Yesterday, I joked about jumping back into the charismatic/cessationist debate that fueled the Godblogosphere discussion during the last quarter of 2005. Now Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs, mere hours after I posted my comments on Acts 2, is going to prove ONCE AND FOR ALL that the gifts have ceased. Four days into the new year and here we go again.
All I want to say in response is that my white flag is up—I quit.
No, Cerulean Sanctum isn’t going away. But to be honest here, I really feel like we’re wasting our time blogging if this is the best we can do with this fantastic medium for bringing together great Christian minds. If the sum total of Godblogging is to see who’s right and who’s wrong then we might as well pack it in.
This is not to say that on any given Christian doctrinal topic that some post on some blog somewhere at some time won’t cause someone to change his/her mind. But more often than not, the camps just circle their wagons and pump a figurative QWERTY volley into the other camp. The end product is that everyone gets off a few stingers at someone else’s expense, and like Civil War re-enactors, after a day we pick up our weapons and trudge off the battlefield to go back to being mechanics, photographers, real estate agents, middle managers, and hairdressers.
And what gets accomplished? A whole lot o’ nothin’.
The Godblogosphere trend in 2005 that I most hated to see—and did not witness in previous years—was the increased cutting down of other Christian bloggers, denominations, movements, and so on. How this advances the cause of Christ is beyond me, though. It doesn’t feed the poor, clothe the naked, or visit the prisoner. I’m almost positive it doesn’t do all that well in making disciples, either. In short, all it creates is a black hole of wasted talents, wisdom, and time.
Some get it, though. The genius behind eBay, for instance, is that it brings together little bands of people in search of what other little bands of people have to sell. Hummel figurines from 1948? Got that. The cigarette lighter from a Mercedes Gullwing? Check. Every day, eBay leverages the power of individuals to make dreams happen for other individuals. It’s the epitome of what the Internet can do.
So is blogging, my friends. When properly leveraged, blogging can bring together small bands of Christians to make amazing things happen. It can truly be an answer to prayer. Think of what a dozen likeminded bloggers can accomplish! It staggers the imagination.
What staggers me right now is how we’re squandering this opportunity on squabbling.
A few days ago, I wrote about Bruce Wilkinson’s implosion in Swaziland. I came right out and asked Wilkinson’s critics what any of them had done to meet the oppressive need of the AIDS orphans in that blighted nation. I had to ask myself that question, too. Such a great need and yet here we are at each other’s throats. My how that must honor the Lord!
Blogging represents a remarkable opportunity to be Jesus to people. Why are we dragging it into a black hole and tossing in all that Christ has blessed us with?
My call to Phil and anyone else out there who blogs or reads blogs is this: Let’s stop one-upping each other so we can prove who’s right and who’s wrong. Instead, why not make 2006 the year that we Godbloggers united in the name of Jesus to make a difference in our neighborhoods, cities, states, countries and eventually the world?
Surely there are people all around us who have deep needs that we can fill if we can mobilize each other and our readers to reach out with an open hand in the name of Jesus. Isn’t that a more God-honoring use of what Christ purchased for us than to ball that hand in a fist and shake it at each other?
Folks, is there anything we can do as a group to annihilate the Godblogosphere’s black hole? I mentioned the failure of Wilkinson’s Dream for Africa project. What can we bloggers and readers do to pick up that slack? Can we pool our collective minds and prayers to help all those kids in Africa? Or is it going to be the same old “I’m right and you’re wrong” crap today, tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that until the Lord returns in wonder at how wasteful we all were with what He gave us.
I’m not arguing doctrine anymore. I’m out. Instead, I’m looking for others who want to make a difference for Christ in the lives of the hurting and the lost.
Good grief! We are so blowing golden opportunities! We can make a difference in the lives of real people beyond filling their heads with more knowledge they won’t use. (I know my own head is full, but I’m not so sure about my heart.) We can meet the needs of brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling with practical burdens in their lives. We can introduce the lost to Christ (I doubt they’re reading our blogs) by working together to use our connectedness to connect them to Jesus.
Any single moms and dads out there who need someone to watch your kids so you can have a date or just some time to yourself? Are there any elderly people who have housework they just can’t do because they can’t find anyone with a few hours and a strong back to do it? Anyone with a special needs child who is looking for a friend for that child? Any prisoners who need someone to send you hard-to-get Christian materials? How can we Christian bloggers serve you?
