Facebook's Fake Church|
Coming to Town
Many Christians are alarmed that Google, You Tube and Facebook have warned users that offensive videos and articles will be censored and removed. If the social media giants were intent on weeding out postings on how to make bombs or cut off heads, it might be understandable. But instead, it appears that they aim to censor mostly Christian content. From their point of view, "bless your enemy" or "turn the other cheek" folk are far more dangerous than terrorists.
Zuckerberg Plays Church
So, it surprised us when Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently stated that his company can fill the role played by churches. What an odd thing to say! Why would he resolve to remove many Christian postings while promoting Facebook as a substitute "church" for the remainder of his users? Speaking to a Chicago audience on June 22, 2017, Zuckerberg quipped that Facebook can mimic churches by shaping communities with pastoral-type care, guidance, food, shelter and other provisions. It is clear that Zuckerberg is promoting a social gospel devoid of traditions, history or the gospel of salvation. He knows nothing about the true church, the Body of Christ.
Christianity an Intellectual Exercise?
To be fair to Zuckerberg, before I became a Christian I thought that Christianity consisted of persons who made an intellectual agreement with basic tenets of the faith, who then went on to do good works. In fact, I did try to become a Christian by saying the "right" words to a few young pastors who thought they had led me to Christ. But, I knew in my heart that I was not really "saved" at all, and I felt intellectually dishonest and disingenuous. Furthermore, I assumed that all so-called Christians must feel as I did.
Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
However, several years later, I was powerfully convicted of the truth of Christianity by a study of apologetics (systematic evidences for faith coming from science, history, archaeology, philosophy and other disciplines). So, when I truly became a believer, I fell to my knees, weeping with gratitude. I knew that Christ was real; He died for my sins and I would be raised from the dead into fellowship with Christ and His church forever.
However, just so you know, apologetics are not everyone's cup of tea. Early on I tried to share my newfound faith. I mistakenly thought that intelligent people could be persuaded of Christianity's truth if they were just given the right evidences.
Not so. Many of my own family members and friends refused to listen to brilliant scholars such as C.S. Lewis, physicist Hugh Ross, Oxford mathematician John Lennox, philosopher William Lane Craig and notable others. They did not want to consider or hear any evidence contrary to their atheistic worldview. Open minded? Hardly. I had to accept that it is the skeptic's choice whether he will consider evidences for the faith, as painful as it is to us. Unbelievers are free moral agents with free will who have the right to choose for themselves - even if it means a potentially dismal future for them.
Regardless, at the precise moment of my own belief I knew instantly that I had received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a physical and spiritual reality. It is a qualitative difference that true faith engenders in a person for life. (Don't worry. Someone who grew up in the church may not experience it as vividly as one who was unchurched as I). Upon belief, we become God's holy temple where the Holy Spirit resides within us (1 Cor. 3:16). We are "new creatures in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:17). We feel it and we know it, even if our outward person reflects no change for years.
Explaining True Faith to an Unbeliever
How do we explain this to an unbeliever? I do not think we can. It is not something that the skeptic can duplicate with belief systems of his own. Of course, he or she is not aware of this and remains ignorant of true, genuine change in the believer's spiritual, psychological and physical being. The unbeliever surmises that all Christians must surely possess fickle, half-hearted faith equivalent to his own changing beliefs and philosophies.
Hence, a young man like Zuckerberg believes that his social gospel, his mandate to help others, can be equated with ancient, Christian creedal beliefs. These Christian doctrines are strongly-held beliefs that reflect justification, regeneration, sanctification and prayer. Plus, it includes the believer's firm hope for a future resurrection and forever life in the crystalline, jeweled city of New Jerusalem on a new earth in a beautiful new universe. (Read Revelation chapters 21-22 for a description of this awe inspiring space-city we will inhabit). As well-meaning as you are, I don't think you can duplicate any of it, Mr. Zuckerberg!
More Signs of Encroaching Darkness
In addition to Facebook's superficial desire to mimic the Body of Christ - the church - there are other alarming signs of encroaching darkness in our world as well. Did anyone notice Vermont Senator Bernie Sander's hostile questioning of Russell Vought for director of the Office of Management and Budget? Sanders grilled and belittled Vought for his Christian faith. Surely Sanders knows that Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification" for any U.S. office. Alarming! Then, a Christian school in Alberta Canada was recently ordered to quit teaching bible passages that are offensive to others. Offensive to whom? Who decides? How much of the ancient holy book will they eviscerate before it is suitable to their hollowed-out worldview?
Famine of Hearing the Word
Going forward, we sadly envision a future where there will be no bibles or readings of the Word available to anyone, anywhere. The prophet Amos warned, Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD (Amos 8:11, ESV).
Perhaps Zuckerberg has plans to replace the bible with his own words of wisdom, guidance and values as well. If so, it will be another failed attempt to duplicate something irreplaceable and holy. The bible is a stand-alone unique gift to mankind. It is an intelligent collection of 66 ancient books, written over a period of at least 1600 years by over forty authors, containing internal consistency, intra-book communication, and proven supernatural prophetic-materials that haven't been matched anywhere! Ever.
The trends are clear and we can see that false teachers, prophets and fraudulent reading materials are going to take the place of our holy book, pastors and our churches - before the Lord returns. Freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of thought is at risk. So, while we can, I hope that we can enjoy our freedom to attend real churches and to share the genuine saving gospel of Jesus Christ. We pray that we can continue to distribute authentic, complete bibles to those who hunger for truth and hope. We need to "make the best use of the time, because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:15).
Recommended Reading and References:
Cioccolanti, Steve. "7 reasons why I am leaving Google." You Tube.
Daily Wire. 6/27/17. Zuckerberg: Forget church, let Facebook be your new community.
Geisler, Norman and Frank Turek. 2004. I don't have enough faith to be an atheist. Wheaton, ILL: Crossway.
Green, Emma. 6/8/17. Bernie Sander's religious test for Christians in public office. The Atlantic. TheAtlantic.com.
National Post. You can't just pick and choose: Alberta Christian school fights board request to remove offensive scripture.
New York Post. 6/29/17. Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook is the new church.
Valorie Emilio holds an M.A. in History from UCLA focusing upon Christian Origins. She teaches and writes for the Gospel Rescue Mission in Grants Pass, Oregon, where her husband, Kenneth, serves as Director.