There’s lot of talk about there being an Evangelical Dark Web. This is supposedly the “Christian” version of the Intellectual Dark Web, which comprises of secular thought leaders like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, The Weinstein brothers, Sam Harris and several others. They all come from different backgrounds, have different political ideologies and disagree on most issues. Their unifying factor, however, is that they believe freedom of speech and want to engage in open and honest conversation about their differences.
What the IDW does that’s different than virtually anyone else is that they embrace the discussions. They are ok with disagreement. They enjoy the intellectual exercise of talking though philosophical differences of opinion. They’ll engage honestly with those that they disagree with. Podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience, The Rubin Report and Ben Shapiro’s Sunday Special all exemplify exactly that: Just talk to people.
When I launched my podcast, Conversations with Jeff, this was my inspiration. I thoroughly enjoy Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan, especially, because they are curious, will talk to anybody and they enjoy the intellectual exercise of talking things out in a long-form conversation. You can look through my guest list for CWJ, and you’ll see a wide range of people who I’ve had on. I’m a Cessationist Calvinist, theologically. However, I’ve hardly had any Calvinists on my show… Steve Camp is the only one that comes to mind. I’ve had on Brannon Howse and Andy Woods who are both strongly opposed to Calvinism. I’ve had on charismatics like Dr Michael Brown, Stephen Black and Ken Peters. I’ve even had on a non-Christian like Trevor Loudon. I enjoy the process of just talking to people. This is what the IDW is all about.
Earlier this year, I began talking to a small group of people about launching our own version of the IDW, even naming it the Evangelical Dark Web. Some feelers were put out, and then all of a sudden a big polemics blog started running with the terminology. Which is fine by me… I care more about fixing things than getting credit for anything or any form of self-promotion.
However, what ended up happening is that the EDW turned out to be nothing like the IDW. The group that identifies as the EDW are just a bunch of people who agree with each other. There’s no engaging in differing opinions. There’s no open dialogue. It’s literally a bunch of anti-SJWs who’ve hijacked the name Evangelical Dark Web and redefined it into something that bears NO resemblance of the Intellectual Dark Web. Sure, there may be some differing theology, but that's ignored and not dealt with. They don't want to talk about they disagreements, they only want to talk about what they agree on.
You see, these guys aren’t engaging with those they disagree with. They’re only talking trash about people with differing opinions… and sometimes they’re just talking trash about people they don’t consider to be in their little group, even if they agree on virtually everything! Sounds more like a clique to me.
Let me share some anecdotal evidence for you.
First, take a look at the EDW's podcasts. Who are they talking to? People that agree with them on virtually everything. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a podcast with any of these guys that engages in a non-hostile way with anyone they disagree with.
Second, when I had Dr Michael Brown on CWJ, I strongly opposed his charismatic beliefs throughout the entire podcast. However, it wasn’t hostile and we engaged with each other’s arguments. I then got a text message from a guy who runs one of the supposed EDW podcast networks that said, “Your support of Dr Brown is the death of any claim of discernment on your platform.” I never said that I support him. I only had him on my podcast, and we spent an hour of the show going back and forth on our disagreements! THAT is the DEFINITION of the EDW/IDW mentality. Engage with each other’s arguments! The simple fact of discussion does not mean endorsement. However, this is the problem with those that claim to be a part of the EDW. They don’t want to engage with those they disagree with. They’ve turned the EDW into something that’s the complete opposite of what it’s supposed to be.
And third, I’ve invited so many people on my show Conversations with Jeff. The funny thing is, the majority of the men that would be considered a part of the EDW (or in that theological tribe) have turned me down or sometimes even put unrealistic conditions on them coming on my show.
Here’s a few examples of some of the responses I’ve received from these supposed EDWers:
“As long as you are friends with *******, Jeff, I cannot come onto your program.”
“Being on your broadcast would be contingent upon you taking down those negative articles you have about me.“
After publicly criticizing me for not having anyone from his "camp" on my podcast that I've publicly disagreed with, I invited this next person on my show. He responded with:
“So no, I cannot possibly, in good conscience betray those good men by participating in a debate/discussion/podcast hosted by a person whose sole reputation is of a trollish controversialist known entirely for sowing discord among brethren and blasting fire upon their Gospel efforts.”
And the examples go on and on. This is not how things are supposed to be in a supposed EDW.
So here’s the deal, there is no such thing as the Evangelical Dark Web. People can claim to be a part of it, but it’s non-existent. The supposed EDW is nothing more than a theological tribe that continually preaches to the choir and doesn’t allow their positions to be critiqued. They don’t welcome disagreement, they avoid it all cost… unless it’s them disagreeing with someone else.
So where do we go from here? Let’s create an ACTUAL Evangelical Dark Web. One which engages with each other, even if we disagree. Understand that talking to someone does not equate an endorsement. Be honest. Stop playing these behind the scenes games of manipulation. Be a part of the conversation, instead of just yelling at each other from a crowd of a like-minded individuals.
So let me take the lead on this one… My podcast Conversations with Jeff is open to anyone who is a part of the greater conversation in evangelicalism. Whether we agree or disagree, I’d be happy to have you on. Whether we are friends or on different teams, I’d be happy to engage with your positions. And on the flip side, if you’d like to have me on your podcast, I’d be happy to come on and discuss anything you’d like. You can ask me whatever you want. This is how the EDW is supposed to go. So I can only hold myself to that standard. I hope the rest of you follow suit.
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