Volume 18 Issue 4
“What was missing? I never heard anyone say Vesus.”Not one prayer was in ‘Jesus Name.’ I never saw the word Jesus anywhere. I started hunting for some expression of Jesus. I checked out banners, t-shirts. signs. promotional material. promotional books and the program schedule. There was not one mention of Jesus.”
Wandering around the National Religious Broadcasters Convention provides an opportunity to meet and greet and. on rare occasions. actually chat with well-known Christian marketing and broadcasting personalities. This year. I enjoyed meeting G. Gordon Liddy. Dinesh D’Souza. Michael Shermer (atheist). Ben Stein. plus a number of old acquaintances and professional types. and I enjoyed sessions with executives from Zondervan and Disney Publishing.
The convention is held annually at the famous Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Tennessee. Although it is still an interesting convention, as illustrated by the attendance of President George W. Bush this year. the convention is a far cry from its glory years when radio and television were exploding opportunities for Christian ministries. Having attended the conference faithfully for more than thirty years. I can recall when fifty or sixty congressmen and senators. as well as the President and presidential candidates. would attend and shuffle about to meet and shake hands with the likes of Jerry Falwell. Jimmy Swaggart. Billy Graham. Jim Bakker. and C.M. Ward. to name just a few.
The NRB has less influence today. and a good number of the larger Christian ministries have opted not to join: but most all are present in some form as either members or attendees as they attempt to expand their markets and sign deals for air time and promotional products. The charismatic moral scandals played a big role in lessening the influence of Christian media. and the incessant fund raising has weakened its appeal. factors which are often discussed at the convention’s professional sessions. However. that is not to say that Christian radio and television are not forging ahead: they continue to grow, but less aggressively.
This year. and please don’t take this the wrong way, but I observed something missing. I can’t say it was missing for the first time but I can say it was definitely missing this year. It was missing in two ways. First, it was missing literally, and second, it was missing thematically. It was missing at every level. Not to be self-righteous. but I don’t think anyone else thought about it, or noticed it. Maybe they did. but I don’t think so. Granted. I was not in every session, but I was present at a good number of them.
What was missing? I never heard anyone say “Jesus.” Not one prayer was in ‘Jesus Name.’ I never saw the word Jesus anywhere. I started hunting for some expression of Jesus. I checked out banners, t-shirts. signs. promotional material. promotional books and the program schedule. There was not one mention of Jesus. I know its an “understood thing.” A given. Right, I get that. But I saw lots of other names. Who’s who names, who’s speaking names. who’s singing names, who is doing the comedy show names… well, you get the idea. I have reviewed all the material I brought home, and still I can’t find the name Jesus. I have yet to find one book dedicated to Him.
In fact, everywhere there is a noticeable. diminishing use of the word Jesus. I know I run the risk here of being accused of over-reacting. But think about it. There is so much stuff on counseling, leadership, relationships, parenting. loving, power living. power thinking. and power jogging (I’m not kidding). And we must not forget all the pills and diets that are marketed for Christians. But where is the lifting up of Jesus? And how can you lift him up without mentioning His Name? His revealed Name. the only name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved. The name by which we are to do all things. Somebody. please. say that Name.
Jesus, the name, is a divisive word. In the Indiana state legislature it is forbidden, even as a closing statement in prayer. such as “I ask these things in Jesus Name, amen.” Such a statement is outlawed. Many Christian pastors are refusing to pray to an unnamed deity. to their credit, and some legislators. thankfully. are turning their backs upon the generic prayers being offered by postmodern liberal preachers. But the law stands. Its as if Jesus has left the building and yet we carry on as if nothing has changed.
Of course, we can rely on the word “God the word “Father.” and the word “Lord- to define our Christianity: so what’s the big deal? The big deal is that Jesus is the Christ. The big deal is that Jesus is Lord. The big deal is that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh. Nitpicking. one might say. But I don’t think so. It is serious because the failure to speak the Name is a reflection of the growing appeasement to pluralism and inter-faithism. The real dilemma for the emerging church scene is the Name of Jesus. because in their mosaic approach to spirituality. the name of Jesus is simply too narrow. The word “God.” if separated from the use of the word “Jesus.” is more, well, useful. The use of the name Jesus is not as sensitive to cultural diversity. The word Jesus implies. for some. an absolutism — and thereby it destroys. as D. A. Carson puts it: “the implications of finitude in all claims of human wisdom.” In other words. we must reject all claims of knowing anything for sure. such as that Jesus is the “ONLY NAME” given unto salvation.
It is a huge moment in the history of the church, SOMEBODY PLEASE SAY “JESUS!!”