I've always heard that I should beware of false prophets and bad doctrine, but how do I do this online?
The other day, I was taking a shower and listening to a clip from the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, and he said something about Christianity that literally made my jaw drop.
He said that some prominent researchers gathered data about the top 20 Christian Facebook pages of 2019.
Of those 20, 19 of them were run by foreign troll farms.
Now, a foreign troll farm is just an organization that’s located in another country (like Russia) that exists to spread “provocative content” online that “outrages, scares, and divides people.”
They do this by posting “plenty of standard inspirational content, building credibility for when they post content meant to divide Christians from their neighbors.”
The author of this report said that we’ve “given the largest voice in the Christian American community to a handful of bad actors, who, based on their media production practices, have never been to church.”
Here’s what this means…
19 of the top 20 Christian Facebook pages were run by people who aren’t even real believers and only want to spread crazy information to cause division among the church and the country.
They’ll post nice stuff about Jesus every now and then, but the bread and butter of their success is built on content that garners shares, comments, and engagements by arousing negative emotions.
The juicy content is usually something along the lines of “end-timey,” “prophetic,” “political-religious,” “pop culture,” and hot topics.
You never know who is behind the content you like and why they’re making posts…
This is intriguing to me because I did this type of research a few months ago.
I found that around the same time as this report, the majority of the top Christian YouTube channels were of this nature as well.
If you look at the best-selling books in the Christian category on Amazon, it’s usually end-time/prophetic, fiction/romance style books, or books on “how to have a better life.”
I’ve seen this on my own YouTube channel. The videos that usually get the most views are end-time styled.
But the ones about how to study the Word or improve your relationship with Jesus are kind of left in the dust…
I’ve even had encounters with people who indulge in these kinds of pages, and let me tell you, I question if they’re really even Christians.
I once made a simple comment on a certain Facebook page and was immediately swarmed with ridicule.
Someone even clearly lied about me, and when I called him out on it, everyone just put that little “haha” reaction on my comment.
They’ve gotten so caught up in this conspiracy theory, end-time, news-related, “juicy-Jesus” stuff that they ignore everything else about the faith…
… including love, common courtesy, and the fact that we shouldn’t bear false witness.
So, here’s the point I’m making about all this.
Christians need to become better researchers.
Research why you believe what you believe. Study the Word with fierceness. Examine these concepts.
The author of the Facebook page report also said that “Christian pastors have congregations in their pews” and “Facebook is in their pocket all day long, shaping their theology for its own ends.”
Therefore, you should also take time to explore the background of the people you’re listening to.
The Bible says to “test all things.” (1 Thess. 5:21) The old King James says to “prove all things.”
The apostle Paul taught in a city called Berea. The Bible says that these Jews were more noble than the ones in Thessalonica.
Why? Because Paul told them something, and then they went and searched the scriptures to see if it was true.
They didn’t just immediately reject it or keep their noses only in the content they liked.
Acts 17:11 ESV
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
The Greek word for “examining” also means to “discern” and “question.”
Let’s be like the noble Bereans and research the scriptures to see if these things are so.
You’re already a rock star when it comes to the Word. Now, I’d like to offer my assistance in helping us all get back to the simplicity of the real message of the Bible.
1 Timothy 1:3-7 ESV
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
1 Timothy 4:6-8 ESV
6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Titus 1:10-14 ESV
10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.