Twitter, Facebook, Blog: Opportunities and Problems

Derek Ouellette —  November 3, 2010

I recently read a blog post titled Twunity, by Blake Coffee. In it Blake presents what is becoming an all too obvious problem among the global Christian community whenever theological perspectives and traditions clash. The problem, Blake surmises, is that we Christians tend to not listen to what each other are say. He says:

If I am honest with myself, I must admit that my ability to hear God speak through you is directly related to how much “agreement” you and I have on issues which are important to me.  The more we disagree, the less we listen to each other.

True. True. Speaking for myself, it has been a constant up hill battle as I’ve attempted – though often failing – to listen to what someone of an opposing perspective is actually saying. What a humilitating struggle that is. But I know that, step by step and little by little, I have been succeeding. I know this because my views have graciously been impacted by people I once diabolically opposed. I take every caution to avoid the dangers of being swished around in the stormy ocean of differening belief systems (Ephesians 4:14); but I try and maintain a balance by endeavering to be teachable on the one hand, and Berean on the other (Acts 17:11).

For Blake (and he may be right), a contributor to the problem of “cotton in the eardrums whilest having theological dialogue” is too much personal knowledge. He says, “the more I know about you, the more likely I am to find a point of sharp disagreement and to therefore stop listening to you”. Again, I think that is true. For myself, the most difficult dialogue partner I have are Beza-Reformed Christians. I can engage in the most pleasentful conversation with someone until I discover that they are “Reformed”. Then – like a porcupine – my protective spikes come out. I find the same is true when a “Reformed” brethren discovers I am of an Arminian bent. So maybe too much personal knowledge is a hinderance to good ecunemical dialoge.

At this point Blake suggests that social media – and Twitter in particular, in the context of his post – may be just the tool we need to help solve the delimma.

When you send out a tweet,  it is not being interpreted through a biased filter which adds to it all the other information we know about you, because there is no other information other than a user name and a very short (usually not very helpful) profile.

When I first read the post I wondered if Blake was simply suggesting that we avoid the issue:

Hmmm… a better church is an impersonal church? Why didn’t God think of that when he designed human beings as personal beings? Oh well, what God can’t fix, twitter can. The first half of your post is spot on, but I’m not convinced that the way to fix the problem is to avoid it.

[Note: He clarifies his use of Twitter in response to my comment. You should read that too. :) )

Now Blake may be on to something. The problem he presented is very real. But I believe the issue is one where Christians need to mature “in Christ”. We need to learn to listen to what each other are saying, and in doing so we may discover that 1) we are not that far apart, and 2) we can learn from one another and thus become even less far apart. This takes great humility. Perhaps our issue, in so far as this has become and always has been a huge problem, is pride; the opposite of Christ-likeness. (Mea culpa! Mea culpa!)

The world of Christian theology has never been so small as now with the onset of social media. I publish my theological musings on Facebook all the time and they constantly clash with my “friends” from around the world who publish their musings also. In the 90’s the most I had to worry about was whether or not a friend in church believed in “eternal security” (oh the horror). I used to think that me and my church were right about everything. Now I know that billions of people around the world think the same thing about themselves and their churches (Weird).

Social media like Facebook and blogs has provided the global Christian community with tremendous opportunities to learn about our historic Christian faith beyond our cul-de-sac doctrines. It has also provided us with an opportunity to grow further into Christ-likeness (humility) or at the least it has exposed how unlike Christ we often are.

Be Sociable, Share!

Derek Ouellette

Posts Twitter Facebook Google+

a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • Pumice

    I have been sitting here for the longest time feeling like I should comment and yet every time I started, I saw another angle. Keep stirring the pot.

    Ultimately I think I can have good discussions with people if I know them better. It helps to know where we agree so that we can spend time trying to change the mind of the other. A good debate is helpful for a couple of reasons. First, it is fun. It sharpens the wits. Second, it helps me to see what I really believe. Have you ever had the experience of making a very strong statement and then realized how ridiculous it sounded? It is always healthy to be forced to go back and rethink something.

    I wish we could agree on what is necessary to the faith. I have a list that includes the divinity of Christ, the inspiration of scripture, salvation by grace…, but I don’t know where to stop. Disagreement helps more than agreement.

    You also made the point. We change slowly. Quick change leads to quick change back. Through disagreement we feed our thinking and consult the word and grow.

    I ramble.

    Grace and Peace.

  • Derek Ouellette

    Thank you Pumice.

    There are many benefits to dialoguing within the faith. Great humility is required. I struggle (as the post made clear). I appreciate your spirit.

    P.S. rambling allowed. :)