I’ve been blogging, chatting, pm’ing, and generally wasting precious hours of my life away on the internet since before it was cool.
Yeah, you heard me. It all started back in middle school when the wonderful world of message boards was introduced to me. It didn’t take long before I was well known on a number of websites (mostly music sites, hip hop ones to be exact) and had more online friends than I had “real” ones. I even developed some very strong relationships that are still going to this day. I went by the name NternetCritic because of my strong (but rather rude) personality when it came to critiquing other people’s music on the web.
Back then, it was all about the drama. I mean, that’s why high school is for right? I’ve made people angry, been made angry, cried, caused others to cry, made threats, posted under false identities, and even played a roll in the collapse of one of my favorite web sites because of drama (i.e. little stuff blown WAY out of proportion).
I’m not always proud of the way I acted back then, but I learned a lot about how easy it is to be fake, cause problems, and generally make a mess of stuff when you’re communicating through the computer screen. It’s one of the reasons that a couple of years ago I stopped almost all of my online activity, including message boards, instant messaging, chat rooms, blogging, and the like. I know others who did too, but it’s funny to know that some people I knew are STILL doing the same things and haven’t changed a bit.
For all the drama, slander, hate, irritation, and just plain stupidity that goes on in the world of blogging and chatting, it sure is a blessing that Christians don’t get involved in this kind of activity. Right?
Uhh, not so much. Since coming to Southern Seminary, my eyes have been opened to the wide array of Baptist blogging that goes on and the devastation that comes with it. It’s not that I didn’t know about any of this though. Wade Burleson, my pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, and easily one of the most influential men in my life, blogs regularly on thoughts and life of the Southern Baptist Convention. This is significant because of the amount of heat he has taken for his blogs about the trustee meetings he attends for the International Mission Board.
However, I had no idea the number of other Baptists that blog regularly and the amount of absolute nonsense that goes on with it. People posting anonymous accusations against people in power. Folks cursing and threatening those who don’t hold to the same non essential doctrines as they do. Guys, who it seems as though it’s their life’s goal, who want to completely tear down the life and ministry of another. What the heck is going on here?
Recently, Jerry Corbaley, a trustee with the International Mission Board, sent a 153 page email to every trustee on the IMB calling out Wade Burleson for his continual “slander” on his blog. Just to note, there’s not a trace of slander in the information he provided, but this is beside the point.
Look, I’ve only been a Southern Baptist for two years, and I decided to make it my first church membership because of strong doctrine, a cooperative program, and people who care about the sovereignty of God and the inerrancy of Scripture. I did NOT join to find fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord slandering, blasting, arguing, and just plain hating each other of issues that are of little (at best) importance. Is this what the church is supposed to look like? It’s bad enough that there’s a zillion different denominations out there, but even in our own denomination, there are allegations, refusal to accept small differences in non-essential doctrine, and pure anger towards one another in public forum over issues that barely deserve the time of day.
It’s sad that the same things that were going on between me and my friends in high school are going on between grown men and women of faith. What kind of example are we setting for the world? “Hey, come join our church, but beware! If you happen to hold a different opinion on anything than we do, we’re going to publically humiliate you!”
I’m pretty sure that absolutely no one within the Southern Baptist Convention gives a darn what I have to say about it, but I would like to issue a call for personal integrity among Southern Baptists and other Christians alike. Let’s get back to settling disputes and disagreements within the church in a kindly manner instead of making a mockery of ourselves over the internet for thousands to witness.
Is it possible? Yes. Likely? Probably not. But if you read this, take the time to think about the things you say and the way you represent Christ when you’re talking to someone through a computer screen. A piece of glass and some plastic doesn’t give you anymore right to treat your brother poorly than if you were face to face with him. Maybe if we all took the time to think about the eternal significance of these things and all show a little integrity over the internet, we can begin to slowly turn a medium used for drama into one used for uplifting encouragement.