Volume 15, Issue 6: Poimen
In days where many "run to and fro and knowledge increaseth" change occurs so quickly that each generation gets
a chance to trump their folks technologically. Kids who decades ago chortled at their parent's disorientation with
electric toasters are now mumbling and fidgeting in the presence of new technology. "Palm pilot? Eh? What's that?" If
they haven't yet figured out how to turn the thing on, how are they equipped to think about it biblically?
When pastors and parents are confronted with the latest, they often initially wander through a fog of
ethical cluelessness. At these times we get our bearings by remembering the constants. And one happy constant is the
comprehensive Lordship of Christ. He was Lord when the wheel was still cutting-edge technology, will remain Lord over
every technological innovation till doomsday.
With the breathless pace of change in our world, we cannot call the internet "new." And yet, it is one realm
where our technology has outpaced our ethics. So we need to be asking
How is Christ Lord over the internet? That question is
far too large to tackle in a short column. But one small subset of the internet,
the blog, is a good start.
Blogs are gaining attention. World Magazine
has begun a weekly "Blog Watch" column, and the Oxford
English Dictionary has legitimized the term with a definition. "Blog," is short for "web-log"a sort of personal online
journal where folks think out loud and encourage others to interact. Some are political, others personal, still others
wax theological. Many are an amalgamation. Some are written by professionals, but most are written by your
average Generation Xer trying to be heard in the midst of the internet cacophony. I am focusing on the latter group.
Blogging is governed by the same biblical principles that govern our speech. This seems obvious, but to read
the blogs of many young turks, they either don't get it, or they refuse to bridle their tongues. Blogs can be used for
great good, but like any speech, it must be bridled in order to bring grace to those who hear.
Godly blogging begins with the right metaphor. Many young bloggers write as though they are scribbling
ugly secrets into their private diaries. Because their blog-thoughts are just them "thinking out loud," they think
their grumbling lawfulas if our thought-lives aren't under the Lord's
dominion1. The fact that the "diary" metaphor
is faulty only multiplies the destruction of sinful speech. Blogging
is a form of diarizing, but one written expressly
for others to reador else why the public forum? But blogging is like reading one's diary over NPR. Bloggers
should reflect on whether they really want such a public forum.
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we
shall receive a stricter judgment (Jas. 3:1).
If you have a blog, don't take yourself too seriously. Few peopleeven those "struggling with low
self-esteem"really think more lowly
of themselves than they ought to think. The opposite sin, however, is pandemic (Rom.
12:3). Everyone wants to be taken seriously, but beware of losing a sense of proportion. Many bloggers come across as
the "lonely poet" 2misunderstood, outcasts from the world, shuffling miserably along life's highway. Their problem
is pride, and their favorite subject is themselves. But the snivelings of some disgruntled teenager do not make for
edifying reading. What about joy? And where did Christ get lost in all of this?
Next, though sanctified critique is always lawful, be vigilant against a critical spirit. Of course, you are not
writing so others will ignore you. Naturally you want to be read. But it has been said that the cheapest way to gain a following
is to criticize. Indeed, this is exactly the MO of false teachers,
These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful
desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain an advantage
(Jude 16). There is a lot wrong with the world, with
the Church, and with the Christians who compose it. So there is no lack of material to rag on. But backbiting and
ripping on a blog is worse than merely thinking
these things. It is conceiving nasty little thoughts, choosing not to discipline
them, and then hauling them to Safeway to vent their tantrums publicly in the dairy section.
When a critical spirit is pointed towards individuals (usually unnamed, though their identity is rarely in doubt),
it gets especially ugly. Remember that others bear the image of God. Understanding this is the foundation of
courtesy. Because we love God, we honor His image wherever we find iteven if we find it on someone who irritates us.
"There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing"
(Prov. 12:18). One pastor recommends that one critical comment about someone should be preceded by four positive ones. Try it, and the effort alone will
Blogging also has effect on our friendships. For many young reformed folks who go to small churches where
there is not a lot of peer fellowship, blogging provides virtual community. They can float their ideas into the void, and
have folks anywhere chime in and comment. Naturally, friendships develop. If left strictly as internet friendships, they
take on a Gnostic air, with no touch, smell, sight, or soundjust words prancing across the screen. Obviously this will
never replace laughter over pizza and Guinness.