I was recently reading a post by Tim Challies on blogging that got me thinking about the value of the personal blog. How can a personal blog be a positive force in all the untruths spoken online?
Words are dangerous. The tongue has the power to encourage and to break apart. The Apostle James compares it to a bit in the mouth of a horse and the small rudder that pilots a ship. It can set a forest ablaze, it is set on fire by Hell, it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. It will bless the Lord one day and the curse its brethren the next day.
Words are also powerful for healing. In Eph. 1:13 we learn that when we heard the Word of the Gospel, we believed. In Acts 1:8, we are called to witness to the truth that Jesus is alive. The Christian is called to pray (Eph. 6:18), to encourage one another and build each other up (I Thess. 5:11). Of course, a call to Biblical wisdom in public discourse is abundant in the book of Proverbs. The one who speaks must first be listening and reading and learning (Prov. 18:13). With much other godly advice and wisdom, a word spoken must be fitly spoken (Prov. 25:11). Even reproof is permitted, but it must be done in wisdom: “Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.” (Prov. 25:12)
A blog can be a powerful mode of communication because people can ‘share’, ‘like’, and ‘comment’. In many cases, personal blogs will not be read widely. But even then, we must use the power of the words that God has given us in service of Jesus Christ and the truth. And so, as a powerful tool of communication that can be used for good or evil, the Christian is called to use it for good. The Christian is called to use all of his/her communication in life for good.
The blog is not an authoritative means of discourse, although it can be, depending on the capability and commission of the person blogging. Blogging provides the student of life an opportunity to learn how to engage in public discourse. How do I communicate in a way that will effectively communicate this new thing that I learned? How do I utilize my education for the good of society? How do I communicate in a way that will make society a better place and not a worse one?
We live in a world where rumours start and are spread rapidly through the internet. We live in a world that is polarized and angry. We live in a world where everyone has something to say and yet nothing to say. Our government’s response to this is to bring the media under their control. But all that this does is make the media into their own image.
And so the goal for anyone engaged in public discourse is to be a truth-teller. Of course, that truth should be accompanied by love. And that speaking of the truth should be reasonable and willing to engage with arguments. A Christian blogger should “By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13) He should be in full combat with the earthly, demonic and unspiritual wisdom that comes from below. Instead he should be full of the wisdom that comes from above: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:17-18).
Of course, a truth-teller must also not be self-deceived: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22) And so the goal of being a Christian in public discourse is always to be challenging ourselves with objective truth and reality. Whether the target of your studies is science, history, education, theology etc, the goal is that we are always asking questions and learning more. A king is inquisitive, a king is always learning more: “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” (Prov. 25:2)
I appreciate the encouragement of Tim Challies in promoting the personal blog. He writes: “And as I think about the future of Christian blogging, this is one of my foremost concerns—that as bloggers migrate away from personal blogs to instead submit their content to ministry sites, we are giving away the ability to say what we want to say, when we want to say it, and how we want to say it. We are also diminishing the training ground in which we grow in our ability to express ourselves with greater skill.” Again the personal blog is not necessarily authoritative, the blog holds a very conversational role in public discourse, but is a great place to sharpen your talents in public communication and search for truth.