Monday, December 26, 2016

Brainless Damaging Social Networking

I will be coming back to my series on epistemology later this week.
At least in the top five all time most read of all of my posts was one I wrote in 2009, titled, "Why To Delete a Facebook Account."  When I look at the blog stats, it is still very often one of the most read posts for the day or the week.  I don't think I've written about social networking since (you can listen to a sermon on it by Dave Mallinak from the 2014 Word of Truth Conference).  Especially among fundamentalists or independent Baptists or separatists and even conservative evangelicals there is a wide range of opinion about social networking.  When I say "wide range," I mean that this post might get very different and contradictory reactions.  Some will really identify with what I'm writing and others might hate it.  I have found with the 2009 post that there is both strong agreement and hostile opposition.

A lot of younger people think that older folk like myself just don't get it.  Perhaps nothing seems more inane than explaining how you do "get it" to someone who says you don't.  It dawns on you pretty quickly that it wasn't an argument.  It was intended to shut down the conversation.

More than ever I see a rejection of the elderly or older generations by millennials.  Maybe it is just generational to make fun of the previous generations and to see yours as superior to the older ones. The silent generation or boomers more than gen x, millennials, or gen y see danger in social networking.  Some have succumbed either to look like they do "get it" or to submit to their only available or offered connection.  In 2004 Zuckerberg foresaw bookoo bucks in the perceived weakness of people, not for trying to help the world be a better place.  Facebook succeeds off the worst traits of humanity.  It's underlying philosophy and very design discourages godliness.  While cultural indicators trend downward, facebook stock rises.

What I have said about social networking is that it is possible to have a good "page," but that the massive difficulty of having one likely outweighs any benefit.  Is active social networking compatible with complete obedience to scripture?  Does the capability exist for social networking without sinning?  I'm not sure.  It is unlikely.  Those are not even the best questions though.  Facebook itself does far more damage than good to the degree that involvement encourages more facebook, which one can guarantee will cause even more damage.  That is code for stumbling block.

I've noticed that people who judge social networking are stalkers, lurkers, and trolls.  That's intended, it seems, to shut you up and sit you down, where you might stay in your diminished physical condition.  Also, if you treat social networking like it might be the real world, you aren't getting the point.  It seems that social networking is an opportunity to sin without accountability.  You are not really sinning.  You are only virtually sinning.  Social networking provides cover or deniability for sinning.  It is somehow removed from you as some kind of technological scapegoat.  It is perfect for postmodernism, where everyone's truth is his or her truth.  These are people who treat real life like it is a simulation, so surely social networking is a simulation.

I just signed up for an instagram account.  Instagram is not really the friend of the desktop or laptop computer.  I couldn't get started with instagram on my regular computer without further research.  It is simple for the mobile device, which encourages the mobile device, which appears to me a soul sucking vortex for young people.  I digress.  I use my tablet almost exclusively for sermon notes, as a means of replacing paper and ink cartridges.  Very seldom, I check email on it while traveling.  I have added instagram to its purpose.

Based on what I've written in this post, it would seem that my instagram account could not be good. It will serve to encourage more instagram.  I'm open to that criticism.  My page is public.  I'm not hiding here.  It has my full name and my picture.  It will keep one posting, because that is required to comment.  It's been up for a day and I still have no followers, am not following anyone, and have had zero likes or comments.  That is tell tale already.

The only point of my instagram account is to add my opinion to other instagram accounts.  Yes, I hear the screaming and see the eye rolling.  I don't count either reaction though, because it's only virtual anyway.  You don't get it.  I don't want to sit by without comment on what I see as brainless damaging social networking (I wanted my title to appear in the post).  I'm not going to step into the matrix of facebook.  However, instagram looks like it can be managed.  Only an arm and a leg are affixed to the glue like substance spun with silicon.

My comments on instagram will be a light not hid under a bushel.  I won't comment on everything I don't like, but I will comment.  I will add perspective with a comment.  I will praise with a comment.  All of it will be light though.  Most of it will be scripture, actual verses quoted.  I don't plan on posting another picture on my own account.  I'm not going to accept all followers (even though there will be nothing to follow), and I will follow only family members and church members with private accounts.  I will solely exist for the sake of commenting.  Maybe I'll come back later with a post to report all the times I have been blocked or deleted.

