Christian Blogging: A Waste of Time?

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Future blogger?Everyone and his dog has a blog now. If there were eight million blogs a few months ago, it’s surely ten million today. The Truman Show didn’t overtake us while we were sleeping. No, we volunteered to be on it.

But is there a point to all this blogging?

My incendiary question for this week is this: If Christian blogging isn’t advancing the cause of Christ, aren’t we just wasting time?

I started Cerulean Sanctum in 2003 because I saw that there was a vacuum in the blogosphere for people who were looking for the reality of the 1st century Church in 21st century America. I’ve always looked at this blog as a ministry. There weren’t any blogs talking about Christian living and whether the Church we have today is the Church God means for us to be, and I rectified that a tiny bit.

Much has changed in the last few years since this blog’s inception, though. From my perspective, a quick perusal of the Christian blogosphere makes me wonder if anyone is really becoming a better Christian because of what is bandied about on blogs. If anything, the rapid increase in the number of blogs has resulted in a “ditto” mentality, where blog readers eventually turn their reading away from the blogs they disagree with and toward those to which they can shout a hearty “Amen!” It’s becoming one big choir preach-in.

I’ve noticed a change in comments because of this. More and more the comments sections of Christian blogs aren’t filled with dissenters, but the people who always agree with whatever is posted. (While I realize I did get many dissenting comments on my Myths of Homeschooling series, I suspect that this is more the exception—because of the incendiary topic and its relative newness in the scope of the last fifty years—than the rule.) Truthfully, I wonder how that helps anyone.

Blogs started out as online daily diaries, and I guess there’s still a case that can be made for that purpose, but honestly, I don’t read genuine online diaries. Pictures of someone else’s cat and said feline’s litterbox adventures won’t hold most people. Some blogs serve as news sites, too, but don’t people tend to read news sites that cater to their own preconceptions rather than sites that conflict? If we hang out at blogs with views in conflict with ours, aren’t we merely looking to pick a fight most of the time? We aren’t there to come around to that differing way of thinking, are we?

More and more book review and info blogs are cropping up daily; I read some of them. But I can say with all confidence that there’s not a book review blog existing today that will give a positive review to both a John MacArthur book and one from Watchman Nee. Doesn’t that bother any of us even a little bit? You’ll get plenty of awesome Spurgeon material from Phil Johnson at Pyromaniac, but you’ll never see a thing from Phil covering Spurgeon’s more charismatic contemporary, Andrew Murray. The comfort zone exists and most readers are cool with it, but don’t you ever wish that some blogger would bust out—just once? Christian ghettoes are a sad reality, and while each one will label themselves “The Remnant,” do people ever walk up to the second floor of the house that is their own self—a la that old tract, “My Heart, Christ’s Home“—and open the door to that room they’ve never explored just to peek at what’s inside? If we don’t break out of our spiritual comfort zones from time to time, how do we ever grow in Christ?

Any Arminians who have become Calvinists after stumbling across one of the many Calvinist blogs out there? Anyone? Has a blog changed anyone’s mind on any topic related to faith? Please correct me if I’m wrong, but for the clashes that occur on blogs, don’t the combatants eventually retreat to their own corners, completely set in their monolithic ways?

As for the Great Commission, I suspect the unsaved aren’t reading our Christian blogs, so we’re not really doing evangelism. Are we making disciples? I can’t tell. Again, a blog would need to toss grenades into established thinking in order for growth to occur, and I see fewer dissenters hanging out at most blogs. They’re frequenting blogs that tickle their ear itch. I mean that as no indictment of blog readers, but as a fact of human nature. Still, what can be expected from that conformity?

If these contentions are true, then what is accomplished by Christians blogging?

From my perspective, if any measurable good comes out of the Christian blogosphere it’s that bloggers occasionally meet face-to-face with other bloggers. Blogging may be a substitute networking and relationship-building tool for some. I have no problem with that. Recently, I broke bread with megablogger Jared Wilson of The Thinklings, Mysterium Tremendum, and Shizuka Blog, plus Robin Lee Hatcher of Write Thinking, Katy Raymond of Fallible, and a host of folks who hang out at Faith*in*Fiction (and most of them have blogs, too.) I would love to meet Tim Challies, La Shawn Barber, Matt of The Gad(d)about, Bob over at Gratitude & Hoopla, Diane at Crossroads, Milton at Transforming Sermons, Seymour at The Light Is Sweet, Lars of Brandywine Books, and a whole host of others, including all the fine people who comment here at Cerulean Sanctum and the other blogs I frequent. Truly, I’d get more from those personal meetings than anything else. If not for the cost and the distance, I’d be front row and center at GodBlogCon for no other reason than to hang with other likeminded bloggers.

That said, though, is our blogging only a way to make friends? Are bloggers blogging because they’re lonely, in need of support, or feel like no one is listening to them otherwise? I’m not sure most bloggers would contend that relationship-building is the primary reason they blog.

So what is the point? And if there is no point, then why are we blogging?

54 thoughts on “Christian Blogging: A Waste of Time?

  1. I’m not an Arminian or a Calvinist… but somehow I end up mostly hanging around Calvinist blogs. I haven’t “converted” but I definitely know more about the Calvinist position than I used to…

    I know what you mean though. I have wondered why I’m blogging. I think about stopping… but for me more than anything it has been a way to bring discipline to writing.

  2. Amen, Dan! I agree completely!

    Just kidding.

    First, it’s very kind of you saying you’d like to sit down and meet me in person —- I feel the same way. If you’re ever anywhere near the Shenadoah Valley, let me know, and we will.

