Foolishness, the Internet, and Christian witness

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“No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)

James knows it is inevitable that if we communicate in words, our words will eventually spread evil. This connection cannot be broken. The web tempts us to talk, and our tongues want to start jabbering. As a result, more people talk to more people more frequently, more easily, about more things than ever before. And so sin abounds (Prov. 10:19). If James is right, more talk means there is more evil emerging than ever before—more, also, of evil’s annoying little brother, foolishness.

To judge from how Christians behave on the Internet, you’d think there are scores of primary, sacred issues worthy of all-out battle with fellow believers in public, complete with schoolyard taunts and the imputation of evil motives. Junior bloggers set themselves up as the theology police, thrashing those with whom they disagree and doing so with relative impunity or even the encouragement of readers who seem hungry for controversy. In their wake come the blog commenters, hiding behind aliases while firing off ill-considered rants, seemingly unaware of the damage such behavior can do both within the church and the world at-large. Think about unbelievers assessing the reputation of Christ by the online behavior of those who call themselves his disciples!

Such foolishness is not what Jude meant when he called us to contend for the faith. When believers “bite and devour one another” (Gal. 6:15) in front of the entire world, we not only fail in our calling to contend, but we make it far easier for unbelievers to dismiss the gospel altogether.

— Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World, p. 39, 40 (Amazon | WTS Books)