As for us bloggers, we could start by putting together a Google map that places each of us and our respective churches on the map. From there we could start directing people to places they can get the help they need. If someone needs a Christ-honoring church, we could direct them to a blogger. That blogger could then pair up with him/her/them at the blogger’s church and start making a difference to real people. This is just one way that we bloggers could meet a pressing need. Millions more exist. Now, when do we start brainstorming ways in which we can reach out? (Any Google Map guru want to take a shot at this or tell me how it can be done? I’m ready to go!)
To every Christian blogger and to every reader of our blogs, let’s utilize this medium to make a difference for Christ in 2006 rather than dishonoring Him by tossing the opportunities He gave us into the black hole of our own petty bickering. It’s amazing what happens when we put down the big guns and start ministering together. Maybe some of our differences won’t seem all that great in the end.
Now who wants to join me?
63 thoughts on “The Godblogosphere’s Black Hole”
I understand your grief, and even share in it to some degree.
But,I do not think that striving or agonizing as the Scriptures put it for unity to be an unworthwhile goal, nor does pursuing the truth mean that we neglect evangelism or helping the needy as your post seems to imply.
I think there are too many flaming swords in the blogosphere for us to return to the garden of Edelen, Dan.
Thanks for stopping by, Lee.
Every day I am seeing needs going unmet in the lives of people around me, needs that we Christians can fulfill in the name of Christ. Worst of all, I am seeing that some people are no longer asking for help because they know they will not receive it. Like Pavlov’s other dog—the one who was shocked in its cage at the sound of the bell—those people, many of whom are in supposedly good churches, have learned helplessness. They cower in the corner and don’t say anything, but on the inside they are screaming. Christians who are too busy with their own lives have helped create that helplessness.
I can’t sit idly by anymore and pretend that everyone can handle their own problems without help. I’m seeing hundreds of needs going unmet. If the Christianity we have in America today is only going to reinforce the idea that each one needs to pull himself up by his own bootstraps, then I’ll tell you right now that the Christians in this country are dangerously in love with a hellish idea.
I’m not sure I understand your comment.
Great post. I agree, we need to stop debating and start doing something.
Good thoughts Dan.
Matt 7:20 could read… did we not win our theologocal debate in your name?. We can easily strain the gnats of theological exactitude while we swallow camels. To pursue justice and mercy are far more reflective of whether we have a Biblical understanding of theology.
Dan, well said, and I agree with you on many levels. I have no clue what it looks like, but like you, I have seen what it doesn’t look like.
I participate in some of the aforementioned conversations in order to learn and re-think my own views in light of the opposing views, but I quickly get weary of the lack of good, honest dialogue and its poor replacement: mudslinging.
So, I’m with you at least on the general idea. As to the practical ideas to which you allude, I’m not sure I have a clue how that would work or how that looks, but I’ll definitely be praying with you about this!
This is just another of those foolish controversies that are guaranteed to produce strife. I do like your off-the-cuff idea of a google map, and if it ever does come to fruition, I’m in. Another point of contention is how it is that churches try to grow. Couldn’t something like this make an impact for the kingdom? And we’d be using our resources in a way that God demands!
I spoke of this in my final post of last year… And I agree — I think there is something to be said for good, spirited, debate, but I also think there is a time to beat the old swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks…
I have met many great Christian folks through blogging, and feel blessed that, even though all of them do not agree with me 100%, they take the time to visit my blog, and invite me over to theirs for a nice cup of tea (figuratively).
Since re-entering the blogosphere about three months ago I have grown pretty disgusted with the things you note. And I have un-bookmarked (if that’s a word) a lot of prominent Christian blogs—Phil Johnson’s was one of the first. So what if some sites are linked to in droves? Many of them have little or nothing to say. They’re popular because they feed on partisan pride and strife.
The psalmist could have been describing a lot of bloggers when he wrote, “You love every harmful word . . . [and] grow strong by destroying others” (Ps. 52:4,7).
I looked upon blogging as an opportunity to be “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Rom. 1:12). I have been extremely disappointed with what I’ve found. We have a long way to go.
On a more positive note, one area that doesn’t seem to get blogged about often, and would be very worthwhile I think, is missions. For a start, even if just a few bloggers would take it upon themselves to help educate others about the needs outside of North America it might redeem the time and effort spent blogging.
