Scribes, Pharisees and …er…Newspaper Journalists


IN BIBLICAL times, a scribe was a position of significant authority in both the Roman Empire and the nation of Israel.

Scribes were writers who wrote the decrees of those who were in authority.

In Israel, this included the copying of Scripture. It is interesting that Jesus addresses this specific group concerning discipleship in the New Testament book of Matthew, 13 verse 52, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.”

We see by this that Jesus was expecting scribes to become disciples of the Kingdom, and indeed did. To this specific group, he exhorted them to bring forth treasure from both the old and the new. This is an important consideration for me, and in many ways these words have been the very catalyst for instigating this blog.

It is my hope and desire that in times ahead, this blog will continue to instigate and present a consideration of things worthy of note and treasure, hopefully, for its readers, from both the old and the new.

As a result of technology today, we don’t really have modern day scribes as such. However, the group who would loosely connect with them are journalists and writers, (of which I am one). The media today does have a great deal of authority in shaping culture and even government policy. This is perhaps mostly seen in USA, for example, where blogs and social media in general have become the largest source of information for the average American, whilst newspapers and older forms of communication become much less so.

Not so, here in Northern Ireland, and the British Isles as a whole, where despite its decline, the newspaper industry still maintains a firm grip on readers, and many at least in the older generation and in rural settings still depend and look to their local newspaper as hub of the local community.

Indeed in the local newspaper I used to write for, there remains a fairly surprisingly healthy readership (per capita) of its weekly output (according to industry standard circulatory statistics) and I enjoyed the privilege of growing the newspaper’s sales from 13,000 sales per week to 18,000 per week whilst I worked as the sole full-time employee of the small rural town’s local output.

How could culture be shaped even more today, though, if our modern day ‘scribes’ were to become people full of real integrity and hungry for sincere truth?

What could it look like, though, if our newspaper writers of today’s British Isles newspapers and all the Internet blogs and media outlets in existence today truly sought out good journalism and honest true reporting, ahead of all the tabloid celebrity gossip style articles, and media hype (as well as darn right lies), fueled by the population’s appetite for such trash?

For Christians and those with a message worthy of communication to others, the modern day pulpit is no longer the wooden stand in their meeting places, but online.  Electronic spaces are waiting to be filled by those with eyes to see and willing to act to fill the hunger for the younger generation to access whatever possible online.

In the first century, the Gospel followed the trading routes, which was the communication network of the times.

The Reformation had been simmering for centuries, but when Guttenburg’s printing press was first developed and the Bible was the first thing to come off it, the Reformation burst into flames all across Europe. Indeed in the 1859 Revival here in Ulster, the Irish province where I live and write, the Coleraine Chronicle (sister paper of the newspaper I used to write for) played a large part in fanning and fuelling the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and all that occurred here that summer, when God did an unusal work and many were brought to salvation and faith in Jesus Christ at that time.

Technology and communication networks have always been the path for the Gospel to flow along from the beginning of time, and it will always be the same until the end of time. The important thing is who is using it – the people who represent modern day ‘preachers’ standing behind the modern pulpit – i.e. the modern day scribes.

So it is with this experimental and explorative entity in mind, this blog has been begun and shall be continued and it is my hope that it will evolve and be a vessel for someone, (even just one person), to come closer to spiritual matters and specifically the living God in some small way, shape or form, from something of the aura that drips off it, (and me?) as its writer leans into God and his presence first, then ‘pens’ these words, through my modern day ‘feather’ – none other than a metal chunky laptop.

There are many positives and negatives with the modern day pulpit. Certainly many more people can be reached and communicated with, and much faster, but it’s a question for me of quality not quantity. There is very little filtering on the internet, and many people believe actually almost everything they read on the Internet, even though much of what is put out can only be called spiritual junk food if we are being generous.

So, for me, I return to the exhortation of Jesus, to scribes, whom he encourages to become disciples of the kingdom of heaven. They were to bring forth “treasures” – no junk food, but only the very best for God’s household, and so I endeavour for this to be a reality here, as lofty a goal as this might seem.

The scribes of the Kingdom of Heaven will have deep roots in sound Biblical truth, with a historic perspective rooted in honouring. Not least those of the older generation and those who have gone before, as this is a basic characteristic of the Kingdom.  In an era where the older generation and our aging population are largely ignored or tolerated at best by the younger generation, and disdained and opposed voiciferously at worst, it is again a counter-cultural stance I take and follow, but for those who know me, this is not too far from ‘the norm.’ As M. Scott Peck’s book entitled “The Road Less Travelled,” conveys, who’d want to follow the common path of the multitudes anyway?!

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