● Matt 28:19-20 . . Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . .teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
I've participated on a pretty good number of internet forums, so I can testify from plenty of personal experience that online Christian forums, on the whole, do not share our sense of mission, nor our obligation to either Christ's, nor his church's best interests. Though their statements of faith may say otherwise, don't be taken in by them. On the whole, the administrators and moderators of online forums are far more interested in protecting their ivory towers than in the quality, or the value of your contributions to the spiritual lives of forum members and visitors. To put it succinctly: they are far more concerned about serving their own interests than the Lord's. Their own interests are primary, and his interests, if they matter at all; are only incidental; ergo: their loyalty is to their forums rather than loyalty to Christ so don't expect any sympathy from them for his mandate.
For example; here's the actual word-for-word résumé of a forum manager that I encountered online:
"I have led over 800 non-believer's to salvation through the cross of Christ. I have been active in many ministries over a period of many years including evangelism, missionary work, prayer warfare, deliverance, healing, teaching, preaching, youth outreaches and community services. I have also been a Sunday school and Bible-in-schools teacher."
Wouldn't you think that somebody with a glistering résumé like that would be the ideal choice to moderate a Christian forum? Well; you'd think so but that moderator terminated one of my topics on their forum because it contained too much information and not enough discussion. Ironically the topic was located in an area of their forum supposedly dedicated to Bible study and discipleship. In their mind's eye, Bible study and discipleship should be confined to bull sessions rather than teaching sessions; but the Lord's mandate is specifically a mandate to teach: not go around the room seeking opinions as to what a certain passage of scripture might be saying. That only leads to confusion and uncertainty.
The subject of the terminated topic was Christianity's Commandments; which to me seems a perfect fulfillment of the Lord's mandate to go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. (Matt 28:18-20). You'd think that Christian forums would appreciate the world-wide outreach of their forums and take full advantage of their venues to fulfill the Lord's mandate; but no, they don't, in spite of his wishes to make the most of every opportunity. (Col 4:5)
Here in the USA we value our freedom to openly criticize the management practices of Municipal, State, and Federal governments; but you won't be allowed to openly criticize the management practices of forum moderators and administrators. They typically shield themselves from open criticism by making it a violation of the rules of conduct to do so; quite similar to the iron rule of dictators and despots running countries like Zimbabwe and North Korea. In other words; don't expect your human rights to be honored on internet forums; not even on ones identifying themselves as Christian.
Some forums enforce their own proprietary "hate speech" rules. In other words; even if you were to quote a passage word for word right out of the Bible that condemns gays and lesbians, you will likely get in trouble for hate speech.
On other forums; it is a violation to say anything negative about Jews; which makes it very difficult at times to discuss sections of both the Old and the New Testament where Jews are portrayed in a bad light.
Another protected species is women. It's okay on most forums to denigrate men; but not okay to denigrate women. Such comments are called "abuse to women". Exactly why it's okay to abuse men on those forums I don't know but it's an obvious double standard and clearly reveals that some forum administrators have a problem with gender bias.
I actually had a forum owner/administrator tell me that their forum was a gift from God; but let me tell you, they did not manage it in accordance with God's best interests; but only their own. Tragically they just couldn't see that the internet is a world-wide mission field; and the forum that God supposedly gave them might just be given to them not as a toy or a video game, or a home-base for meaningless chat and bee-ess sophistry, but as a venue for heralding valuable heaven-sent information; and especially for taking the Lord's mandate to the world.
Especially problematic are moderators so entrenched on a forum that they become territorial; and that's when they begin regarding any and all interpretations contrary to their own as invasive species; and begin applying the terms of service in such a way as to eradicate rival interpretations in order to make their ivory towers safe little havens for their own opinions.
I've even been banned from forums under the pretense that my posts were "unacceptable theology" which is just a sophisticated way for bigots to say that the only true version of Christianity is their own. So don't be surprised when they kill your posts for no other reason then your comments weren't composed in their own choice of words. And also don't be surprised when they accuse you of twisting scripture; or even attesting that you don't know the Bible well enough to be on their forum. The possibility that it is they who are twisting scripture, or they who do not know the Bible well enough to be managing a forum never enters their mind. If I had to choose just four words to characterize the average forum administrator and/or moderator, the words would be ego, despotism, bigotry, and intolerance.