    As for purpsoe, I can speak only for my own blog. Transforming Sermons exists primarily to help preachers think in terms of preaching and discipleship as transformation. The blog has gone in directions I hadn’t originally planned. For example, it seems more non-preachers read it than preachers. But the focus is still pretty tight: to transcend peripheral issues that separate Christians and encourage all Christians be transformation more and more into the image of Jesus Christ. Peace.

  3. jared

    There are also Calvinists who have gone un-Calvinist. 😉

    I also think your book review illustration re: MacArthur/Nee is erroneous. If you’re implying there’s no such thing as a charismatic Calvinist, you’re wrong. I know of quite a few.
    And while I’m not charismatic myself, I would favorably review books both by MacArthur (liked his “Gospel” book) and by charismatic authors (liked Jack Deere’s first “Surprised by” book).
    I am more optimistic about the openmindedness of the blogosphere’s bloggers/reviewers.

    I think most people blog simply because they enjoy it. I used to think one had to have a Purpose in doing it, but now I’m not so sure just enjoying writing and discussing aren’t good enough reasons. Certainly if the blogosphere keeps us from real life or distracts from obligations and duties (or righteousness!), it is a hindrance.

    But the idea that blogging must evangelize to be worth it seems unrealistic to me. Discipleship entails more than evangelism, and I think we all get enough comments from believers who say they’ve been helped in their walk with the Lord to know the blogosphere can be a mutually encouraging and edifying fellowship.

    I also may be alone in this, but I think the current proliferation of agreement on blogs is a pleasant development. I don’t long for the days when everyone was flaming each other.
    I like respectful debate and constant encouragement. I think most other bloggers do too.

  4. CJR

    Dan –

    Isn’t this like asking, “why do we continue to go to church?”?

    I see blogging as another form of conversation and, perhaps, communion. It’s dialogue – it’s an exchange of ideas, thoughts, and, hopefully, at its best, something deeper.

    Sure, the barrier for confrontation, impoliteness and rudeness are certainly lower in an electronic relationship than in a F2F one, but, then, the audience is larger as well. Its’s a trade-off.

    Bloggins is *not* preaching. And it’s *not* writing, in the true sense. Though there are preachers and writers who blog. It has to be viewed as conversation. How many people have you converted from preaching? From conversation? People are ultimately converted by relationship – not facts alone, so I don’t know that a proper measure of the usefulness of blogging is the number of converts to Calvinism. How about the number of Arminians who have learned that Calvinists don’t have horns and tails? How about the number of hard-headed legalists who have softened their view of those “grace” people?

  5. Hello, Dan.

    My solution is simple: I never claimed Lunar Skeletons was designed to be a “xtian blog” (whatever that is). Nor do I view my blogging as a “ministry”. In fact, I tend to to be skeptical regarding the worth of blogging as a “ministry” altogether.

    I am simply a xtian who, for a strange sort of hobby, happens to run a blog, on which I talk about those things that happen to interest me. Naturally, some of those things will be connected with xnty.

    And since I don’t have very many readers, I do wonder sometimes if it’s all a waste of time, even if it does serve as an outlet for my compulsive hypergraphia, and allows be to use the B.A. degree in English I have (may as well, I’m not using it for anything else.

    The other peculiar thing I’ve noticed: Catholic bloggers have put Lunar Skeletons on their blogrolls more than anyone else.

  6. Damon

    Some good thoughts in here (I’m reluctant to throw out the “I agree” so quickly… 😉 but the verse that comes to mind is the “iron sharpens iron” verse, and while this is an odd manner for the irons to strike, it is still encouraging to me in my walk. Reading the positions of people whose walks are deeper than mine is an encouragement to me, and makes me hungry to understand the things they do. I have always been reluctant to argue the points of theology as I didn’t understand the deeper issues being discussed, until I got married and got into the Arminian/Calvinist debate with my inlaws. I still struggle with those arguments to some degree, but I’m probably more “almost Calvinist” than anything else, and it’s been through interaction that this happened. Reading the blogs makes me want to understand those issues on a more fundamental level.

    Thanks Dan, for having a blog that does exactly that.

  7. Okay, so here’s just a sampling of responses so far (I bolded those that disagreed with some of my post contentions):

    Christian blogging…

    1. Creates a discipline in writing.
    2. Does cause people to change their minds or grow spiritually.
    3. Is a ministry.
    4. Provides resources to those looking for them.
    5. Doesn’t necessarily lead to a Christian ghetto mentality.
    6. Serves as conversation and a well for ideas.
    7. Has become a hobby.
    8. Is a source of encouragement from the more mature to those seeking to grow.

    Keep those responses coming. This is a worthwhile topic. I will post more of my comments later.

  8. Scott

    Why does there have to be a reason? Is the kingdom advanced when I mow my lawn, when I read fiction for entertainment, when I spend a weekend at the ocean?

    How does my decision about whether I decide to fix macaroni and cheese for lunch or spaghetti advance the cause of Christ? Life is a wonderful gift to enjoy. And while our primary purpose is to glorify God, glorifying God is a wider country than communicating the four spiritual laws.

    My blog is a kind of on-line diary or journal. It’s story. It’s practical Christianity. It’s discovering my orthodoxy through my orthopraxy (or lack of it). It allows me to reflect on my life and my world. That may not get your heart pumping, but that’s okay. It’s not written for you. It’s written for me.

    And though I do not see a need for a point, there are a couple of excellent reasons for blogs that quickly come to mind.