As a missionary in South America, I sure like that last comment! =)
I agree Dan…it’s frustrating when you see daily the pain and suffering in the world, and then hop online hoping to be encouraged or challenged by someone eles’s thoughts or outlooks, only to be lambasted (is that a word?) by yet another arguement or blog war.
Maybe I’m just going to all the wrong blog sites, but some days it really does seem like we’re just wasting our time.
Anyhow, someone let me know if they want to learn more about working with street kids in Bolivia. =)
Thanks for your thoughts Dan!
1 Tim 4:6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Working out doctrine isn’t always a day at the park. It doesn’t always make you feel good and loving and like you are making a difference for the kingdom. But the Word promises that you are, as you toil and strive to conform your mind to the written revelation of God. If everyone is right, and doctrine doesn’t matter, I will concede these debates are in vain. But if doctrine and pure discernment of the Word is water to my thirsting soul, then it is abundantly edifying! I have been nourishe by these debates…and driven to my knees in prayer. I will continue this endeavor and engagement of learning and striving for the truth, while reaching real people in the context of my local church…
More and more lately I have found myself dissatisfied with my life believing that I am not really making a difference in the world and I have not been doing anything particularly intellectually nor creatively challenging. I am not qualified to argue theologically or philosophically about anything. I have never had opportunity to even leave the States.
But yesterday I was blessed to be reminded by two colleagues (in two separate conversations – isn’t God good!?) about the uniqueness of my work and the difference it makes in the world. You see, I work with international teams to provide a study Bible for ministers and lay people around the world who have no access to libraries or computers or even much formal education. These folks are the ones who evangelize, plant, and pastor indigenous congregations in the farthest reaches of the earth. They are doing the real ministry. And here I sit complaining that I never get to be on the battlefront and I never get to meet the folks who are there. Actually, I rarely get to meet even the folks who are on the international teams with which I work.
In fact, I hardly ever get to leave my desk. I sit here every day at this computer. Some days are quite boring since some of the work can be quite repetitious – although I always get excited about a new language project (I have worked in 15 languages thus far). However, when I look at my globe and realize where the final product will end up, and the folks that will be able to read and hear Scriptures for the very first time and that ministers will have several quality study tools in one volume in their hands because of my small part, I am so thankful that God has allowed me to be a part of this tremendous work.
And part of the whole miraculous process is the fact that we have this global communication called the internet.
Your comments today reinforce what I was reminded of yesterday. We all have a part in this calling to (as you say) “make a difference for Christ in the lives of the hurting and the lost.” Thanks for being an encouragement to me today. Your work matters.
Blessings to your family!
I really identify with the comments left by Dave and Ken. And even though I wrote more about my thoughts on my post (link) I will say that I think Dan is right on target with this post. I think that in general theological debates online tend to be in vain. Usually no one ends up changing their mind but instead usually get hurt. I hope the message in this post gets out to more “Godbloggers.” Who knows, maybe we will see a revolution in Christian blogging? Wouldn’t that be nice?
btw, GREAT post Dan.
My fellow Ohioan,
I understand your frustration. Debate blogging is bad when there is mudslinging involved, I agree. It is stupid!
On my blog, though, I have tackled some doctrinal issues with which I struggled … and I have found it to be very helpful. I have kept mudslinging to such a minimum, that you could almost eat off the floor. I have learned a lot about what other Christians around the different circles are thinkig (I have been quite surprised!) But you are right, it hasn’t clothed anyone.
Email me if you start something like what you mentioned in your blog. My husband and I would be interested.
Sorry, forgot to include the “link” in that post. Here it is: LINK
I know how you feel and have been saddened greatly at times by what I’ve seen in the God-blogosphere. It’s not so much the debating, because debates can be done in an edifying way. It’s more the personal attacks, the snark, and the viciousness of some of these discussions.
One thing we can all do, however, is – as I believe Dave suggested – simply delink and ignore. I’ve seen some blog-scrums (and I’ve been guilty of this too) that would have died well-deserved deaths if people would have just learned to walk away. But instead we all wrote our “this is terrible! Look at what they wrote!” posts and just juiced up the situation.
I don’t dislike Phil Johnson. He is my Christian brother and he has his place.
But I did de-link him. Maybe you should too.