Needless to say; forum managers and administrators do not like it when people stand up to them. They much prefer that forum members be intimidated into submission by warnings, and by threats of infractions, suspension, and banishment. That's just the nature of bullies so don't let them push you around. If you end up getting kicked off a forum at least go down fighting and depart with dignity. Don't let them cow you like a whipped cur. On your way out, let them know what you honestly think of their management practices.
Something else you're going to find is that a number of the moderators you'll encounter are not very bright. In point to fact, I'd have to say that many of them have an IQ substantially lower than Forrest Gump's. That can be very frustrating because you won't be dealing with a rational, reasonable person when you lock horns with one of those kinds of moderators. I have actually been accused by a few of them of plagiarizing when copying and pasting material from my own web site. When I try to explain that I am the author, owner, and composer of everything on my site they refuse to back down but resolutely press charges against me for using material without citing its source. And that's another thing. Justice is pretty much on the level of lynch mobs and kangaroo courts on internet forums, so don't expect to be treated fairly by their management.
Forums can be a lot of fun, and a good place to test your Bible knowledge, your discipleship abilities, and your witnessing skills; but be forewarned: a growing number of internet forums are virtually 100% enemy-held territory and we're not just talking about atheists and cultists; but about visitors, members, participants, and forum administrators and moderators passing themselves off as Christ's followers who really don't follow him at all; to the contrary, they are off-reservation doing as they please, indifferent as to how the Lord might feel about anything. On the whole, online forums are not conducive to the freedom of expression that Christ's people so desperately need in order to represent him faithfully and effectively.
Many will readily consent to the truthfulness of Christ's and his Father's statements; but in reality; put no stock in them whatsoever. They're typically liberal in their theology, and therefore easily manipulated by you know who, and you will soon find yourself receiving complaints, warnings, deletions, infractions, suspensions, and banishment because moderated forums especially, are heavily censored, and their rules of conduct are often applied arbitrarily and subjectively rather than objectively and by the book; therefore you need to expect going in that Christian forums— even the ones based in the USA —do not hold themselves accountable to the principles underlying the US Constitution nor the Declaration Of Independence; nor even basic human rights in general; particularly the right to public dissent, and the right to speak your mind without fear of reprisal. No, they're quite comfortable abusing human rights and will cite the forum's proprietary rules of conduct to justify their decidedly un-American management practices. And no surprise there. When the guards at Dachau and Auschwitz were asked how they could be so cruel to prisoners; they replied: "We were only doing what we were ordered to do by superiors; and we broke none of Germany's laws in the performance of our duties."
The Land Of Confusion
● Eph 1:15-18 . . I do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
The eyes of one's heart are different than the eyes of one's mind. What we're looking at in that passage isn't mentality; but rather: intuition; which Webster's defines as the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference. I'm not talking about Gnosticism here. I'm talking about knowing what the Bible means without it having to be explicit.
For example: in the 45th chapter of Genesis; Joseph broke down sobbing during the reunion with his wicked brothers. Genesis makes no attempt to explain Joseph's feelings because you're supposed to know things like that without someone having to try and explain them to you. That's intuition; viz: people discussing Christianity on internet forums sans the special intuition spoken of in Eph 1:15-18, are like blind men in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there; resulting in endless debates and perpetual bull sessions about heaven and hell, and salvation and eternal life that never get to the bottom of anything.
So you'll you know, there are just as many, if not more, professing Christians opposing Christ on internet Christian forums as unbelievers; so you'll have your work cut out for you. They are especially offended by preachy posts that suggest they are somehow a lesser Christian than you. And if perchance you are confident in the reality of absolute justice and the Bible's hell; be prepared to be cruelly mocked and labeled an unloving hate monger and a crack pot.
