With the explosion of the use of the Internet, it has become easy to set up a website to “get the truth out” about someone or some event that has taken place. These websites are typically developed with the claimed intention of protecting the church from some aberrant leader, but they are typically done either anonymously or with a pseudonym. It is important that Christians think rightly about these websites and the “information” that they contain.
The first thing that we need to recognize is that reading those types of websites will change our views, even when we approach them with open eyes recognizing that “the first one to plead his case seems right, until his neighbor examines him (Prov. 18:17). The fact are that “words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body” (Prov. 18:8; 26:22). As soon as we hear about a website related to some Christian leader, our response is to desire to go see the website – a desire to taste the tasty trifle. Romans 7:7-8 tells us that as soon as Paul knew what covetousness was he started to covet, and as soon as we hear that there is a slanderous website, each of us will desire to look for that website.
So how should we respond? Our response should not be of the flesh, but of the spirit. We should accept that the case will sound persuasive, because it is impossible to examine the neighbor and we have a responsibility to examine the neighbor if we are listening to what they have to say about someone. If we are truly trying to judge whether we should follow the teachings of some writer or speaker, we should first be like Bereans and examine what they say in the light of Scripture. This is not to discount the consideration of the fruit that they produce, since we are called to judge the fruit, but it is for us to be realistic about our ability to judge that fruit. The gospel has always been divisive and someone who is accurately preaching the Word will offend people who do not desire to follow God’s Word. The fact that a speaker has offended says nothing about the validity of the offense.
When we think of anonymous websites in particular, we should always recognize that the writer is hiding himself. He is figuratively walking in the darkness.
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:5-7).
Why would they post it anonymously? For the same reason that the robber puts on a ski mask to rob a store, so that people do not know who they are, so that people cannot examine them. When someone develops an anonymous website, they are stealing the reputation of someone else, so of course they desire no one to know who they are. If you would not consider buying a TV from a man wearing a ski mask that is selling it from the back of his car, then why would you buy information from someone masking himself on the Internet? These issues were dealt with many years ago in television, radio, and newspapers. They each require everyone to identify themselves and where they are from, but Christians, unfortunately, are accepting looser standards on the Internet.
Instead of following the tendencies of our flesh to find pleasant the bread eaten in secret which is prepared by the foolish woman whose guests are in the depths of hell (Proverbs 9:18), we should follow Paul’s exhortation:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (Phil 4:8).
- by Dan Horn