October 24, 2005
1. Is blogging really going to be "the next big thing"? Are comparisons to Guttenberg or television valid? Or is it a temporary blip that will be surpassed by new technologies before it ever really takes off? You can guess what the party line at GBC was, and they may well be right. But someone needs to at least ask these questions.I think it depends on what we do with it. A new medium is only as good as what it is used for, and how flexible it is. We need to make sure that we don't use blogging simply as a way to validate ourselves and our opinions -- we need to interact and engage. I've done a lousy job of that lately -- my substantial posts have been pretty insular things geared more towards current readers or people who agree with me. That's something I need to change -- but change is hard. We need to blog with a purpose, those of us who claim the title "Godblogger." Christians need to make use of the new media (blogging and podcasting both) as effective tools of evangelism, polemic, and apologetic.
As far as the overall potential of blogging -- only time will tell. I'm sure several years into the printing press, there were still people who wondered when that fad would end. Even at the beginning of the "information age," people wondered why individuals would ever want to have their own computer. There is a lot of potential in blogging, and it all rests on those who blog. The things I mentioned above hold true here as well -- what becomess of blogging will depend on what we all make of it. Blogging has come a long way since it's beginning, and still has a long way to go.
Question number 2 actually ties in with the first part of my answer to #1 (that'll teach me to read ahead!), so I'll go on to #3:
3. Will the close relationship between Christian blogging and politically conservative blogging end up doing more harm than good? Have we looked at the unintended consequences? For example: When Christian bloggers vehemently argue for lower taxes, or less gun control or less environmental regulation or in favor of military intervention in Iraq (all positions I agree with, btw), will they create confusion between Christian absolutes and positions based on human wisdom? There is no biblical case that taxes must ALWAYS be lower or that ALL environmental regulations are bad so these arguments must be made on pragmatic, not biblical grounds. But the case is often stated with the same certainty and demand for orthodoxy as a case made (in the adjoining item) for salvation by faith. Call it the World Magazine Syndrome. At GBC my fellow conservatives seemed very defensive when these types of issues were raised.This is a pet peeve of mine, and it's the reason I don't blog politics very often -- unless it intersects religious faith in general, and Christianity in particular (and I've even done less of that lately. Maybe I need to get with it ...). Lower taxes may be a good idea, but is it a distinctively Christian idea? What about gun control? We've tied our faith to our politics so tightly that we're making purely political issues into religious fights. I make no appologies about being politically conservative, but my politics do not impact my faith, and my faith only impacts my politics in certain areas. We need to be certain to differentiate our faith in Christ from our support of any political candidate. There were Christians on both sides of the Civil War, don't forget -- and both sides were convinced that God and cripture were firmly on their side.
4. Can blogging be an effective tool for evangelism and why is this being treated as a minor side-issue of little importance?I struggle with this, but I'm going to have to give a qualified "No" to this one. Qualified because I've seen God work in ways that I could never predict, and I don't want to say that God won't use blogs to draw people to Himself. But evangelism is primarilly a personal thing. One-to-one, building relationships. Blogs can be tools that help us to build those relationships, but it ultimately comes though a face-to-face encounter with someone, ministering to them and meeting their needs so that they can see God live in us. I've read a lot of blogs that have tried to change peoples' minds about a lot of things, and none have been very effective. I've read evangelistic blogs, and I've heard nothing good from any nonChristian who went to one. They aren't effective in and of themselves, and that is what I see happening quite often. If blogs are properly used to build relationships, then I can see them being an evangelistic tool. But that seems to be a very big if.
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