Internet Christian forums are very much like the church of Laodicea in Rev 3:14-20. The Laodicean church had all the trappings of a Christian church; except for one salient feature: the Christ of Christianity wasn't a member. It was literally a christless church. The Lord is depicted outside the building banging on the door trying to get somebody's attention to let him in. Not a single member of that church followed him, not one; no, not even the pastor.
According to Col 2:1-2 and Col 4:13-16; the Laodicean Christians were at one time fundamental in the faith. But between the time of Paul's writing his letter to the Colossians, and John writing the 3rd chapter of Revelation, the church meeting in Nymphas' home somehow went off-reservation. It was still Christian in name, yes; but it no longer followed The Lord.
My guess is the Laodicean church became infested with ecumenicals; so much so that they eventually voted the fundamental Pastor out, and subsequently, by the time of The Lord's critique in Rev 3:14-20, the entire congregation was ecumenical— the Pastor and his staff were ecumenical, the pulpit was ecumenical, the Sunday school classes were staffed with ecumenical teachers, and the whole congregation— men, women, and children: lock, stock, barrel —were ecumenical to a man.
All four of the soils about which Christ spoke in Matt 13:3-8 are active on Christian forums, plus a substantial number of tares, so expect to be frustrated, humiliated, and resolutely rejected and opposed online by people passing themselves off as Christ's followers.
Wolves in sheep's clothing all seem to share a common spirit: a passion for rivalry, a passion for control, and a resentment of preachy posts that suggest to them that they are somehow a lesser Christian than you. They simply will not tolerate it when you refuse to cave to their incessant (and what they truly believe to be Biblical) opposition. If your position is strong, and makes it clear in no uncertain terms; that you are confident their own system of beliefs is plastic and contrary to God's wishes; then they will grow to hate you enough to slay you just as viciously as Cain slew his kid brother Abel, and as spitefully as Herodias had John's head brought to her on a platter.
These kinds of professing Christians tirelessly bleat that God is love, love, love; but under that white-washed facade, they are malicious, spiteful, intolerant, thin-skinned, defensive, territorial, possessive, domineering, judgmental, emotional, reactive, petty, vindictive, unforgiving, unkind, ugly, and resentful. Far too many Christians on forums, professing themselves to be Christ's followers, have fragile egos and nary a clue anymore what it means to turn the other cheek.
Something you must never do is follow their lead and become a complainer and/or a Gestapo tattle tail with the intent of getting your opponent's posts deleted and/or infractions credited to their account. Here in America we cherish the freedom of speech and deeply resent any, and all, efforts to abridge and/or suppress it. When any agency, either public or private, infringes on the freedom to speak your mind without fear of reprisal, and/or dictates the content of your statements, they are usurping control over other people's lives and tampering with their human rights. Do not follow their example.
Christ's people are called to endure name-calling, slander, insults, unfair treatment, and hurt feelings in their quest to represent him; so roll with the punches; don't reciprocate, always keeping in view the accomplishment of a higher purpose.
● 2Tim 2:3 . . Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
● 1Pet 2:19-23 . . For God is pleased with you when, for the sake of your conscience, you patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing right and are patient beneath the blows, God is pleased with you. This suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps. He never sinned, and he never deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When he suffered, he did not threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
Ideally, you should be on world-wide venues not to chat, gossip, and make new friends; but rather, to faithfully represent the one you serve.
● John 3:30 . . He must increase, but I must decrease.
● 1Pet 4:1 . . If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God
● Matt 28:19-20 . . Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . .teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
Just about every forum I've visited has an ugly little cadre of territorial bullies typically composed of long-standing members who just hate it when newbies come along and do things that don't meet their approval; and are perfect examples of the passage below :
● Matt 11:16-17 . .To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others : We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.
You need to stand up to those bullies and put them on notice that you are not about to dance to their selfish little tune. But be advised those bullies know how to work the system and protect their precious turf from invasive species. Like a modern Gestapo; they busy themselves not only harassing you, but also putting bugs in the administrator's ears, complaining about the subject matter of your posts, and about your "abusive" attitude, the "confrontational" nature of your responses, the etiquette of your conduct, and your choice of words with the intent to either thwart your mission and/or get you banned from their pet forum and restore it to the safe little christless haven it was for their own opinions before you came along to crash their world and expose them for the cheap goods that they really are.
