Understanding Confessional Retrieval (Part 1)

Understanding Confessional Retrieval (Part 1)

Just a few years ago, I would’ve never imagined the evangelical landscape would include relatively deep conversations revolving around classical metaphysics, theology, and even politics. But thanks to a collective evangelical itch to retrieve the old ways, along with simultaneous disenchantment with the novus ordo of the evangelical industrial complex, Western Christianity is beginning to rediscover its roots. A contemporary reformation (of sorts) is afoot.

This is a good thing.

But as with any positive development, the danger of overreaction, over-realization, and a lack of wisdom looms. In particular, the question of retrieval always seems to be, What should we retrieve?

Monasticism? The episcopacy? Christian imperialism? The college of bishops? What do we retrieve? And do we ever stop retrieving? Does theological retrieval have a goal?

These are complicated questions. But they are questions I hope to address to some extent in the series that follows. This is the first of a few parts in that series. I hope it’s helpful.

What Is Retrieval?

In some ways, “retrieval” is a biblical principle. Throughout the Old Testament, deference is paid to the “old ways” and the “multitude of counselors.” It is a proverbial dictum that we ought not “remove the ancient landmark Which [our] fathers have set.” (Prov. 22:28) The “old paths” are “where the good way” is found. (Jer. 6:16) And we find safety in listening to the many voices that are wiser and older than ourselves. (Prov. 11:14; 15:22; 24:6)

When we speak of “retrieval” within a Christian context, we speak of what is a subset of historical theology. Historical theology is the science of exploring and appropriating the theology of the church’s past to the church’s present. What did our spiritual ancestors believe, and why? More strongly, is what they believed something we ought to be believing today? Have we stepped off the “old paths”?

Some have said, “The way back is the way forward.”[1] This sums up the project of retrieval quite nicely. The church is not a biological, chemical, or mechanical laboratory. We’re not looking for the latest developments in “Christian theology.” Our science is very old. Its purpose is not to locate the new or the most expedient. It’s not even oriented to what we take to be the most interesting or cutting-edge. 

The science of Christian theology concerns itself with a God that calls Himself the “Ancient of Days,” “everlasting,” and, “without end.” We are, fundamentally, a people who derive their knowledge from an eternal God who has sustained an ancient institution for over two millennia through means of an imponderably old Book. Paradoxically, this moves us forward—not only through time but unto everlasting beatitude. This isn’t true with every science. But it is true with ours.

Retrieval is the task of locating the old ways for the nourishment of contemporary spiritual life which, in turn, helps us to persevere well in the faith.

In the next part, I will discuss the “retrieval problem.”


[1] I’ll credit this statement to Dr. Richard Barcellos who, if memory serves me rightly, heard it from the late Dr. Mike Renihan.

Reformed Hermeneutics with William Whitaker

Reformed Hermeneutics with William Whitaker

William Whitaker is a key figure preceding the Westminster Assembly. Much of his language appears in the Westminster Confession of Faith and, consequently, the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1677). He is a contextual voice regarding confessional hermeneutics making him a trustworthy source in discerning what the Protestant Reformed hermeneutic looked like in the late 16th and 17th centuries.

The below transcript has been taken from A Disputation on Holy Scripture, Titus Books. Kindle Edition. Loc. 5906-5946. The wording as it appears in that volume has been preserved below.

