My secret hobby is to peruse the reader comments attached to online news stories.
Why is it a dirty secret? It is a kind of voyeurism: watch people on the Internet and you will see the shocking and horrifyingly interesting acts of rudeness and pettiness. For example, in response to one individual’s criticism of the Tea Party movement, a reader on CNN wrote, in part: “You lose. Yawn. You look silly. … Oh, and Wes, …..you still lost. Big time bud. Bigger yawn.” (You can read the story and the comments here.)
More disturbing than this are the Christian comments. Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ have decided to fulfill the Great Commission by commenting on every news story that uses the word “religion.” While many of these Christians may be sincere, God-fearing men and women who simply wish to proclaim the good news, many of them look like idiots when they post. On a CNN article about President Barack Obama’s religious tolerance (click here), one commenter told everyone that Jesus is the Way and closed his comment with, “All religions, like aspirin are not alike.”
(By the way, generic drugs are now required to have the same active ingredients as their name-brand counterparts. While I am not a pharmacist, a pharmacist told me that most generics are virtually the same as their name-brand counterparts–which would include aspirin.)
I am always hesitant to criticize anyone who proclaims the Word of God in a public forum. Such tactics, while not the ones I prefer to use, are the favorite of many of the blessed prophets of Israel. Still, in this instance, I think I am justified in offering the following advice: Don’t make us look silly!
It is not silly to proclaim the Word of God, but it does seem silly to enter into an argument and insert Bible verses that have almost nothing to do with the discussion and do not address the questions of others. If someone has doubts about the validity of the Bible, do we show respect to them and their concerns if we simply quote a verse of the book they doubt? Christians for 2,000 years have been answering critics with a combination of rational thinking and biblical quotations; perhaps we should do the same.
While there is a time and place for simply declaring the Word and judgment of God, Paul’s journeys in Acts clearly show someone who is concerned about addressing people in language that will reach them–arguments that consider the person’s background. Rather than taking the easy way out, Internet Christians, take the hard road and try to understand our critics.