Wednesday, May 25, 2005

 

CYBER AREOPAGUS PART II

Some perspective...

Sometimes we forget just how weird we really are. We Westminster-type fellows have a whole different lingo, and the way we think is something utterly bizarre before the masses. You can't talk amongst the world as if they were brethren. I found it necessary to focus on the distinction between special grace and common grace.

Basically, I had to learn how to think like a pagan.

Paul demonstrated this same thing. He knew how the pagans of his time thought; and so he went to the Areopagus and presented the gospel in their environment and using their dialect. On the modern Areopagus, an understanding of both how pagans think and how they interact is essential if the message is to have a broad audience. The former is of course a matter of pagan doctrines and faiths, which will be discussed in later posts. How they behave on forums is a study in and of itself, which we’ll focus on for this missive.

Now the Gospel, by its nature, will cause strife, stress and angst amongst the unbelieving. It then becomes important to see how people behave online when under such stress. This type of net behaviour is called, 'Flaming'. There are two distinct types of flaming: Personal and Contextual. Let's take a closer look at these.


1. PERSONAL FLAMING

This type of flaming is characterized by personal attacks directed towards the individual poster. These can vary from 'you are stupid' to lengthy, descriptive posts containing massive amounts of creative Ad Hominem. Personal flaming does reference the comments of the person being attacked, but they are secondary to the focus of the flaming. Personal flaming is highly aggressive, filled with invective, hostility and curses. The vast majority of Personal Flaming is tell-assertive vice ask-assertive. Classic examples of this type of flaming can be found in abundance at Brawl-Hall. Note that in this form, silencing the 'enemy' is often used as a sign of victory, as well as a majority decision made by the regular board members on behalf of the flamer.

2. CONTEXTUAL FLAMING

These flame attacks do not attempt to insult the poster directly, but rather seek to intimidate through attacking the poster's arguments. Although Personal Flaming may play a small part in these kinds of attacks, when it is present it is usually ask-assertive in nature. Contextual Flaming stands on logic rather than invective and yet victory in such flame wars is decided in much the same fashion as Personal Flaming. Good examples of Contextual flaming can be found at Flame Warriors. Also note that on most non-Christian religious boards, Contextual Flaming is far more common than Personal Flaming.


A Christian apologist will need to be familiar with both kinds of flaming styles, although the Personal method is not one that should be employed in ministry. Contextual Flaming will become an integral part of any cyber-apologetic, as the 'table of ideas' is the enemy rather than the persons at the table.

It is important to note that many persons are not aware of the two types of flaming. Most persons that I've encountered were only aware of the Personal Flaming style. Therefore, it is imperative that the apologist resists the 'temptation' to react in kind when facing Personal Flaming. Contextual Flaming is quite Biblical, as it is the method that not only Paul used, but also Elijah on Mt. Carmel. Consider the following:

"Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes." Proverbs 26:4-5

Personal Flaming is, in simple terms; unrighteous judgment of the kind that King David refused to engage. To say to someone, for example, "You are an ass hole", is a direct violation of the 6th commandment. To respond to this Personal Flame with another Personal Flame is to be like the fool, and make the fool feel wise. However, when such Personal Flames are responded to with Contextual Flames, the actions of a person rather than the individual are rebuked; which keeps fools from believing themselves wise.

Do not forget that the Gospel is an offense to the wicked, and the wicked will seek to offend the giver of the Good News because of this. Thus, the apologist at the Cyber Areopagus must remember to not attempt to defend him or herself from such things, but rather wear the armor the Lord has given us so that we may stand in the face of fools. Do not forget that the enemies of God do not know peace, but the godly warrior will be at peace with his enemies.

Monday, May 23, 2005

 

CYBER AREOPAGUS PART I

There's just nothing to compare with the Apostle Paul's apologetic methods as demonstrated in Acts 17. Faced with a slew of pagan philosophers, he resisted the temptation to tell them of their fate, but rather met them where they were, and showed them from their own beliefs the truth of the Gospel. The unknown god was known, and indeed this teaching of Paul entered into the philosophical realm of the day under the teachings of someone who is commonly refered to as pseudo-Dionysius. Of course, some of them said, 'Hmmm... let's talk some more', while others scoffed. But Paul was not there to convert anyone, but rather was there to display the truth so that those whom the Lord had called would come.

With this in mind, let's consider something- the modern Areopagus that is on line.

The number of forums and blogs that are specificaly anti-Christian is monsterous. Just google the word, "Pagan" and see what happens. Likewise, the number of Christians who seek these sites for evangelism is also huge. I have seen three distinct classes of Christians on such blogs and forums:

1. The Brimstone. These Christians are typically very conservative if not fundamental. They come to these sites, and with honesty and conviction inform the pagans that they are doomed to hell, and that their only hope is the Gospel of Christ. These Christians are usually banned from such sites after only a few visits.

2. The Bowl. These Christians do not admit that they know Christ when they visit these forums. Having seen the ferocity of the attacks that The Brimstone cause, they attempt to provide a Christian perspective without ever declaring themselves to be Christian primarily through the use of analogies.

3. The Drifter. These Christians openly declare themselves as Christ's own on these forums, but use the forum as a sort of 'spiritual fellowship'. Most of these type do not have a regular body where they worship, and lacking consistant Christian fellowship, use these pagan sites to express the love and 'spirituality' of Christianity. In some aspects, they mimic the pagans on the site to aquire their acceptance.

There are not a lot of Reformed Christians on such sites, and so the pagans for the most part only interact regularly with the types of Christians above. Now bear in mind that the above Christians are exactly that. Christians. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and many of them are simply in need of sound biblical leadership and love. Also, the Gospel of Christ never returns void. I personally know of Christians who have come to genuine faith in the Lord through the ministries of the above brethren.

But what would the ministry of a Reformed, Pre-suppositional apologist look like? What would happen if you dropped a Westminster confessing dude into a place like that? Well, that is what this series is about- the ministry of a Reformed Christian on the Cyber Areopagus. Stay tuned.

Theognome

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

 

ZOO KEEPER

Yes, Zoo Keeper. That's my new job description.

I now have the distinct pleasure of managing a small slew of apartment buildings around about the city. The task is not an easy one, especially since I've never done anything like it before. Scattered about this metropolis, these apartments are filled with a broad swath of humanity; from college kids to retired folks to the kind of people that wind up as guests on Jerry Springer. It's a zoo.

This is quite a challenge for me. Managing the residences for hundreds of families of pagans can be extremely exasperating. It's been 18-20 hour days six and unfortunately, sometimes seven days a week. Were it not for Toni's absolute infinite purdiestnessabilities I'd have gone totally insane. I've had a tenant call me on the emergency number so that I could put a band-aid on his wart. I've have prostitutes turning tricks in one of the parking lots. I've flushed out vagrants, pulled dentures out of drains and listened to the wildest stories as to why someone just isn't willing to pay their rent. -REAL EXCUSE- "I cain't no pay no rent dis month 'cause I gotsa go to Vegas an win me some mo money".

So, I am a zoo keeper. Joy.

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