Bible Study on Blogs

July 7, 2008 by
Filed under: Religion, Weblogs 

This post and its comments are the online home for this Bible Study on blogging.  I hope that each of you will contribute.  If you wish to contribute anonymously, just e-mail your words to me and I’ll post them under whatever identification you want (or none).

The basic question that we’re covering is “what does the Bible say about blogging?”  This was prompted by a bit of a dustup that I’ve had with some members and staff of my congregation over things written by me on this blog.  So a sub-question is “Can you or should you ever post negative thoughts or facts about your local church on a blog?”

So far we’ve got two sides to the question (hey, most of us are Presbyterian!):

Post only what builds up the body of Christ – Coming from 1 Corinthians 13, but also from most of Paul’s letters and strong support from the Gospels is the concept that we should blog in love for our fellow humans.  That we should blog only what builds up the body, and avoid that which would cause disruption.

It is quickly absorbed in the body viagra cipla and becomes effective in as little as 30 to 45 minutes. It is available in online levitra the form of tablets at online stores. The Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology (APLAR), the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR), the Association of Rheumatology Health experts, and the European League against Rheumatism (ELR), are the major established organizations and arrange many activities viagra order shop related to this field. Erectile dysfunction order cheap viagra may be a premature warning of a serious disease like heart problems, high blood pressure, liver disease Erectile dysfunction hits a man where it really matters in the bedroom. Criticism that is intended to promote right action is valid
– In this case, Galatians 2 is the key, particularly the narratives of the discourse between Paul and the Jerusalem leaders, and Paul’s rebuke of Peter.  Here, it’s clear that speaking truth to power (church leadership) and then writing about it to a larger group of 3rd parties has happened in Scripture.

Overlaying all of this is the injunction in Matthew 18:15-17 – if you have a disagreement, take it to the other party.  If that doesn’t work, take a few friends to the other party.  If that doesn’t work, tell it to the church.  If that doesn’t work, write the other person off.  One question here – in terms of blogs, what is the definition of “the church”?  The local congregation?  The denomination?  The entirety of the Christian blogosphere?  Or all believers in Christ?

Another question is whether or not the rules are different when speaking of people that you see weekly in church vs. the greater church (the denomination).  Can you speak more harshly about those who you disagree with simply because they don’t sit in the same sanctuary with you on Sunday?

I welcome your continued thoughts.  I plan for this post to be the home of this discussion.  Please put your thoughts in comments, or e-mail them to me to be added.  This is a Bible study, so let’s focus on Scripture.


14 Comments on Bible Study on Blogs

  1. on Mon, 7th Jul 2008 1:52 pm
  2. Mark Time: Bible Study on Blogs

    Please come and participate in a Bible Study on blogs and blogging.

  3. Cameron Mott on Mon, 7th Jul 2008 3:06 pm
  4. Well, I guess I brought something like this up on another board. I object to bloggers who publically complain and accuse and even disparage individuals or groups without ever apparently taking the complaint to those individuals and groups. If I had a blog I probably would be doing the same, I probably am doing it right now, but it seems like an unBiblical practice and to me seems to be one of the things poisoning the denominational waters for us all.

    I would urge more of those who are being, or feel they are being criticized, to engage the conversation. If done with respect.

  5. jodie on Wed, 9th Jul 2008 4:48 am
  6. If its a Bible study, first thing is to study the bible.

    “If that doesn’t work, write the other person off.”

    Read that more carefully. Mat 18:15-17 concludes with the words “let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”. The question is then, how did Jesus teach us in Matthew to treat Gentiles and Tax collectors?

    Or then Matthew 15:18-20:

    “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man”

    This definitely applies to blogging.

    So back to your text again, in it Jesus goes on to conclude in Mat 18:20

    “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

    And this I believe is the key. Jesus transitions us from rebuking each other for perceived sins to inviting his presence into our midst. Isolated POWs in Hanoi found a way to tap the presence of Jesus into their midst. We should do no less by taping our keyboards.

  7. Mark on Wed, 9th Jul 2008 9:07 am
  8. Jodie,

    You are correct – I was too abrupt in my language. Rather than “write the other person off”, “stop interacting with the other person”.

    So are you saying that we should not rebuke each other on blogs?

    How does this compare to what all of us are doing online today?

  9. jodie on Wed, 9th Jul 2008 12:08 pm
  10. Mark,

    “stop interacting” is not what Jesus did with Gentiles and Tax collectors. Look again.

    In general I do not think we should rebuke each other on blogs. I have broken that rule for one exception. I rebuke people for rebuking. You’ve read my comments on blogs where I have lit into people, but the pattern is almost always the same. I am responding, usually to pastors and elders, to vitriolic portrayals of disciples of Jesus. On some occasions I have been the disciple portrayed that way, and its not in my nature to always walk away from insults.

    But I think its a fruitless exercise. It is not where I started and not where I would rather be. I comment on other blogs from a very different place.

    I think blogging can be better used for encouragement and building up. Forget the compare and contrast method of showing good in contrast to some other evil. Focus only on the good. Zero enforcement for things you don’t like, positive enforcement for things you do like. It’s not just about playing nice. It’s effective. I’ts positive. It’s good news.

    The Zen of the Gospel: >Be< the Good News.

  11. Mark on Wed, 9th Jul 2008 12:49 pm
  12. I don’t think I agree with your reading of “Gentile and tax collector”.

    There are two sides to this. On the one hand treating someone like a “Gentile and tax collector” is ostracizing them. This was the traditional reaction among the Jewish faithful.