Ditto on what Bill just said. It’s possible to have an edifying conversation – even about cessationism – without the requisite snarkiness found on some blogs. Also, I maintain that you can discuss, debate, etc. and still unite “in the name of Jesus to make a difference in our neighborhoods, cities, states, countries and eventually the world?”. They are not mutually exclusive.
To Dave – Here’s a site which is a collection point for the many missionary blogs. Looks to be a good thing – http://www.missionary-blogs.com/
I vote for you to start ‘er up, Dan! We’ll all jump on board… =)
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Hey, Dan. Amen to what you said.
I am not someone who enjoys debates, but I do love understanding and growing. In the 2004-2005 school year, I did a systematic theology study with a large group of writers who came from all kinds of Christian churches and backgrounds. Calvinists, Arminians. Baptists, Charismatics, Lutherans, Methodists, Church of England. What I so enjoyed about this deep study of the Bible was the hospitable yet challenging exchange of ideas and beliefs — all of them scripturally supported. I learned so much during those nine months, and never once was I made to feel in the wrong.
It’s my belief that there are very few things in Christian theology that are rocks upon which we need be prepared to die (i.e. salvation issues). I may get to heaven and find out that I was in error regarding many of the things I thought I understood in the Bible, but I don’t suppose it will be all that important since I will be in heaven.
All that to say, I agree with you. Am I aiding the poor by debating whether or not speaking in tongues is still something that happens today? I want to be about the work my Father has called me to.
“I think there are too many flaming swords in the blogosphere for us to return to the garden of Edelen, Dan.”
This was a joke. Sometimes a joke can be a better analysis of a situation than a serious analysis would be. 🙂
“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).
To return to a more perfect state of the Church would, in this case, be the garden of Edelen instead of the garden of Eden, because you, Dan Edelen, envision it. But there are so many flaming bloggers, in which “to flame” means to post very negative material about whatever the subject is. 🙂 And because there are so many flaming sword blogs, it is difficult to have a positive movement.
As we say down here in the south, Dan….Dang! I got a good smack here and I needed it to keep me face from looking in the wrong direction. It’s in my blood and I need brothers like you to help me with it. Thanks Dan.
Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but the one word that leaps out at me as the cause for all of this strife is…
I just see so much unmet need on a daily basis and so much energy going into directions that ultimately profit us very little.
Like Damon said, a lot of it is arrogance. Sadly, I think all of us are guilty. You’ve got to have a shred of arrogance to go posting your thoughts online every day, but sometimes it goes way overboard.
I want to say that I have nothing against Phil Johnson. He’s a great blogger and has a lot of knowledge. I just don’t see the resurrection of this debate taking us anywhere closer to the Lord or to helping the people who need what the Church has.
Most of us bloggers are eggheads, particularly those writing on theology. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST THEOLOGY, but as Ecclesiastes says, “Of the making of books there is no end.” Even though I’m a writer, I see that more words are not going to sway people who haven’t already been swayed. We beat the cessationist/charismatic thing to death last quarter. Rob Wilkerson (above) has an enormous resource he created at his site that should give us enough reading material for a decade. Do we have to add even more to this debate when so many people need our help in other ways?
Travis, thanks for posting that link. I will look into it and see what I can do to create a Christian blogger visual network that can better help us reach out to the hurting and the needy.
Again, if anyone here knows of a great need, post it here and we’ll see what resources the Lord has to meet that need.
Thanks to everyone who has posted so far!
I de-linked Pyromaniac when he refused to take down the comic of the man in the bar socking a woman in the face.
I’ve long thought that one useful purpose of blogging would be for every Christian blogger to link half a dozen missionary bloggers,and purposefully comment on, encourage, post about, and pray for those half dozen. They could even be domestic missionaries, like “Today at the mission.”
Many of us are meeting the needs of the hurting and needy in a local setting with a local body of believers. Many of us are also blogging about theology and might even touch on what some would label as tired old debates(and some would not since it’s so subjective). Why does blogging have to be the to accomplish certain aspects of ministry when there are other much better ways available?
Would would like some blogs of people reaching out on local and international levels, staying out of the foolishness and working on projects that make a difference in lives? Not a problem:^) Off the top of my head…leap off and go.
Waving or Drowning
Get yer Goat
Voices in the Desert
For good or ill, this medium does lend itself to debates over theology, which isn’t bad, but does appear (in your observations and mine) to be quite fruitless more often than not. What Believers have in common would be a great thing for you to focus on moving forward! Choose your battles wisely I always say!
