The failure of a Wikipedia spirituality

by Barry Newton

Recently in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Timothy Messer-Kruse recounted his efforts to change some faulty information in Wikipedia. After numerous failed attempts, an anonymous editor finally admitted to him:

“Wikipedia is not ‘truth,’ Wikipedia is ‘verifiability’ of reliable sources. Hence, if most secondary sources which are taken as reliable happen to repeat a flawed account or description of something, Wikipedia will echo that.”

While knowing what the consensus opinion is on a particular subject could have functional sociological value at times, when it comes to spiritual matters Jesus denounced seeking refuge within a majority viewpoint merely because it is generally accepted.

“The gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it” (Matthew 7:13, NET).

Sobering words indeed.

Jesus’ words are easy to memorize, but not so easy to practice. Popular perspectives possess a powerful pull. Questions like, “Could so many people really be wrong on this point” can ricochet in our minds. Simply because of an idea’s prevalence, we can be enticed to embrace something as true.

Consider for example how our ears, culturally-conditioned as they are to value inclusion and tolerance, might cringe beneath Jesus’ next major pronouncement:

“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

So, if the herd does not provide security, where would Jesus point us?

Jesus counseled us to obey the will of the Father (Matthew 7:21). God’s laws provide windows into God. Jesus concluded his teaching by announcing that those who would obey his advice would gain a life that will endure, not collapse (Matthew 7:24,25).

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