Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Facebook Theology

The internet is a wonderful thing. It's also quite dangerous in many ways. First of all, it is a wonderful source of unverified information. Second, it provides a platform for a great many people who have nothing useful to say and don't know how to say it.

Twitter, Facebook, blogs, all can be very useful. I'm a pastor in a small Church in an inner-city location in the United Kingdom (in a place where the weather is absolutely wonderful right now!), and yet I have access to everyone else who has an internet connection. What could be more democratising? What could be more dangerous? Because writing on a computer screen has a rather peculiar property - it's impersonal. And other people I only contact through this medium are to a certain extent depersonalised too. That means that one can say on Facebook and Twitter things one would never say in person. It also gives a voice to people who would never have had a voice before (I say this as someone who has actually had stuff published in print magazines, the first piece with comments from the editor that most of the unsolicited material he gets is unsuitable for publication on multiple levels, including spelling, punctuation and grammar).

Now, this can be a good thing. It can also be a terrible disaster, as people who don't know the first thing about Reformed Theology, the Puritans, John Wesley, R.W. Dale, Westcott and Hort, and the King James Bible, demonstrate this at great length. It's funny sometimes, but it's also terribly frustrating.

Without the wonder of the Interwebs, we would never have known that the word 'Church' was derived from the name of the Greek sorceress 'Circe'. Of course, it's not, and the hilarious thing is that the video that claims this starts off by saying how unlikely it is that an Anglo-Saxon word should be derived from a Greek one, only to end up with one of the funniest false etymologies known to man - derived from a Greek Word! But you can find attacks on John Calvin, John Wesley, John Bunyan and John Wycliffe that use the same sort of tactics. All with a sublime disregard for reality.

Is there an answer? Probably not, the history of the Church includes a long history of scurrilous polemics, after all. And it does mean that false claims can be quickly dismantled. Anyone remember the Lost Tomb of Jesus business? Within about a week, the whole thing had been shown to be all smoke and mirrors, and the film, to my knowledge, never aired on any of the main UK channels.

But your statements about Reformed theology, or any theological topic, posted on Facebook, or tweeted, will accomplish nothing unless they are true, respectful, and Christian in tone. Calling John Wesley or John Calvin sour-faced haters may reflect on what a portrait looks like, but contributes nothing helpful. To anything.

But keep the videos with fakse etymologies coming. They're funny.

1 comment:

Emusic said...

Dera Sir.
I was always wondering about discussions on religious and theologistics not only on the net but also those provided by people. The mix up of many point of vievs leeds us to nothing. From one side we've got all those who belives on the other those who are not. Than those of man who are thinking in the reflection of some dogmas, history and philosophy of their culture and religion. This historic and philosophical points of viev recuires some arguments which are more in a scientific way. But can we proove any of theme in that way. Personaly i think not. Not until the ways of science and religion will be considerating separtely. Of course i can't figure it out how may it looks like... but in theory that's the way that things should look like. The mystry of religion nad faith will be unsolved and any linguistical, science or philosophical research can not solve it. In my oppinion we should not discuss about religion (i'm not an agnostic) and most of this "lectures" no theology on Facebook or any other portal are worth... no more than a penny. Let's keep our faith and beliefs in heart than on tougue. I agree with your oppinion than.
Regards
Bartosz.