    I have found a number of sites that have engaged me spiritually and given me a community to share ideas with. I have discovered the Emerging Conversation and been able to better understand who and what they believe – and I see them doing some good things. I have re-thought how I think about my faith – in positive ways. I have seen unity between believers who would never have unity because one is a baptist and another is a charismatic.

    Blogs also enable people to post ideas and to write stories without the approval of a publisher – it is a way around around the publishing houses’ gatekeeping (Christian or otherwise). Isn’t that in and of itself a reason enough to continue blogging? Or is writing just about the money?

    Blogging is not a panacea, but it can be a good tool to accomplish good ends.

  9. burttd

    You may be right about the “segregation” of the blogosphere into self-feeding camps. Unfortunately, I think (as you have pointed out also) that is due in large part to the more strident proponents in many camps turning dialogue and criticism into vindictive crusades. What’s the point of reading those who disagree with you when they carichature your position, insult your intelligence, and excommunicate you?

    So, if we’re out there just to get our prejudices reinforced, we ought to reconsider our blogging. But there are other uses for it as well. There are a few cross-boundary dialogue blogs out there, if you look hard enough. Most bloggers cross-reference a somewhat wider circle than their own, and surfing those links has yielded me interesting surprises – like *your* blog, for instance.

    Blogging is just like any other tool – used with an appreciation of its’ strengths and weaknesses, it can be very helpful. Or it can be just another venue for theological chest-thumping, or worse.

    Just don’t go shutting down *your* blog out of this frustration. You’re on my daily “short list”, and you’re still saying things that make me think – even if we don’t aways agree.

  10. lindaruth

    Dan,
    I’ve been mindful of the Christian ghetto mentality. I think we all gravitate to those we can agree with. But I don’t *always* agree with you. 🙂

    I’ve found that you challenge me in my Christian walk, which is good. Blogging is a sort of conversation and I’ve learned a lot during the few months since I’ve started reading blogs and writing in my own.

    This is a thought-provoking post.
    Linda

  11. Dan,

    I agree with a lot of what you said here and I’m concerned about all of us Christian bloggers falling into our own little echo chambers. However, I’m more hopeful about the future because we do not need to do that. I’ve been making a concerted effort to visit atheist blogs as well lately and comment when appropriate. I really believe this has helped to dispel some inaccurate stereotypes and charicatures of Christians. One positive result of this has been the creation of a brand new blog carnival between Christians and atheists.

    We really can step out of the Christian ‘ghetto’ but it will mean stepping out of the comfort zone and beginning a dialogue (not simply a sales pitch or drive-by scripture quoting) with non-believers. I don’t know if Christian bloggers are ready for this, but the opportunity is there.

  12. Josh Bonner

    A blog is worthwhile in a Christian sense, if it’s done for God’s glory and not personal affirmation. (Which probably weeds out a good number of blogs) With all the filth on the internet, it would be a shame if Christian bloggers retreated through the backdoor. As Christians it’s often difficult to see the impressions we leave on people, and it’s even tougher when it’s done through computer screens. A blog shouldn’t be a primary ministry, but it can be one nonetheless. Keep it up Dan.

    Btw, just becuase someone doesn’t disagree with you in a comment, doesn’t mean they didn’t disagree with you before they read your arguments. 😉

  13. Dan,

    I’m glad I met you and found such a kindred spirit through Cerulean Sanctum. I know if I am ever fortunate to find myself on your side of the the ‘Lantic I will make it a high priority to try and visit you in person. I pray it will happen. Of course you and your’s may also be assured of a place by our fire if you ever find yourself in the north-east of England!

    For me I think this is enough, really. I frequently quote from the film “Shadowlands” which is about CS Lewis – a beautiful film and a must see, BTW – when trying to describe what writing and reading and even blogging is all about for me.

    Lewis notices a young student stealing a book from the bookshop. Later he confronts him.

    “You read books differently to the rest of us, do you?’ Lewis was nettled by the young man’s arrogance, yet curious. Of all the things one could steal, books were surely among the most unusual.

    ‘Yes, I do.’ The young man nodded his head vehemently. His thin cheeks were a dull red, and his eyes shone with a feverish brightness. As he spoke, his North Country accent became even more pronounced. ‘I read at night, so nothing breaks my concentration. All night, sometimes. When I start a new book, my hands are shaking, my eyes are jumping ahead. Does the writer feel the way I’ve felt? Does he see what I see? Yes, that’s good, that’s true. No, he’s cheating, he’s ducking it. Ah, wait, that may be so – yes, yes, he’s seen it too! My father used to say – he’s a teacher, like you – no, no, not like you, only a village schoolmaster – what was it you asked me? How do I read? Sometimes I shout at the book, or I kiss the page, or I cry…’

    Whistler broke off conscious that he was no longer making any sense, waiting for the celebrated scholar, the eminent author and lecturer C.S. Lewis to mock him or reproach him, to use his superiority as a weapon against him

    But Lewis did none of these things. He had listened with strong interest to every word. Now he only asked mildly, ‘What was it your father used to say?’

    `We read to know we’re not alone.`

    The simple words struck Lewis. What a wonderful truth, he thought. We read to know we’re not alone. And how well Peter Whistler had learned it!” (From “Shadowlands” a novel by Leonore Fleischer, based on the screenplay by William Nicholson)

  14. I started blogging for the same reason you did – to bring a 1st century values and experience into the 21st century church. i focus entirely on discipleship and community BUT I find the blogs a poor place to do this work. Maybe the media is bad for this task as it is lower attention span than most. What I do requires very long attention span of readers. Long posts or long series of posts. Anyway…i have questions about the effectiveness of blogging as well.

