Friday, November 5, 2010

The Wrath of Cyber Christ?

So, this popped up all over Facebook, coincidentally, right after I published my last piece on restraint of expression with spirituality (I cleaned up some of the awful grammar):
Click pic for source
If you believe in Jesus Christ, put this on your wall. Do not just ignore this. In the Bible it says, if you deny me in front of your peers, I will deny you in front of my Father, at the gates of Heaven. This is a simple test. If you love God and are not afraid to show it, put this on...your wall
"This is a simple test"? A test created by what higher authority? Some lonely, Ned Flanders-looking dork at a Dell keyboard in Boise? Or is there an implication that God is now maintaining a Facebook page? (I'm not sure what the ellipses mean before "your wall" but they make me imagine the words like giant cartoon rock letters with cracks in them.)

My first instinct is to react to this with two words, one of them a verb beginning with "F" and the other, a pronoun that sounds like "ewe". But I will restrain my anger. This is just another case of something people mechanically accept but that really burns my biscuits.

Click pic for source
Similarly, I once received a "Christian" email that told me, essentially, that if I didn't forward it, I would wind up like the example people it listed who died a few days after deciding not to forward it. Of course, the email went to great pains to explain that one of the deceased was a father of three-year-old twins. (Incidentally, I lived -- presumably because I don't have twins and because the God of love doesn't like to punish transgressors unless he can ruin the lives of that transgressor's children, too, just so the little bastards don't think of stepping out of line in the future.)

Oh, I admit that I thought about it for a minute, because I do believe in God (for reasons that range from Aquinas to Descartes to C.S. Lewis to the wonders of music to a lifetime peppered with some excellent homilies) and, as a logical fellow, I am sure that he would certainly take me away from my wife and children for not forwarding an EMAIL!! It makes perfect sense that Christ would smite me deader than Lazarus for not "forwarding" and that he would damn me to writhe and gnash in the Eternal Conflagration for not pasting a poorly-written, self-righteous blurb on my Facebook wall.

There's the absurdity dealt with. But how about logic? Nah -- no need for that in electronic evangelism!

First of all, is neglecting to repost that blurb the same as "denial"? Of course not. Denial would be: "Jesus? Nope. Never heard of him. Sorry." Peter stuff. Denial is not refusing to be spooked into reposting a pre-fabricated Facebook post.

And don't make me go all theological about it, 'cause I have connections. A friend of mine who is a priest pointed out that, intrinsic in this blurb of damnation, is the implication that the writer could, by sending this blurb around, cause God to take an action. Even the most rabid of mentally terroristic zealots couldn't think that arrogance was okay.

I understand the concept of spreading the "good news". I get those who dedicate their spare time to preaching, but there is a fine line between wanting to help others see the light and dragging them into in by any means possible. Convincing someone to believe in God (as Lewis and other theologists/philosophers did for me) is fine, but shackling someone to a pew and forcing him to pray at metaphorical gunpoint is ridiculous.

A maniac can force someone to have sex with him through fear and show of strength, but can he force someone to fall in love? So why would anyone want to intimidate or shame someone into faith? Would the Genesis story about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil exist if that were the way the very God that the writer of this Facebook post presumes to speak for thinks?

People believe (or don't believe) in their own fashion. I realize different belief systems place varying evangelical burdens on those who follow them. But I can't believe any denomination would advocate the use of shame and intimidation. It can only yield false results, much in the same way that torture reputedly brings out false answers -- answers given only to stop the pain.


  1. I will be copying and pasting the link to this post as my reply to anyone who posts something like that on FB. Because I feel exactly the same way - as I said in my comment on Wednesday's post. Perfect.
    Love the pictures too. haha

  2. You sort of inspired this one with those comments . . . thanks, dearest (completely unknown) blog comment person.

  3. Chris, I couldn't agree more! I think that it's absolutely ridiculous to state that God will deny anyone who doesn't post a status on Facebook. I firmly believe, with good reason, that God would prefer his followers to prove their faith in their actions. However, maybe that's just silly on my part.


  4. A crazy notion, indeed, Larissa. Extremist! Now go and "forward" the good news or be cast into you-know-where! Ha!