Kill the Comments!
October 26, 2016
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
How is it that otherwise ordinary, well-adjusted people seem to lose their minds, not to mention their dignity, on social media? Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the Danish philosopher, once wrote a little confession entitled, “Kill the Commentators!” It was a bit of satire, essentially stating that commentators and commentaries often look for ways to soften the sharp edges of Scripture and allow us loopholes in the ways that we interpret the Bible so that we don’t have to deal with the plain meaning of the text and the high calling of obedience. In his own words:
The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?
Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.Ouch! That hurts. Of course, Kierkegaard tends to do that. Perhaps that’s why he wrote an entire book on James 4:8 – Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded! It takes an intrepid reader to tackle Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing. There are no “get out jail free” cards here. Put simply, he wasn’t a guy to sugarcoat things. He was quick to call out our duplicity, ruthless in his incisive critique on Christianity. Kierkegaard argued that the only way to “will one thing,” is to learn what it means to become an individual before God. “The consciousness of one’s eternal responsibility to be an individual is the one thing needful.” Don’t misunderstand; he isn’t suggesting that community is a problem. The problem is that when we fail to learn what it means to be an individual before God, we “hide” in and behind the crowd, participating in things that we would never do alone. In short, he’s describing the mob mentality:
The same persons, who singly, as solitary individuals are able to will the Good, are immediately seduced as soon as they associate themselves and become a crowd.“Great,” you say. “Umm, thanks for the primer on Kierkegaard, I guess?” And then, muttering under your breath, you ask “What in the world does this have to do with social media, or anything else, for that matter?” More than you may realize. The fact that you are reading this article means that you spend time on the internet. You undoubtedly see online threads, Facebook posts, and internet discussions, many of which have spun out of control. Unfortunately, this will only gain steam as the election approaches. We will ﬁnd people berating one another in various forums, comment sections, and so on – even on so-called “Christian” websites. As Kevin DeYoung quipped at the last T4G conference, browsing for edifying comments under an online article is like sticking your head in the toilet looking for gummy bears! We all know that people say the most nasty and unrestrained things on the internet. Why? Perhaps it is because, as Kierkegaard argues, we do not know what it means to be an individual before God. We are “immediately seduced,” hiding in the crowd of cyberspace, and say things to one another that we would never say face to face. As we count down the days to the election, and as people express stronger and stronger feelings about one candidate or another, it makes me wish that Kierkegaard was around to write one more piece: “Kill the Comments!” It’s time for us to learn what he meant by being an individual before God — even when we are all alone in our homes, having a little screen time.
Dr. Michael Morgan serves as Teaching Pastor at Wellspring Community Church (Aurora, CO) and teaches history and theology as an adjunct professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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