  15. One of my concerns that I did not express in the post, but assume in my writing, is for all of the talk and conversation of blogs, not much is changing for the better in the Church. If anything, I see a continued fascination with the world that is only going to drag the Church in this country further down.

    In some ways, the blogosphere for Christians has become a neverending church meeting. After a while no one is willing to ask the question, “Yes, but are we getting anywhere?” We wonder why things don’t change, but perhaps is because we’ve become all talk and no action. This yields the classic French saying, “Plus �a change, plus c�est la m�me chose” (“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”)

    I’m growing bored with talk. When is the Church going to stop talking and start doing?

  16. Debra

    Very important question—and very good responses. Like the Internet itself, I believe Christian blogging is serving to advance the Kingdom in many wonderful ways. But like the Internet and other things, in addition to great good, it can be the source of some very bad things, as well: divisiveness, confusion, misdirection, distraction, escapism, and time wasting. I know of whence I speak…I have been both greatly blessed and greatly tested, in my 5 month experience posting and blogging.
    While we don’t always have to be consciosly aware of the purpose—there is a purpose to even the most seeminlgy inconsequential things we do—actually there are no inconsequential things. Pleasure is a perfectly legitimate, purposeful, God given reason for doing something. But,pleasure, like work, study, service, everything, must be done in the right way at the right time. Only the Spirit can tell us how we should be spending our time and talents.
    The more important question for me to ask myself is: Am I, at any given moment, blogging, posting, or reading blogs wasting my time or advancing the kingdom of God? Many times the answer has been a resounding yes. More often than I’d like to admit I know in my heart the answer is no—but fortunately ‘all things work together for good…..’ But I would rather Him work good things through my obedience than through my weakness. So I struggle on to find the holy balance…

  17. Scott

    Dan, you’re sounding like a country song: “A little less talk, and a lot more action.” I understand your frustration – I’m equally frustrated. But all the talking in the world, as you’ve pointed out, will probably not move many to . . . well, move.

    I agree with your desire for more practice. But perhaps we simply need a re-adjustment of our activities. The blogosphere, perhaps, can serve as the inn at the end of each day where we share our stories/ideas with others also ending their days. The journey, the work, then keeps priority while the channels of conversation remain open.

    But even this is a matter for the individual – a decision to make for themselves – a life that needs to be lived first and foremost out of loyalty to King Jesus. But the conversation(s) is(are) still important.

  18. I think I might be a little different than the other commenters as I started my blog to inform the “folks” about what is happening in the evangelical churches today. By the folks I mean those senior citizen Christians I meet in my Christian chatroom; and the ones I have met on forums and email lists, and so forth. I didn’t really write it for other bloggers although I think that is a lot of my traffick. But more and more of the “folks” are reading my blog and now yours and others that I have referred to. I have three friends, Dan, that cannot get through the day without reading your blog. Sometimes they will IM me and ask, “What did Dan say today?” I am serious..:).
    I introduced them and many others to the world of blogging. So that is my mission—to introduce the Walmart-talking-biscuit baking-fish catching crowd to the blog world and also help them understand that what is happening in churches today will affect them in their churches as well as their countries tomorrow.

    Oh by the way, because of some blogs, I am changing from a sort of Arminian to the Calvinsit side. So far, I have achieved 3 1/2 point Calvinist status…wondering if I will get to 4-point…LOL.

  19. David Kjos

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but I just have to ask, what do you expect? Would you expect a positive review of both MacArthur and Nee from the same reviewer? That would be one confused individual.

  20. Seymour,

    I like your Shadowlands reference. Do you think that blogs qualify in the same rarefied air as books? I’d love to think that was true. Maybe it’s the exchange of ideas that counts.

  21. Diane,

    I ran into a few Cerulean Sanctum fans at the ACFW conference I attended and I must admit I was shocked. It had never occurred to me that people follow this blog every day. I know that sounds hopelessly ignorant, but when one person came up and said, “Why, you’re Dan Edelen from Cerulean Sanctum—I love reading you,” I started looking for the hidden camera!

    So tell those folks who are checking in on me every day that I said Hi!

  22. David,

    I guess I must be that confused individual! 😉

    What you note is one of the problems I have with a lot of what goes on in the blogging world. I can find the positives in MacArthur and Nee and write good things about both of them even though they are radically different. I don’t find that same willingness in some other blogs.

    A few months ago I blogged about everyone’s favorite Christian writer, A.W. Tozer. Everyone claims Tozer and he seems to get a pass from just about every Christian denomination out there. I know that Nee and MacArthur wouldn’t be as lucky, but still, it is possible to not completely agree with an author on every single point and still find the rest of their insights valuable. I love MacArthur’s hardline stance on the authority of the Scriptures and the Lordship of Christ, but I’m not a cessationist. Jack Hayford and MacArthur are very good friends, yet you’d be hardpressed to find two more different pastors! As for Nee, I think his sheer Asian-ness is hard for Western Christians to understand. Yes, he’s way out there on some issues, but the longer I live the more I see that he was just much farther down the road than most of us are.Regardless, he’s one of my favorite writers because he perpetually challenges me.

    If you want proof of what a mongrel I am spiritually, check out my recommended books! They go from Edwards to Tozer to Nee to Schaeffer to Bonhoeffer. It’s a miracle I don’t spontaneously combust!

