominated by an alien ideology . . . bitterly hostile to Western culture , . . . one that threatens to control literally every aspect of our lives," one that "has completely taken over the academic community," pervades the entertainment industry, and affects even the Church. He takes a turn that I, too, have been tempted to take since the outcome of the Clinton impeachment hearings, and that is an awareness that the political arena may no longer confidently be counted on to rectify its own compromises. Clinton's political survival may indeed attest that no moral majority now influentially shapes the basic American outlook, and that in respect to political integrity and to sexual decency the prevailing culture seems at best to be ethically neutral, if not actually indifferent.

Pleasure doubtless remains for many life’s chief goal. The joy of sex has indeed been compromised by the pestilence of AIDS, the need for condoms, and the use of artificial stimulants including Viagra. The social spirit is attuned to sexual impropriety. Widely prevalent sexual infidelity makes more difficult the enlistment of youth in the observance of sexual standards. A society that applauds safe sex rather than moral sex needs to have little to do with morality. Sex remains a contemporary divinity, safe or not. Not only the tabloid realm, popular magazines and the print press generally, but much television so influentially exploits sex that even the Christian media at times flirt with its reader potential.

American life is, in fact, now extensively governed by economic factors. For many, financial concerns seem actually decisive of the worth of life. The political scene becomes reconciled to ongoing national debt while at the same time it champions increasing social security benefits. A crushing financial reversal would plunge multitudes into a depth of melancholy with which the political process is unprepared to cope.

The lack of economic finalities nurtures its own theology in perpetual transit. Harvey Cox thinks that "the Market is becoming more like the Yahweh of the Old Testament -- not just one superior deity contending with others but the Supreme Deity, the only true God, whose reign must now be universally accepted and who allows for no rivals" ("The Market as God," The Atlantic Monthly, March, 1999, pp. 18-26, p. 20).[8]

Hard news can be subtly commercialized. Commercialism in turn can become obfuscation, and obscurity marks the death of reason. Even hard news is readily transformed into entertainment, and its joviality lapses into tomfoolery that lacks cognitive value, even when it may not be intellectual junk food. Yet in the current distortion of reality and truth, enough survives -- though barely enough at times -- to mirror the earth's latest beauty amid its modern devaluation. News is here and there still correlated with the human longing for peace and tranquility, though one may have to listen intently to escape the thunderclap of hostility in a hurting society.

The professional burden facing the journalist -- whose private life is not always beyond reproach -- is to establish what level of media inquiry and investigation of nonpublic life is appropriate. What public relevance, if any, has private conduct? The existence of God no doubt establishes that no life is absolutely private. But is it an evangelical obligation to make all private life public? Does the right of privacy in community life have no limits? Does the public not have a right to know some things about a public figure's behavior?[9]

Or does the church as a spiritual body comprise an alternative to political processes, a framework of judgment, reconciliation and recognition that takes priority? Evangelicals in the past thought that their clergy, college teachers and administrative personnel were to be considered role models exemplifying ideal family life and vocational fulfillment. The disintegration of a monogamous society and the breakup of the home require the Christian community more and more to tribute the nuclear family. The Christian vanguard needs all the more to emphasize the values distinctive of its community of faith, and to commend Christian heritage and culture.

A generation ago American voters considered divorce -- even among the wealthiest -- as disqualifying a presidential candidate, but that day is gone. There was a day when a leader who lies under oath was considered unworthy of political office, but that day, too, has gone. There was a day when a married politician who would turn the White House into a lair for womanizing would have been considered unworthy of the presidency, but no longer.[10]

A disturbing number of pastors and church leaders are impacted by the moral freefall of the culture. Some professedly evangelical circles contemplate Christian relationships more than Christian worldview. It is held that exposition of a world-life view unacceptably rationalizes Christianity and imposes Greek categories that displace a genuinely biblical outlook. In actuality, personal relationships as part of a philosophical revolt against reason are here substituted for rational distinctions.

For decades I have hoped that instead of sitting on their endowments, a cluster of evangelical colleges might use television as the instrument for presenting the Christian worldview to secular society on a level worthy of academic attention.[11]

Part of the irony of recent modern evangelical outreach is that a whole succession of televangelist efforts blossomed while New York University scholars offered the humanistic alternative as a television sunrise semester option. An all-too-small number of Christian journalists have mirrored spiritual concerns and aggressively combated societal evils. The World Journalism Institute notably seeks to encourage a generation of evangelical writers who propose to heighten the light shed by the biblical heritage on journalistic responsibility. These writers seek to intensify the illumination provided by the Christian worldview in altering the content of culture and clarifying an alternative rather than being submissively shaped by it.

