As a blogger and representative of the Christian faith, I consider it a duty to relay accurate information to my readers. If I present something concerning atheism, apologetics, comparative religion, science, philosophy, et cetera, I want to ensure that what I am representing is accurate. In this way, I labor to properly equip Christians. I do not want to just throw red meat to my Christian audience. I do not want to just rile up the crowds. I want my Christian audience to have good information and real answers to difficult questions. I want them to be able to engage with dissidents of the Christian faith. I consider this not only my duty, but the duty of anybody who is putting information out for public consumption, especially in the arena of religious discourse. However, I have found that a number of bloggers have denied this protocol and have instead opted to lie about what is going on in the world or just failed to check their research. Christians need to be discerning in this regard and beware of Christian bloggers who disseminate misinformation.
People and groups are smeared. People love reading criticisms of individuals and seeing all of the missteps that they might make. We love reading about the nefarious behavior of individuals and groups across the world. We gain a sort of emotional entertainment when reading about the sins of ISIS and other terrorist organization. Bloggers know that people love reading that sort of thing and they take advantage of it. Certain bloggers will manufacture the most gruesome stories imaginable and publish them on the internet. These stories include rape, dismemberment, destruction of homes and so forth. Yet these bloggers provide no resource for this information and no other outlet has ever heard of these stories. (However I provide no examples because I plan to do a more comprehensive analysis of the bloggers that I have in mind. But I think that we are all familiar with this sort of thing.)
Sometimes the attack is made against individuals, such as the Pope, the President or other major public figures. Words are put into their mouths that this person never said, and most of the bloggers’ audience has no capacity to find out if it is true. They just have to take the blogger at their word, and many of them do. That is how these bloggers are able to get away with this sort of thing. These bloggers are able to make their living by disseminating misinformation because nobody checks the facts. Christians just blithely accept what they put out there. A measure of discernment needs to be demonstrated as we beware of Christian bloggers who disseminate misinformation.. Do not just accept what people tell you. If you do, entire people groups and individuals will be successfully smeared.
Sometimes these bloggers are just not checking their facts. I do not mean to imply that every time a blogger publishes bad information, that they are lying. It is not always out of malevolence. Sometimes they just fail to check the facts. But such an individual is almost as guilty as the person who is publishing out of malevolence. They have a responsibility to their audience to give them good information and real answers and data about what is happening in the world. If you are claiming to be a news outlet about a particular topic, whether terrorist actions in the middle east or if you own an apologetics website, you need to check your information. This applies to events that might not have occurred, something that somebody might not have said and even arguments that we use.
People are quick to defend an argument or some fact concerning a sub-argument without thoroughly investigating it. When bloggers do this, their audience reads what they have put out and assumes that what they are saying is true. We need to ask questions about what we are reading. Where are they getting their information? Perhaps they just heard it somewhere and assumed that it was true without checking it out. This has happened with Rick Warren. Despite how many times he denies believing in Chrislam (the idea that both Christians and Muslims are saved), people continue to put it out there. They are not necessarily being malicious. If one blogger puts it out there, five hundred people might hear it. Then all of these people share this information on their blogs and social networking outlets and this man is effectively smeared, and everybody thinks that they are being honest. Nobody checks their facts. Nobody thinks that it is prudent to beware of Christian bloggers who disseminate misinformation.
End times prophecies fulfilled in some public figure or event. Most Christians have been influenced by some form of millennialism. We believe that there will be a thousand year reign of Christ on earth. But this reign will be preceded by the dark figure known as the Antichrist. Most of us believe that he will fulfill a number of the prophecies that we find in the book of Revelation. He will establish a one-world government, persecute Christians, etc etc. Since that is going to happen in the future, we interpret world events as leading to that. Accordingly, certain people, groups and events are thought of as being correspondent to our great prophecies. I have heard overzealous pastors confidently say “This is referring to the New York Stock Exchange,” just after reading Revelation 18:1-3.
Similarly, people will look to new popes, new world leaders, rising politicians and monarchs and suppose that these men are candidates to be the Antichrist. We are especially suspicious of Muslims, as they deny the central tenets of the Christian faith and there are radicals within Islam who persecute Christians. Often, if there is some minor similarity between a figure or event and the book of Revelation, we assume that it must be a prophetic fulfillment. That overzealous pastor saw greed and opulence in Revelation 18:1-3 and hence assumed that it applied to the stock exchange. When pastors, bloggers and people in Christian leadership make this sort of grand claim, their readers consume it. They are looking for this sort of thing. They desperately want it because they want to see something spectacular in their lifetime. Yet this leads to smearing of individuals and mental instability, as you are assuming that the sky is falling. We should beware of Christian bloggers who disseminate misinformation concerning eschatological prophecies. They often know what you want to hear and they give it to you. It is all about drawing traffic.
Christianity seems indefensible. Let’s see if we can apply univocal standards. If we were to encounter a blog that was run by an Islamic apologist, and he was constantly manufacturing stories about Christianity and the behavior of Christians, failing to check his facts, etc, we would not hold him in high repute. But if there were a cluster of these men doing this, it would reflect very poorly on their faith. If there were a cluster of these men disseminating misinformation, and all of the Muslims just consumed it without a seconds’ thought, we would not think that they were a very thoughtful group. Similarly, when Christian bloggers manufacture stories, events, arguments, and data, and we just accept it without a seconds’ thought, it reflects poorly on our faith. We appear to be thoughtless, uncritical fools.
We make Christianity appear to be indefensible. For why should we have to lie to defend the faith? Why should we not check our facts? Further, why should we allow bloggers to manufacture information and accept it? We would be instantly suspicious of this uncritical approach if we saw it in other faith groups. Why are we not suspicious of it when we see it in Christians? If an Islamic apologist wrote a blog post titled, “Christian murders 3 women, kidnaps their children and the parishioners feeds on them during church,” what would you say? You would say, “Oh, come on. Is this real?” Yet when a Christian blogger puts out the same thing about a Muslim, how do you react? You say, “Wow, Islam is so evil!” Perhaps we should apply univocal standards. Perhaps we should beware of Christian bloggers who disseminate misinformation.
If Jesus Christ is the truth, then why would we believe a lie? Of course, we are not lie detectors. But we should not want to constantly be taken in by lies and misinformation pertaining to our faith. For Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6). He did not put out misinformation and neither did his apostles. He was the truth. Therefore, Christians should be in love with the truth and despise falsehood. When somebody puts something on the internet, we should ask ourselves, “Is this the truth?” We should not just assume that it is the truth. We should love truth and expose error when we see it. Out of our love for Jesus Christ, who is the truth, we need to beware of Christian bloggers who disseminate misinformation.
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