Radio Theology

The average religious consumer does not get their theology from a library of theology texts. Very few religious folks even think out a half-way consistent theology. Many people just get their religion from the equivalent of various inspiring AM radio stations.


Notes:  My drawing was inspired by the Naked Pastor’s drawing called “two theological libraries“.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

17 responses to “Radio Theology

  1. I love listening to Jesus Radio. It’s like eavesdropping in an insane asylum.

    I also adore our local Christian Death Metal program.

    These are magnificent irony-free zones. Immaculate absence of self-awareness.

  2. When I was a believer, I didn’t have a full theology. I just new enough to be dangerous(ly ignorant).

    Like David, I, too, love the Jesus radio. It can be a lot of fun listening to those fiery hellfire-and-brimstone preachers! Not all the time, but a little dose here and there is quite amusing, as are the plethora of theological views you can find on the radio.

  3. I’ve never been a believer, but I listen to radio preachers from time to time. It’s quite fascinating; how sure they are, the confidence with which they speak about the unknowable, their ability to tell others that they’re wrong, our interpreting the text incorrectly.

    One of my favorites is the Bible Answer Man, Hank Hannegraf (right here in Charlotte). He’s very smooth, with a velvet voice, really sounds like he knows what he’s talking about…until you think for half a second and say, wait, how does he know that?

  4. When I was a believer, I had little coherent theology, My Catholic upbringing didn’t expose me to the rich world of Catholic thought or the finer points of theology. Like Wise Fool, I had just enough knowledge to be dangerous, heavily seasoned with fear of hell.

    Once in a while, I’ll listen to Christian radio during my commute, and the wackiness is always amusing. I was particularly struck by one preacher who performed “machine gun” preaching — that is, rapid-fire, emotional preaching that allows the listener little time to critically reflect on what is being said.

  5. exrelayman

    I was very fundamentalist when young. Having a thought out theology would by ‘over thinking’. Just trust and obey.

    I am no longer able to tolerate exposure to media Christianity. Back in the day I was mightily impressed with the confident assertions of Herbert W. Armstrong on The World of Tomorrow. Projection of assurance is powerfully persuasive.

  6. -Thought out? ummm…
    -Radio Preachers- never in a million years.

  7. Nick

    Hahaha. I like this post.
    As a theology student, hopefully I’ve thought about it. And I really don’t enjoy radio or television. Maybe my willful avoidance of popular theology is why I don’t mind being a theologian

  8. @ David Chapman, TWF, Justin, Ahab:
    I too listen to these folks sometimes too — for all the reason you guys say. I’d wager that a lot of atheist bloggers do. It my be some psychological syndrome we all share. 🙂

    @ Justin:
    Here is Hank Hannegraf MP3s for people interested in “your” guy.

    @ Nick:
    Where are you studying theology? What is your goal after graduating?

    @ exrelayman :
    Here are Herbert Armstrong “The World Tomorrow” radio library if you ever want to go down memory lane.

    @ Luke :
    Don’t you find that many of your congregation have a real mish-mash of beliefs? That if in inquisitor step in on a surprise visit, many would be doomed. But I guess you denomination is cool with loose theology, no?

  9. DaCheese

    I de-converted fairly young, so needless to say my theology was incomplete.

    I do know that certain topics weren’t discussed at all in children’s or “youth” Sunday-school classes. We got the uplifting stuff and a little bit of the “Jesus is the only way” doctrine, but nothing that was difficult or inconvenient. For example, having been raised Prostestant, I thought it was weird that the Catholic church was so down on divorce/remarriage –I had no idea that it was based on Jesus’ own (alleged) words, even though that’s one of the first things you encounter when you start to read the NT on your own. Since many Protestants aren’t comfortable with that passage, they chose not to mention it at all.

  10. Earnest

    I like the Lares concept. My great grandfather was an illegal immigrant, and ended up quite successful. A painting of him and his wife hangs in my house. As I pass by the painting I give him a promise to honor his legacy. So I guess I engage in ancestor worship.

    I also go to Catholic Mass but over time it’s getting more difficult to keep up appearances. The boys are starting to ask some really problematic questions.

  11. It’s been over 20 years, and it’s still painful for me to listen to Christian radio. I grew up steeped in the heyday of the Christian media giants, and hearing that stuff just makes me frustrated and angry. It conjures up memories of pain I’d rather not focus on.

    As for a thought-out theology, yes I have given considerable contemplation to the matter, but I haven’t decided if this is a safe place to discuss it.

  12. @Sabio: A mish-mash yes, but a moderate mish-mash. We don’t attract many from the fringes, especially the radio-Christian fringe. They have plenty of churches to choose from anyway. Loose theology, sure, no problem, but I don’t view the radio-set as having a loose anything save a screw.

  13. @ DaCheese:
    Yeah, I think a lot of Christians still really don’t have much more theology than you did as a kid. Most Christians don’t read a Bible and just go listen to superficial or feel-good or feel-guilty sermons or radio stations.

    @ Earnest:
    Appearances are tough from the beginning. If you are lucky, the never blossom — but they usually do.

    @ bjanecarp:
    Funny, many of us laugh at the stations — interesting that it makes you frustrated and angry 20 years later. I wonder what the difference is. Perhaps because those of us who laugh are no longer invested.

    Concerning “deciding if this is a safe place to discuss.” — I’d say probably not. Being the internet and no faces to watch while we chat. We can all be sloppy in our own ideals of conversation — jumping between support and full-go intellectual attack. So it is good to be cautious when feeling vulnerable. Others will tell you, I can be a rabid dog. 🙂

  14. Brettongarcia

    One of the great offenders of our time? EWTN’s radio branch, EWRN: “Eternal Word Radio Network.”

    It often passes itself off as the official voice of the Catholic Church. But Wiki more accurately describes it as “Catholic themed” radio. It is not the official voice of the Church, but is run by a lay staff.

    With? A vicious conservative right/wing slant. Focusing on abortion, obsessively, and ignoring all other Democratic social issues, like poverty, environment, health.

    At best? Because of its one-issue obsession with abortion, I like to refer to EWTN as the “Apostate Church of Holy Fetus.”

  15. @ Brettongarcia,
    Every person who depends on a title to identify themselves faces times when someone else using the same title offends them because they feel they misrepresent the title. Just shows that some titles are more open to interpretation that others.

  16. skeptnik

    I did try to have a well thought out theology, one which would answer the objections. That is exactly how I came to atheism.

  17. @ skeptnik,
    A lot of folks lost their religion and their faith as you did. Some folks can completely turn their theology around, making it almost unrecognizable from their previous one and still preserve their faith, however. It is curious to me why some do one and some do the other.

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