Jamie Dean: Journalism according to Luke

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, December 10th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Our sister publication WORLD Magazine began 32 years ago by our visionary founder, Joel Belz. Nineteen years after that in 2005 journalist Jamie Dean joined us. She’s now the magazine’s national editor.

And she’s here now to talk about what she sees as her calling to journalism from a Christian worldview.

JAMIE DEAN, NATIONAL EDITOR: The book of Luke opens with the most famous account of Jesus’ birth, but it also begins with a note from the author. The physician Luke sounds a lot like a journalist in the first four verses.

Luke addresses his account to a man named Theophilus. And he highlights several realities that hold gifts as valuable as gold, frankincense, and myrrh for Christian writers—and others—willing to learn from Luke’s excellence:

—Luke tells his reader that “many had already undertaken to compile a narrative” of Christ’s life. Luke wasn’t doing something no one else had done, but he clearly saw room to add constructively to what already existed.

—Luke’s sources were “eyewitnesses” to Christ’s life. He was plugged into the community he was writing about. And he based his account on the testimony of people who saw events unfold firsthand.

—He had “followed all things closely for some time past.” Luke wasn’t a fly-by-night tweeter jumping into the fray with limited knowledge and quick conclusions. He valued the time he had spent learning, listening, and investigating before writing.

—He aspired to write “an orderly account.” This took serious work. We know the Scriptures are inspired, but the Holy Spirit didn’t use stenographers. He used the hard work of holy men to write divine words. One can even imagine Luke making an outline, interviewing sources, spreading his notes on the floor.

—It also “seemed good” to Luke to write an account. Why? Because he had an audience in mind. He wasn’t writing to showcase his access to prominent New Testament leaders. Instead, he wanted his reader to “have certainty concerning the things he had been taught.”

So Luke undertook hard work, orderly work, and good work with a specific goal: the good of others pursuing the glory of God.

And I think about you, most excellent listener, when I work. I do want your good. I don’t always succeed as I had hoped, but my colleagues and I do want to produce reporting that is orderly, reliable, and even inspiring.

What we produce is not inspired. But I still think Luke’s method offers something to imitate. That’s probably true in other work as well. You’re probably doing work that many other people have undertaken. You’re mothering or teaching or pastoring or doing many other ordinary things each day.

Like Luke, let this all seem good to you if you’re working with excellence for the good of others and the glory of God.

I’m excited to think about how many stories are still left to tell both now and in the future. The gospel of John ends by saying that Jesus did so many things during his lifetime if all of them were recorded, “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

I hope the new earth will.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Jamie Dean.

(Photo/Gerard van Honthorst — Adoration of the Shepherds)

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