I’m always astounded at how supposedly rational people use the internet to insult and ridicule each other. Among the subjects that get people riled, the middle east war and alleged anti-semitic or anti-arab statements. Some of the talk pages of Wikipedia are a real cauldron of controversy and counter-accusations (Try for example Talk: Middle East ).
I’ve recently subscribed to WingClips which offers licensed clips from major movies for use in worship (or anywhere else I guess). They are promoting a new film called EXPELLED: No Intelligent Design. Ben Stein fronts a documentary “exposing” the American Scientific establishment’s alleged persecution of anyone who doesn’t believe in Darwinian evolution. Needless to say, the whole premise is highly controversial and debate highly charged.
One example of the ludicrous arguments that ensues involves the expulsion of an American evolutionary blogger from a private screening in Minnesota, whilst Richard Dawkins (who signed in with his other name of Clinton) was allowed in. The EXPELLED website has several so-called news articles on this non-event. Richard Dawkins responds in his usual manner, ridiculing the film, its writers and producers and its audience.
From interviews I have read and seen with Dawkins, including an appearance on a live discussion show, I have come to expect this attitude of superiority. But his tabloid style of writing does not sit well with his academic reputation.
On the other hand, EXPELLED’s producers have done themselves a disservice in trying to score points against their archenemy. They in turn give the appearance of sensationalism which undermines their intellectual credibility. The whole episode smacks a little of two dark coloured kitchen utensils hurling insults across the cooking range.
In the early days of The Salvation Army, William Booth warned that we must not condemn another’s religion, but seek to win him by teaching and demonstrating the truth of the gospel. Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle, a worldwide evangelist and teacher on the doctrine of holiness, faced a number of situations where new teachings were diverting Salvationists from their straightforward focus on salvation and sanctification. In May 1907, he was asked to address a congregation in Bergen on the issue of a “New Theology” that was spreading. Reluctant to be sidetracked, he presented what he described as “a simple presentation of the truth that would win men to Christ and reconcile them to God.” (Sanctified Sanity, p33). The result of his campaign was 116 souls, which he would surely not have won by intellectual argument the merits of his case.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:44-45) As Christians, we must see to it that we do not fall into the trap of ridiculing those who don’t agree with us, no matter how foolish or dangerous their views may seem.