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This election, can we tame our digital tongues?


Every time I open Facebook or Instagram, my stomach immediately flips, and I feel sick. 

Why? Because it’s an election year, and many of my friends use these platforms to argue for their chosen political leaders and against anyone who thinks differently. 

And Christians are no different. Sadly, many tear down opponents with quick keyboard strokes on Saturday night and lift those same hands in worship on Sunday morning. 

Daniel Darling. “A Way With Words: Using Our Online Conversations For Good.” B&H Publishing Group, 2020. 211 pages.

Daniel Darling. “A Way With Words: Using Our Online Conversations For Good.” B&H Publishing Group, 2020. 211 pages.

Daniel Darling’s A Way With Words: Using Our Online Conversations For Goodchallenges readers to look at their online activity. Are we using social media to bring people together or drive them away?

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” Darling writes, citing Proverbs 18:21. “And, we might say today, the power of the thumb.”

How quickly we use those thumbs to share our every thought. 

“Social media often brings out our inner Pharisee,” Darling says. “Every day, it seems, we are at our digital temples crying loudly, for everyone to hear, that we are so very unlike those other people.” 

Those other people, he writes, are our digital neighbors, and we should love them as we love ourselves. 

Darling explains that loving others means being unwilling “to believe and assume the worst about people,” having a “deep humility” and avoiding “an arrogant spirit and a posture that we are always right and everyone else is always wrong.” 

We should approach a public dispute carefully and ask ourselves: Am I the person to speak to this?

“The truth is that we don’t have to correct every stray tweet,” he adds. “We don’t have to ‘but actually’ our aunt’s well-meaning but slightly unclear Facebook post. … We can actually sit out a few controversies and the world will be just fine.” 

I generally avoid all political or controversial talk on social media because, as a preacher’s wife, I realize I’m under a microscope. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t get asked my opinion on sensitive topics in personal conversations.

Church leaders should “set an example for the believers in speech,” Darling writes, citing 1 Timothy 4:12. This was a humbling refresher on how I should speak on hot topics. 

“You can’t be an internet troll and a Christian leader.”

“You don’t simply speak for yourself,” he writes. “ You bring people with you, giving them permission to speak in the same way as you do.”

Darling asks: Are we, as leaders, unnecessarily bringing division with our online activity? Or are we fostering unity? I would argue that while church leaders should be held to a higher standard, all Christians should set an example and tame their digital tongues. 

Titus 1:7-9 shows us that we shouldn’t be overbearing, quick-tempered or violent. Rather, we should be self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. In other words, Darling writes, “You can’t be an internet troll and a Christian leader.”

I am so sad when I log on to social media, hoping to spend a few blissful moments checking on loved ones, and instead have to wade through Christian friends’ posts of ugly comments or misleading “news.” If we can’t exercise self- control, maybe it’s time to log off.

“It’s easy to mistake cathartic rage-posting online for the real work of activism,” Darling writes. “Sometimes the best form of activism is silence and communion with God. Sometimes it’s good to admit we don’t know enough about an issue to comment publicly.”

“We are called to bear gospel witness in a confused age, but we need the wisdom that comes from sitting at the feet of God.”

You are not weak if you do not tweet or post about an issue. This does not mean you are complicit to the injustice, Darling writes. There is a time to act and a time to admit our powerlessness and access a “power far greater than our words and platforms and policies,” he adds. 

“We are called to bear gospel witness in a confused age, but we need the wisdom that comes from sitting at the feet of God.” 

How can we make the internet a better place? There is a temptation to delete our accounts and avoid it all. I know I contemplate this idea at least once a day. But instead, Darling writes, we should rebel against the darkness and be the internet we want to see. 

To do this, let’s take a page from the book’s chapter titled “Act Justly, Love Mercy, Post Humbly.” Let’s be “slow to tweet, quick to listen, quick to get the whole story.” 

All 200 pages of this quick read are full of Scriptures and would be a great resource for a sermon series or small-group study. 

Justin Giboney, Michael Wear and Chris Butler. “Compassion (&) Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement.” InterVarsity Press, 2020. 160 pages.