The Jesuit divides all these senses into two species; the historic or literal, and the mystic or spiritual. He defines the historic or literal, as that which the words present immediately; and the mystic or spiritual, that which is referred to something besides what the words express; and this he says is either tropological, or anagogic, or allegorical. Thomas Aquinas, in the first part of his Sum. Quaest. i. Art 10, says out of Gregory, Moral. Lib. xx. c. 1, that it is the peculiar property of scripture, and of no other authors, that not only the words, but the things also, have a signification; and this he says is denoted by that book mentioned Ezek. ii. 10, and Revel, v. 1, which was “written within and without.” The words of Gregory cited by Thomas are these: “The sacred scripture transcends other sciences in the very manner of its expression, since in one and the same discourse it discloses a mystery while it narrates an event.” Nazianzen compares the literal sense to the body, the mystical and spiritual to the soul. The Jesuit uses a different simile: “As,” says he, “the begotten Word of God hath two natures, the one human and visible, the other divine and invisible; so the written word of God hath a two-fold sense: the one outward, that is, historic or literal; the other, inward, that is, mystic or spiritual.” Then he determines that this spiritual sense Is threefold, allegorical, anagogic, and tropological, as we have said before that others had determined also. These things we do not wholly reject: we concede such things as allegory, anagoge, and tropology in scripture; but meanwhile we deny that there are many and various senses. We affirm that there is but one true, proper and genuine sense of scripture, arising from the words rightly understood, which we call the literal: and we contend that allegories, tropologies, and anagoges are not various senses, but various collections from one sense, or various applications and accommodations of that one meaning.


Now the Jesuit’s assertion, that the literal sense is that which the words immediately present, is not true. For then what, I beseech you, will be the literal sense of these words, Ps. xci. 13,“Thou shalt go upon the adder and the basilisk; the lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot?” For if that be the literal sense of these words, which the words immediately present, let them shew us the lion on which Christ trampled, the adder or basilisk on which he walked. Either, therefore, the literal sense is not that which the words immediately present, as the Jesuit maintains; or these words have no literal sense, which he dares not affirm. For they say that all the senses mentioned above are to be found in every passage of scripture. Besides, what will they make the literal sense of Isaiah xi. 6, 7, 8, and lxv. last verse? where the prophet says that “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the sheep shall dwell together, and the calf and the bear pasture together,” &c. Certainly no one can shew where and when this prophecy was fulfilled according to the letter, if we determine the literal sense to be that which the words immediately suggest Finally, if this Jesuitical definition of the literal sense be true, what literal sense, I pray you, will remain in those words of Christ, Matt. v. 29, 30, “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out; if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off?” Origen, indeed,’ though elsewhere too much given to allegories and mystical senses,, interpreted these words according to the letter, but absurdly. The literal sense, then, is not that which the word immediately suggest,’ as the Jesuit defines it; but rather that which arises from the words themselves, whether they be taken strictly or figuratively. If the discourse be figurative, it is not to be explained according to that meaning which the sound of the words would at first and immediately suggest This is what Alphonsus de Castro seems to affirm, Contra Hoeres. Lib. I. c. 3, where he defines the literal sense better than the Jesuit, making it that which either the words, or the things expressed by the words, denote. For example, the literal sense of these words, “The seed of the woman shall crush the serpent’s head,” is this, that Christ shall beat down Satan, and break and crush all his force and power; although the devil neither is a serpent, nor hath a head.


As to those three spiritual senses, it is surely foolish to say that there are as many senses of scripture as the words themselves may be transferred and accommodated to bear. For although the words may be applied and accommodated tropologically, allegorically, anagogically, or any other way; yet there are not therefore various senses, various interpretations and explications of scripture, but there is but one sense, and that the literal which may be variously accommodated, and from which various things may be ‘collected. The apostle, indeed, Galat. iv. 24, interprets the history of Abraham’s two wives allegorically, or rather typically, of the two Testaments. But there he does not make a two-fold sense of that history, but only says that it may be allegorically interpreted to his purpose, and the illustration of the subject which he hath in hand. Indeed, there is a certain catachresis in the word ἀλληγορούμενα, for that history is not accommodated by Paul in that place allegorically, but typically; and a type is a different thing from an allegory. The sense, therefore, of that scripture is one only, namely, the literal or grammatical. However, the whole entire sense is not in the words taken strictly, but part in the type, part in the transaction itself. In either of these considered separately and by itself part only of the meaning is contained; and by both taken together the full and perfect meaning is completed.

