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Most groups of Christian faiths consider their beliefs and associated ethics are above anything the world can understand. Nevertheless they will condescend from their lofty and glorious faith and submit to rules of conduct created by essentially heathens as far as they know.

For example, to some extent the pagan rules might discourage a high level of preachiness or other appearances of rude intolerance, if it is a platform serving as a kind of public square where all ideas are allowed expression. There may be a presumption of equality in them, for the sake of making such a "public square" feasible, even though most participants don't see any equality in their faith with other faiths at all. To some extent the American Constitution is a historical example of establishing similar guidelines of legal behavior, allowing religious views with extremely opposing faiths to co-express a common religious freedom of speech.

Inside the closed doors of each church, a level of an appearance of intolerance and preachiness is arguably an essential part of their actual belief system. This means presenting the faith in a different way actually misrepresents it to some degree. After all, how could someone present what they believe to be the "very words of God", without at some point thinking that an "authoritative declaration" is the most appropriate means of communicating?

So we have a potential dilemma.

What is the biblical basis of submitting to the rules of a pagan platform when depositing within the answers the Word of God, where the answer is essentially recorded as a mere opinion that can be voted up/down by pagans as well as Christians?

Note: I am a contributor to such a platform and I do think there is a biblical basis for doing so. My question is: what is the basis. I have not on my own thought of an answer, so far I just assumed that there is one, but find the question personally interesting to raise.

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    Jesus visited the temple, which had considerably corrupted (witness Pharisees, Saducees, Doctors of the Law and Herodians, none of which are authorised under the OT ; never mind there being two High Priests) and Jesus conversed and taught there. Jesus treated it as a legitimate forum of discussion.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 20 at 14:56
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    1 Cor 9:19-22 "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." Commented May 20 at 17:04
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    @MarkVestal - you could basically just post that as a full answer.
    – Mike
    Commented May 20 at 23:09
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    I agree with Mike that @MarkVestal has answered the question in comment and needs only to transpose the comment to an answer.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 21 at 13:49
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    @NigelJ Let it be so... Commented May 21 at 14:08

2 Answers 2

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1 Corinthians 9:19-22

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

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    You might consider adding this aspect to your answer too. 1 Peter 2:13–15 says: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men". This basically means "Conduct your life and deliver your message within the local rules, so that ad hominem arguments cannot be used against you". Commented May 21 at 18:49
  • @RayButterworth Good point! I believe Paul confirms that in Romans 13 also. Commented May 21 at 18:58
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Very simply, when speaking among potential believers in the world ("world" = the arena where the Kingdom of God is not obvious, which includes portions of the Internet), we believers follow the example of Paul (who in turn followed Jesus) in proclaiming the gospel so that it can at least rationally makes sense using whatever framework that the audience has already found persuasive (i.e. their original worldview, whether it's heathen, pagan, other religion, other spirituality, or atheistic).

The Biblical basis is Acts 17:16-34.

An example 2024 sermon on this passage is God's Promises for Changing Times by Domenic Ruso who cited the book Leaving Christianity: Changing Allegiances in Canada since 1945 which describes the new Canadian cultural landscape filled with people who are ready to hear the gospel message afresh because they are so thoroughly secularized compared with previous generation that they don't even accept the Bible as the Word of God and see Christianity as "foreign religion" (just like the Athenians), although they are not necessarily hostile (since they are attracted to some form of spirituality). He then exhorted church people to avoid staying in church (to avoid the discomfort that change brings) but to trust that God will provide us all the wisdom for us to go out and meet the uncomfortable challenges to explain Christianity afresh in this new and unfamiliar secular milieu so we can answer new arguments against Christianity (i.e. new to previous generation, but not exactly new since the Church has dealt with them before such as new forms of Stoicism, Gnosticism, and Epicureanism), trusting that the same God who led and inspired Paul to engage the magistrates of Athens will equip us although leaving us with no guarantee whether they will accept the message or not. Domenic reminded us that some of them are actually our own children and grandchildren !

In the sermon Domenic also mentioned how Paul was politely following the rules set by those magistrates but could STILL translate the gospel message until they understand it enough without being preachy or authoritarian. Domenic suggested that although we can easily spot today's idols in the marketplace, we should dialogue and reason with them instead of pushing for repentance right away. I would think we can do the same in various Internet platforms even though sometimes we have to restrict ourselves even in the content, even though in our heart of hearts we know that they do need to repent. Outside the church we should start like Paul in Athens, and only when we manage to invite them to church, we can speak gently to them about the benefits of repentance and of dedicating our lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

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  • To downvoter: I just want to clarify that my answer does not exclude the possibility of speaking out in a preachy mode in the Internet (i.e. revival preacher style who doesn't self-censor or self-restrict). This is voluntary restriction done in Tim Keller's "winsome" style to reach out to more people in the spaces to avoid offending unnecessarily. Imagine China today where a lot more censorship is going on there with serious ramification (i.e. prison) which can happen to those who violate their rules. Evangelists there have to tread a fine line so they can still reach the populace. Commented May 21 at 17:47
  • I changed what seemed to be a typo, to make it read 'our'. Speaking in the public market-place or debating forum is what Paul and others did, absolutely. The Internet provides the best global opportunity for Christians to deal with questions of faith that there has ever been. But the Bible says to avoid foolish and ignorant questions that only engender strife, and to always speak graciously; difficult, on some Internet sites when hostile antagonism is shown! Christians should not be hostile or aggressive when speaking or writing, seeking to always point to Christ. +1
    – Anne
    Commented May 22 at 13:11
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    @Anne Thank you, Anne. I agree with you, that some people in the Internet just want to fight for the fun of it, not to learn the truths. Or are incurably cynics. But others (like those youngsters leaving the church) are not like that, they still search for the truth, but don't like the current formulations of Christianity. This answer caters for the latter, not the former. Sometimes after dialoging and reasoning we realize that it's better to move on. In the Internet that means simply moving to another platform / forum / blog. In both cases, Christ should be center, absolutely. Commented May 22 at 13:31

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