A first step: please blog your own Christians in Action meme. The linked one lists Christians I’ve known who excel in service, and other obvious ministries that are just waiting for us. It also links to my lament of a few days ago about how we really lack leadership in Christian service. Too many chiefs in the theology camp, but where are the chiefs in the service camps? May God raise up one of us.
I’ll be the first to admit that I take things personally more often than I should. But I think there is a way to handle these things in a productive way.
I assume that you feel that your beliefs and doctrinal views are correct, are pleasing to the Lord, and that you have a bullet proof case for them from a scriptural standpoint. If that’s so, then every one of these situations becomes an opportunity for you to demonstrate your beliefs. This can be done in a cordial way like “I think my friend Phil is mistaken at these points, and here’s my scriptural reasoning for that”. In doing so, you create useful blog content that showcases your beliefs. After all, if your beliefs are right and true, then everybody should believe that way! I know that’s idealistic sounding, but that’s the way I look at my beliefs. In fact, the more I can talk about my beliefs on my blog, the better. That might be one of the best uses of a blog.
And even if you end up going back and forth with a brother, there’s nothing wrong with a friendly debate, so long as it doesn’t get into “your mother wears combat boots” kind of dialog. I think that being willing and able to articulate our specific beliefs is a very practical and useful thing. That’s because “WHAT” we believe really does matter to God. Anyway, that’s my two cents.
And even if you end up going back and forth with a brother, there’s nothing wrong with a friendly debate, so long as it doesn’t get into “your mother wears combat boots” kind of dialog.
I can’t speak for Dan, but my guess is that this is kind of his point – I didn’t read his post as being anti-debate, but more anti what debate often morphs into in the blogosphere, namely a nasty, God-dishonoring mire of “your mother . . . ” mortars being lobbed at eachother.
Well, Bill may be afraid to speak for Dan, but I’m not!
Jim at OT wrote:
I assume that you feel that your beliefs and doctrinal views are correct, are pleasing to the Lord, and that you have a bullet proof case for them from a scriptural standpoint.
I don’t think Dan feels “bulletproof” at all: I believe he feels that, while he firmly holds to his positions and beliefs, he is fallible and could be wrong. He is open to correction and growth. In a word, he is humble. It’s the bloggers with “bullet-proof” beliefs that cause most of the trouble. Dan’s saying it’s a waste of time and a bad witness. I agree.
I can certainly understand your frustration. Plenty of strife and controversy in the God blogosphere – some fueled by pride, some fueled by passion for sound doctrine, some fueled by only the Lord knows what.
It certainly can be exhausting, if one gets caught up in it.
I wonder though why you seem to think it has to be an “either/or” deal?
You said, in reference to the blog debates “Good grief! We are so blowing golden opportunities!” But I have to disagree there.
In many cases (yes, many) people do come away with a deeper understanding of the “other view” and are even edified by the writings of those that hold to their own view. Iron sharpening iron, so to speak.
Many of the people who read these debates never even post – they simply read quietly, take into consideration what each side has to say, and pray about it all.
How do I know this? Because they email me at least twice a week and tell me this is what they’re doing. I also know this because I’m one of those people that often reads these debates without posting.
While what you’re proposing (practical Christian living – in the literal sense of the word) is certainly an excellent proposal and encouragement, I can’t agree that we’re blowing opportunities by the debates that take place (yes, we could do without the mudslinging and arrogant, smart remarks).
I tend to look at these things in such a way that folks like Phil Johnson might be a hand, and folks like you might be a foot. Scripture makes it far more clear than I ever could:
1Cor.12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 ï¿½ Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
I apologize for the long reply.
I think we are all in agreement that there are numerous needs in local and far flung communities in which we can all get involved to some degree or another. Let me give you an example of a guy who is doing something and he could use our support. He has dedicated his life to bringing the Gospel to our brethren in Africa.
He is on his way at this moment to Africa to meet with several teams regarding translation of a study Bible in their native languages. It takes dozens of people to complete a project like this and he is the liason between the target audience and the western technology. We who believe evangelism is actually commanded by scripture should support folks like him – through financial AND prayer support.
Pray for him that flights are on time, his travel is safe, and that much can be accomplished during his meetings. He has spent many years on that continent and so is uniquely qualified to do this work.