Instead of viewing the political spectrum as in hopeful transition to a golden era, some observers seem now to consider politics the contemporary culture's last gasp, one that yields the remnants of Christian civilization to a moral wasteland. We live amid the death rattle, as it were, of a now almost comatose culture, one chronologically unparalleled but in transition to a spiritually barren and in some ways worse than primitive society. The depth of cultural defection from the Judeo-Christian heritage is considered too rank to preclude monstrous collapse. The spirit of modernity less and less anticipates a gratifying future, and is a stranger even to the Christian hope of Christ's unexpected return.[12]

Christian apologetics will unmask the logical invalidity and the blemished character accommodated by nonChristian alternatives to the Gospel. Few activities better express the barrenness of nonChristian assumptions than when one strips them naked of intellectual legitimacy and they reach for cover. A comprehensive course in logic remains in all generations a high apologetic asset. But while an asset, rational consistency is not a self-sufficient criterion of factuality. It is a negative test of truth -- that is, no thesis can be true if it is logically inconsistent. The Spirit of God convicts and convinces a renegade humanity of the truth of the Gospel and of the need of repentance and regeneration. That same Spirit offers new hope and new life to a generation which, like ours, needs desperately to be reborn spiritually. Our joyless generation can be quickened by the triumphant dynamic of the Holy Spirit and invigorated by radiant delight in the Spirit.

Christ's Church, built on a rock, has a prophetic role in history. In a wicked society, one that calls evil good and good evil, the Church is not to be silent. But it has no license to promote a political gospel. Our mission is to proclaim the standards by which God will judge the world and His mercy whereby He offers rescue. We are to exhibit in life and thought the intellectual validity and transforming dynamic of the scriptural message and its implications.[13]

When Jesus Christ came, the Roman world empire had made justice its hallmark. But Jesus was "crucified under Pontius Pilate" as the Apostles Creed reminds subsequent generations.

The point is not that the Romans were so bad and we are so good. Jesus alone is good and we aren't as good as we imagine.

I don't refer only to technological genius or military strategy, or our vaunted moral example to the other nations, or the virtues that we say distinguish us at home.

We are part of a larger problem. God has waited over time for us to admit it. This is no time to impress the world with our supposed rectitude; not one of us is righteous enough. The West is nearer ethical collapse than we think. God wants us to clean up our act. We are in desperate need of forgiveness, redemption and renewal.

God wants us to come home before the lights go out. The flame is already flickering.[14] If this is not the end of all ends, we can still lead the way in repentance and renewal.

Jesus needs consecrated journalists at the turn of the millenniums. Are you in earnest? Then seize this very minute!

 

Personal Suggestions to WJI Students

1. Tell the truth.

2. Are there witnesses?

3. Assure yourself that this is the proper time and place to tell the story.

4. Has the offending party been treated as one would wish to be treated and given opportunity to reply (as in a letter to the editor or news story)?

5. Can I identify the offender’s right intentions and note a better way of fulfilling them?

6. Am I the best informed source to make the matter public over the issue alien to my publication? Can I reiterate the journalistic principles that are at stake?

7. Can the Christian source locate a relevant Bible verse or passage and show how it illumines or reinforces the right decision and action?

8. Does Christian hope shine through in anticipation of the final triumph of righteousness?

9. Does Christian commitment to a global mission, as antedating the League of Nations' United Nations, remain as more comprehensive, messianic and enduring?

10. Does good news survive the worst of all tragedies?


[1] Excuse me if in passing I mention that, at one time or another, I was for some years a radio commentator on KPOL in Los Angeles, a movie critic, editor of a weekly newspaper, suburban stringer for The New York Times and the Chicago Daily Tribune, a periodic contributor even to the tabloid press, and then for 12 years, I was editor of a Christian magazine. On occasion, I have wondered whether if I had walked a secular rather than a religious path as a context for Christian commentary, I might have achieved more good for the Kingdom of God. I suspect God chooses not to answer such questions since Christ’s “Follow Me” took another road. I reflect on these matters not, however, without some reminder of my fallibility.

[2] I serve on an evangelical award committee that specially commends articles in the secular press that include relevant Scripture quotation. I must say that the dynamic of quoted Scripture often unnecessarily loses force in secular society if its razor-sharp edge lacks luster in the quoting.

[3] Amid such historical fluctuations, Christianity distinctively sustains the case for objective reality and universal truth, and it deplores their abandonment. Written revelation is best championed by those who uphold reason. One jeopardizes biblical faith when its professedly intellectual spokespersons focus their energies on a denunciation of reason and champion fideism, or when they promote faith so barren of logic that they offer little more than faith in faith.

[4] The film industry, which traffics in fantasy, welcomes teen-aged script writers on the ground that in soliciting advertising, the pith of society involves a copy-crafting all its own. The present is therefore subordinated to the spirit of youth, through a devaluation of shared reason and the distortion of a fixed good.

[5] Wide mood-swings attend the Christian prospect in this context. Some evaluators banish all talk of doomsday and disillusionment, and confidently assure us that we already possess the keys to a dawning utopia and a new world. Some even think that a rebirth of love will purify our emotional propensities, as if love itself as our generation defines it is in no need of repair. Others question whether what often passes for love in our time is at all evangelically tolerable. If love is in definitional trouble, no less so is justice. Does justice embrace a biblical incentive, a Christian necessity, a divine imperative, or is it a diplomatic construct more than a spiritual and moral display? Is not even the legislative arena in its current pursuit of justice being overtaken by doubts and giving way in some circles to high disappointment and even to disillusionment? Do not the so-called people’s representatives tend often to seek their own future more than the nation’s high density?