An Essay on Covenantal Natural Theology — (Part III)

An Essay on Covenantal Natural Theology — (Part III)

John Calvin

Calvin on Twofold Knowledge

Calvin speaks of a twofold knowledge: knowledge of God prior to the fall, and knowledge of God after the fall.[1] Prior to the fall, “man possessed freedom of the will, by which, if he chose, he was able to obtain eternal life.” He relates this freedom to the mind of man when he says, “At first every part of the soul was formed to rectitude. There was soundness of mind and freedom of will to choose good.” Speaking of the natural man’s knowledge after the fall, Calvin writes, “Although they are forced to acknowledge that there is some God, they, however, rob him of his glory by denying his power.” Interestingly, Calvin adds the possibility of the natural man pondering the true God against his will, “When they do think of God it is against their will; never approaching him without being dragged into his presence, and when there, instead of the voluntary fear flowing from reverence of the divine majesty, feeling only that forced and servile fear which divine judgment extorts…”

Natural Revelation & Natural Theology

Speaking more clearly to natural revelation in se, he writes:

[God’s] essence, indeed, is incomprehensible, utterly transcending all human thought; but on each of his works his glory is engraved in characters so bright, so distinct, and so illustrious, that none, however dull and illiterate, can plead ignorance as their excuse.

Muller, commenting on words such as these, says, “Calvin must argue in this way because he assumes the existence of natural revelation which in se is a true knowledge of God. If natural theology were impossible, idolatrous man would not be left without excuse.”[2] Calvin offers a stronger, albeit still implicit, affirmation of natural theology:

In attestation of his wondrous wisdom, both the heavens and the earth present us with innumerable proofs, not only in those more recondite proofs which astronomy, medicine, and all natural sciences are designed to illustrate, but proofs which force themselves on the notice of the most illiterate peasant, who cannot open his eyes without beholding them.

Speaking of the means by which this natural theology becomes distorted in natural man, he says, “they cannot but know that these are proofs of his Godhead, and yet they inwardly suppress them.” Calvin also appears to understand a measure of natural theology common to both non-Christians and Christians when he writes, “I only wish to observe… that this method of investigating the divine perfections, by tracing the lineaments of his countenance as shadowed forth in the firmament and on the earth, is common both to those within and to those without the pale of the church.” Speaking to the theistic proofs, he says, “We see there is no need of a long and laborious train of argument in order to obtain proofs which illustrate and assert the divine majesty. The few which we have merely touched, show them to be so immediately within our reach in every quarter, that we can trace them with the eye, or point them with the finger.”

The State of Man’s Knowledge Before & After the Fall

Calvin hardly works out in detail a covenant of works between God and man according to man’s prelapsarian state. However, Calvin does outline the elements of that first covenant. Writing on Genesis 2:16, “Moses now teaches, that man was the governor of the world, with this exception, that he should, nevertheless, be subject to God.”[3] Connecting Adam’s probation with his knowledge or theology, he says, “Therefore, abstinence from the fruit of one tree was a kind of first lesson in obedience, that man might know he had a Director and Lord of his life, on whose will he ought to depend, and in whose commands he ought to acquiesce.” Describing the state of man’s knowledge of God after the fall from Genesis 3:8, he writes, “Moses here relates nothing which does not remain in human nature, and may be clearly discerned at the present day. The difference between good and evil is engraven on the hearts of all, as Paul teaches, (Rom. ii. 15;) but all bury the disgrace of their vices under flimsy leaves, till God, by his voice, strikes inwardly their consciences.”


Calvin, therefore, acknowledges a difference not in natural theology in se between pre- and post-fall man, but in what man does with that theology once he has obtained it. This distinction between man’s behavior prior to the fall and after the fall will serve as a fundamental article in later formulations of the same distinction within a covenantal context. Thus, as with Bullinger, Calvin relates man’s knowledge of God to his pre- and post-fall state, and while Bullinger uses the explicit language of league in direct connection to man’s knowledge of God, Calvin makes the same connection albeit more implicitly than Bullinger does. Yet, it may be said that Calvin has a seminal doctrine of the relationship between natural theology and both the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.


[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), 104.

[2] Muller, PRRD, vol. 1, 274.

[3]  John Calvin, Commentary Upon the Book of Genesis, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1998), 125.

