Christian Apologetics Alliance

Christian Apologetics Alliance
Member: Christian Apologetics Alliance

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The online forum - engaging in the new public square

Of late, I have been challenged regarding a few worldviews that I hold, and mostly by fellow believers - or those who profess to believe in our Risen Lord.

I say this because in our online engagements, it has become pretty clear that most of them hold on to what I refer to as dogmatic views or rhetoric - views that are anchored on cliches that they absorbed from their spiritual leaders during their formative spiritual years and have retained them ever since without finding the substantiation for those views.

While I have not laid claim to having the absolutely correct view on these matters, to a certain degree, I have achieved a degree of satisfaction of knowing that the views that I've come to hold (after changing them when they were displaced by a more superior position, and holding on to those I've cherished, because I found the facts and reasons to uphold them ) can withstand scrutiny and critical examination.

And knowing that, the faith I espouse now has become stonger, substantive and more confident - as I have rational explanations to present the message of the Kingdom as a very important option to consider for holding one's worldview.

And also because it's a very important choice - it spells an eternally significant difference.  While the gospel proclaims grace, it also implies a grace period.  It ultimately comes to an end - after which, there are consequences. And these are dire.

These challenges that rise as a result of my posts on my Facebook wall drive me to go back to the books and review the things I have learned and as a natural consequence, I am forced to remember scripture verses, facts and logical processes to be able to present the argument for the positions that I present publicly.  And it has become a good thing for me, because I continue to internalize what I previously read through cursorily and these become a vivid part of my memory bank, which I can dip into regularly and find whenever I need them.

What I did not realize was that other friends who I did not intend those posts for also read through my wall and absorb the exchanges and the thoughts that are crystallized in the conversation.  These eventually result into private emails, private messages and are brought up in snatches of conversation in casual encounters such as seeing each other in the malls or while doing groceries.  They become more meaningful because the points that they never were familiar with ( exegetical explanations, cultural perspectives, and doctrinal thought ) are made a bit clearer - not necessarily absorbed immediately - but now are explained with more than just a bit of clarity and they are more familiar with the message of the scriptures.

If just for that, I am grateful for the online fora that Facebook has provided for these exchanges.  Because it requires a great deal of planning, organizing and preparation to put a group together and hold their attention for these subjects.

With this access-when-you wish capability, the online fora becomes a good starting point for lengthy (though incomplete) engagements in a coffeeshop to process these thoughts personally, complete with distractions and disturbances.

Much is decried about having the "impersonal" and "e-friendships" that are not as authentic as one where we press flesh and spend time together.  I find that the opposite is revealing itself to be true: online, where it is less "threatening" to be confronted about one's set of beliefs, it provides a platform for people to express themselves better. At least they can take comfort of not being assaulted physically if the discussion turns ugly.

But it also allows each one to get a better read of their thoughts - because you are left with no choice but to be articulate and express yourself comprehensively and accurately. And if the argument fails, you are left with no choice but to accept the superior view or stick to the defective one without reasonable support.

This way, we are forced to become better communicators and should the relationship take a step higher to a more personal one, we are all the better for them. Instead of having a realtime encounter where we maintain a veneer of civility, yet inward are snarling murderously.  I've known a few church small groups that behaved like that.

But hey, it's a great start.

For one dollar apologists, it's a means that we should not discount if we wish to present the message of the Kingdom in a winsome manner, though we should make sure that we can take it to the next level, which is the personal one.