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  • Writer's pictureJ. Basil Dannebohm

Be still and know: A keyboard crusade will not save the Church

"The one who supposedly fights to save the Church has a demon within, and I tell you this responsibly. That is why you see, in their anxiety to cleanse the Church, they lead people outside [push people away from] the Church. Essentially, they do exactly what the devil does, even if they think that they are performing God-pleasing work. They become an instrument of the devil.

The Church will not be saved by us; rather, we will be saved by the Church."

-- Archbishop Makarios of Australia (Greek Orthodox)

J. Basil Dannebohm

Lately there seems to be an influx of podcasters and social media influencers presenting themselves as crusaders fighting a holy war to save their respective denominations from “the enemy within.”

Such delusion isn't entirely unheard of in the history of Christendom. Lest we forget that pride caused the most beautiful of all the angels to fall from Heaven. Even Judas Iscariot thought he was "saving" the disciples by his betrayal of Christ. Like Judas, crusaders-nouveau embrace a sort of religious nationalism.

Instead of introducing people to Jesus, Christians too often introduce people to:

their political agendas

their theological opinions

their ethnocentric worldviews

their biases, bigotry, ignorance, and hate

their nationalism

their racism, fears, and pride

their partisan rhetoric

their spiritual practices

their specific type of baptism

their required form of communion

their preferred style of sermon

their favorite church

their particular denomination

their sanctioned theologians, pastors, authors, and influencers

their brand of Christendom

their "right" way of doing worship

their "correct" interpretation of the Bible

their "God-ordained" laws, rules, and regulations

Imagine if Christians introduced people to the person of Christ instead of promoting their religious systems and ideas.

Keyboard crusaders, extremist influencers, and their followers foolishly believe that their agenda is the exclusive cure to the world's latest woes. Moreover, they contest that the answers to society's problems cannot possibly be found within their respective church in its present state because it is, according to them, "infiltrated." This fearful, albeit conceited notion inevitably leads to a severely deranged sense of pride that, once inflamed, is nearly impossible to overcome. It's a cancer that festers and infects the soul.

Ignatius Brianchaninov once cautioned, "The time will come when a certain sickness will spread among men. When they see someone who does not suffer from this illness, they will rise against him, saying, ‘You are the sickest, because you are not like us.’ This individual will have to be very careful of thoughts of false humility which will be set before him by the demons and people who are the weapons of the demons."

The beauty of Christianity is that since it's of God, it doesn't need anybody to "purify it." Is it not the Church, through the Holy Spirit, that purifies Christians through baptism? Then who are we to believe we are capable of, in essence, "baptizing" the Church to suit our agenda, or "exorcising" it from that which doesn't suit our selfish agenda?

Indeed, the One who created the universe and all that is within it is perfectly capable of protecting His Church. He doesn't need our help. This is why in her wisdom, the Church refers to His Son as the Good Shepherd and the Divine Physician. In the words of Augustine, "The truth is like a lion; you don't have to defend it."

Radical influencers and keyboard crusaders put forth a convincing facade of piety and knowledge. However, out of a fierce narcissistic hunger to feed their ego, they haven't been quiet or disconnected long enough to authentically experience the truth with their hearts. Rather, they busy themselves more with the likes, shares, and follows of the online masses. This is why they insist on waging war against that which is steadfast, good, and beautiful.

Recall the words of Isaac the Syrian who said, "Someone who has actually tasted the truth is not contentious for truth. Someone who is considered by people to be zealous for truth has not yet learnt what truth is really like; once he has truly learnt it, he will cease from zealousness on its behalf."

The Word has no need for likes, follows, subscribes, or shares, much less online crusades. God's Truth is heard through the heart, not the ears. You'll hear Him in the silence of prayer, not through the noise of "influencers." Once you intimately and authentically experience His Truth, you'll have no need for radical influencers or keyboard crusaders. Then and only then does the Church become a place of peace.

Be still, therefore, and know that a keyboard crusade will not save the Church.


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