Jeff Johnson’s Scientific Collapse

Jeff Johnson’s Scientific Collapse

I have not read Dr. Jeff Johnson’s new book, The Failure of Natural Theology. I will be reaching out to Free Grace Press for a review copy. But I suppose I could begin my review with the title. When readers such as myself read a title like this one, admittedly, we recoil; least of all because a person must assume natural theology in order to deny it, or adjudicate on its validity (as the title clearly does), and this I will hopefully point out by the end of this article. What’s worse, for readers like myself, is that we understand natural theology to be nothing less than what is described in Romans 1:20, 21:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,  because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

The word for knew (v. 21) appears in the Latin as the verb, sciere, or in the noun form, scientia. The term natural theology has always, historically, referred to the science or the knowledge of God acquired through what has been made. There is also the innate knowledge of God which is had through the law of God written upon the hearts of men (Rom. 2). So, when we read or hear an outright denial or denigration of natural theology, we understand such to be a direct attack upon the clear revelation of God’s Word in Romans 1 & 2. Natural theology is nothing less than a knowledge of God through what has been made in our estimation.

Johnson’s problem, I assume, is not going to be with natural theology in its most proper sense, but with it as it appears in the corpus of Thomas Aquinas, presumably in the Summa Theologiae, vol. 1. I am interested to read Johnson’s book because what critics, such as Cornelius Van Til and others, typically want Thomas’ natural theology to accomplish is far beyond the scope of what it was intended to do in the first place, and this, I propose, is due to the collapse of at least two distinct sciences (species of knowledge). I hope this is not the same path Dr. Johnson travels. It’s quite tiresome. But, the latter third of the book’s description on Free Grace Press’s website leaves only a smidgen of that hope intact:

If Thomas would have rejected the natural theology of Aristotle by placing the doctrine of the Trinity, which is known only by divine revelation, at the foundation of his knowledge of God, he would have rid himself of the irresolvable tension that permeates his philosophical theology. Thomas could have realized that the Trinity alone allows for God to be the only self-moving being—because the Trinity is the only being not moved by anything outside himself but freely capable of creating and controlling contingent things in motion.

First, observe our confirmed suspicions: Johnson is taking issues with Thomas‘ natural theology on the pretense it represents an effort to produce a proper synthesis between Aristotle and Christianity, a common criticism to be sure, and not an entirely false one, though often very much overstated. Thomas distinguishes himself from Aristotle more times than I can count in the first volume of his Summa alone. It is my hope to see a fair appraisal from Johnson concerning the very important points at which Thomas expressly departs from Aristotle.

Second, if natural theology is rejected on the basis of an off-handed assumption, that it must indeed look and perform like supernatural theology, then these two sub-sciences collapse under the pressure of a demand neither sets out to meet. Natural theology must do the work of supernatural theology, or it is invalid. The rebound effect of such thought? Supernatural theology must relegate to natural theology. This is no different than demanding architecture be explicitly religious in character, even though architecture by no means sets out to be religious in its own right. On a smaller, more nuanced scale, to relegate natural theology to the trash heap because it does not do what supernatural theology does would be as if a Seminary fired all its systematic theology faculty because of its failure to teach biblical theology!

What’s worse, and this is especially troublesome for what I perceive to be Johnson’s view, is that natural theology must either be critiqued from the perspective of supernatural theology, or it must be critiqued from some other perspective outside supernatural theology. If critiqued by supernatural theology, the critic begs the question by virtually assuming all natural theology must basically become supernatural theology. If critiqued by some other means, what would it be? It would have to be natural, not supernatural. It would also need to be theological. Therefore, to critique natural theology is to engage natural theology. Natural theology as a sub-science of theology in general is, for this reason, a self-evident fact. In order to prove natural theology false, one would need to use natural theology.

All of that said, I continue to look forward to Dr. Johnson’s work, and I hope to offer a more expansive and detailed review when I can get my hands on a copy. I also hope I will be forced to heavily redact this post. But I’m not holding my breath.


When God Institutes Slavery

When God Institutes Slavery

What about slavery in the Bible?