    Anyway, I hope this blog blesses you, even if the blogger behind it is a little out there. 😉

  23. Carla

    You raise some legit points here Dan.

    The answer to ‘is it causing Christians to grow spiritually?’ I believe is yes, it certainly is among many that I know, including myself.

    How about you? Has it caused you to grow, spiritually?

    Just curious. 🙂

  24. Bob

    A great post, and a great string of comments. Dan, I suppose I agree with you, and yet I think the focus is just slightly wrong. You want to know if blogging changes anything. I don’t think that’s a question we can really answer. Does conversation change anything? Does preaching? The answer is . . . maybe! Take away conversation, and you take away a whole range of possibilities. Perhaps the “change” is not immediately measurable, perhaps it is incremental and inward. Does planting a seed change anything? Given the presence of the right conditions, time and nourishment, yes! But you don’t see the change for a while. Potential, that’s the point. Self-expression is simply a kingdom activity, brother!

    One more thing—thanks for mentioning me in your post! As a fellow charismatic with an ear for what the Calvinists are saying, I would be delighted to meet you one day. Keep up the potent self-expression!!!

  25. Dwayna Litz

    I wanted to thank you, because God used your post yesterday to convict me that I am not meant to be a “blogger”. Yesterday someone with whom I work in street ministry got beaten up by a large Samoan man for witnessing. I thought to myself, “Now THIS is important.” I emailed a few of my friends who had been posting comments on the blog last night to let them know I was turning the comments “off”—that God did not call me to “christian chat rooms” (which is what my blog has become at times), and He did not call me to be spending my time “networking” with other Christians through blogging! I have a blog now for the same simple reason I started it: to make EVANGELISM updates accesible through the ministry web site and to send out evangelism updates to the 600 people on my email list in a more timely manner by having them access the blog. That is it, period. Thank you very much for being used of God in my life to keep me where He wants me to be for His name’s sake.
    Dwayna

  26. Travis

    I just wanted to include a comment my wife received yesterday in her journal/blog:

    “I’m so glad that you’re in my life, Nicole. You’ve always been an encouragement to me — even if I don’t necessarily believe everything that you do, I certainly don’t feel “judged” when you bring it up and have definitely thought about some things seriously because of you deciding to do/not do them. (emphasis added)

    That’s all we can really do when it comes to talking or writing, isn’t it? The best we can hope to accomplish is to cause others who don’t agree with us to think through things again? Only God can bring a change of heart.

    Sure, maybe we talk far too much. Still, we ought not take upon ourselves a burden only God can bear. God calls us to be faithful in obeying His will; He determines what fruit there will be.

    Galatians 6:9 (ESV)
    And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (emphasis added)

  27. Carla,
    Has blogging caused me to grow spiritually? I take this blog very seriously. As a result, I mull over posts a lot. Many posts have germinated while I’ve been out on my tractor alone and silent. In that way I believe God is speaking to me and what I’m learning is coming out in my posts. So yes, I believe it has helped me. On the other hand, blogging can become an idol. You really have to post at least four or five times a week minimally, so you can become enslaved to it. Even harder, you need to be thought-provoking, too. So on the other hand, I’m almost positive that there are times when blogging has taken me away from more important things or caused me to focus on being interesting all the time. It’s a two-edged sword, for certain.

    One of the reasons I started this blog is that I felt that I had things to say that were not being said in most Christian circles. I’ve never been one to hold back the tough question or fail to pose the challenge that is needed. God’s called me to be a Barnabas to raise up future Pauls. That’s why I speak to the Church more than I do to the unbelievers out there. I was stifled from teaching in the church I used to be in, so all of that pent up wisdom came out in this blog. Cerulean Sanctum, in many ways, comes out of the fact that if I do not speak, I feel like I’ll explode. Or maybe the rocks will cry out! 😉

    I’m also at home much of the day. As a people person, I miss being out in the greater work force. I love talking with other people. I’ve been the last one out of more restaurants at closing time than I can count. Blogging is good for me since it substitutes for some of the people time that I miss. That blogging has translated into meeting other bloggers (and fans of this blog) is one of the things I most enjoy. Like I noted, though, I miss not being able to meet more bloggers in person.

    As far as visiting other blogs, I know that intellectually I’ve gleaned some great things, but I’m uncertain how that translates into me becoming deeper in the Lord. God knows better than I do. There is no doubt that I’ve made friends through blogging, but again, I’m not sure how Internet-based relationships work. I don’t think anyone does, actually. Perhaps blogging is the modern equivalent of “pen pals,” but on a “mass consumption” basis.

    Thanks for asking that question!

  28. Bob,

    Thanks for stopping by. I want you to know that I greatly appreciate the work you did on Mr. Standfast and now on Gratitude & Hoopla. I believe you’re one of those bloggers who has come in and filled a gap that was missing in the Christian blogosphere. You also bring a gentle voice into the midst of some of the rancor that develops. Also very needed. I appreciate your wisdom.

    It’s a tough thing, blogging. You’re right, we may never get to see the fruit of our blogs this side of heaven. I do get people dropping by who tell me how much they’ve been affected by Cerulean Sanctum, but sometimes I wish I could see more than letters on a computer screen. Know what I mean?

    Thanks again.