I want just to talk about instagram at this juncture.  What is it that I see that I don't like, that I believe is unscriptural?  I'm going to enumerate and then briefly elaborate not in any order.

1.   Unbiblical Content in a Photo or Photo Description or Hashtag

Whatever is in the picture is on limits.  If there is immodesty, you own it.  If there is ungodly behavior, you own it.  If there is a violation of gender distinction, you own it.  If there is some expression of unfaithfulness to God's Word, you own it.  Get rid of it.  
2 Chronicles 19:2, "Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD."
Psalm 101:3-4, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.  A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person."
Amos 5:15, "Hate the evil, and love the good."
Matthew 6:24, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other."
Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 
2.  Worthless Content

There is content that is worthless.  Worthless is also evil, but I'm differentiating it as having no edifying purpose.  Probably it's just selfish, narcissistic, a "selfie."  It is self promotion, which is evil.  I'm going to call it worthless though.
Psalm 119:37, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity."
Proverbs 30:8, "Remove far from me vanity and lies."
1 Corinthians 10:23, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."
1 Corinthians 14:26, "Let all things be done unto edifying."
 3.  Lack of Positive, Aggressive, Real Christian Testimony, i.e., Lack of Love for God Shown

The Bible should be all over a Christian's social networking.  It should be a regular mention.  It isn't something they have to try to do.  It is who they are.
Matthew 5:15, "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."
Matthew 12:34, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
2 Timothy 2:4, "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
4.  Allowed Unbiblical and Worthless Comments without Rebuke

God is not this way.  We should not be this way.  The reproval of unbiblical comments will not be likely welcomed by the one commenting, but it will start him or her on her way to the gospel.  Christ is the end of the law, but the law comes first.  Everyone who believes the gospel starts with the confrontation of his or her sin.  This is all over both the Old and New Testaments.  It is an application of holiness and the doctrine of separation.  I'll put two though.
Proverbs 19:25, "Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware."
1 Timothy 6:5, "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."
5.  Attachments to Ungodly People through the Comment Section, Aiding and Abetting the Enemy

It seems that some professing Christians want commentary from unbelievers.  They love that kind of praise of men.  They say what will impress the ungodly for the kudos of the ungodly.  It's not right. By doing so, they aid and abet the enemy.  People should be asked if they are right with God.  They should be confronted for their unbelief by believers.  What is the point of developing a following of unbelievers in a comment section or in your followers? You'll find yourself trying to impress unbelievers, when you should be thinking about the pleasing of God.
2 Corinthians 6:17, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
1 Peter 3:12, "the face of the Lord is against them that do evil."
Men should not be accepting the flattery of the strange woman, including in social networking.  It's wrong.
Proverbs 5:3, "For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil."
Proverbs 6:24, "To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman."
Proverbs 7:5, "That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words."
I've noticed that social networking is a way for men to collect their admirers.  They lack in confidence in Jesus Christ, so they allow for women to flatter them with their acceptance.

6.  Pandering

Pandering is a kind of lie.  People live a lie in these social networking situations, because they portray their lives in a way of their choosing.  It isn't reality.  It is pandering to a particular group of people to give them a false impression.  I'm quite sure that the degree of social networking corresponds to the lack of confidence of the individual.  He compensates with his social networking.  He puffs himself up with his account.  He uses other people as props as part of the impression he or she is making.

I'm going to be using my instagram as a means, part time of course, for calling out brainless damaging social networking.


Unknown said...

Hello pastor,
You are a serious person that is writing serious posts. Im new to blogging and the internet. Im enjoying what you are posting cause its making me face myself and think.
As an observation alot of people probably want to stump the pastor. Hopefully , sometime I will try to do that.
Happy New Year. Craig

Jeff Voegtlin said...