    On the other hand, Jesus spent a lot of time converting and spending time with the “Gentile and tax collector”.

    I guess you have to read this in the context of the steps to be taken. If you have attempted to correct someone, you take them through confrontations with increasing numbers of people. The clause in verse 17 is the ELSE clause – if the confrontations don’t work. Is Jesus telling us to continue to allow the behavior requiring correction? Is Jesus telling us to support the behavior requiring correction? (this seems unlikely) Or is Jesus telling us to drop the issue, and treat the sinner with love? You’ve tried all you can – it’s God’s turn.

    I think Jesus is telling us to drop the issue, but remain in community with the other party.

    How does this contrast with our Confessions? How about Barmen – which very publicly rebukes a very identifiable group?

    Or how does it compare to our denominational statements about things like the Israel/Palestine conflict? We have some fairly strong public words about practices in there.

  13. Alan on Wed, 9th Jul 2008 4:09 pm
  14. Unfortunately, because we’ve all seen such bad models, how we deal with blogging ends up being a harder question than I think it really needs to be.

    I do think Matthew 18 is a key section of Scripture. That doesn’t mean that one can’t be critical of the church and/or church groups when necessary, but calling out people by name for rebuke is probably neither graceful nor useful.

    From my own experience, that’s why I no longer visit several blogs of our supposedly conservative brothers and sisters. Once I realized they were unable to communicate respectfully with people with whom they disagreed, no matter how respectful I tried to be, it was time to go. And, like Jodie, I get rather irate when people like them accuse everyone who doesn’t think exactly like them of apostasy or heresy, and so I did indeed criticize them for refusing to follow Matthew 18 in those cases. That was about as useful as spitting into the wind, no matter how polite about it I tried to be. I also think places like that are poisonous in that, no matter how polite you want to be, the general tenor of the discussion makes one more and more strident. It’s all part of the game they play.

    So even though they have no problem criticizing people publicly and often by name, I realized that I shouldn’t allow them to drag me into the mud. So I shook the dirt off my sandals and I’ve avoided them as much as possible. (Once in a while I still visit their blogs to see what they’re up to because I think it’s useful to “know your enemies” as Sun Tzu said. But I no longer participate in the snark-fest that are their comments sections.)

    Staying in community with them? I honestly don’t see how that’s possible.

    So, basically I think if one is going to structure a Bible study on blogging, use Matthew 18 as a foundation, then do the exact opposite of what those folks do in their comments sections and you should be OK. 😉

  15. john on Tue, 15th Jul 2008 8:13 am
  16. It seems that much of the New Testament is addressing error and heresy. That’s one example the Lord gives us; why are we not allowed to follow it? (In balance.)

  17. jodie on Tue, 15th Jul 2008 10:17 pm
  18. John,

    That is an interesting spin, but I’m not sure its right. Is the NT addressing error and heresy? On occasion, maybe, but I don’t see it anywhere near an overriding theme. You see a struggle to define the Good News, you see a struggle to keep up with the work of the Holy Spirit, you see an accounting of early polemics and how they were resolved and not resolved, you see the four faces of the Gospels and the teachings of Jesus perfecting the Law, his rebuke of the official interpreters of the Law, quite a bit of Christian wisdom and ethics, … and so much more. I find it really hard to put it in just one or two or even 10 categories.

  19. Alan on Wed, 16th Jul 2008 8:59 am
  20. “It seems that much of the New Testament is addressing error and heresy. That’s one example the Lord gives us; why are we not allowed to follow it? (In balance.)”

    Well, you know you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that He hates all the people you do. I simply find it interesting that the overlap between people who disagree with some bloggers and those people whom the bloggers believe are heretics is perfect.

    (Not to mention, we disagree about the entire purpose of “The Good News.”)

    And, when Jesus addresses error and heresy, I’d find his judgement far more reliable than that of just ordinary human beings. In Genesis, God also creates the universe. That wasn’t written as an example for something we’re supposed to do either. 🙂

  21. Alan on Wed, 16th Jul 2008 10:22 am
  22. BTW, I should add, John, that calling someone apostate and a heretic on a blog is also somewhat problematic, since generally the person doing the name calling and the person being maligned have usually never even met in person.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone’s powers of discernment are so powerful that they can be used via electronic cable. Just how is the power discernment carried by electrons, anyway? 😉

  23. jodie on Thu, 17th Jul 2008 1:27 am
  24. I think I have to agree with Alan. Calling people apostates and heretics is basically sanctimonious cussing and should be off limits

  25. David Williams on Fri, 18th Jul 2008 10:16 pm
  26. I’d tend to go to James 1:26 and 3:5-8 for advice on this one. Yeah, most of us don’t type with our tongues…it tends to mess with the keyboard…but the principle is there nonetheless.

    It’s insanely easy to vent bile into the blogosphere, and forget the child of God on the other side of the exchange. Yet I’ve found that aggressive grace can also be conveyed. It’s all a question of what we prioritize.

    In terms of blogging to complain about so-and-so or to pitch out a viral whisper campaign…well, we’ve got a ton of Proverbs that speak to that sort of behavior in meatspace that could just as easily apply to its e-quivalent. Proverbs 16:21; 26:20; and 26:22 are fine examples.

  27. What’s going on : Mark Time on Tue, 20th Jan 2009 3:08 pm
  28. […] My blog has been quiet, and light on what’s going on in my life.  Most of that is due to the Sword of Damocles question about what I should write here.  (By the way, more input is desired in the Bible Study on blogging.) […]

Tell me what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!