Christian happy-talk

Christian happy-talk
by Brannon Howse
I watched Pastor Marty Minto with his calm, respectful and Christ-like attitude being interviewed on MSNBC's Scarbourgh Country on Thursday night. He was discussing his firing by WORD-FM, Pittsburgh's Salem network radio station.

According to numerous press reports, Pastor Minto was fired from his talk-show host post for simply responding to a caller who asked him if the pope went to heaven. When Minto shared from the Scriptures that only those who are born-again get into heaven, a response of outrage was expected.

I was so moved by Pastor Minto's calm and respectful demeanor during on the MSNBC interview that I had to track down his home phone number and call him to make sure I had heard the entire story. He shared with me that his own producer, who is a strong Catholic, was not offended by his answer to the caller. However, Pastor Minto got his pink slip from the manager of WORD-FM.

In an Associated Press article, WORD-FM manager Chuck Gratner said, "WORD-FM needs to function in this city in support of the entire church – that means everybody – and not focus on denominational issues."

The irony is that WORD-FM is another way of saying, BIBLE-FM or the WORD of GOD-FM. So when a pastor/talk-show host invokes the WORD of God when asked about the pope getting into heaven, how would they prefer he answer? What non-denominational answer could he have given? Perhaps Pastor Minto should have spewed forth the politically correct answer that all people go to heaven if they live a good life and are sincere in their beliefs.

Perhaps Salem Communications should change its WORD-FM to TOLERANCE-FM or POLITICALLY CORRECT-FM.

The firing of Pastor Minto brings to the forefront a national debate that has been swirling for some time among Christian broadcasting and publishing circles.

As doctrinally questionable books like Joel Osteen's "Your Best Life Now," fly off the shelf, with their largely secular, Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller message, we have to ask, what is the goal? Where's the Bible? Are these radio programs and books not really an inch deep and a mile wide with spirituality mixed in to appeal to the masses seeking to feel good in their sin?

Many Christian broadcasters, authors and publishers are pitching a message that attracts an audience, offends few and is so palatable that it sells like hotcakes to Americans looking for spirituality. Make no mistake; this is a spirituality based on a self-help, be-happy, have-it-all message that is far from biblical Christianity despite the packaging.

A few years ago, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune cited how one Twin Cities-based Christian radio station rose to No. 1 in the morning ratings after getting rid of their Bible reading and hell-fire preaching and going to "Christian happy-talk."

Is that where Christian broadcasting stations are going in order to attract as many listeners, donors or advertisers as possible?

If the facts continue to support the evidence, then it is a very sad day in Christian broadcasting when a station fires a pastor who answers the question of callers about what it takes to be "born again." Unless the pope or anyone else is born-again, neither he nor anyone else will go to heaven. I agree with Pastor Minto. Unless I or Billy Graham or James Dobson or anyone else is born-again, we will not see the Kingdom of God. This is an undeniable, essential Biblical doctrine.

Has money become more important than the mission of Christian radio? Are "self-professing" evangelicals selling out and compromising in the name of tolerance, pluralism and diversity? Are Christian stations and networks going to persecute those that speak the truth in love and reverence for all men? Are "Christian" broadcasters going to avoid speaking truth so we offend no one and keep the ratings high, the advertisers happy and the money flowing from donors of all religious beliefs and lifestyles?

What this man did is not any different than what I have heard Dr. John MacArthur do many times on "Larry King Live" as he sat next to Catholic priests, Hindus and New Agers – yet MacArthur is heard on WORD-FM five days a week.

This is the time for pastors and other Christian leaders to speak out about political correctness gone crazy inside Christian broadcasting.

How can we be concerned over same-sex marriage and Howard Stern and not be outraged when a "Christian" company that makes millions each year from evangelical, Bible-teaching ministries puts a pastor off the air for teaching biblical truth?

Biblical truth is offensive to nonbelievers and our post-modern country that has over-dosed on non-judgmentalism. The Bible says the Gospel message is foolishness to the unsaved. But is not the purpose of Christian radio to convert the lost? How is that going to ever happen if "Christian" broadcasters fire pastors that defend the biblical doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ alone?

Many Christian broadcasters will sit in the tall grass on this one and not rock the boat. However, I hope such tall-grass sitters don't ever criticize Howard Stern, the ACLU, Barry Lynn's Separation of Church and State or the FCC for anything in the future, because that would be intellectually dishonest at the very least.

If we cannot criticize those inside our own camp, then we need to shut up about those outside the camp. Christian broadcasters that say nothing about this have lost the moral authority to speak out or get upset with anything regarding the culture war, the moral meltdown, the apostate church and the falling away from traditionally held biblical truth.

It is easy for Christian leaders and activists to criticize Howard Stern and the ACLU, but let's watch and see how many of our own criticize our own. If the ACLU had done this to Pastor Minto, look out!

I am no fan of the ACLU, but I am tired of Christian whinnies that are sitting by while "Christian happy-talk" becomes the standard for Christian broadcasting and publishing. It is simply because the industry chooses ratings and advertising, share-a-thon dollars and books sales over broadcasting and publishing the ever-increasing politically incorrect truth.

A few years ago, the National Religious Broadcasters fired its president-elect for cutting down members of the religious right. If the members of the religious right will not now speak up in defense of the Scriptures and the doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ alone, then NRB and its members owe the former president-elect an apology.

How can NRB members get up-in-arms over disparaging remarks about the religious right from its president-elect and not be at least as offended about what Salem Communication has reportedly done to Pastor Minto?

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