We should begin by making a distinction between slavery per se and slavery per accidens. Slavery per se is slavery in itself, which is not sinful (because positively instituted by God, who cannot sin). Slavery per accidens is slavery as it appears in any given society, which may or may not be sinful depending on whether or not individual liberties are observed. There are a few observations we need to make concerning biblical slavery, or slavery per se

First, we need to observe that slavery was sanctioned and commanded for national Israel alone. This is not natural law which applies to all men everywhere. This is a positive law instituted for a particular people, place, and time. No other nation has been positively commanded by God to engage in the institution of slavery.

Second, salvery was uniformly regulated by Scripture. It was not left to the dictates of opinion, the fulfillment of greed, etc. Moreover, the slaves in Israel fell under all the same laws as their masters. The laws were no tighter, nor were they different in terms of more or less restriction. This, as we will see, was not the case in the Antebellum south.

Third, there were generally three categories of slaves in Israel: domestic slaves, slaves purchased from other nations, and slaves of plunder. Domestic slaves were never slaves indefinitely. “If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you (Deut. 15:12).” Slave masters were urged to remember their own historical slavehood in Egypt, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you (Deut. 15:15).” The essence of this reminder is, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 7:12).”

There were also slaves purchased from sojourners and other nations, and slaves taken in plunder which the Israelites were permitted to keep as permanent slaves. But, again, this was only instituted for Israel; and it only applied to the individual and not their posterity indefinitely, unless a consensual transaction took place. They, though slaves, had the protection of Israel’s laws and were expected to assimilate into Israelite society so as to be fellow Jews. Moreover, Israel, unlike other, future periods when slavery arose throughout the world, was the only place in which a person could be truly free (to worship the true God).

We, moreover, have to remember that this Israelite slavery was instituted through the Old Covenant, which the New Covenant tells us has been done away with (Heb. 8:13). And the purpose, I propose, for Old Covenant slavery was typological on several levels. It served to foreshadow the slavehood of the nations to Christ under the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20). Paul says, “For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave (1 Cor. 7:22).” If Israel itself was a Christ-type, then it would make sense for God to positively sanction slavery, since Christ Himself would be the other and greater Slave Master. But, as we see in the New Testament, to be a slave of Christ is actually to be a free man, liberated from sin and the world—free, that is, to obey God according to the dictates of conscience.

We can therefore say with biblical confidence that any slavery per accidens that obscures the liberty of a man to live unto or worship God according to the dictates of his conscience is unbiblical slavery.

An Analysis of Generational Journalistic Gullibility (and the Lack Thereof)

An Analysis of Generational Journalistic Gullibility (and the Lack Thereof)

Let me begin by saying: I am not using the term “gullibility” in a derogatory or intentionally offensive manner. Being gullible just means to be easily persuaded, which is not always a bad thing. Young children are often easily persuaded by their parents, and this is normal. A person may be easily persuaded by their most trusted friend. There is nothing wrong with this, per se. Gullibility occurs within the contextual framework of trust. If a group of people live closely with one another, spending their lives with one another, undergoing lifechanging experiences with one another, they are also likely to be gullible toward one another.

My Observation

Anecdotally, not statistically, I have gathered there to be two rather different responses to the current flow of information which comes by way of mainstream media. Before we begin, however, know that this opinionated observation transcends democrat or republican, blue or red, Biden or Trump. This is an observation of something seemingly occurring across both sides of the aisle, and it tends to do so along generational lines, although not perfectly.

For example, I have observed the silent generation, that generation following on the coattails of the greatest generation, seems to be either much less trusting of contemporary news media or at least less aware of what the news media currently reports on. The boomers, following the silent generation, tend to almost entirely embrace what the media reports and has an erudite ability to articulate social media and the interfaces required to use it. They are almost as in touch with the modern flow of information as are gen x and millennials. Of course, gen x’ers and millennials, not to mention their successors, i.e. gen z, are inundated not merely with a flow of information, but also various digital means of engaging that flow, all of which make Facebook look like the first wheel ever invented. But millennials and gen z seem to be much more reluctant to accept what the mainstream media says, writes, or shouts. They appear to be much less united on the issue of media credibility.

