Why settle for the ugliness of a local church body when you can have a much more attractive online version instead?
Why gather with and commit to serving with a local bunch of often incredibly immature, confused, messed up, and biblically illiterate yahoos when you can instead bond with a group of awesome people who share your understanding and your passion in the areas that light you up and make you happy?
Why sit on Sundays in a pathetic little church building alongside pathetic little baby Christians who don’t share your wisdom, your spiritual depth, and your general awesomeness when you can bond instead with your people in Facebook forums and threads on your own schedule?
Why listen to some unenlightened simpleton preacher wannabe pitch some lame-o sermon on some subject you “mastered” long ago when you can instead immerse yourself in online sermons, podcasts, and social media conversations that feed your appetites on your terms at your preferred depth, and (this is important to mention again:) on your schedule?
Why seek, serve, and submit to local church bodies that you know are doing ______ and ______ all wrong?
Why bother with those local churches? Why go to the trouble? Why put yourself out?
Why settle down and commit to any of them when you can have what you want on your terms instead?
These are questions that we need to be thinking about.
In a recent episode of the Practical Ecclesiology podcast entitled The Internet & Ecclesiological Idealism, Michael Foster did just that (I highly recommend the podcast, so please use the links here to check it out).
In The Internet & Ecclesiological Idealism, Foster identified and explored many interesting ways in which contemporary approaches to church and church life are formed by the medium through which they’re most effectively promoted. Things really got cookin’ at the 43:00 mark when he hit hard on the idea of ecclesiological idealism. There he made a compelling case for the notion that online ministries (and, I would add, social media-centered approaches to relationships) are, in many cases, having an impact similar to that of pornography. In order to help explain and contextualize this contention, Foster began his elaboration with the following statement: “Pornography is to sex as Internet Christianity is to the local Church.”
The “pornification of Church”, when embraced, predictably produces many dark and destructive consequences, including:
- An increasingly intense dissatisfaction with reality. The more this counterfeit approach to God’s Church leads its disciples down its seductive path, the more vigorously they will tend toward railing against and hating the local Church as defined biblically.
- An increasing addiction to instant gratification. This is something I’ve personally witnessed with some of those who most loudly advocate and chase after the Lone Ranger Christianity concept. The self-serving bubble-world ministerial complexes that they often nurture and promote lead them (and others who follow after them) deeper and deeper into the delusion of growth, maturity and depth being best pursued on their terms and on their schedule.
- An increasingly “ends justify the means” attitude. The more one becomes immersed in this pornification of Church, the more they will find themselves able, willing, and even eager to spin and rationalize any behavior that they deem necessary to justify and advance their cause.
- Perpetual immaturity and low character. The combination of extreme comfort in critiquing others into oblivion with an aversion to biblical church structure (which includes biblical church authority) predictably combines to promote both rank immaturity and increasingly flagrant displays of anti-Christ character.
These are some of the church pornification promoted attributes that have spread throughout the culture like a plague by way of our perversion of God’s gifts of technology and the freedom/empowerment made possible through technology. The Internet is not the problem. Online sermons are not the problem. Podcasts, online ministries, and social media are not the problem.
Our abuse of these things is the problem.
Through the pornification of Church, our self-referential, self-serving appetites are whetted. Our ears are tickled. Our lusts are indulged. We are “taught to love a lie and despise reality,” as Foster says.
Now back to the first question: Why settle for the ugliness of a local church body when you can have a much more attractive online (counterfeit) version instead?
I’d like to offer a few potential answers for our consideration together:
Maybe you and I are not the “wise and mature ones” that we think we are.
Maybe we’re the idgits.
Maybe we’re the buffoons.
Maybe our problems are way bigger than the 10,000 ways some local church is “doing communion all wrong”.
Maybe our character is in a far deeper pit than the “lame preacher wannabe” who is faithfully pursuing the Lord on His terms as best he is able?
Maybe our arrogance, ego, and pride is keeping us from seeing how desperately we need the local Church as God has ordered it so that people like us might serve, submit, and grow by His grace for His glory on His terms and on His schedule.
Maybe we are in more desperate need of His Church on His terms than we even know.
Just a thought…and I hope that it’s a helpful one.
Thank you for taking the time to consider these things.
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You can also help support the Fire Breathing Christian mission by checking out these books:
Stupid Elephant Tricks – The Other Progressive Party’s War on Christianity takes a painful but much needed look at how Christ-less “conservatism” has captivated Christians and co-opted them into helping march the culture ever deeper into darkness:
The Beginning of Knowledge: Christ as Truth in Apologetics is an approachable, easy to read introduction to Christ-centered apologetics:
Apathetic Christianity: The Zombie Religion of American Churchianity explores the tragic true horror story of all-American dead religion masquerading as Christianity:
On Education is a compilation of some of the most provocative and compelling Fire Breathing Christian articles on the subject of children’s education:
There Is No “God-Given Right” To Worship False Gods is a compilation of some of the most provocative Fire Breathing Christian articles on the subject of America’s embrace of a satanic approach to religious liberty:
Fire Breathing Christians – The Common Believer’s Call to Reformation, Revival, and Revolution is the book that first presented the FBC mission to apply the Gospel-fueled Great Commission in every realm of God’s creation:
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And especially this one: Never forget that apart from God’s grace you and I are complete morons.
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