Thinking Out Loud

August 1, 2010

Drew Marshall: Losing His Faith?

Drew Marshall,  host of “Canada’s Most Listened-To Spiritual Talkback Program,” with online listeners around the world, has always been upfront about the vagueness and uncertainties of the Christian faith.   If anything, that is the 4-hour weekly radio show’s trademark.

As someone who places a premium on honesty and transparency, I can say on behalf of listeners everywhere that this is a main reason that we tune in each week to the live broadcast, or catch recent interviews online.     While the running joke has been that ‘It’s all about Drew,’ guests from the worlds of faith,  politics and entertainment could not be wrong for suggesting that Drew extracted from them some of the best interviews they have ever given.

But on the final two broadcasts of the eighth season of the program (7/24 and 7/31), things got more severe as Drew suggested that he was at a point where “If God doesn’t come through;” he was ready to “pack it all in.”   Given that the program is broadcast on a Christian station, this type of rhetoric is a little more shocking than the usual provocative material we’ve grown accustomed to hearing on the show.

In an interview with Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, Drew asked, “What makes a good apologist?”  (i.e. someone well versed in Christian apologetics, the defense of the Christian faith.)   Zacharias chose to answer first in the reverse, “A bad apologist is someone who deals with the question.  A good apologist is someone who deals with the questioner.

Those remarks proved prophetic as moments later, Drew confessed to the ebbing or waning of his personal faith.     Ravi offered him encouragement and told him that such questioning was common among great Christian thinkers of the past.

Still, the nature of Drew’s comments were closer to atheistic skepticism than anything usually broadcast on Christian radio, including Drew’s own program.

It might be argued that Drew Marshall is so steeped in entertainment culture that this could be his version of a “cliffhanger” ending for season eight.  Drew was very non-specific about what need he is facing that he expected God to “come through” on, and certainly did not broadcast any specific emotional, marital, financial or physical problem that he is directly facing.

There is also the question, as to what would constitute the answer he is seeking.   One person suggested to him that then he would have certainty, but no longer have faith.

But it was hard to ignore the desperation in his voice, which continued into subsequent interviews on that program with Darrin Hufford and Jim Henderson.   While we didn’t catch all of the 7/31 broadcast, the theme was strongly evident in portions of interviews we were able to hear.  (That show goes online on Friday (8/6) as interviews are posted on a delayed basis.)

Another aspect of the “cliffhanger” is, will the radio station want to continue to broadcast a show hosted by a man who appears riddled with spiritual misgivings and, what Philip Yancey calls “disappointment with God?”   Marshall purchases the four hours of time outright and “brokers” the show, selling his own advertising and promoting some of his other causes.

Methinks that God is in the business of “coming through” for us multiplied times a day.   He is answering prayers that we never got around to praying.   He is aware.  He cares.  He loves.   His first response, to say “yes” to everything we ask Him, is tempered by infinite wisdom.

Doubts and misgivings that invade our soul should be shared, yes.   Transparency is something badly needed in the church today.   But there are some people whose platform is so huge that there has to be some kind of gap between their public and private position, or they could bring others down into the depths of their spiritual despair, especially those new to the faith.

Pray for Drew Marshall, that he will find the spiritual assurance he is seeking; and pray for wisdom for Joy 1250 Radio to determine if they have an issue they need to deal with.

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