Monday, July 27, 2015


Do Guns Kill People or Do People Kill People?

Christian Platt argues in a piece entitled "Is the Internet Killing Christianity?" that the egalitarian nature of the internet is doing a way with the gatekeeping functions of institutions, specifically the church. And further, he argues that this is what God intended all along:
But Jesus has been calling us to such radical abandonment of the “gatekeeper” model of religion from the very beginning of Christianity.
Here I think Platt takes the Reformation idea of all men as priests and pushes it a bit too far. Indeed we do not need intermediaries between ourselves and God, but we desperately need leaders.

It should be obvious to anyone paying attention that there is probably more bad information on the internet than good. We all know people that have spouted information from the internet without any real understanding of the context in which the information is/was offered, or of the ramifications of that information. In other words they don't know what they know.

I would look at this from a slightly different angle. The internet could very well help the church focus on being what God intended it to be. The church is not a purveyor of information, it is a purveyor of wisdom and a developer of character. These things cannot be acquired solely by reading or watching a video - they require experience and a human touch. This view does not remove the gatekeeper function so much as it changes the basis on which the gate is opened and closed.

The key question is will the institutions be able to see and adapt to this reorientation? Platt thinks not, he seems to think institutions will be eliminated altogether. I disagree. I think some religious institutions will adapt and many will fail, but there will always be institutions. As the church organized and replaced the Jewish authority, as the protestant churches replaced, in some areas, the Catholic church, so new institutions will arise in the death of the current ones.

Gate keeping is a necessary function to virtually any human endeavor. The problem is not gate keeping, it is whether it is well done or not.


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