Social media has become greatly destructive to the mission of the church. In our engagement with each other, there no longer remains a standard for objective truth or conduct among neighbors, and gone is a recognition that there is an authority outside of one’s own sovereign determinations. Social media has now added to the lawlessness of our times by providing a platform for everyone to write whatever is right in their own minds. In this way, the church is constantly undermined as the pillar and ground of the truth.
What is desperately needed today is a return to the basics of God’s ecclesiastical authority structure. Woke theology has made great efforts to cancel church ecclesiology. We need a robust re-education on the church as institution and what that means for our present challenges.
Of first importance in recovering our ecclesiology, is a reintroduction to the doctrine of the keys of the kingdom. The keys of Christ’s kingdom are not given to individuals outside of his church to determine the truth of a matter. No personal social media platform functions as a church assembly for someone with a grievance to become judge and jury over their own cause.
One’s electronic friends are not ordained elders, one’s writings are not of confessional status, one’s Twitter is not an authoritative pulpit, and one’s Facebook should not replace corporate worship as an alternate “service” of our own praise.
The keys of the kingdom are given to the church as represented by those whom God has called to shepherd his flock. Through the ministry of the church, God opens the kingdom of heaven through the preaching of the gospel to those who repent and believe the gospel, and he shuts the kingdom, through church discipline, to those who live in unrepentant sin.
Consider Heidelberg Catechism, Question and Answer 84,
Q. How does preaching the holy gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?
A. According to the command of Christ, The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to all believers, each and every one, that, as often as they accept the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of Christ’s merit, truly forgives all their sins.
The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the wrath of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.1
1 Matt. 16:19; John 3:31-36; 20:21-23
Much of social media behavior today functions to undermine the design and authority of Christ’s church in the opening and closing of the kingdom according to these keys. And many of our problems come because the church has not been faithful to exercise the key that shuts the kingdom of heaven against those who stand against the truth.
The church today, more than ever, needs to boldly fulfill the call to preach the gospel and exercise discipline to preserve the integrity of Christ’s Great Commission. And people today need to again fear that Christ stands on the side of his church, for where two are three are gathered in his name to exercise these keys, there he will be standing with them to support that decision.