As usual, I thought your post was very insightful and accurately points out a real tendency in the Christian blogosphere. I have linked to it over at my blog, and forwarded a link to your post for consideration at a new site I’m associated with, Best of the Godblogs.
I do agree though with some who have commented here, that debating theology doesn’t necessarily have to be unproductive, and at times, it is even quite necessary.
Still, it is true that endless argumentative debate on all manner of low priority theological issues is a waste of valuable time and energy.
Blessings to you,
Dr. Mike writes:
“It’s the bloggers with ‘bullet-proof’ beliefs that cause most of the trouble“.
Do you have a problem with “ALL certainty of belief”, or are you making that statement based on your own subjective opinion of what people should be allowed to have firm beliefs on? For example: I assume that you are certain of the Incarnation and Resurrection, and I’m guessing that you would defend those certainties on your own blog (if you have one).
Dr. Mike says: “Dan’s saying it’s a waste of time and a bad witness. I agree.”
Again though, that’s based on your opinion of where the line should be drawn, relating to what you think is worth making bold assertions about. Perhaps there are some who feel that other biblical doctrines are certain, and are worth defending. One example being Sola Scriptura. That may not be a belief that you want to die on a hill for, but for others it is extremely important.
I had written a lengthy response to you but, when I tried to correct the wrong URL that Blogger has for me, it decided to lose my comment. I’m too tired to reproduce it now, but let me say that I don’t think we’re on opposite sides of the fence.
As far as my website goes, it is: Eternal Perspectives. I also have a trackback to this post elsewhere.
I just posted a response over at my place, if you’re interested.
Dan, count me in… we are even moving back into Dayton to get closer to where the needs are. Put earnest money down on a house yesterday… I’m seriously tired of the theological debates… we spend too much time arguing what the meaning of the word “is” is…. and not enough time holding the hurtings hands and praying with them. When it comes down to it, all the theological debates in the world won’t help a suffering soul. The gospel is a simple truth that even the most simple minded can understand and even the most intelligent can admire. I want to know Christ. I want to bring others to Him. I want to be God’s love in the flesh form to those around me. I want to be a lifeline to my friends and show them what real LOVE is… its all about LOVE. LOVE PEOPLE!!!! LOVE EACH OTHER!!! Love those around you (and fellow bloggers) enough that you would DIE for them. If you don’t feel that way about your fellow brothers and sisters, then get on your face and get before God. When your done there, get out into the world and LOVE on them.
As witnessed by all the comments, this is a very thought-provoking post. I personally just don’t understand this attitude among Christians about having to be unequivocally RIGHT. (well, I guess I do understand it…) The world rightly labels us “narrow-minded.” It’s as though we’ve abandoned the wonderful freedom and grace involved in simply disagreeing. Intelligent, well-researched, Bible-believing Christians can simply disagree. Really!
To those who quote scripture, I generally ask, “yes, but what translation are you using?” We’re not even aware of the assumptions we begin with. Maybe if we practiced every night saying: “Well, I think we just disagree, though I appreciate your thoughts.”
Dan, I think I want the same thing you want. I’ve always voiced in my SS class that instead of trying to grow our church why don’t we grow other churches in our community. How come we can’t all network with each other and promote each ohter’s differences and yet remain seperate to our joy? We are all parts of the same body but my hand is not where my foot belongs or my tounge where my ear is so why can we not do this very simple thing. I think the godblogs would be great for this. We all know the denominatios that are orhtodox and those that are not and keep vigilant in moving people to where they belong. It can be done with patience and God willing of course.
Thanks for saying this. What really disturbs me is the sense that “diehard” Calvinists believe that those who aren’t Calvinists and/or who believe God speaks to them in ways besides the Bible (but not in contradiction to it) aren’t actually Christians and are viewed as akin to Mormons, JWs, and others whose doctrine is grossly false. I don’t know this for sure (since those I’ve gathered it from haven’t come right out and said it), but it’s an attitude I’m perceiving.
I also totally agree with you that our time and energy is better spent on living a Christlike life than theologizing, though I know at times, it’s necessary. Along those lines, I hope you don’t mind if I plug a fundraiser that I’m holding for my friend in need (she’s a single mom in a difficult circumstance) on my blog:
Like Pavlov’s other dog—the one who was shocked in its cage at the sound of the bell—those people, many of whom are in supposedly good churches, have learned helplessness.
