Deep, Fake Christianity
By: Dr. Dillon Burroughs | © 2019
Deep fake videos—edited video footage nearly impossible to detect—has led to Congressional hearing and much media hype. Yet Christians find themselves far less aware of the deep fake threats facing our faith.
A wide range of theological changes have taken place throughout American evangelicalism in recent years. Some of these shifts have taken place without our notice, leaving believers vulnerable to spiritual attack. The following four spiritual deep fakes are notable in our society.
Disinterest in the Local Church
More than previous generations, American evangelicals fail to see the importance of regular church attendance. Barna reports one in five born again American adults do not attend church regularly. Among those who do, attendance continues to dwindle, with many so-called regular attendees showing up only once per month.
While work, travel, sports, and other influences are contributing factors, the underlying issue has become a view of church involvement that is low on the list of weekly priorities. Yet Hebrews 10:25 notes believers are to continue meeting together, encouraging “all the more” as “the day” approaches, referring to Christ’s any-moment coming.
The Loneliness Epidemic
The average number of Instagram followers is 150, with many influencers reaching thousands or even millions of users. Yet a growing number of Americans lack one close friend.
An August article notes, “some 30 percent of American millennials say that they are ‘lonely.’ More than 20 percent report that they have no friends; a quarter claim to have no close ones.” Experts debate reasons for our loneliness epidemic, yet Christianity offers true community—if believers are willing to embrace it.
The earliest Christians met daily in homes and in public (Acts 2:46). Their strong friendships stood out in a culture of rules and regulations, leading to daily growth among the first generation of Christ followers.
Feeling Good over Doing Good
American self-help is no longer simply popular; it is now the norm. From YouTube to bookstores and bumper stickers, we are encouraged to do whatever makes us happy at the moment.
While happiness is generally a positive, Christianity teaches the importance of doing what is right despite how we feel. Whether we call it tough love or a focus on self-discipline, living out our faith is rarely easy. Living a biblical worldview requires a daily battle with temptation, putting others before ourselves, and seeking to live like Christ.
The Power Is Within You (or Is It?)
From motivational seminars to the latest Disney film, American folk wisdom continues to emphasize finding the power within ourselves. While the human spirit certainly holds much strength, Christ emphasizes, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Scripture repeatedly reveals the dangers of relying on our own strength. Samson’s great power failed without God, as did King Saul’s favor when he turned from the Lord. We can do all things through Christ’s strength, but are powerless without him.
Our deep fake concerns run far beyond social media. Within the church and in our own lives, we face deception that requires much discernment. Only with God’s insights from Scripture, prayer, and the help of a community of believers can we accurately spot and avoid the lies that work to turn our focus from Christ.
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Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.