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A happy hunting ground for cranks and fanatics

2 June 2015

How did the Internet become a happy hunting ground for cranks and fanatics?

There is a saying that “bad money drives out good”, and the purveyors of crackpot theology are certainly better at marketing their ideas than those whose theology is Orthodox (even small o orthodox). They seem to be especially good at marketing on social media.

For example, I sometimes check this digest of articles mentioned on Twitter that have the #theology hashtag.

HWA3On any given day about 40-50% of the entries are from Herbert W. Armstrong and his offshoots — Plain Truth magazine, Ambassador College, and The World Tomorrow broadcasts, which claim to be today’s and tomorrow’s events as revealed in “Bible prophecy”.

The proportion is far higher than the the number of his actual followers would suggest, and what it means is that his ideas reach and take root in the minds of many people who are not actual followers.

Many people will have a good laugh at The Plain Truth, but they will often remember the ideas in it, perhaps because they had a good laugh.

Zacchaeus3But it is rare to find links to good Orthodox (or even orthodox) theology there. Why? Because people who write (or read) the good stuff often fail to post links to it on Twitter and similar social media sites, or if they do, they forget to add the #theology hashtag. There are good theological blogs like Glory to God for All Things, but they rarely appear in the #theology daily paper. In that case it is also more difficult because the blog posts don’t have a button making it easy to post links on Twitter, so one has to go to a bit of extra effort, but surely the effort is worth making? Just remember to add the hashtags #orthodox and #theology.

My field is missiology, but the daily digest of missiology tweets is often empty, because people forget to use the #missiology hashtag.

The result is that, even though there is a lot of good stuff out there, it is not as widely read as it could be, and the mediocre, crackpot or just plain bad theology gets far more exposure.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 12 June 2015 3:07 pm

    Maybe it’s possible folks who like to read missiology or theology just aren’t in to Twitter? i have a Twitter account… somewhere… I used once. FWIW, increasingly I wonder whether theology is what we do when we should be praying? The efforts of theology to distinguish and order – good as they are – can instead tempt us to add the disorder of division…. as if a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    Had to look up missiology… to not assume it meant simply “mission”. If wikipedia’s def (“the participation of the people of God in God’s action in the world”) is close, then I think I’m tending toward your end. For me, insight and connection come from the liturgy, the worship, and the prayers, icons, life and people of the Church…. and I’m finding the abstractions of much theology… less successful in getting me out of my head.

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