The final year of my doctoral program was a blur of libraries and reading rooms. I lived immersed in books written centuries earlier, but for an hour each morning, I sorted through a religious discussion of much more recent vintage. This was 2008–2009. Blogs and social networks were colonizing the internet. Every day, on the screen in front of me, new and exciting voices addressed life’s most important questions for large and growing audiences.
I joined a startup venture to recreate the marketplace of religious ideas online and hopefully make it more informed and more charitable. Our project exploded, and I left academia to grow the evangelical and conservative portions of the site. We curated hundreds of blogs and social media channels. They served as a remarkable sort of research garden. We could see the kinds of posts and people that prevailed in the contest for online attention, and what we saw was disturbing.
The exceptions to the rule were beautiful: deep thinkers who earned an audience over time through their faithfulness and biblical insight. Yet the rule was nonetheless clear: When something transpired in the news, responses that were instantaneous, hyperbolic, and filled with contempt for some disfavored group attracted millions of views. Responses that took the time to reflect and respond in a measured, nuanced, humble manner were lost in the digital cacophony. The incentive structures of digital content rewarded provocateurs, scorn merchants, and sudden celebrities whose charisma translated well into new media.
Some things have changed since that time. Human nature is not one of them. Countless millions of readers have gravitated toward media properties and personalities that are all too happy to affirm that the angels are all on their side and the devils on the other.
This is why I am such a passionate believer in Christianity Today. You will not find many celebrities on our covers or contempt within our pages. Our call is to pursue the example of Christ, not the incentives of a fallen culture. In the words of Billy Graham, our founder, in the very first issue 65 years ago: “Evangelical Christianity needs a clear voice, to speak with conviction and love, and to state its true position and its relevance to the world crisis.” We believe this is more important than ever.
Our subscribers help us to be this countercultural force, but subscriptions alone are not enough. It’s the growing number of donors who have funded the new and surprising directions you have seen from CT of late. We hope and pray in this holiday season that you might consider joining us as we strive anew to be a beautifully orthodox voice for the people of God.
Timothy Dalrymple is president, CEO, and editor in chief of Christianity Today.
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