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The Politicization of Christian Radio

  • Bob Briner Co-founder and president of ProServ Television
  • 1999 30 Mar
The Politicization of Christian Radio
Do you ever tune in to your local Christian radio station looking for sound Bible teaching from Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur or R.C. Sproul and, instead, are subjected to non-stop political bombast? As you commute to and from work in your car, do you hope your Christian radio station will give you the music of {{Steven Curtis Chapman}}, {{Larnelle Harris}} or {{Point of Grace}} only to be told in ominous tones that, "Freedom is under fire"? If so, you are a victim, like so many others, of the increasing politicization of Christian radio. It seems that Christian doctrine and Christian music no longer provide a sufficient programming mix for many Christian radio stations. Those who program them evidently feel they must provide an increasing diet of political babble.

I am a big fan of Christian radio. For the most part, Christians have used radio very effectively over the years to teach God's Word and to convey the inspiration of Christian music. Unlike television where, with few exceptions, either the production is so shoddy or the content so weak or distorted that "Christian" should never be applied to it, Christian radio has understood its teaching and inspirational role and has been a blessing to many. This is why it is alarming to see sound Bible teaching, which is desperately needed, and Christian music, which is desperately wanted, increasingly crowded off the dial by political programming, which is, by eternal standards, inconsequential. We need to be most concerned with a "Kingdom not of this world" and an agenda which has almost nothing to do with who is in the White House or the statehouse. Our concern must be primarily with the Great Commission, not with the Republican Contract with America. Our mandate is to "fish in the pond, not to clean up the pond". When we confuse our calling, God's Kingdom suffers and the evil one gloats. Much of the political programming on Christian radio sends confusing and distracting signals.

Radio is a wonderful teaching medium, particularly when its teaching is augmented by printed material made available to listeners. Christians are effectively discipled by a potent mix of sound Bible teaching and companion printed materials made available by the solid radio teachers. Swindoll, MacArthur, Sproul, David Jeremiah, Ravi Zacharis, Adrian Rogers, David Mains, Charles Stanley, Tony Evans, Joe Stowell, and the great Steve Brown, among many others, provide wonderfully compelling Bible teaching. The "Radio Bible Class," led by the remarkable Hadden Robinson conveys solid biblical truth in daily conversations about Scripture and its application to daily living. The enduring worth of Scripture presented via the radio is underscored by the fact that J. Vernon McGee is still taking listeners through the Bible on radio many years after he has gone to be with the Lord. His taped messages are a treasure and a blessing. They are timeless in a way that transitory political concerns will never be. This is why it is such a travesty to have the Bible crowded off Christian radio by Rush Limbaugh wannabes.

All the political rantings are, taken by themselves, relatively harmless. Of more concern is that the prominence given the political programming on Christian radio tends to marginalize and trivialize the much more vital and eternal message of the Gospel. This is a disaster. Most of all, the imprimatur Christian radio gives to all the political pundits and doomsayers confuses many Christians into thinking that political activism is equivalent to obedience to the things we are commanded to do by our wonderful Savior. Clearly, this is not the case.

The primary message of all the politics on Christian radio can be summed up by the ubiquitous signature phrase of the guy who keeps telling us that, "Freedom is under fire." They want us to believe that the primary concern for American Christians is that bad guys in Washington and in our state capitols are stealing our freedom. Freedom is a very precious commodity. Both as Christians and as Americans we should always value our freedom. Realistically, however, concerns about freedom should be way down on the list of priorities for American Christians.

Our freedom is not so much under fire as it is under-used. We have so much more freedom than we actually use. We are free to become people of prayer. We are free to delve deeply into God's Word. We are free to visit the sick, comfort the hurting and provide for the poor. We are free to become active and productive in our churches. Most of all, we are free to live holy lives of obedience. Our concern should not be so much about freedom, but about responsibility to the debt of love we owe to the Lord Jesus.

All the political foghorns pamper us by telling us over and over that we are victims of people who are absconding with our freedom, while the great Bible teachers convict us by reminding us our responsibility to be obedient to the vitally important tasks Jesus has laid out for us. We need less pampering and more convicting, particularly on Christian radio. We need to fill the airwaves of Christian radio with great Bible teaching and wonderful Christian music. Given the choice between songs about the beauty of Jesus and a stream of noise about the venality of Washington politics, I'll take the songs every time.