What do I think of Elon Musk’s “Twitter takeover”? I got up this morning and spent time with some godly people I love, then came home and did some “urban farming” (if you can rightly call my amateurish level “urban farming”), and then I spent the rest of the day with my family. In other words, I think we need to keep this news in perspective: it matters, but let’s not overestimate how much it matters.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Elon bought Twitter. Censorship is fundamentally harmful to society, and the left’s near universal ideological monopoly over social media is very dangerous because it tears at the very fabric of our social unity. And this acquisition has the potential to make a real difference in these areas. But I also think we’re retracing the footsteps of history towards Civil War precisely because there are two opposite ideological factions competing for dominance. So while I think we need more open platforms, I also know that deeply spiritual problems can’t be resolved by market solutions (thus the Bible limits my libertarian leanings on this point). Elon Musk can’t solve our problems for us because our problems aren’t fundamentally market-based. Our problem isn’t that such open digital forums didn’t exist. If that were our problem, then innovative market solutions could solve them. But we already had those open digital forums. And then they closed. What happened? Our problems are much deeper than most people realize.
As people begin sorting into opposing ideological tribes – “left” vs “right” – we’re becoming more and more hostile towards one another. And, as people sort, each tribe seeks greater and greater dominance over the other. There becomes less and less “common ground” for people to meet on regardless of whether or not our forums are open. The brand of razors someone shaves with didn’t used to be a political statement! But our quest for dominance is militarizing the very fabric of society. And this is why Elon Musk’s Twitter-takeover won’t fix our problems, because market solutions can’t fix spiritual problems. In other words, Elon Musk can’t fix our hostility towards one another. We have to lay that down. But a lot of people are enslaved by the darkness of their hatred.
So I see all of this as illustrating the difference between the way of Christ and the way of the world: Jesus sacrificed himself to transform the world. At his sacrifice, his enemies celebrated because they thought they’d won, but from his sacrifice the largest and most powerful Kingdom the world has ever seen was established. Elon’s way used coercive economic forces to dominate his enemies. On hearing of his Twitter-takeover, those who are hostile to what he represents are momentarily in retreat, but they are outraged, they are energized, and they are entrenching themselves to prepare for their counter move.
Because Elon’s Twitter-takeover occurred in the context of a hostile ideological conflict (and not the neutral context of market innovation), it actually perpetuates the cycle of dominance and retaliation merely for the sake of small and temporary gains. By contrast, Jesus’ way seeks to transform the world by healing the wounds of his enemies and uniting fallen people under grace. His way entrusts justice into the hands of God, who alone is able to execute pure justice, and operates through love in grace, truth, and righteousness. For this reason, Jesus sees self-sacrifice as better than dominance; being wronged as better than wronging; and forgiveness as better than revenge. Victory in Jesus’ way is accomplished, not by subjugating or dominating one’s enemies, but by the inward renewal and transformation of one’s enemies through grace.
At this point I am misunderstood as saying that Elon Musk shouldn’t have purchased Twitter.
God has called Christians to advance his Kingdom on earth in the power of Christ, and so we live and work within the way of Christ. But Elon Musk is not a professing Christian. He is not part of God’s Kingdom (otherwise he would work as part of God’s Kingdom). Instead, Elon Musk is under the divine providence of God, who brings all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). So what we need to recognize is that because God enters our broken world to save us, he necessarily operates within our corrupt systems, though without himself acting corruptly. This doesn’t mean that God approves of our corrupt ways, or that he condones his people adopting the corrupt ways of the world themselves, but only that he is wise enough to call good out from the midst of evil.
God will bring some good out of Elon’s Twitter-takever, even though the context of the hostile ideological conflict in which this takeover occurs means that there will also be a lot of “bad” that comes from this takeover. There will be more freedom to share the gospel (good), but there will inevitably be resentful conservatives who will use their new found freedoms to express their hatred of the left, which will only justify the left’s perception that freedom is dangerous and further motivate them to enact censorial controls (bad). Some people might be persuaded by better ideas to change their views (good), while others will be persuaded by bad ideas (bad). Because coercive force has been used in this context, it simply perpetuates the cycle of dominance and retaliation.
As a Christian peacemaker I have resolved to forgo the use of force as a means of dealing with evil. And that includes coercive economic forces. So how does a Christian peacemaker like myself look at Elon Musk’s hostile Twitter takeover? I celebrate the good that I know will come from this without getting swept up in the euphoria of the right that thinks this will fix our problems. I don’t make the mistake of overestimating these kinds of victories that are won by worldly means. I understand that without “forgiveness”, there will be no “healing”; without “grace”, there will be no “transformation”; and without “love”, there will be no “unity”. And I recognize that because of the context in which this takeover occurred, ideological dominance over another platform will not fix our problems, it will only perpetuate the vicious downward cycle that we’re already in. We need healing, transformation, and unity. And these cannot be provided by hostile corporate takeovers.
So I continue living out my life in the grace of Christ. I celebrate the liberty we have in Christ that cannot be taken away by Big Tech, oppressive human governments, or any other force the world can muster. And, because Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, I will seek to utilize Twitter for the glory of Christ for as long as God’s providence allows the platform to be open to the proclamation of the gospel. And I will thank God that he worked this good out for us during these difficult times! But I won’t take up the same methods that Elon Musk used to solve the problems we face. I won’t participate in the world’s vicious cycle of dominance and retaliation where they take over our platforms, so we takeover theirs, and so on and so forth. I will love my neighbor because that’s who is within my reach. I will proclaim the good news of Christ as loudly as I can. I will be a peacemaker even if I am judged harshly for believing Jesus’ way, and not Musk’s, is right.
James 3:18 (CSB) – 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.