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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Christian journalist: God is Frank Morgan behind the screen (Daniel 10)

Daniel 10:4-5. 7-8a. “as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, . . .I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision. . . .Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him. . . A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.”

Exegesis and Application

Daniel and his companions were standing on the bank of the Tigris River in Babylonia. Daniel saw and heard “a man dressed in linen” but his companions did not. Nevertheless, “overwhelmed with terror, they fled to hide themselves.” Eventually, understanding came to Daniel and he wrote about the incident for history to ponder.

Notice six features about this incident which are decidedly physical:
1) Daniel was “standing on the bank” of the Tigris (vs. 4)
2) Daniel “looked” and “saw” (vs. 5, 7)
3) Daniel “heard” a man “speaking” (vs. 9)
4) Daniel felt a “hand touching him” three times (vss. 10, 16, 18)
5) “I, Daniel was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it” (vs. 7)
6) Yet, Daniel’s unbelieving companions were “overwhelmed” with “terror” and “fled and hid” (vs. 7)

This Daniel passage teaches a lesson in reality that Christian journalists need to keep in mind as they report and write their stories. The study of reality is called “metaphysics,” as in “that which is beyond the physical.” A Christian understanding of a metaphysical reality is the source of comfort, confidence and compassion for the Christian journalist. The metaphysical mark of the journalist of faith is that he understands that a non-physical God is at work in the physical world.

The Christian journalist is to be careful of a way of thinking called “empiricism” (Greek, empirikos = “experience”). Empiricism says that there is only what we perceive or experience with our five senses and that there is no universal definition of reality behind these particular objects that we sense. Or, if there is a “reality” behind these experienced objects, we can’t really know it, or, that this “reality” is not important for public discussion because it is a private matter. To an empiricist or pragmatist, a metaphysical understanding of the world is literally, non-sense.
Still, the Christian journalist appreciates and uses all his God-given senses to understand reality. We are all Daniel (and Thomas) – touching, smelling, tasting, hearing, seeing in order to apprehend God’s activities around us. But we understand there is an unsensed reality behind the sensed reality of the physical world (Eph. 6:12, etc). We believe in an unsensed God who sees and acts. (1 Timothy 6:15-16)

So Christian journalist, in order to understand the reality which you observe and report on, you must understand that there is the unseen hand of God behind all events. Things are not necessarily what they seem to be at first glance. Report with eyes and ears of faith. Understand the sovereignty of our God.

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