  29. Dwayna,

    Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you came to the decision you did. Sounds like God was guiding you. Keeping people informed is a good thing and I think how you’ve decided to proceed online will bless people. I will say this, though, I would consider leaving the comments on because they can be a blessing and add to what you write. People need that outlet. If you don’t want to engage those comments yourself, that’s fine. That will allow you to focus on other things. Still, people sometimes find release on tough subject by expressing themselves, and comments can help do that. Sometimes commenters will say they are praying for you and that’s something you need to hear, too. If you let them know that you read the comments but want to devote time to your mission rather than to replying to every comment, perhaps that would work for you. But let God guide you on that and not me.

  30. Susan

    Dan,
    I started blogging for two reasons:

    1) As my kids are now grown and away from home, it’s a fun way to share what’s been on our minds (and captured with our cameras).

    2) I don’t have any “real” friends who have the time or the desire to discuss, in person, the things I blog about. The blog is like a “message in a bottle” thrown out from the island in the middle of an ocean of people who mostly prefer to talk about what was on TV last night.

  31. Ben

    After reading through these comments I believe I may have something to contribute. I hear a lot of talking about a “calling to blogging” or “purpose of my blogging” and other such stuff. Such things are good and well. But truthfully that’s not why I blog. I blog because, well, I like to. I just happen to be a Christian who blogs. I post about a range of topics, whatever strikes my fancy. And I think that because of this “pot-luck” blogging my interest has remained piqued.

    Personal Opinion: I think that if a person blogs solely in order do cyber street-evangelism or otherwise push their views over on others they’re missing the heart of blogging. Blogging by its very nature is relationship oriented. I think it’s shallow to view blogging as another means of preaching from a soapbox on the corner. Blog for blogging’s sake. Not EVERYTHING we do is supposed to directly preach the gospel.

    Whether we like it or not the internet has become a social arena. It’s where ideas meet and mingle and if we only read and comment on blogs that share our ideas and lifestlye it does become a Christian ghetto.

  32. Ben

    By “directly preach the Gospel” I mean that God has created us with the ability to enjoy some activities just because He wants us to be able to enjoy ourselves. Blogging for Jesus seems to me like skydiving for Jesus, or having sex for Jesus, or making a table for Jesus. Dude, just enjoy the fact that God has given you the ability to enjoy some activities for the sake of enjoying them.

  33. Mr. Incredulous

    Dan,
    So, the purpose of blogging is because you need to “reach” people? Ah, a frightening microcosm of the church! We don’t have walls, now we have the web… Our audience isn’t coming to us, so let’s go to them… Let’s tell them how it is, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll singlehandedly persuade them to assimilate by dwelling in our kingdom. Mind you, I didn’t say God’s Kingdom…
    Why must we who trust in Jesus “Christianize” everything? Christian music, Christian health, Christian blogs… Even Christian coffee!
    Please don’t get me wrong, I’m sure your heart is in the right place, that you’re not trying to force your opinions on others. As a matter of fact, it’s quite clear from your posts that that isn’t your intent, for which I am most grateful. OK, you’ve got a lot on your mind that you’d like to share. Great. So do many others. Yes, some share their diaries, others share political, technology or religious views… But what is ultimately the true purpose for “Christian” blogging? Nothing more than this. To promote stimulating thought regarding our Lord.
    Admittedly, I agree with very few things/ideas you post. Yet I keep coming back. Why? Because it provokes me to deeper thought and consideration. I can confidently proceed in my life knowing that I’m not ignorantly making choices and decisions, but carefully weighing many viewpoints, patiently praying and carefully choosing what I believe God is teaching me.
    Let’s not get so concerned with “Am I being effective in what I’m saying?” and let God be God. It is the Spirit’s job to convict, teach and guide. Let’s not take His job away from Him, because we all know He’s going to be a lot more successful that us anyday!
    —Fmr. Min. G. Ryan

  34. Eric,

    If that’s the case, I sure picked a lousy time to do it. I think he posted something on his site a few days ago saying he was on vacation and wouldn’t be posting for a while.

    Actually, my point with Phil is that he doesn’t tend to stray outside of his MacArthur/Spurgeon sanctuary very often to plug someone (anyone!) else. Hey, MacArthur and Spurgeon are great—no arguments from me— but here are a whole host of other Christians out there that can add to the collage that is Christianity. I know that Phil loves those two preachers. I love Tozer and Ravenhill. Still, as big a name as Phil has become in so short a time, it would be great if he could introduce folks to a little wider variety of Christian thought.

    I know, treason right? I’ll probably wind up on the minor heretics list for even commenting on this.

  35. Ben said: having sex for Jesus

    I can see it now. I call up to my wife and say, “Hey hon, been reading through the comments on my blog, and I’ve formulated this new theological position. Wanna discuss it?”

    😉

  36. Mr. Incredulous,

    I see your point. I’m not far from that position, actually. But I do think we can turn blogging into a timewaster. One of the reasons that TV viewing is so off is because of the rise of the Internet. I also think that blogging may interfere with more face-ro-face time with real people.

    I once witnessed a neighborhood hit with a blackout on a mild summer day. The neighbors came outside and talked with other neighbors, the kids played together (starting up an impromptu Kick the Can game), and the whole neighborhood came alive. It was that way for almost three hours. But the second the power went back on everyone went back inside to TV, video games, and other elctronic doo-dads that sap our personal relational time. It was frightening to to see. Within ten minutes there was not a soul outside.

    Is blogging contributing to that same problem?

  37. Carla

    Hi Dan,

    I knew you’d like that question.

    🙂

    I really identified with your comment about topics germinating while you’re in the tractor – same for me while I’m in the yard as well.

