Please humor me while I go off on a little rant. Since I’ve joined the ranks of Facebook and Twitter, not to mention the blog world, I’ve encountered a whole new breed of self-proclaimed experts that I call “Facebook prophets.” They nitpick, split theological hairs, harass, and try to sound smart without having the education or credibility to say anything true or meaningful. They show up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog comments around the world wide web.

A few years ago, when the lovely Janet Reno was the attorney general, she was asked, “What is a cultist?” Her answer*: “A cultist is one who has a strong belief in the Bible and the second coming of Christ; who frequently attends Bible studies; who has a high level of financial giving to a Christian cause; who homeschools for their children; who has accumulated survival foods and has strong belief in the Second Amendment; and who distrusts big government.”

Wow. I guess I’m in a cult.

In reality, the definition of a cult is “a religion regarded as unorthodox.” With that in mind, and the fact that we live in a society that preaches cultural relativism (the idea that there is no absolute truth, but “truth” is formed subjectively by cultures and individuals), we are surrounded by millions of one-man cults! And the Facebook-Twitter-Blog world has become their platform. The Facebook prophets have emerged out of such an arrogant society as ours, assuming themselves experts on all things spiritual because they have an opinion. They have nowhere else for anyone to listen to them, so to stroke their egos, they roam the internet as dark crusaders. Yes, indeed, Batman is alive and well, and Gotham is the world wide web.

Please understand, I’m all for a good discussion and think that’s healthy, but these clowns aren’t interested in discussions; just debates or even better, damning opinions they hope will humiliate their opponents. Makes me think of Proverbs 18:1: “The fool does not delight in understanding, but only in airing his own opinion.”

Here’s some typical traits of the Facebook prophets:

1. Biblically Illiterate
Don’t get me wrong. They may have read the Bible or heard someone talk about the Bible, but most of these people are not students of the Bible. They’re more interested in reading Brian McLaren or Rob Bell books, or analyzing the latest epiphany of a super-prophet than they are in taking the time and discipline required to break down a passage of Scripture and understand it. For that matter, to broaden the field, some Facebook prophets don’t even consider themselves Christians, but are antagonistic toward Christians. These are hostile to the Bible though, of course, they’re still experts on the Bible!

Ever notice that though study and training are required to be considered an expert in just about any other field, anyone and everyone is considered an expert on the Bible? Any opinion will do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “Oh I’ve read the Bible” as if that’s the end-all. So what! I read a book on quantum physics. Does that make me an expert?

If you’re going to have a conversation about the Bible, study it.

2. No accountability
They may or may not go to a local church, but one thing they don’t have is accountability. There is no one in their lives to correct their pea-brained conclusions, let alone their cocky attitudes. So you’re at their mercy. Get ready, because their opinion is coming hot and heavy. It’s time for you to listen, because they’ve got something to say. You’re wrong. They’re right. The sooner you see that, the sooner you’ll get to stop hearing them talk. Just tell them, “You’re smarter than me. I just didn’t realize it. Now that I do, I’ll never question you again. Furthermore, I’m going to buy stock in you. Because you are gold.”

Then all will be serene and the universe will be restored to order.

Dear Facebook prophet, it’s hard to listen to someone that doesn’t listen to anyone else.

3. Arrogant
They paint you old-fashioned, misguided, and stupid. They can’t understand how anyone could possibly think the way you do. They have no questions, just answers. No encouragement, just criticism.

4. They’re ugly.
I have no way of confirming this, but I’m pretty sure they’re all ugly. It’s hard to tell because after taking 914 pictures of themselves, they finally found one that by some miracle of photography doesn’t look like them. (Or they’ll just post a “celebrity-look-alike.”)

In the end, anyone who follows Jesus must be careful to get our doctrine from the Bible, not from the latest books or blog, not from how we happen to be feeling today, and not from Facebook prophets. Paul told Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

That’s good advice. Be a student of the Bible. Further, be accountable. Get involved in a community of believers that are studying and preaching the doctrines of the New Testament, and walk in transparency with them, as 1 John 1:7 encourages us: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

And when you encounter a Facebook prophet, just smile and say, “Someone warned me about you.” (And find out if they’re ugly.)

*Please note that this quote is disputed, and if Reno did say it at all, she certainly did not say it on 60 Minutes as reported.

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