The Christmas season, along with Easter, is often a time of great religion coverage in the mainstream news media. This year saw a slew of articles inspired by the bestselling Da Vinci Code. In addition, there were several articles about evangelicalism.
Articles about evangelicals usually take one of two forms. One is the shock of a roused sleeper: Hey, did you know there are Americans who still believe the Bible?New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof has carried this message with great fervor, repeatedly reciting the apparently bewildering statistic that more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than believe in evolution.
The second template is a tweak on the first: Oh no! There are Americans who actually believe the Bible! These articles exaggerate the importance and prevalence of apocalyptic beliefs and usually quote from televangelists rather than from leaders who actually influence most evangelicals.
However, many reporters seem to be trying to go deeper. Witness, for example, the recent U.S. News & World Report cover story on "The New Evangelicals." Few readers of Christianity Today would be surprised by its analysis, but they could still gain insights from writer Jay Tolson's survey of how Jonathan Edwards shaped the movement.
Similarly, the Los Angeles Times ran a series on Christian higher education, highlighted by a major piece on Fuller Seminary that demonstrated knowledge that evangelicals can agree on their commitment to the lordship of Christ and authority of Scripture while disagreeing on theological method, social concerns, and cultural engagement. A later article noted that evangelical scholars are gaining great influence in the secular academy. Again, that's not news to CT readers, but it's good that ...1