Justin Giboney, Michael Wear and Chris Butler. “Compassion (&) Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement.” InterVarsity Press, 2020. 160 pages.

As the election approaches, here are some additional titles on politics and a Christian response:

Compassion (&) Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement.”

“American Christians are faced with a political conundrum: Our true citizenship is in the kingdom of God, but, inevitably, we also are citizens of an earthly nation,” said Brandon Monroe, a member of the A&M Church of Christ in College Station, Texas. “No system of man can ever perfectly share all the values of Christ.”

How do we participate in the political realm while remaining faithful to our true calling? The book helps provide a way forward, Monroe said. “Rooted in Scripture, these authors present a balanced approach to help Christians on any range of the political spectrum find an appropriate voice.” 

Lee Camp. “Scandalous Witness: A Little Political Manifesto for Christians.” Eerdmans, 2020. 192 pages.

Lee Camp. “Scandalous Witness: A Little Political Manifesto for Christians.” Eerdmans, 2020. 192 pages.

Scandalous Witness: A Little Political Manifesto for Christians.”

Camp, professor of theology and ethics at Lipscomb University, writes that Christianity in America has been made into a bad public joke because of our failure to rightly understand what Christianity is. 

Zach McCartney, who studied under Camp, said that the professor’s ideas are not for the faint of heart. 

“Through keen historical and biblical analysis, Camp skillfully builds a case that Christianity cannot be progressive or conservative because it is a politic in and of itself,” said McCartney, college minister for the Hillcrest Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. 

While he doesn’t agree with all of Camp’s answers, McCartney said he is certain that the author is asking the right questions, making this book a must-read. 

Eugene Cho. “Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian’s Guide to Engaging Politics.” David C. Cook, 2020. 274 pages.

Eugene Cho. “Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian’s Guide to Engaging Politics.” David C. Cook, 2020. 274 pages.

Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian’s Guide to Engaging Politics.”

“Christians should never profess blind loyalty to a party. Any party,” the book’s description reads. “But they should engage with politics, because politics inform policies, which impact people.”

The author encourages readers to remember that hope arrived not in a politician, system or great nation but in the person of Jesus Christ.

David Koyzis. “Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies” (second edition). IVP Academics, 2019. 330 pages.

David Koyzis. “Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies” (second edition). IVP Academics, 2019. 330 pages.

Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies (second edition). 

“Koyzis’ main thesis is that human ideologies are, in reality, idols,” said Micheal Felker, minister for the Lakeside Church of Christ in Mansfield, Texas. “He argues that every ideology takes a part of God’s good creation and elevates its importance to that of an ultimate thing. This is what sets this edition apart from other books on politics from a Christian perspective. 

“The post-script essay … cautions church leaders and members to discern whether or not current and urgent political issues constitute an ecclesiastical issue that needs to be addressed inside the church,” Felker said. “This is a must-read for anyone in leadership who wants to be informed on the many political and philosophical ideologies present in our churches and how to point people toward gospel solutions rather than political fixes.”

Scott Sauls. “A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them.” Thomas Nelson, 2020. 224 pages.

Scott Sauls. “A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them.” Thomas Nelson, 2020. 224 pages.

Scott Sauls.A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them.” Thomas Nelson, 2020. 224 pages.

“In a defensive and divided era, how can followers of Jesus reveal a better way of living, one that loves others as God loves us?” the book’s summary asks. “How can Christians be the kind of people who are known, as Proverbs puts it, to ‘turn away wrath?’” 

This book shows Christians how to become “people of a ‘gentle answer’ in a politically, relationally and culturally fractured world.” 

LAURA AKINS is Reviews Editor for The Christian Chronicle. Contact [email protected]istianchronicle.org. 

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Filed under: A Gentle Answer: Our Secret Weapon in an age of us against them A Way With Words: Using Our Online Conversations For Good book review Compassion & Conviction: The AND Campaign's Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies Post humbly Review Reviews Scandalous Witness: A Little Political Manifesto for Christians Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian's Guide to Engaging Politics Top Stories

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