I don’t know if you sometimes feel like I do but sometimes I seem to become almost overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information that seems to appear before me, especially on the Internet. Should I look into this? Should I invest time and effort in checking this out?
Maybe “overwhelmed” is not the right word. I think the option of being “distracted” or “sidelined” is probably a better description of the choice that I infrequently face. My two primary ways in which I stay connected with God are via prayer and by studying God’s Word. They are vital. But I also like to be conversant with what is going on around me. I like to be relatively informed of circumstances and events that affects myself and my family. I think that I am not alone here and I would have a tendency to believe that wanting to be informed of what is happening around me, is not, in and of itself, necessarily a bad thing.
But there is a problem.
Mixed in with all of the factual information that is usually readily available, is a substantial amount of misinformation. Misinformation can be defined as false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive. And there is a super abundance of misinformation available today. It would seem that just about everyone wants to put their own spin on what they are reporting or talking about. I understand that, we all have our biases and whether we recognize it or not, the vast majority of what we produce in written or verbal format contains some of our bias. It’s actually almost impossible to escape that.
The level of acceptable bias for me, has to do with how factual evidence is represented. When factual evidence is deliberately misrepresented so as to convey something that the factual evidence does not clearly support, then it indicates for me, that someone is deliberately altering the factual evidence to support their bias. In other words, they are misrepresenting factual evidence to support their bias.
Finding a balance between acceptable bias and unacceptable bias is not always easy. In fact, it can be very difficult if not impossible if one does not have access to the actual evidential facts.
If I tell you that a blue car ran into the front of a store on a specific street at such and such a time but a video or cam recording shows that it was not a blue care but actually a grey truck, then what I have told you is not supported by the factual evidence, if in fact, that is a true recording of the event at that specific time and location.
If what I have reported to you previously in the past has proved to be consistently accurate, one would have a tendency to believe that what I have reported to you now is also accurate. Previous reported accuracy provides a certain level of current acceptable credibility. In other words, how I have reported something in the past should be a good indication of how I report things to you now. Anyone can make a mistake but what we are talking about here is a general rule of thumb. Credibility is earned by reporting accurate factual information.
The Need for Balanced Discernment
As ambassadors for Christ, we all have an intellectual obligation to weigh evidence, and, in the end, to think critically. As a Christian, if you propagate misinformation or information that lacks credibility, you are undermining your witness for Christ, undercutting your own case for the resurrection and giving people a reason not to listen to you. If you don’t think this matters, it does matter. As a Christian you are an ambassador for Christ.
I’m going to provide an example that I recently encountered. This video was recently posted on YouTube and reposted by numerous other Christians. It’s relatively short, just under 10 minutes.
There are numerous other videos on YouTube that have been posted by Marcus Rogers. Now seriously take the time to go through all of the documented detail that is provided on Marcus Rogers at this link:
Now, having gone through this documented detail (and it is well documented), would you say that Marcus Rogers is a trusted and reliable resource that you would unhesitantly recommend to other Christians? Please note that I am not questioning Mr. Rogers faith.
There are three rules that I recommend that you employ BEFORE you decide to republish or repost something:
- Be skeptical. Given all I have discussed above, you do have have valid reason to be. Exercising discernment for a Christian is not optional.
- Check and evaluate your sources. Is the source known for accuracy in the past? What is the personal history and background of the source? Has the source been credible in the past? If there are critical documented accusations that appear to be legitimate or raise elements of concern?
- Cross Reference. Examine what is being propagated or reposted with God’s Word. Literally anyone can say they have received a message from God.
There is an awful lot of Christian related misinformation available on the Internet. Impulse reposting is not recommended. Please take the time to consider what you are doing before you actually do it and please consider the consequences to your own credibility and your responsibility as an ambassador for Christ.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!