"'The thing about quotes on the Internet is that you cannot confirm their validity' — Abraham Lincoln." This is one of my favorite examples of Internet "truth."
Here are some others: Eddie Murphy, Nicolas Cage, Adam Sandler, and Mickey Rourke are a few of the celebrities who have "died" in Internet hoaxes this year. Last year, Bill Cosby "died" for the fifth time. This week it was not the death of a celebrity, but the death of a celebrity's faith, that made headlines.
An Internet site named "joelostenministries.com" (note "osten" rather than "Osteen") was created with a message from "Joel Osten" that he has "been questioning the faith, Christianity and whether Jesus Christ is really my, or anyone's 'savior.' I believe now that the Bible is a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times. There is zero evidence that the Bible is the holy word of God. In fact, there is zero evidence 'God' even exists."
The prankster behind the hoax says he "spent $12 and a few hours to produce this whole thing," which included a fake YouTube video, a bogus Twitter account, and replicated news sites like CNN, Yahoo, and the Christian News Network with headlines such as "Pastor of mega church resigns, rejects Christ."
Osteen responded: "You know, I'm not really angry. I don't feel like a victim. I feel too blessed, that life is too short to let things like this get you down." He told a Houston news station, "We saw it as being comical because it's so ludicrous but sometimes things like that can catch on."
T.S. Eliot spoke even more of our age than his own: "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" What does the prevalence of Internet "wisdom" say about our culture?
I recently heard Henry Kissinger speak to the World Affairs Council in Dallas. This observation was especially brilliant: Before mobile technology, we had to remember important facts, which required that we understand them. Now we can access them any time we wish, so that we no longer need to remember them and thus do not understand them. As a result, we have more information than ever, but less wisdom.
What's the solution? The man who was "wiser than any other man" (1 Kings 4:31) knew: "The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor" (Proverbs 15:33). Jesus, the One who is the very "wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24), testified: "The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing" (John 5:19). Here's the equation: Humility + submission = wisdom.
Why do you need the wisdom of God today?
Jim Denison, Ph.D., is a subject matter expert on cultural and contemporary issues. He founded the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a nonsectarian "think tank" designed to engage contemporary issues with biblical truth in 2009 and is the author of seven books, including Radical Islam: What You Need to Know. For more information on the Denison Forum, visit www.denisonforum.org. To connect with Dr. Denison in social media, visit www.twitter.com/jimdenison or www.facebook.com/denisonforum.
Publication date: April 10, 2013