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The Crux

Why Facebook is a Terrible Place to Discuss Theology

My heart weeps for the 21st-century church

In the last week, I've blocked one person on Facebook and considered blocking another for no reason other than toxicity. It appears that Christians are no better at self-control than anyone else.

In the first case, a liberal pastor of a gay-affirming church resorted to vituperative name-calling and toxic insinuation when I attempted to clarify something he said in a comment. Instead of helping me out, or seeking clarification on my comments, he decided it was best to insult me. The result: Neither of us understood each other. And the discussion wasn't even about matters of doctrine or church practice. It was in response to an innocuously funny meme.

In the other case, one self-identified conservative Christian decided to hurl insults at me because he perceived that I was a liberal. As before, any attempt to communicate was met with more insults.

Now, I'm not the kind of person who goes looking for an argument. That was past me, the part of me that was stuck in my selfish, sinful flesh. But I do enjoy a good conversation. Over the years (I've been on Facebook since 2005), I've had the pleasure of being a part of some awesome discussions on Facebook, including some beautiful repartee. But I've noticed that Facebook has, overall, become much more toxic than it ever was. A part of that is due to the COVID pandemic, which pushed both liberals and conservatives to the outer edges of their respective ideologies. Sadly, this political dualism has crept into the church.

To be sure, I believe there are core church doctrines that ought to be defended against the excesses of both the Right and the Left. But the Facebook group I'm a member of isn't for that purpose. It's a humor group. Most of us are there to laugh at ourselves.

Long story short, the church has entered into this uncomfortable and petty zone of drawing lines in the sand where lines need not be drawn. Instead of uniting around the supremacy of Christ, liberals and conservatives divide themselves along denominational, doctrinal, and arbitrary ideological lines that are neither scriptural nor prudent. It's a terrible predicament and produces a terrible witness for our Lord Jesus Christ.

None of this means, of course, that I believe every liberal or every conservative is a bona fide Christian, nor does it mean that I believe they aren't. Even if I can tell who is or who isn't (and sometimes I can't), the Parable of the Weeds is pretty clear that it isn't my place to settle the matter once and for all.

I am almost to the point of saying goodbye to Facebook for good. It has become a toxic cesspool of egos eager to prove their self-accounted-for value to total strangers. Christians on the platform spend just as much time virtue signaling, name-calling, and self-congratulatory back-patting as anyone else. All in the interest of winning the argument. But winning the argument could mean losing one's friend, or worse, destroying one's soul.

My heart weeps for the 21st-century church. If we can't show ourselves to be examples of love toward each other, how can we convince our neighbors that we love them, or that Jesus does?

Allen Taylor is the author of I Am Not the King.

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