Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Church of the Holy Meme. . .

I know that there are folks who were not raised in the Church and did not learn the faith from catechesis in the home or the congregation.  They kind of presumed a Christianity which was less learned than observed and, by observed, I mean people, conversations, and social media.  They are not in the Word of God but they think they know God anyway and they are not doctrinal because they believe all truth except the subjective to be presumptuous.  Their God is learned and their faith practiced more from social meme and anecdote than Scripture, creed, or confession.  They are becoming the norm among those who are caught up in the buzz words of the faith but not quite confessing Christians.  They are also bringing up the curve in denominations in which truth has been surrendered to individual judgment and catechesis replaced with observations along the way.  They belong to the Church of the Holy Meme.

Facebook and the other pieces of social media are certainly filled with religious content thought it is not quite Christian.  That would be news to those who post and repost and share the memes that have replaced Scripture, creed, and confession.  They are sure that their point of view is not only true but really more than the truth of those who spend time in Scripture or know Christian history or sit in the pews every week.  You can give them the words of Jesus directly from the Bible and they will insist that either they were read wrong or they could not possibly mean what they say.  To counter the Word of God, they tell you a story or repeat the latest thing to go viral on the internet.  

What do I mean?  I have read posts from people who insist Jesus is number one in their life but that no real God would send people to hell for not believing in Him or by judging their best was not good enough for this cold hearted deity or by doing what seems right to them but is explicitly condemned in Scripture.  My God would not do that, they say.  In that, they might be correct -- except that their god is no God but an idol of their own imagining.  That is the great temptation not only of those whose God speaks in memes but for every authentic Christian as well -- it is the first and greatest commandment that is the most difficult for the orthodox and for the erring.  We have not progressed much from Babel or from the golden calves of gods we could equal or even control.  

This is why it is so difficult for us to do true Christian apologetics.  Unlike a pagan world which has no idea of who God is, we face a culture which is pretty sure they know who God is, what God would say, and how God would act.  They are more than confident that they are putting the right words in God's mouth even though they have only the barest passing acquaintance with the Word of God in Scripture.   Perhaps there is some legitimacy in the call to surrender the social media to those who have placed their holy technology in the pantheon of the many and various deities.  Perhaps many of the media are so tainted by the prejudice of superficial knowledge that parades as deep that we have little or no chance of really engaging our lost and secular culture.   I could be swayed on that point but I do admit that God has promised to work through His Word no matter whose voice says it.  At this point, however, I am weary of the strange, odd, and offensive things placed in God's mouth who do not even know Him well enough to call Him by name.  Maybe you have come to the same place. 

1 comment:

Steve said...

It is somewhat true that online Christian apologetics does not ever seem to change minds. The same people voice the same unchanging personal opinions. And this fact can make the Christian apologist feel like they are wasting their time. But the Word in those conversations does work, it’s just that it doesn’t work in the way and time we often want it to work. In other words, we readily notice that others don’t change their mind to our point of view. That’s instant gratification and that’s what we want. I’m right! Why can’t you see that? But the Word does change minds and hearts through the Holy Spirit when and as he wills. This is why preaching is the foundational ministry of the Lutheran Church and generation after generation of men are raised to be pastors and preach the Word. It doesn’t matter if sermons have funny stories or psychological analysis or self help advice included. Because the gospel power of salvation in every sermon is the divinely operative Word. Yes, many will hear and be stubborn. Think of the parable of the sower. But we do not know at what point this stubbornness may cease, when human opinion and pride is dashed against the rocks of reality and we are cast upon the only sure promise and hope in this life which is God’s Word. This is the reality that all men eventually reach, either despair in our own efforts and ultimate frailty or the lifeline offered of Christ himself.

The greatness of the Lutheran Church lies in our sole focus on and faithfulness to the revealed and living Christ and his Word. Here this Word is purely proclaimed and the sacraments rightly administered. The Wittenberg model of worship was nothing short of a miracle, an ideal treasure that embodies the biblical mandates of reverence, edification, and order, along with the best of the music, ceremonies, and traditions of the western catholic church. And what the Church needs are tireless champions and apologists for what we already have and are tremendously blessed with in Christ.