Echurch Blog asks what biblical principles should guide bloggers, referencing a tremendous (if long) article by Bryan Chappell over at Gospel Coalition. It’s full of good things:
The reason some of today’s advocacy journalism and web commentary are so dangerous to Christians is not because we are blind to their biases. Rather, the danger lies in our tendency to think that, since we agree with the viewpoints of certain commentators, therefore their digs at, and disrespect of, opponents are acceptable among us.
Blocs of Christians grow to appreciate certain commentators because they seem willing to say what we would like to say but our biblical instincts have made us hesitant to express. At first, we chortle at the sarcasm and scorn with guilty pleasure that our enemies have been made to squirm. But, over time, we no longer feel guilty, and then the real damage is done. Christ’s testimony erodes when his people grow so accustomed to verbal disdain that we begin to believe such speech is permissible for us. When the church fills with people holding so little regard for her spoken witness, then her redemptive purposes are far removed from her daily priorities.
We must determine whether our web tastes have been cultivated by the world or by its Creator. Returning evil for evil is not a Christian option. When the speech habits of the world become the unexamined practices of the redeemed, then it is time for correction and repentance. We correct by letting those in our own camps know when their commentary has moved beyond the bounds of biblical ethics and Christian love. We repent by, first, confessing that we are as wrong to receive gossip and slander as to spread it, and, second, by refusing to consume or visit the publications and sites that claim to be Christian and do not honor Christ’s commands.
Well said. It’s easy to let things into our heads. It’s far harder to get them out. And what comes in will shape our attitudes.
I discovered an example in myself only today. I’m not politically correct. I loathe and despise the brainwashing that I have endured for the last 15 years. It’s evil, stupid and perverse, and those setting the climate of what can be said, and what cannot, are people whose guiding principle is “if it feels good to me, then do it.”
Now I am the proud owner of the Official Irish Joke Book, in four volumes. I haven’t read any for years. But today I pulled down book 3 — “book 2 to follow”, as the cover says — on my journey to the bathroom. While engaged in brushing my teeth, I proceeded to dip into it. And … I found myself flinching at the jokes. What was entirely proper light humour, published in 1985, is now something that cannot be said or thought. But that isn’t my point. Despite my thorough opposition to such brainwashing, I too have been conditioned. My reflex flinching told me that.
I wasn’t “disgusted” or “horrified”, thank heavens. The books are entirely innocent, after all. But I suddenly saw how effective the suppression of such material, and the endless repetition of “you can’t say that”, must have been. I suspect my reflex was simply that I have become used to the idea that such material will produce shrieking abuse. And so even I have been influenced, against my will.
The environment in which we immerse ourselves will shape who we are. For this reason, we must choose what that environment is.
Some Christians ration the amount of non-Christian culture they permit themselves, for just this reason. But there are risks in so doing, not least because in our culture most modern Christian material is derivative or second-rate. Since Christians are a despised minority — let’s call it what it is — this is natural.
But I have derived considerable benefits to my imagination this year, simply from disposing of my DVD player and reading a lot of Christian novels. I really have. It has helped shape my attitudes to God, to my life, and to the world.
I can feel it happening. I’m working through the Left Behind series at the moment. I have no view on the theology espoused by its authors, but it has been a blessing. I have read various legal thrillers — a genre with which I am otherwise unacquainted — purely for the Christian worldview. And I have benefitted. It has lightened my imagination.
With every blogger, what comes out is what is inside. In my case, as you will appreciate, there is rather a lot of ancient history and patristics inside! That is not wrong. But I also need to work on the question of which blogs I read. I only have one Christian blog that I regularly read, and so I need others. I do not mean “blogs written by Christians” but rather “Christian blogs”, written in obedience to the biblical principles mentioned above.
And so do we all.