The Banner’s vision is to be the Christian Reformed Church’s primary forum for information, ideas, and fresh insights to equip readers young and old to be biblically rooted ambassadors of Christ’s reconciliation in the world. In Part One of this Behind the Banner series, we explored our synodical mandate. And in Part Two, we looked at the editorial guidelines from Synod 2005 that added layers to that mandate. In this final part, we will take a look at our vision and core values.
In 2017, our staff came up with a vision for what we wanted The Banner to be, as well as some guiding values and metaphors to shape our overall posture and approach as we would go about fulfilling the mission and mandate. It has been in place ever since. Why do we need this, yet another layer, of guidance? Well, the mandate tells us what we are, what we are supposed to be and do. The editorial guidelines give us some guidance as to how we are to carry out the mandate. This vision and these values tell us where we hope to go and the overall posture and approach to get us there.
As our vision suggests, we ultimately hope to help our readers be biblically rooted ambassadors of Christ’s reconciliation in the world. By this, we recognize that Christ’s reconciliation is multi-dimensional, reconciling us to God and to each other, and all creation to God through his work on the cross. We hope to be Christ-centered, biblically rooted, and embodying the Reformed Christian vision of God redeeming or reconciling “every square inch” of our world and lives.
When all things, including all areas of life, are reconciled in Christ (Col. 1:20) the world will experience shalom, a biblical Hebrew concept often inadequately translated as “peace.” But shalom means more than just a ceasefire or a lack of conflict. Biblical shalom envisions all relationships to be in harmony—relationships between God and humanity, between humanity and creation, and relationships among human beings. We aim to be shalom-seekers in our journalistic work, in this biblical, holistic sense of the term. And we recognize that one of the main ways we do this is by striving to be a fair forum.
But this forum is not a free-for-all, no-holds-barred theological fight club. Our forum is not a public argument or a debate club. Yes, there will be differences aired, but not only will we do it civilly, we aim to have all our articles embody an editorial tone marked by humility, grace, and justice. By justice, we do not merely mean equal treatment for all but also being intellectually just or fair to different viewpoints, not creating intellectual straw men to make our arguments look good. As I have written before, we will reject articles that are belligerent or harsh in tone.
Hence, despite our desire to be a forum and give voice to different perspectives, we frown upon articles that directly react or respond to previously published articles, as in, “Rev. X wrote this, and now I write to show why he/she is wrong.” Past experience has shown that this practice only adds dissension, bruises egos, and often drags on as each author wants to “respond back” with another article and jockey for the last word.
No. Instead, we encourage authors to deal with the topic without responding directly to the previous article. Share what you believe, rather than attack other’s viewpoints. Therefore, we envision our forum as less debate club and more like a restorative-practice listening circle.
We believe this approach to being a fair forum is more conducive to shalom-seeking than the traditional Western adversarial win-lose approach popularized in courtrooms.
Ultimately, these are all ideals that we strive for. We might not always succeed flawlessly. But we believe these are worthy goals in our journalistic ministry.