“For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek.” Romans 1:16
There is a great deal in the gospel which such a man as Paul might be tempted to be ashamed of, especially if that gospel was about a man hanged upon a cross; the doctrine of it was simple and transparent; and the professors of it were despised and everywhere spoken against; yet Paul was not ashamed to own and preach it. In his Letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.” Truly, it was the good news that Paul believed and preached about and it wasn’t something to be ashamed about. However, I confess, there are times I’m ashamed about how the good news is given to the world at large and I wonder why more people aren’t ashamed at the way it’s flaunted.
Through the miracle of mass communications, preaching the gospel has become less limited, and abundant opportunities abound for Christian broadcasters on television and internet blogs. On a semi-regular basis, I monitor certain Christian programs to keep informed as to how the media is progressing with its presentation of the Gospel. And there are times I’m very ashamed at the way the beauty and profundity of the “Good News” is depicted, how twisted it has become with its patriarchal message of exclusivity and prosperity (through donations to the program), and the importance that is placed on supporting Israel in its dispute with neighboring Muslims.
It isn’t a surprise to any of us that conservative Christians have dominated the media with manipulations of the Gospel because we’ve seen so much of it. Last week I saw a national Christian network hold a telethon to raise funds for hospitals in Israel who care for those wounded by Muslim terrorists. There was a “Twelve Gate” club you could join if you pledged $12,000 or more to the fund. As a member of the club, you would receive an authentic document from the Mayor of Jerusalem saying that you own a “twelve inches” of property in the Holy City. Such a deal! But, I ask you, “Isn’t there any shame about hustling people for money that will mostly line pockets of those preaching this gospel?” But, a more probing question to ponder is why we as progressive Christians don’t broadcast a different side of the good news that Paul so impassionedly preached and wasn’t ashamed to declare.
During my lifetime, I’ve witnessed how mass media has progressed from costly broadcasting budgets to manageable production start-up expenses that make it possible for most ministries to engage in broadcasting on the “World Wide Web.” In 2014, with a laptop that I bought “used” for $299 I was able (with Spirit’s prompting) to produce all the USBN programs for 2015 and 2016 that have been posted on Facebook and our website. The cost of my video editing software was $75, and with a camera that was donated to our ministry I began a weekly commentary program of the Gospel readings taken from the lectionary. I may be a little embarrassed about the “juvenile production quality” of our programs; but, I’m never ashamed about the message that we’re broadcasting to the world about the Gospel. I urge you to consider engaging in the experience of being a part of progressive Christian broadcasting.
For 2017 the primary objective of Universal Spirit Broadcasting Network will be to provide progressive Christian ministries in the Independent Sacramental Movement an internet broadcasting network to air programs in the following areas: Worship and Liturgy, Fine Arts, and Social Justice. Beginning in the first quarter, USBN’s new website will allow Independent Catholic Clergy (without cost or obligation) to partner and upload their programs in these designed channels. USBN will promote these programs on various social media networks and other areas of media such as progressive Christian blog networks. There will be a simple understanding: that this is an ecumenical venture; that USBN will broadcast liturgies and programs from churches throughout the Independent Sacramental Movement; that the views expressed in these liturgies and programs are not necessarily the views of USBN, the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch, or any of the partners who provide programing for USBN; and, following Our Lord’s prayer that all be one, we will work together with one another despite our differences.
Give prayerful thought to our invitation for you to participate with progressive Christian broadcasting and programming on USBN. Please feel free to contact me through my email address and join the Independent Sacramental broadcasting movement with programs from your church or ministry. I’m reminded of a quote from Martin Luther regarding music, “The devil has no need of all the good tunes for himself.” Along those lines, let us consider the ever-expanding conservative Christian broadcasting networks and say, “The devil doesn’t need to keep all the broadcasting networks for himself.” Paul concludes his message with these thoughts: “That for I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” And to that, let us all proclaim that we are not ashamed to broadcast the Good News of progressive Christianity.
Fr. Rick Romero is priest in the Old Catholic Churches International. He is a friar in the Order of Saint Francis, Old Catholic. He is the founder of Universal Spirit Broadcasting Network and is a tireless advocate for social justice.