Thank you for your post, and WOW to all the great comments. The idea of geographically linking the blogosphere is practical, and you can count me in.
I don’t believe our churches can handle the burden, though. Too many people drive across town to attend a church. I think we need to start fellowshipping with the people who live closest to us, and then this idea might be more practical. I posted to that effect here.
Continuing thanks to those who poast comments on this topic. I hope to explore more of it on Monday or so.
I was out almost all day Friday, plus my wife is ill, so this has made responding to every comment here difficult. I have read every one! But I cannot comment on each because of the challenges posed by repeated illness and a heavy work load here at the Edelen household, neither of which I expected.
Thanks for understanding!
For those of you who imply that we should get out and “do…” (do good works, do outreach, do charity, do meet people’s needs) rather than worry so much about doctrine and biblical nuance:
How does that fit with the story of Mary and Martha? One of them wanted to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn, and the other wanted to “do do do”. We certainly need to “do”, but also we are commanded to give attention to doctrine (1 Timothy 4:14) and carefully consider it (1 Timothy 4:16). In Colossians 1:9-10 Paul says:
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the KNOWLEDGE of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the KNOWLEDGE of God.” We get knowledge primarily through studying the bible, right?
This is another one of those “we need both, not one or the other” things folks.
Dan: I understand and emphathize with your concern. I too believe there’s too much argumentation for the mere sake of argumentation taking place in the Christian blogosphere.
However, for you to say you’ll quit arguing doctrine is the wrong solution. It is from right doctrine that we know how to live right. If a person has wrong doctrine, it can hurt the person as well as the church.
So…if a fellow pastor tells you he no longer believes in the Trinity, are you going to just let him go?
If someone in your church says salvation can be obtained outside Christ, are you going to let the person continue in that belief?
If a man in your church decides to leave his wife for a younger woman because “God wants us to be happy,” are you going to let him?
See the fallacy of de-emphasizing doctrine and emphasizing good works, as you are suggesting????
Again, I agree there’s too much striving and backbiting over trivial matters that are not at the core of our faith. But for you to propose that leaving doctrine out of the picture is the solution is to completely sever yourself and the church from the root of Scripture, which is what nourishes and sustains you.
In defense of Pyromaniac, I think Adrian Warnock encouraged him in that direction. I think Adrian wants to persuade people in his own direction, maybe.
Since I grew up in a church that split over charismatic issues, I’m not comfortable with a debate over it as an intellectual exercise.
Jim & Steve,
No one blogging supports correct doctrine more than I do. Not a single thing here at this blog gets written that doesn’t have its basis in doctrine. I’m not saying that there is no purpose in discussing doctrine, only that as a discussion, it seems to be overrepresented as the focus of our blogging, especially when we get into “my doctrine trumps your doctrine battles” that only result in both sides saying, “I told you so.” I’ve seen dozens of those conversations this year and I have to wonder if anything ever comes of it. It sure doesn’t seem that way.
I think we are missing a prime chance to take blogging to another level by using this medium to find ways to serve Christ by serving the lost and hurting. I’ll get deeper on that in the next week.
I’m not sure this has been said yet – if so I apologize for being redundant.
What I find troubling is not the defense of doctrine, or the debating of doctrine. It’s rather the idea that we can ignore Biblical commands while debating. What good is doctrine if we can’t even discuss it in Christian love?
I’ve seen more straining of a gnat while swallowing a camel in the area of Godblog debates than anywhere else. For instance, the merciless pummelling of opponents – when I see that I don’t care anymore what the pummeller’s doctrine is, because they aren’t living it.
It’s sad because when ever I hear the term “sound doctrine” I await the coming brass knuckles. And I have as much concern about sound doctrine as anyone. But people have chosen too many hills to die (and kill) on – including pitting doctrines against eachother that both are well represented in orthodox belief (views of the end times, on election, baptism, etc).
Live out the doctrines of Scripture. Then debate it in that lifestyle of kindness, mercy, love, and humility.
Then people will listen.
I guess I’m not seeing these acts of unkindness. Perhaps I’ve been out of the loop and haven’t seen what has transpired in the past. It seems like this thread was triggered by Phil Johnson’s posting about his beliefs on a given matter. But I dont remember Phil mentioning Dan by name in his posting, or directing it at any individual specifically. Can someone explain what Phil has done that’s unkind or unloving etc? From what I can tell, he’s simply expressing his beliefs on his blog. That seems perfectly fine to me, and seems in fact like a good use of blog space.