    I don’t spend a lot of time trying to be entertaining (as you well know, lol) I just say it like it is – and do try hard to say it with grace (which is often a challenge, as you also know).

    The thing is, for me, blogging is just the ‘evolution’, so to speak, of what I’ve been doing since 1974 when it was called “hide that in a new spot every night so your brother doesn’t read it to his dumb friends and embarass you to death”.

    For those out there who blog, who have always written in one form or another, blogging is just a new twist to an inner passion.

    You’re right – for some of us, if we don’t let it out, we will in fact explode. I’ve seen it – words and phrases go shooting out every direction. It’s brutal, and you don’t want to stand too close to an exploding writer. Might lose an eye.

    Christian blogging, like anything else “Christian” has it’s upside, and it’s downside.

    You’ve raised some good points, and given quite a few folks, decent food for thought.

    SDG – me

  38. Kate

    You wonder if any Arminian has changed to a Calvinist because of exposure to blogs. Yes. I am another example! I discovered Calvinism when I “happened” upon the Jollyblogger through a Google search on some topic. I didn’t know what a blog was, and could not have told you what TULIP stood for. I was and am in the SBC, but had been taught much Arminianism from SBC leaders/pastors. I was very intrigued by Jollyblogger and his site, and his blogroll! I followed the trail of Reformed bloggers over the next year, and I found all the BEST of them, you included. Through their discussions, God showed me some inconsistencies in my understanding of theology, and I learned of the beautiful logic and biblical nature of Calvinism and Reformed Doctrine. I have purchased at least 10 books which were recommended by Reformed bloggers, and am going to buy more tomorrow. My studies have been fantastic! God has uniquely blessed me by my time with bloggers, and by their guidance toward a sounder theological system! At the same time, I see some problems at my local church, and now, my husband and I are visiting Heritage Baptist Church, a Reformed and Southern Baptist Church! So, yes…I am another person who has been seriously altered by you Calvinistic bloggers! I have at least 10 of you coming daily to my home page via RSS. I check in daily with a few of you, and have been totally blessed over and over by what you offer at your sites. The trail of links to other Reformed blogger sites has been invaluable to me, as well as lists of what you are currently reading. How can I thank you all enough?? Now, Dan, you are one of the later bloggers that I have ‘discovered’. You are on my RSS feed, too, and I am keeping you there!! KEEP ON, because you are making such a difference to some, but not to all. And, it’s the SOME that matters, never the ALL.
    Kate/acceptance.w.joy

  39. Kate

    And…I should add a tiny remark. I am reading those with whom I don’t always agree, as well as some I can’t yet comprehend. Various views intrigue me and clarify the best of arguments. This has been a valid learning mechanism, this reading of alternative points of view.

    Last, your piece on Disappointments today was excellent. My heart goes out to you re. things that brought you pain, and yet, with the Psalmist, you praise him and hope in His providence. God bless!
    Kate/acceptance.w.joy

  40. Julianne

    Why do I blog?

    To glorify God.
    To call attention to His supremacy and worth.
    To equip the saints.
    To record my thoughts and experiences for future reference.
    To be used by God to bring about sanctification.
    To remember how God has worked in my life and use it to testify.

    These are just some of my reasons. God, help us, if we bring dishonor to Your name.

  41. Such an intersting post, Dan.

    In response to your question, ” … for the clashes that occur on blogs, don’t the combatants eventually retreat to their own corners, completely set in their monolithic ways?” I have to confess that I do ‘retreat’. I do so not because I want to hang about by myself in my own little corner stuck in my monolithic ways, but because there is a lack of willingness by monolithic thinkers to engage in dialogue over issues that are contrary to their ‘orthodoxy’ or their perspective. That is, the opportunity for a graceful conversation is lost because of stubbornness, because of an ever so easy willingness to impose a condition where parties ‘agree to disagree’; which translates to “I really don’t want to discuss this any further; you’ve had my last”. That is one reason why, and sadly, I stopped commenting here on CS. It appeared to me that there was no point in attempting to pursue a conversation because of a percieved unwillingness to embrace, even for experimental reasons, ideas that call for a different perspective. So, why bother; why bother a brother who seems intent on only hearing his own voice, at least as far my experience went? I simply do not wish to be nor have any intention of being a Yes-Man.

    So I retreat because I don’t believe I am being heard, or that there is any intention to hear what I have to say if it is opposed to the theme of the day.

    ~~~~

    On why I blog, for what it is worth…

    My blog serves as an adjunct to the my public expression of my faith in my local community. The main ‘stories’ in my blog are often those that have been published in our local rag, circulation 750. I pay a few bucks per month for the opportiunity to have a Christian message printed, from time to time, in the paper. There is real fruit evident from this approach, and I figure some yet to ripen as it takes its form.

    One factor that I think works well is my willingness to talk about things that are not ‘signed off’ with Jesus, God or the Bible; that is, I am thoughtful about communal concerns and things that affect our society and locality at large, +ve and -ve. People can see that I have something to offer and contribute and that I am not some stuffy, collared, religious bigot who cannot see the people around him because he has his head perpetually stuffed in his denominational enclave or theological library of Christian controversies. They also see that I am human and struggle with life just as they do. The big difference is that I am not smothered by it because of the faith God gives me in that I can claim that God is blessed above all, despite our present circumstances.

    Some may speak about the ‘blogosphere’ as though it is a something, a place of import. It is a nothing: it has no identity, it occupies no place. It is nothing more than an opportunity to allow our thoughts to be placed before the face of others. People don’t hang around in the blogosphere. They hang around in there loungerooms and studies and dens and offices, and in most cases they do it ALONE. If the blogosphere is anything it is a lonely place for millions and millions of people sitting alone with their thoughts and their keyboard.

