Several centuries before Christ, ancient Athens was a powerful city-state and culural center of high learning. It was the cradle of western civilization and birthplace of democracy. But by the time Paul visited as recorded in Acts 17, it had degenerated into an ancient version of modern-day television and social media.
Margot Cleveland correctly observes here that Mark Zuckerberg is clueless about church if he thinks Facebook can replicate it. Amen to her thesis that Facebook reflects a diseased society that has failed to share its faith with the next generation, and has succumbed instead to moralistic therapeutic deism.
Although launched in 2004, “Pastor” Mark Zuckerberg only recently Christianized his online community by comparing Facebook to a church:
A church doesn’t just come together. It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter…People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity – not just because they’re religious, but because they’re part of a community.
..... It would seem only natural, then, that Zuckerberg would view Facebook as the church incarnate. What better way to satisfy humans’ supposed central goal in life—“to be happy and to feel good about oneself”—than by sharing pictures and posts of joyful occasions? Or, as is more likely the case, by posting perfectly posed pictures of themselves, their vacations, and their food?
Or consider this excerpt from “Soul Searching”: “Many teenagers know abundant details about the lives of favorite musicians and television stars or about what it takes to get into a good college, but most are not very clear on who Moses and Jesus were.” What better church to join than the one that allows you to connect with the latest artists and celebrities, and learn more minutiae about their glamorous lives?
She links to an essay by a Roman Catholic theologian here entitled "Sorry, Mark Zuckerberg, but Facebook can never be a substitute for the Church."
Facebook cannot begin to be a substitute for the Church. Christianity is an incarnational faith: the Word becomes flesh. It is that fleshy encounter with the word, the importance of the physical in our faith, that draws us together ....... This simply can’t be done electronically: we have to be present as a body to receive the body. It is this regular coming together as a “cult” from which springs the culture. Not the other way around.
Mark Bauerlein waxes wisely on First Things here in his essay entitled "Facebook As Church".
There in miniature is the liberal dream: communities held together by no other glue than the interests and needs of their members, plus strong leadership. God plays no necessary role in the process, though nothing in Zuckerberg’s description rules him out. We can find our “sense of purpose” in one another. We don’t make strong demands upon ourselves and our brothers and sisters (and we certainly need not allow God and his deputies to tell us how to live), but we do give comfort and succor and belonging to each other.
A little more than a century ago, this draw-down of God went under Humanism. It had its negative expression, most powerfully in Nietzsche, but usually it took a positive form, the elevation of Man.
As I chronicled earlier here, Facebook is a fantasy world that fosters narcissism and deception .....
While promising unlimited joy, social media actually excels at multiplying narcissism, deception, division, and confusion—at warp speed. Substituting electronic communication for face-to face relationships, it allows users to avoid the hard knocks of reality while hiding behind a screen of electrons. Back in 2007, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias discussed the ramifications of social media on the culture and warned that social media could be the Tower of Babel for our age. Reflecting on Facebook, he said,
"Where destruction is the motive, unity is dangerous. Where goodness is the motive, unity is phenomenal.”
...... one researcher concludes, "it may be time to redefine narcissism, as it may have become the social norm for young people."
..... Social media puts users at the center of their universe and many naively begin to believe that the world revolves around them. Social media is also a stalker's dream, providing a dangerous and false sense of anonymity. Everything is public; privacy is an illusion. Worse yet, everything lives on indefinitely in the electronic ether of the web, like a zombie refusing to die.
Many young people immaturely post things that will haunt them the rest of their lives.
Worse yet, as I wrote earlier here, Facebook is an ideal tool for a coming world dicatator ....
Facebook is enormously popular among a populace who may be outraged by the data capturing and spying revealed by Edward Snowden, but - in fact - are gullibly sharing the most personal and intimate details of their lives. What kind of data are Facebook users handing over to a public company with investors, shareholders and government ties? Daylan Pierce is the Digital Experience Manager at APD; he enlightens us as to just how much personal data Facebook collects on its users ..... Daylan downloaded all of the data Facebook collected on him and received a zipped file that was 42 megabytes in size - roughly equivalent to well over a foot of books on a shelf, or one encyclopedia volume. And that is the amount of data collected by Facebook on just one person.
Those that subcribe to social media (Facebook, Instragram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) are much better off unplugging and engaging with the real world. When all is said and done, social media is nothing more than the modern incarnation of the Athenian Areopagus and an illusion perfectly suited for a culture that has jettisoned truth and is living in a fantasy of its own making.