[6] We should distinguish the aim of The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (1947) from Jerry Falwell’s call for a Moral Majority (1979). The former was a plea for culturally-withdrawn evangelicals to enter the cultural arena, to challenge modernism’s domination of public life, and to proclaim the relevance of biblical principles to all of human activity. Moral Majority, by contrast, was essentially a political movement. Although at first explicitly evangelical, it became a conservative-values program that enlisted Fundamentalists, Catholics, Mormons and others in a drive for conservative political representation.

[7] Despite its election of some Congressional candidates, Paul Weyrich comments, "it proved disappointing because the political process itself fell victim to a wider cultural decline." See Elizabeth Drew's The Corruption of American Politics. Much of this text I wholeheartedly endorse, and in certain respects somewhat anticipated in my books A Plea for Evangelical Demonstration (1971), The Christian Mindset in a Secular Society (1984), Christian Countermoves in a Decadent Culture (1986), Twilight of a Great Civilization (1988), and gods of this age or God of the Ages (1994).

[8] To be sure, one knows little about economics if one merely criticizes the media for attention to its bottom line. Few human enterprises are established merely to liquidate their existing assets. But the transformation of news portrayal into indirect advertising or product puffery is another matter, particularly if an impression is given of unslanted copy. Not only is supposedly hard news more and more channeled into a newsmagazine format, but content more and more dilutes intellectual analysis and is personality-driven to enhance melodramatic impact.

[9] Do highly skilled lawyers who shift focus between legal and personal alternatives contribute to an atmosphere of distrust over democratic processes? Yet this vulnerability exists for both prosecutory and defense attorneys whose claims are subject to counterthrust.

[10] It does not any longer assuredly matter much when a public figure admits having indulged in drugs or having deceived a husband or wife, suing a government-salaried legal staff to establish professed innocence, or using federally-funded staff to promote a misrepresented virtue. A distressing consequence of the Clinton era is that it encouraged doubt over the legitimacy of traditional role models. Democratic processes, moreover, are thought to be increasingly vulnerable to manipulation. Many commentators believe that the Clinton impeachment proceedings diminished the presidency, the Congress, the media and the independent counsels, as well.

[11] Christian philanthropy is extensively devoted to material structures that stand unused much of the time. Religious researchers report that 65 million persons attend no church in the United States, that 31% of young adults born since the early 1950's are among them, and that men are 67% more likely to be unchurched than their elders.

[12] Those won to spiritual commitment in this climate not infrequently cope with those who have no moral compass and whose ethical reserves are running very low. Some have so determinately run away from God that they now seem unable to hear Him talk back unless they are calamitously awakened to a world they cannot see.

[13] Although the United States remains the world’s only surviving superpower, global peace maintains a very uneasy existence. China’s international importance multiplies, North Korea remains a miscreant among the nations, Russia and China increasingly are aligned against NATO forces, and one need but mention Israel and the Palestinians, the Serbs and Kosovo, Turkey and the Kurds, Iraq and Kuwait, attesting that the United Nations is at best a framework for delaying hostilities more than for dissolvin, g them. Our century copes with serious misjudgments about man in society. Many have trusted in political institutions and social engineering as the best way to solve human problems. The United Nations exemplifies exaggerated faith in political and social action. It is one thing, however, to view the United Nations as a useful means of postponing hostility, but quite anot, her matter to regard it as the wor, ld’s best hope for peace. Moderns have so, ught to promote human rights and dignity and to banish war without the spiritual transformation of individuals. Men and nations are reluctant to transcend their own self interest; unregenerate humanity remains sinful to the core. To be sure, the attempt to achieve a better society is a worthy goal. But the fallen condition of humanity frustrates the ambitions of social and political institutions. In person-to-person relationships, love is universally obligatory. In relationships that prevail between persons and institutions, love takes the form of justice. Mass destructive biochemical weapons concealed in the Near East await future use, and the outlawing of hand grenades is still in its beginnings.

[14] We Christians have a story to tell to the nations and we have a responsibility to see that it is told. Of John F. Kennedy, Jr. was said that a thick haze blocked out "the stars, the city lights and even what little moonlight there was." Might others say of us that we ourselves blocked out the light of the eternal city, and beyond that, the Light of Lights? Our gifted media struggle to depict the good as more powerful than the wicked. The New Testament speaks of man’s evil heart of unbelief, yet it can portray the good with disarming power. Science strives to captivate the current agenda. The World Conference on Science--held in Budapest this past summer (1999)--focused on, as among its priority concerns, the issues of energy, water, food, and health. Are these the concerns on which religion focuses? Will empirical science set religion’s agenda? What of biblical religion? Will science set forth its controlling principles? Does any governing significance remain for transcendence, for revelation, for reconciliation? For the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Will we, as the apostle Paul urges the Philippians, “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15)?