A Law Unto Themselves
Since the world-wide web is essentially free from regulation by Federal law and the US Constitution, then forum managers are at liberty to be as despotic and tyrannical in their attitudes and their management practices as they wish without fear of legal repercussions. It's sort of like the advantages that US manufacturers enjoy when setting up operations in foreign lands where there are fewer environmental laws, labor protections, and safety regulations, and less interference from governmental oversight to effect their profit margins.
Flaming rules, for example, forbid saying anything that might upset somebody. Allegations of flaming are quite hollow unless one's accusers can establish intent of malice. Just because somebody got upset by your comments doesn't eo ipso make you guilty of flaming no matter how much forum managers insist you are. Infractions for flaming are a common injustice on forums where moderators don't have to appear in court before a judge and make their case.
Bashing is another arbitrary accusation you'll no doubt encounter. On some "Christian" forums, it is considered bashing to post negative information about gays and lesbians and/or Roman Catholicism no matter even if the information is 100% true and already information previously released and/or made available to the public. Bashing rules are really nothing more than sophisticated excuses for suppressing certain kinds of information such as the on-going pedophilia crisis in the Roman Catholic Church.
● Rom 1:18 . . The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
You may be tempted to tone down your message and compromise your principles in hopes of avoiding the wrath of forum managers in order to prolong your stay on a favorite Christian forum; but don't. Compromise is never a good thing for The Lord's people. It is far better that you stick to your principles and stand up to forum managers; and if necessary write them an official resignation explaining why you cannot, in all good conscience, remain on a forum labeled "Christian" whose administrative policies favor the wishes of an anti-christ instead of the real Christ.
Terms Of Service (TOS)
An unjust law, is no law at all. — Ste Augustine
When registering to post messages with internet Christian forums, you will be required to agree to the site's proprietary rules regulating conduct; which instantly puts you in a moral dilemma. In order to represent Christ faithfully and effectively, you are going to have to push the limits and risk breaking some of those rules. This is just the nature of missionary work; so when forum managers and moderators lay a guilt trip on you for alleged violations of the TOS that you agreed to abide by when you registered, don't let it get to you. The Lord's people were breaking the world's rules many centuries before you came along, and in order to remain in His good graces, you are going to have to break some of the world's rules too because it is better to obey God than man.
● Matt 22:35-38 . . One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.
● Josh 24:15 . . And if it seem evil unto you to serve Yhvh, choose you this day whom ye will serve . . but as for me and my house, we will serve Yhvh.
● Acts 4:19-20 . .Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.
● Acts 5:29 . . Peter and the apostles answered and said: We must obey God rather than men.
● Gal 1:10 . . Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
● Php 1:27-28 . .Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being intimidated in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be spared— and that by God.
The midwives of Yhvh's people broke the rules (Ex 1:15-21). Rahab broke the rules (Josh 2:1-21). And to say that Christ broke the rules would be a gross understatement. He was perpetually at odds with religious authorities.
● John 16:1-4 . . I have told you these things so that you won't fall away. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who slay you will think they are doing God a service. This is because they have never known the Father or me. Yes, I'm telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember I warned you.
In any case, you have virtually nothing to fear from the proprietary TOS of Christian forums. They have no more jurisdiction in the real world than the rules tacked on the door of a kid's tree house. In reality, Christian forums are little more than adult versions of a little boy's tree house: just man-made ivory towers. When tower czars start picking on you, don't take it personal; just welcome it as an indication that you've been effective, and that it's time to move on to another venue— be thankful to God that it's over; and don't ever go back; no, not even out of curiosity.
● Luke 10:8-12 . . But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say: "Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near." I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
Take comfort in knowing your day is coming. When christless forum managers stand before God, you will quite possibly be summoned to appear as a witness in the prosecution's case against them when they're brought to justice before Almighty God for all the feelings they've hurt and the reputations they've ruined while reigning as gods in their ivory towers.