Assuming these observations are accurate to any extent, what would explain them? If these observations hold true for the general mean of even just one city or state, one should at least ask, Why? Since this is my experience, I have put some thought into answering that very question.

My Theory

Again, I should reiterate, lest I be misunderstood, that I am not claiming my observations to be universally applicable. Nor do I think that my theory will hold, or even be helpful, in every instance where these observations are made. I am a pontificating pastor forced to consider the causes of things for the good of my family and congregation. I am just a guy wrestling with the same issues we all face with the aim of glorifying God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Thus, I only ask that you at least consider what I have to say.

My theory revolves around generational, circumstantial, and psychological factors. That said, it is a lot more complex than this article makes it seem, and I could probably write an entire book on it. As I look at generations and their respective circumstances, so too will I mention the psychological effects from those circumstances. For example, the psychological effect of sparse access to mass media is probably less attentiveness to it. A mind with lousy media exposure is less conditioned to give attention to it.

The silent generation is either skeptical of contemporary news media, or aloof from it, because they hardly had access to such a thing, except perhaps by radio or print. They were not conditioned to “watch the news” and accept “journalistic reports” every week, let alone every day, hour, or minute. If they did receive the news, it was through newspaper once a month or so, or it was over the radio for 30 minutes in the evening. But even radio news wasn’t nearly as accessible as contemporary news. Radios were generally not portable, and if they were, they were on the back of a G. I. in Korea or Vietnam. The silent generation simply was not inundated with news, nor were they particularly conditioned to search it out throughout their day. Even if they wanted to, they probably wouldn’t succeed.

Their successor generation, on the other hand, the boomers, had much more access to the mainstream news. However, they were also the generation taking their first steps at the beginning of the space race while living under the threat of nuclear war… during the inception of the tech age. Tech dominated the boomer imagination in the 1970s with popular movies like Star Wars, and shows like the Jetsons and Lost in Space, beginning back in 1962 and 1965 respectively. For some reason, industry usually follows pop culture. And there was a looming excitement among boomers at the prospect of constantly developing technology. They went from CBs to bag phones, and from bag phones to cell phones; from records to 45s, from 45s to 8-tracks, from 8-tracks to cassettes, from cassettes to compact discs, and from compact discs to MP3s and cloud music like Pandora and Spotify. The boomer generation is a generation that has been subject to a level of never-before-seen Heraclitean change, almost for the entire duration of its existence. The psychological effect of this circumstance? A mental conditioning for technological advancement to be received as a desirable common good.

Perhaps the most important circumstantial change was the invention of the personal computer (PC) which arrived in the early 80s. The addiction to tech began with the PC and only progressed from there on out, reaching a climax in the “iPhone age,” which only emerged out of a tight tech race between the largest tech companies in the world in the early 2000s. The race between Jobs and Gates was only the first of many to come. And it was exciting! As tech developed, portable PCs in the form of tablets and phones were next on the horizon. Voice came first, then texting; and, just as lightning strikes, general internet access in the palm of the human hand became normal. Boomers were primed to accept this technology with glee because of the excitement produced by pop culture as early as the 60s, and the pattern of their own generational experience was nothing but technological development after development and a general adaptation to it. Their minds, at the level of imagination, were cultivated for the reception of this new technology, which explains their rapidly growing and continual dependence upon it, keeping pace with their children and their children’s children.

However, there is a two-pronged variable in the boomer generation. The media boomers found themselves exposed to in their earlier lives was both scarce and, in large part, real journalism. They received their news through mediums of either radio, television, or newspaper. And if they received it on television, it was only for an hour a day. Moreover, the news outlets were forced to report the main events affecting the country and the world because they didn’t have the luxury of 24/7 channeling, let alone constant accessibility through mobile devices and social media. The dynamics of how media was produced then versus how it is produced and disseminated now are almost entirely different. Yet, even so, boomers were generally primed for a seamless transition from the news of yesteryear to the “news” of today because of the factors mentioned above (among others).