If it’s not Phil that you all are upset with, can you give any specific examples of where you feel that someone outside your camp has exhibitted less kindness to you than you have to them?
I’m just trying to understand the concern.
Hope the Mrs. feels better. Praying for God’s kindness to show itself in relief, God willing.
Take care & God bless
For the last three months of 2005 probably fifty or sixty of the biggest Christian bloggers out there hashed out this issue of cessationism vs. modern charismata until we were all blue in the face. Of all the topics that consumed 2005, I think only the Terri Schiavo case got more Christian blogspace. Even Phil had plenty to say on this issue.
This whole post is NOT a beef against Phil Johnson. I like Phil. I read Pyromaniac every day. I blogrolled Phil’s blog because I believe it’s an important one that we need to read. But in light of the new year, I was wondering if perhaps we need to think about blogging in a different light than just rehashing the same battles over and over again. I’m not going to stand in Phil’s way if he wants to take up the sword against charismatics again, I just wonder if God is giving many of us who have a decent Web presence an opportunity to do something better in 2006.
Personally, I think we are missing opportunities to build a network of Christian bloggers to reach out through our blogs to help people face-to-face. This post is a genesis of that idea. I know so MANY people who could use us to make a difference, people who are not getting the help they need because we’re distracted by too many things.
I hope that clears this up.
WF (and others who asked),
My wife is doing better. Thank you. Her voice resembles Marlon Brando’s in his role of The Godfather, if the Godfather had emphyzema and a wad of cotton wedged between his vocal cords, but other than that….
Was just going to ask how your wife is and saw your above comment. Glad she’s doing better.
I did want to respond to this:
For the last three months of 2005 probably fifty or sixty of the biggest Christian bloggers out there hashed out this issue of cessationism vs. modern charismata until we were all blue in the face.
Actually, having followed but stayed out of that lot – no, the “biggest” (I take largest readerships is what you mean) didn’t hash it out. If you go back and look at what Phil Johnson posted he didn’t even debate it. There were a ton of posts for the Charismatic position – but no great debate actually took place.
I think a lot of energy was expended on a debate that wasn’t actually happening – and Adrian di fuel it along. Which is fine – but let’s get an accurate picture of it.
I understand what you are saying, although I agree that the link with Phil’s post is not really one that adds up. But yes, blogs can be used for amazing things. I think I’ll say more on your next post since it’s up – I had thopught of emailing you as there are things going on that some of us have been involved in for some time now.
Apologetics is not everyone’s cup of tea. The problem is that it is what makes any of the cups possible.
On what basis, for example, should we “meet the oppressive need of the AIDS orphans”? I am not saying “we” (and I think you m ean the church) should not: I’m saying that “we” should know why we do what we do. The answer to that question is itself an apologetic answer — but here at your blog, “to see who’s right and who’s wrong” about that issue is somehow justified, but asking equally-challenging questions about praxis and the undergirding theology of such things is, apparently, out of bounds.
It’s a self-refuting standard. Not everyone is equipped or frankly able to participate in apologetics — and that includes a lot of people who do it anyway. But to write off apologetic discourse as “a whole lot o’ nothin'” is in the best case overly-simplistic.
God bless you with the great American novel.
If you figure out a way to feed the poor, clothe the naked, or visit the prisoner through a blog will you let me know.
There are ways that blogs can help with those things. There was a huge blogburst for the Hurricane katrina people and not only money but clothes and goods were collected through people blogging – Joe Carter used his blog to co-ordinate getting eye glasses for people.
A number of people use their blog to help get assistance for the people of Darfur.
Interrestingly, some prisoners have blogs – I read one recently by a death row inmate. His friend actually posts his stuff online ofr him. People can contact him through that – a kind of visiting. I haven’t – as my focus is on Darfur. But yes, these sort of opportunities exist.
There is the ability to use online communication to do these things – blogs are just a type of website and websites have been used to assist the porr and prisoners (such as Chuck Colson’s ministry) for some time.
Hope that helps.
Well, I ended up walking away from that kind of blogging, even though in 2005 I was all up in it. Now the same thing happens on social media.
I stopped reading and interacting with those the most contentious a long time ago (this was a retweet). You’re right; life is too short.