● Rom 12:19 . . Beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written; "The Lord testifies: Vengeance is mine, I will repay."
● 2Ths 1:4-9 . . We ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer: seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
Note: the title of moderator and/or administrator doesn't make somebody right; it just makes them domineering, cruel, despotic, biased, intolerant, disagreeable, confrontational, and judgmental. It has always fascinated me how forum administrators and moderators can be so critical while actually believing themselves somehow immune to scrutiny. But no, they are getting away with nothing.
● Matt 7:2-5 . . For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother "Let me take the speck out of your eye" when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
There's a storm coming, and I couldn't be happier for the ivory-tower caste. Oh how I look forward to watching that ilk squirm when the Lord holds their feet to the fire and makes them answer for the mental cruelty that their imperious attitudes and personal attacks have inflicted on the feelings of innocent people, and the reputations they have ruined
● Matt 12:36-37 . . But I say to you that for every thoughtless word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be innocent, and by your words you will be condemned.
If you remain on internet forums long enough, it will be only a matter of time before someone, either a forum member or an administrator, says something like this to you: We are happy to have to you here, but please keep in mind that this is a discussion forum, not a platform for preaching. Most of us here are already believers. Perhaps you could share on an atheist internet forum.
That attitude is what I've labeled the "preaching to the choir" syndrome. What those people really mean is Sunday school classes and pastors' sermons are beneath their dignity. However, though Sunday school classes and pastors' sermons are an acquired taste for the lost; Sunday school classes and sermons aren't repulsive to the Lord's sheep; but rather, those classes and sermons are their rice bowl.
● 1Pet 2:2-3 . . Crave pure spiritual milk, so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries for milk, now that you have had a taste of the Lord's goodness.
● Eph 4:11-14 . . He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ. Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth.
● Rom 12:16c . . Don't be wise in your own conceit.
A conceited personality is bigoted and un-trainable. It truly believes nobody beneath its dignity could possibly have anything to tell that it doesn't already know, and if it doesn't already know, then that's because the information those beneath its dignity have isn't worth knowing.
Conceited folk are generally very picky about their influences too; in other words, even if somebody is a Spirit-gifted Bible teacher, but are neither published, accredited, or properly educated, then forget it. That Spirit-gifted somebody is eo ipso undeserving of conceit's intellectual attention right out of the box.
Conceited people are not only stuck on themselves; but they're very critical of others too. I've seen it to happen time and again that when a Spirit-gifted Bible teacher comes across with a personality like Elijah's or John the Baptist's that conceit summarily brushes them off as "unloving" no matter even if they speak as the very voice of God. In other words; conceit doesn't really want to be taught; no, conceit craves be accommodated.
● Prv 9:8-9 . . Reprove not a scoffer, lest he hate thee: Reprove a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
If perchance you, as a born-again Christian, are serious about the great commissions of Matt 28:18-20, and Mark 16:15-16, and looking around for an outreach— I can recommend internet forums for that purpose. In my experience, Christian forums are so infested with such a disproportionate number of unbelievers and artificial Christians as to be a virtual world-wide mission field. However; make no mistake about it; internet Christian forums are enemy-held, and if you manage to represent Christ faithfully and effectively, you will not come away unscathed.
Above all, don't get attached to a particular forum. One of the cardinal rules of investing is to avoid falling in love with a stock because the day may come when wisdom insists that you dump it. Holding on to a dog isn't financially smart; nor is clinging to a forum that suppresses information to the point where you become ineffective for Christ. When moderators and administrators begin to threaten you and/or thwart your activity by deleting posts containing useful information for no other reason than that they simply don't agree with your interpretation and/or your choice of words, or because of some personal bias of theirs, or because of what you have to say makes them angry, or for whatever superficial excuse they might dream up; then it's time to move on because remaining affiliated with such a forum will, in the long run, not only prove both frustrating and humiliating, but also detrimental to your spiritual health. Like they say in poker: "you gotta know when to hold 'em; and you gotta know when to fold 'em"
So: when one forum thwarts your missionary efforts; take the Lord's mandate elsewhere.
†. Matt 28:18-20 . . All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations: teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.