Sunday, May 20, 2012

Someone is Wrong on the Internet

There's a recent article in Tabletalk (May 2012) by R.C. Sproul Jr. entitled, "Someone is Wrong on the Internet." R.C. Jr. was able to put something into words which I've felt for quite some time:
"Internet controversy gives us the liberty to play theological video games. That is, it is vicarious, faux drama, exciting enough to keep us tapping away at our keyboards but not so exciting that we lose sleep. We read an attack site (discernment blog, as they like to call themselves), and find that the kingdom is crumbling because Joel Osteen’s book is being carried in some LifeWay store somewhere, or because a guy in our camp invited a guy in their camp to speak at a conference. We head over to our favorite guru’s blog to get the straight skinny on just what the respectable ones are saying about this issue or that.

In all this reading, all this key-stroking, what we are really stroking is our egos. We think that by keeping up with the controversy we are really fighting the battle. And because of all the Internet play it is getting, we know it is the battle for the ages. We think we are fighting off Suleiman’s Muslim assault on Vienna, preserving Western Christianity, when all we are really doing is playing with toy soldiers. Like those who fought in the Saint Crispin’s Day battle, we can then go to our beds thinking ourselves fine fellows for having been in the fight. We, in short, aim far and miss far."
Sproul Jr. is certainly on to something. While there is certainly a need for cogent information defending the faith, in my judgment, there's a lot more stroking of the ego going on in cyberspace. This doesn't mean I think every blog or website that articulates cogent apologetics is simply ego stroking. I'm not sure who Sproul Jr. means by "our favorite guru’s blog," or if he thought this statement through, because- in probability, someone out there probably sees Sproul Jr. as a favorite guru.

I think though that Sproul Jr. gets at something important with blogging and apologetics, that is, the reason of the heart for why we do what we do. If your family is being neglected because you have to refute someone on the Internet, chances are Sproul Jr. is describing you. Or perhaps, he's describing me. It wouldn't be a bad idea for some of us to make a little survey of how much time is spent tapping away on the Internet to see where our priorities actually lie. Something to think about.


Andrew said...

More and more I see the wisdom in James White's approach to combox wars. As you know, in short, his rule is: Don't. It's dumb. But if not we, then who shall vanquish the e-heretics? Quite the conundrum, eh Mr. Swan?
In all seriousness I appreciate this post. Pr. Sproul has hit on something important and your added thoughts are pretty well on the money.

RPV said...

If there is a time for all things, as mentioned, as long as one is fulfilling their responsibilities, the combox fuflfills one of the aspects of modern govt. education that is missing,i.e. disputatio, or learning how to argue and defend a position, much more the truth and generally becoming a better writer to boot.
Can it be abused? Does one find oneself wasting time in attempting to reason with ignoramuses or other sundry tarbabies, Romish or no, never mind gratifying one's vain ego?
Yes, but it is the sinful nature of man to abuse every good gift of God, not the nature of every good gift or even things indifferent.


natamllc said...

Well, that may be so. Coming in here from time to time has really sharpened my senses to discern good from evil in this format and venue.

I find it much easier to take the criticism in here, the reproofs of instruction than in other venues, like at Church hearing a good sermon or one on one with a brother!

This is, after all, one of the new ways of communicating. It doesn't justify not getting quiet and intimate with the Lord in the prayer closet or conversing in private or in public with family and brethren and non-Christian friends.

Matthew Schultz said...

Great post especially in an age of Machen's Warrior Children.