More Gospel, Less Trolls, in 2020

OCIAL media is a lot of things. For me, it’s a way of gathering links to stories of interest, it’s a way to connect with different networks, it’s a fun place to prod friends, an avenue to share what I’m working on (something publishers request and encourage), and hopefully a place where I might be an encouragement to others. But in 2020, I need to make some changes in how I use it.

No Twitter irks me more than “Evangelical Twitter.” Sure, “Atheist Twitter” is peppered with blasphemy— surprise, suprise. “Political Twitter” is as polarized as the spectrum of network news stations. What did you expect? And most of Twitter is just inane (insert eye rolling Taylor Swift gif here).

None of social media gets in my craw like those who seem on a crusade to attack other believers in the name of orthodoxy. An “orthodoxy troll,” as I will call them here, is someone who (a) takes something that isn’t historically a matter of orthodoxy and tries to make it a universal litmus test for orthodoxy, (b) uses the selected secondary issue to show how others with clearly articulated positions on orthodoxy really are a danger to orthodoxy, by (c) running an elaborate conspiracy theory algorithm that connects all of their affiliations and peripheral comments together, and then (d) presents it to others online with the least gracious reading possible with a mix of conjecture, assumption, and fear mongering.

Now, not all who appear to be orthodoxy trolls are. I don’t want to discount those with sincere questions and challenges. That doesn’t make a person a troll. A troll is someone who habitually misrepresents both others and historical orthodoxy.

If you don’t want to become an orthodoxy troll, don’t take non-essential doctrines and make them your rubric for attacking the orthodoxy of others. Make the gospel your main focus. Give liberty on those issues that are not essential for historic orthodoxy. Discuss these issues, for sure. But don’t act like they are on the same level as the gospel.  And above all, for crying out loud, don’t be a jerk. Assume the best of others and act in love.

So, what about those who fit the profile of an orthodoxy troll? We should distinguish between those who are just trying to navigate this whole thing who have sincere questions and those who have a proven track record for trolling. It generally doesn’t take long to figure it out. Some have made an entire career out of it, quite literally.

Let’s pray for them. But let’s not give them any air time. Comments and responses often only add wind to their sails and increase their subscriptions and views. Though I should say, there is a limit for these things and sometimes trolls need to be called to account. But defining that limit and developing an effective process is not easy nor for the faint of heart. Ignoring them is generally a better path forward.

Trollers gonna troll. We cant’ stop it. But we can choose what we’re going to focus on. Let’s aim for more gospel focus in 2020.