Mix all the above in with the concept of the “cool parent” (also spurred on by pop culture, usually Disney), and eroding ethics put on steroids by the sexual revolution in the 50s and 60s, and we have the general mass of boomers making an effort not to coach their kids with regard to the new tech, but to embrace it for them, supply them with it, and follow them in eating the fruit from the technological tree. This tech is, after all, what we’ve all been hoping for! Moreover, media is, for the most part, reliable since it only ever reports national and world news. At least, it used to when it only had an hour’s worth of mass visibility per day! But because of the need for production to meet ever-increasing demand paired with the prospect of new technological ability, the current landscape boasts countless ways to receive media. This leaves conventional news outlets vying for dominance by using their now-24/7 channeling and web & app presence advantage as means to retain an audience through whatever catches the most attention. And little retains attention more than bad news, especially bad news that elicits the reactions of mass hysteria and fear.

All of this makes for an unassuming boomer generation caught off guard by the progress of the ensuing technological revolution, not to mention an ever developing slip in political and journalistic ethics motivated by all sorts of greed on the back end. Boomers do not usually question the news media, but this is because they weren’t accustomed to doing so since they grew up in an age of generally honest reporting. The most scandalous events were along the lines of JFK’s assassination or Watergate. Politicians and journalists were in a healthy competition with one another, and they rarely walked hand and hand down the same road. If they did, it was because there was a common enemy, like Lee Harvey Oswald, the Vietcong, or the Russians. This is why it should be no surprise that mainstream media appeals so often to Russian antagonism. They know their most faithful demographic has been conditioned in the 70s and 80s to loath the Russians and anyone in bed with them. Take an obscure political situation and oversimplify it with the terms Russia or Russian collusion, and you will control the narrative in the minds of those who grew up in constant fear of a Russian-caused hot war.

This is how the news mainly functions now, upon sentiment and emotion rather than upon the facts of the matter. The main hinge points, of course, are the unstoppable rise in media consumption, media competition to feed that rise in consumption, and at the political end, the Bush’s and the Clintons with the need for large-scale media coverups or distractions for shady drug deals in central America and endless wars in the Middle East. But I digress. This is not, after all, a history lesson, but a proposed explanation of what’s going on with COVID news and those who most dogmatically follow it. Long story short, the news has changed in both its form and matter, and the transitional generation spanning that change was the boomers, who had been conditioned to embrace it all.

The gen x’ers aren’t far behind the boomers in terms of their level of trust in the media. However, they, as well as many millennials, seem to be less dependent upon centralized media and more trusting and influenced by decentralized media coming through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Gab, and the latest TikTok. These platforms feature private citizens with first-hand video camera surveillance, personal experiences, etc. This has made it more difficult for centralized media to control a narrative, and it has also introduced a level of distrust, especially among millennials, because the two sources of information, centralized and decentralized, are often at variance with one another; hence the cross-platform mass censorship beginning late last year just after the election.

There has also been an emphasis placed upon the natural sciences and the scientific method in public schools, which I believe has had an affect on the millennial mind. The sentiment is often: If I can’t see it, I won’t believe it. This has led to an inevitable, and perhaps inadvertent, skepticism of information sources. Moreover, Christians, the largest religious demographic in our country, adhere to a competing source of authority often opposed to what modern media heads promote, the Bible. For these reasons and more, the country has been split down the middle by people who generally accept centralized media, and those who do not.


At this point, I am confident there is enough here to at least consider and think about. I will set down my pen and write another day, Lord willing. However, I humbly invite you to consider these things with me. Ask the simple question, Why do I believe what I believe? If you cannot answer that question, it may be time to either find out why, or find an alternate (defensible) belief. I find that personal experience is often the best crucible for testing the claims of any media outlet. If the news app on my phone reports a Godzilla attack on Kansas City while I all the while look at a Godzilla-free Kansas City skyline, I’m going to believe my experience of Kansas City over what my news app says about Kansas City.

Ad fontes.