Associated Press writer Hillary Rhodes filed an interesting piece about how pastors are turning to the Internet to answer theology questions. One of the pastors she spoke with was Mark Driscoll of Seattle's Mars Hill Church:
Driscoll is part of a new breed of Christians who are putting themselves up to the task of tackling hard questions online from doubters, skeptics and churchgoers, on YouTube and at destinations such as idoubtgod.com.
Church loyalty might be wavering - as concluded in a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life - but there is still vibrant public dialogue about big existential questions on the Internet. Driscoll's videos cover a variety of topics, from the philosophical ("Can God judge me?") to the controversial ("Is aborting a pregnancy from rape wrong?") to the downright uncomfortable.
"If God does actually exist, how would we know that he is a good God and not a demon or a 'clock-maker?' " posted one contributor to idoubtgod.com, hosted by Next Level Church, in Charlotte, N.C.
I actually think the story idea is great. So much religion news is happening on the Web and yet there is relatively little coverage of same. But I have a couple of complaints. What in the world is uncomfortable about that last question? It seems like a question I might have asked my parents in elementary school.
And the Pew Forum gauged denominational loyalty, sure, but why position that against "vibrant public dialogue" about big questions? If anything, all the denominational switching might indicate an engaged public and a very vibrant dialogue.
Pastor Todd Hahn of Next Level Church is also in the story. Someone asks him why bad things happen:
His answer? That unlike other religions, the Christian god has himself experienced human pain, but from that pain came the greatest good (resurrection). So maybe there's a meaning in our earthly suffering as well, Hahn says.
Why is "god" not capitalized here? I found the lowercase completely unnecessary. Was there a stylebook change?
I never knew how good I had it as a pastor's kid when it came to theological discussions. In my home, theology was the topic du jour. When I moved thousands of miles away, I began spending quite a bit of time on the Internet to answer the questions I might have normally asked my parents. I found a wealth of information, including a ton of pastors who put out on online shingle for people like me.
I mention this to point out that this story struck me as too narrow. It didn't put the three online theology forums in context of the larger world. The three emergent/evangelical groups profiled were good sources, but so are thousands of other groups and pastors from all across the theological spectrum.
Image via stopchurchsigns.com