Kent, I can appreciate your points in this post. One thought that came to mind as I read was this: How are your people going to be able to learn how to use Instagram if you do not post? Are you joining Instagram ONLY to be able to call people to stop using Instagram? Or to get them to use it biblically? If you want them to stop, I understand your strategy; if you want them to act biblically there, maybe you should be an example to people there. I hope this makes sense. Maybe I don't get it either. :)

Also, I hope I've come across as a friend. I'm not trying to be snarky about your social networking ideas.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Craig,

Stump the Pastor.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I haven't ever questioned your motives. I think you have good intentions. On the instagram, I can't take the time to have a good page, but my intent is to be able to bring something in the way of comments where I can actually visit now. You can't visit without an account. People want to know it is me. Then I'll not be the roughest I can be, but I will say what hopefully does need to be said where I think I should say it. That might not be very much, but it does allow me to do it. I also think I should explain why I have an account if I'm not using it.

Anonymous said...

Those are some interesting points, but I think you are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. There is too much emphasis on preaching these days and not enough emphasis on newer technologies among our IFB circles. The Bible does not say that we should preach to every nations, like a lot of our fundamentalist brethren like to falsely purvey. No, in Mark 13:10 it says the word must be published among all nations. Many of these newer technologies can help with publishing and getting out the word. Now, this is not to downplay preaching, because it does have its place. But publishing is what the Bible says and when you reject these technologies you are rejecting modern publishing methods, in my opinion.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Too much emphasis on preaching and not enough on newer technologies? If we preached the Word to everyone that would be obeying the Bible. The new technologies don't necessarily accomplish that. They might contribute, but they can't actually get it done.

Publish to all nations? Did you know that the word "publish" translates the Greek word, kerusso, which means "to preach"? The verse is saying preach to all nations.

Publishing the Word is good. However, the medium of publishing must be judged. I'm using a modern method in writing a blog. I obviously think it can happen through modern technology. Instagram and facebook are different. If someone hears the word through facebook, then he hears it through facebook. That doesn't justify facebook. I don't think I'm missing anything.

Anonymous said...

"The medium is the message." Right? Witnessing through subway graffiti. VERY fine line here.


Anonymous said...

Let me rephrase that. That was a rather poor choice of words. Yes, preaching should be emphasized, strongly. That was bad wording. What I was trying to convey was that there is not enough emphasis put on other forms of communication. We should always emphasize preaching. What I was trying to say is that we should not ignore all other forms of communication. My apologies for not making a good post. But I still think that if "preaching" was the main intent in this context, it would have been the word that was used. "Published" is the word that was used, so they must have had a reason for using that instead of "preaching." I'm not sure which publishing houses were around in 1611, so I don't know why that word was used, but that's another topic altogether. In today's vernacular, "publish" can mean the old-fashioned publishing house, but it can also mean a blog and Facebook. I think the scriptures would have used the word "preach" if it only meant preaching, in this context.

Kent Brandenburg said...


One of the "benefits" of being anonymous is you can say something false or crazy or even a lie and not be responsible for it. Do you think there were publishing houses when Mark wrote his gospel? You should think about that.

So you are going to double down on "publish"? What does "publish" even mean in 1611? The etymology is "make known" or "make public." Instead of being private, it's public. It's not talking about a printer, which wasn't invented until 1440. Do you understand that Mark in the first century wasn't telling people to use a printing press?

This is where we're at today with folks. It's sad, but it is where we're at due to a crazy understanding of English preservation or double inspiration.

Tom Brennan said...

The Scripture tells us "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." The issue in communication is not near as much the vehicle as it is the heart that uses the vehicle. Jesus was silent as to the good/bad of any aspect of the communication technology (for lack of a better term) but He said a whole lot about the heart, and about how that heart communicates via words. IMHO, if you want to address bad behavior on social media address the behavior itself. To attack social media with what is essentially a blanket condemnation is to shoot at the wrong target in my view.

Kent Brandenburg said...


In 1 Corinthians 1-3 the Apostle Paul speaks to methods. They matter. The means people receive a message matters. If I write it in gang, urban graffiti font, it affects the nature of the message.

I think I've been pretty careful in both my facebook post and this post. It's not just the words that are used, but the medium of communication. It's also what you say and what you don't say. If someone doesn't reprove the unfruitful works of darkness, that means something. There is almost no room for criticism on instagram and facebook. Is that the nature of Christ and the Apostles? Is this Old or New Testament behavior? Facebook and Instagram are designed with a particular purpose that does not mesh with scriptural behavior. People need to be warned of that. They need to treat it like it is the real world.

