Defending the Faith in an Irreverent Internet Age

A recent web post states:  “Christians are being replaced by people who are intelligent – people who don’t believe in silly mythologies.”

Wow - now that’s a bold assertion!  One sentence that essentially declares Jesus as a fraud, the Bible as a legend, and indicts millions of Christians worldwide for false beliefs.  The author must be thoroughly versed in theological studies and have a significant body of evidence to back that kind of claim, right?

In reality, the writer has no credibility at all.  In fact, he or she chose to remain anonymous, and posted this statement in a simple online “reader comments” section.  There were no additional details; no link to a well-thought-out website explaining his or her position; no deep explanation of how the complexities of this world came about without an intelligent Creator.  And yet, this post received dozens of “thumbs up” clicks (the internet’s absurd comment-approval rating system)!

Online comments sections are everywhere.  We’ve all seen them.  They hover below virtually every article on the web -- and usually continue far beyond the length of the original piece.  Designed to inspire intelligent debate regarding the viewpoint of the author, comment sections instead often descend to the lowest depths of human communication.  Controversial topics always get heated, but when the subject of Christianity or the Bible comes up, beware!

“…I can’t believe so many delusional people believe in the Christian god and an out-dated book written by desert goat herders…”

“…I mock god every day.  He’s a figment of your imagination...”

“…There is no supreme being.  You’ve all been brainwashed...” 

When Christians read comments like these, we naturally feel irritation, incredulity, disgust, anger… combined with a strong desire to “set the record straight!”  However, getting personally involved in comment sections can be a frustrating and fruitless pursuit for believers.

Why?  Is it because we don’t have reliable data to back up our beliefs?  No!  In fact, quite the opposite.  Well, shouldn’t we stand up for our faith?  Yes!  But locking horns with spiteful unbelievers in this particular forum may not be the best course for believers to pursue -- for any of the following reasons:

  • Comment sections (CSs) provide a “safe arena” for those who oppose God; they can freely attack Christians and remain accountable to no one.
  • CSs require no proof to make claims against God, the Bible, or Christianity – and false claims are ignorantly supported by others.
  • CSs don’t demand logical answers to logical questions / comments.
  • CSs typify “bad hermeneutics,” where Scripture is regularly pulled out of context with no consequence or regulation.
  • CSs allow unbelievers to simply scoff at credible assertions they don’t agree with.

A logical question at this point would be, “Why do unbelievers continually attack those who choose to believe in a God they claim ‘doesn’t even exist?’  What difference does it make to them?  Why do they care?” Let’s discuss this.

Teaching Point

Immoral people will deny God’s existence because their lifestyle demands it.

In Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 we read, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.”  Some Christians take this verse to mean, “You’re simply not intelligent if you don’t believe in the God of the Bible.”  However, in these Psalms, the “fool” is not a person who lacks intelligence, or someone with a low IQ.  In Scripture, a “fool” is a morally insensitive person who lives as if there were no God.

“Foolish” people who reject God with contempt are not interested in changing their ways – no matter what evidence is presented to them.  Why not?  Because they desire a lifestyle with no restrictions or moral constraints -- and believing in the God of the Bible would require them to be accountable to a moral God!  They don’t reject God and the Bible because there’s a lack of reliable evidence, (although they may think that, having refused to adequately research the subject).  Denying God and His Word is the only way for unbelievers to escape their own consciences.

The apostle Paul dealt with many of these skeptics and rejecters -- in fact, in Romans 1 he could easily be addressing the writers of today’s vicious and foolish online comments.

  • They suppress the truth by their wickedness (v18).
  • They reject even the most basic evidence for the existence of God (v19).
  • They think up foolish ideas of what God is like. (v21)
  • Their minds are dark and confused (v21).
  • Claiming to be wise, they instead become utter fools (v22).
  • They choose to trade the truth about God for a lie (v25).
  • They are haters of God (v30).
  • They refuse to understand… are heartless, and have no mercy (v31).

Amazingly, this same portion of Scripture shows that these people are aware of the evidence for the existence of God, but they deliberately choose to turn away and reject Him.

  • The truth about God’s existence is clear and obvious to them (v19). 
  • Through everything God made, his invisible qualities are clearly seen—his eternal power and divine nature (v20).
  • They have no excuse for not knowing God (v20).
  • They know God exists, but they refuse to worship him as God, or even give him thanks (v21).

The bottom line is that people who want to maintain an immoral lifestyle will deny God’s existence, even when they’re presented with solid evidence for God and the Christian faith.  They will attempt to refute God’s existence even if their viewpoint has no credibility!  They will reject God because their sinful lifestyle demands that they do so.

Practical Applications

1.  Don’t cast your pearls to the pigs.

Matthew 7:6 says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

In this verse, the Lord taught His followers not to entrust holy truths to unholy people.  Under the Mosaic Law, dogs and pigs were unclean animals, not the precious family pets or farmyard favorites of today.  So the Lord was not talking about "casual unbelievers" here, but rather wicked unbelievers - those who are completely closed to the things of God.  In fact, their goal is to tear down the Word of God and undermine the Christian faith.

How does this apply to us?  There are many well-meaning, devoted Christians who spend valuable time refuting the slanderous comments posted on the internet.  There is certainly a time and a place for defending our faith and taking a stand against moral corruption.  However, just as dogs cannot appreciate what is sacred, and pigs cannot understand the value of pearls, so some unbelievers treat divine truth with no respect.

We would never share a deeply personal story or photo with someone we didn’t trust -- someone who might use it to ridicule us.  In the same way, we should guard what we share with certain unbelievers who are vicious in their contempt of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.  We should pray for these lost souls, and ask the Lord to change their hearts, but the Bible is clear that we should avoid giving them the opportunity to “trample” on the Word of Truth.

2.  Save sacred truths for sincere seekers.

How, then, should we approach people and situations like this?  Should we steer clear of them?  Proverbs 14:7 suggests, “Stay away from a fool,
 for you will not find knowledge on their lips.”   Or should we press forward with the truth?  After all, Mark 16:15 says we are to “…preach the gospel to all creation.”

Wise and balanced advice for believers is found in 1 Peter 3:15-17.  “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” (v15).

Notice that that this verse says, “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you…”  The writers of anti-Christian comments are not asking for the truth, nor are they interested in learning about God.  They’re not sincere seekers.  They’re only interested in tearing down the faith.

Verses 16 and 17 continue the important advice: “But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Believers who feel their voice should be heard in online forums may do best by simply agreeing or disagreeing with the author of the original piece.  An online verbal battle will rarely (if ever) reflect gentleness and respect – especially in the mind of an unbeliever.  1 Peter 3:9 says, “Do not repay with evil, or insult with insult...”  And Ecclesiastes 10:12 says, “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool shall swallow him up.”

So let’s guard our words and intentions.  There is a time and a place for everything, so let’s be wise about the manner in which we share our faith.  We should pray for unbelievers, be respectful, and save the sacred truths for those who are ready and willing to listen.

- Ron Reid
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