Jonathan Acuff recently blogged for CNN on why Christians are jerks in online discussions.
I invest a lot of time in online discussion (forums, blog comments, and chatrooms) and am glad Mr. Acuff takes it for granted that I’m a “jerk”!
When I describe internet apologetics to people, I usually compare online venues to a gas station bathroom stall. Acuff gets this much right at least: There is no accountability online. People can be whoever they want and say whatever they want without being held accountable. Foul natures bubble to the surface. Thus, the bathroom stall comparison. God only knows what you will find written on the wall of any given stall in America. You’ll find all sorts of filth and not think twice about it.
The Christian has a different nature. Something dramatically different bubbles to the surface when he is unconstrained. The Christian white man builds empires! He makes rules! The creative power of God’s people is unleashed when unfettered by Satanic social norms! I like what G.K. Chesterton says in “Man Alive”:
“All next day at Beacon House there was a crazy sense that it was everybody’s birthday. It is the fashion to talk of institutions as cold and cramping things. The truth is that when people are in exceptionally high spirits, really wild with freedom and invention, they always must, and they always do, create institutions. When men are weary they fall into anarchy; but while they are gay and vigorous they invariably make rules. This, which is true of all the churches and republics of history, is also true of the most trivial parlor game or the most unsophisticated meadow romp. We are never free until some institution frees us; and liberty cannot exist till it is declared by authority.”
Thus, the internet acts as a unique stage for the wholesome and creative heart of the Christian to confront the pure depravity of fallen man.
And Mr. Acuff wonders why “Christians are jerks online.”
He’s forgotten what it is like to have righteous anger!
He doesn’t KNOW what it is like to feel OUTRAGED when someone openly and callously blasphemes! We see it everyday (in shows like Family Guy, Jesus Christ is openly ridiculed!)
The internet plays host to one epic battle between the Spirit of Satan and the Spirit of God…and effeminate men cringe when sparks fly.
Yes…some apologist are not as knowledgeable as they should be. Some are unduly cantankerous. Some attack when they should defend, others defend instead of attacking. Some callously insult their opponents, and others tend to be overly civil. This is a HUMAN FAILING not a CHRISTIAN one!
The point is…Mr. Acuff…we are war with the spirit of the power of the air!
The one side is fighting for construction, order and the building up of God-ordained design in the universe. Fighting for love and joy, and a peace that surpasses all understanding. On the other side are a bunch of slobbering orcs, Hell-bent on destroying all the beauty and order in the world, raping it, and reshaping it into their own hideous design.
That sort of confrontation demands a jerk!
Oh ye valiant Jerk,
that God would grant thee work,
And save thy hands,
for toil in peaceful lands,
While a cowards fare, the Lord perverts!