I think you know these things, so perhaps I'm missing something. Can you help me know what I'm missing? This might be your first comment here. It's fine if you aren't 100% supportive, but total repudiation would seem to be missing something too. Do you not see danger in this means of communication? If the medium is the message, which it is, then out of the abundance of the heart comes something related to the medium too. I think today this is often a bigger problem than the message itself.

Thanks for dropping by.

Tom Brennan said...

It is my first time here. I picked up your book on preservation recently and it is helping me.

I do not disagree with you entirely whole cloth. Certainly, I agree with the main points you mentioned about wrong kinds of speech. I also agree that it is often used the wrong way, including by God's people. And I'm sure I have been guilty of some of that. But what I disagree with is your foundational premise. I do not find your argument convincing that the platform itself is wrong/worldly/evil.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Many if not most churches have screens in their auditoriums. I will not put one in mine. Is it because the screen itself, or the ability to project video is evil? No, but I think its use in the church inevitably moves the church service in the direction of entertainment. A church service gradually becomes something people sit down to watch rather than something to participate in. My problem is with how/when/where/why that technology is used. But if I write a blog post condemning the use of screens in church auditoriums on the basis of the fact that television was designed by a worldly person to get across worldly ideas, and that the devil uses it for these reasons primarily I will have lost most of the intellectually neutral people I am trying to persuade.

It wasn't the tower that was wrong with Babel; it was the attitude and actions of the people building it, and the use to which they intended to put it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Tom,

I've been clear that I don't think that it is a sin to have facebook, instagram, or twitter. What I've said is that it is difficult, very, to have an acceptable one or to have one and continue to obey scripture. My list above explains.

Are they in themselves evil? I've argued essentially that they don't make it easier to be a Christian and they can hurt other people.

I appreciate your screen argument. I think it is the same argument in essence.

In contrast, however, I would argue that the tower of Babel is wrong. It is akin to the music argument. Since men are moral agents, the things they make themselves have morality to them. They are not neutral.


Anonymous said...

Kent, I think you make good points here:

"So you are going to double down on "publish"? What does "publish" even mean in 1611? The etymology is "make known" or "make public." Instead of being private, it's public. It's not talking about a printer, which wasn't invented until 1440. Do you understand that Mark in the first century wasn't telling people to use a printing press?"

All I'm saying is why don't we just take the KJV for what it says? If "preach" were the main intent in that verse, then why was it not used, like it is in most or all other versions? Of course, preaching is one form of "publishing" a message. I agree with your statements overall. I'm just not sure why the word "preach" was not used instead, if that is the main intent.

On a similar note, why would Luke 19:4 be different than all other versions when it says "sycomore" tree instead of "sycamore"? When we write messages about this passage, why do so many fundamentalists spell it as "sycamore" when it's actually "sycomore"? To be good scholars we should not make sloppy spelling mistakes.

James Bronsveld said...

Tom Brennan, Facebook (Twitter, Instagram) is not properly a technology. It is a platform, and although you use the terms interchangeably in your comment to support your position, they are not the same thing. Facebook is called a platform because its content is controlled not only by the platform’s users, but by the platform’s creators. Content can be promoted and highlighted, or it can be restricted or even banned, all beyond your control. The recent furor in your country over “fake news” and the antics of those platforms’ controllers during the last election campaign underscores this fact. Unlike the television screen in the auditorium, the so-called social media is heavily controlled by their owners to shape the content that is published and to channel the use and image of that platform to their desired ends. "Television screens in a church’s meeting place" is not analogous to the use of the aforementioned platforms.

The apostle Paul (Acts 16:16-18) had no issue with the “technology” of publicly proclaiming the gospel in the marketplace. But when the platform for that delivery was a demon-possessed woman who publicly proclaimed the truth, Paul rejected the platform.

Methods matter. Platforms matter, and scripturally, I’m mandated to be careful about whose platform I share, especially when that platform is controlled and coddled by the ungodly to feed the worldliness, self-centeredness, and lusts of its users.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Bear with me. Are you a troll? Do you believe the positions you are espousing, or are you asking questions that you think will somehow underscore that the KJV needs an update. I'm wondering if some of these anonymous comments are all the same person. I don't see the computer ID when someone comments. Again, bear with me if this is not true. Let me know though.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I don't disagree at all with your comment. It's how I see things.

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