    I believe the greatest challenge for Christian bloggers is to back up their blogging with their feet on the ground in their local community WHERE THEY LIVE. This may mean, for many, a change of priorities. I think, then, Christian bloggers will really see the point of their blogging, and some real life face-to-face fruit. Anything else is heading towards being meaningless because, above all, we are called to be in relationship with others. I think, Dan, your desire to be in the presence of other bloggers is evidence of this, to break bread together with them. Generally speaking, this is all well and good, but why not do that where we are? The blogosphere is a no-place; where we are now is a real place, and the place where we live and move and have our being needs our face in its marketplace, and those that come to us from the marketplace, into our homes or wherever, need to see the face of Jesus in our face. People long for meaningful relationships where they are. To think we can effectively do this via the internet is a lie, I believe. We need to see others in the gutters and help them, and pull them out, just as Jesus pulled us out. We can’t do that if we are nit-picking over controversies of which there is no end, all the while locked away behind our front doors ensconced in our screen-culture. We can’t do that if we remain in our holy-huddles, mediated through a thing called a keyboard, while being experts and critics of all and sundry while at the same time walking past those who are dying on our ‘doorstep’.

    My apologies if this post appears to lack some tact, different people will see different things according to their vision or lack of it.

    Peace be with you.
    Peter

  42. Barbara

    Blogs or blogging never interested me until a few months ago. My son had tried to persuade me to start a blog, to no avail. But, since I started, I’ve really enjoyed it. I didn’t start a ‘Christian blog’, per se, but one where I could blog on things that interest me, along with Christianity.

    I do read lots of blogs, and not just Christian blogs. I do learn how others feel, act, or react to certain things. I enjoy reading the comments to posts I’ve enjoyed. I often will click on a name from a comment, in order to visit their blog, to see what they are about. That’s sort of how I’ve come to visit the blogs I do frequent, because some I’ve picked out of the blue are so out in left field, I wonder how anyone would read them!

    As for the Christian blogs reaching the lost, I think some do. I’m not a theologian, and sure cannot express myself about the WORD as I would like, but, if I feel impressed to write about something, I will. But, I’m more interested in getting to know people, whether they are Christian or not. I believe we can reach the outside world, if we are loving and compassionate, and don’t strike them down at the stake, if they don’t agree with what we believe.

    I remember getting into an email exchange with an atheist who had found my site. We conversed for a long time, and, then I had a computer crash – no name, no address of this person – so we lost contact. I’m sure he thought I was just another Christian that didn’t want to listen to him, but that wasn’t it. I had no way of letting him know, since it was my turn to write. This is an avenue where people learn others, and I’ve come to love it. I do admit I have SO many blogs I frequent, it takes up too much time! Just ask my husband. But, after 41 years, he’s not going to leave me.

  43. Hi Dan,

    I blog because I would explode if I didn’t. It’s cheap therapy, which helps me process the journey going on in my head. My blog (www.organicfaith.com) is part of my walk with God and a way for those close to me to stop in and see what is really going on inside of my head and heart. We are busy people nowadays, and it can be hard to stay connected with all the rush, rush, rush of life.

    My blog focuses on seeing God in everyday life. It deals with my struggles to survive my journey of faith. Hopefully, it encourages others on their mission too.

    I have learned a ton from what others have written on their blogs, including Cerulean Sactum. But like any piece of information, it doesn’t do any good unless I let it transform me.

    You seem to have hit on a real problem with our society today. We have lots of information and experience very little transformation. We have more books, teaching resources and tools to equip believers than ever before. But the Church is mired in selfish consumerism.

    Christians are called to be witnesses. Blogging about life helps us do that. Is it a great witnessing vehicle? I’m not sure about that one.

    However, I have seen God use it to proclaim His glory and reveal His hand in the everyday circumstances of life.

    While there may be lots of blogs out there, I have selected to monitor only a handful of them. And this happens to be one of them.

    Thanks for all your great thoughts.

  44. Eric M Schumacher

    Dan,

    I agree. We can all get caught up in the circle of our preferences. One of the things I like about Christian blogging is that it exposes me to a host of people I would never hear of or learn from in other circumstances.

    I hope you don’t end up in the heretical column on Phil’s blog. But, if you do, I tend to search that first…out of curiosity.

    Blessings.

  45. Rob Wilkerson

    Dan,

    You said, “The comfort zone exists and most readers are cool with it, but don’t you ever wish that some blogger would bust out—just once? ” I’m trying my dear brother!

    I’ve not hidden the fact that I’m a charismatic/calvinist, but in recent days I’m ‘bustin out for all to see. Problem is, your assessment seems to be right, for no one interacts with me, challenges me, posts varying viewpoints, etc. It’s all agreement.

    So here I am being disagreeable about agreement. Whassup with that?

    Thanks bro. You’re a dear brother to me and we’ve never even met!

  46. Kathi

    Hi Dan!
    I enjoyed reading your words here.
    I’m wondering too… does blogging really make a difference? If one person’s life is impacted for eternity then surely the time invested in blogging is worthwhile.

    I’ve only been blogging for a month. During this time, it has been fulfilling to sprinkle evangelistic seeds out into the world through the twelve or more different blogs I’ve created.

    But in the last hour, I started wondering is it really worth it?
    Will anyone ever even read my postings? Agape! Kathi Dameron

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