The Echo Chamber

“Echo chamber” is a term widely used in today’s lexicon, that describes a situation where certain ideas, beliefs or data points are reinforced through repetition of a closed system that does not allow for the free movement of alternative or competing ideas or concepts. (Source Techopedia)

“And the LORD said to me, ‘… I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth and he shall speak to them all that I command him.’ ” Deuteronomy 18:18 ESV

According to the definition above, the Lord’s plan for the Israelites included an echo chamber that repeated his word to the exclusion of all pagan ideas. God’s decision to grant us free-will prevented a closed system, and so concepts at odds with the Divine word gradually took over. (To the carnal or fleshly mind, man’s ideas are always more appealing than God’s decrees. See Genesis 3:6.)

In the past, scribes copying the sacred text dreaded making even the smallest error–and with good reason (cf. Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 22:18-19). Scribes had reverential awe for God, trembling at his word. Rarely duplicated in our times is the level of respect shown by men like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Huss and others that values the Bible more than life itself.

Years ago, a favorite party game was “Telephone.” It began with a written message read then whispered to the first in a long line of participants. In turn, each repeated what they thought they heard in the ear of the next person. What the last one heard was shared out loud. Usually it was so nonsensical it was funny. “Telephone” demonstrated what can happen when a story is often repeated (echoed) without anyone examining it for accuracy. Repetition tends to create belief. Altering the original by repeating without source-checking is common in politics, in the culture and, sadly, in the church.

(Readers may mistake my objective criticism of the church as hostility. Not so. I love the church. Jesus said harsh words of judgment to five of the churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Did Christ love his church? Need I say more?)

Downstream from the church, in culture and politics, social networks are being used as echo chambers to repeat or retweet an event or perception of an event to millions. In Ben Rhodes’ reflections on the 2014 U.S./Iran Nuclear Deal and how it was sold to the American people, the aspiring novelist and former U.S. presidential advisor admitted creating an “echo chamber“. Noticing certain journalists wanted to curry favor with the Obama White House, Rhodes began to feed them material (creative “news briefs”), then he monitored what happened. His anonymously sourced material appeared in the reporting of a select group who echoed Rhodes’ message as though they were the sycophant’s inside story. Across the nation others picked it up and repeated it thus supporting a deal with Iran. Details “impossible to sell to the American people” were never divulged.

Ideally the church has also looked to create an echo chamber by constantly repeating the parts of Scripture favoring their view. At the same time, the free movement of competing Biblical concepts are prevented. (For example, churches that support abortion and gay rights focus on Scripture declaring God’s love. Believers on the other side of their debate are so-called “haters.” They also reject the Old Testament and ignore Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (1:26-27) and other letters).

Picking and choosing favorite Scriptures while ignoring the conflicts is usually the norm. Add to this many generations of repetition in a closed system called a sect, “ism” or denomination and we see a dramatic departure from God’s Word and disunity in the Church.

Next, to bring to light the modern church’s closed echo chamber system, we will look in Luke’s Gospel at an account we never hear explained from the pulpit. The reason why will become obvious.

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