Friday, January 21, 2005

Digital Salt-Where To From Here?

Vox Apologia II is being hosted at Razors Kiss over the weekend. The topic for this week, “Digital Salt,” is at the center of an interesting crossroads for evangelical blogging. Joshua, among others, has been ruminating on this issue recently to great effect, so what I want to do is simply add some thoughts concerning the penetration of digital salt.

“Trickle-Down Effect”
I have become convinced that engagement in the apologetic and philosophical area has a particular kind of effect on different people given their place in the conversation. In general, the people actively engaged in the debate, the “presenters” so to speak, will not be persuaded one way or the other. The conversation takes place, from an apologetic point of view, for the listeners. So what does this mean for the blogosphere?

First, we should be willing to engage other bloggers on matters important to our faith. We hope and pray that they will be touched by God’s Spirit and come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but in all probability, we will more than likely touch the readers of the blog before we reach the blogger him or herself. In this sense, then, it is never “fruitless” to engage a blogger who never sees things the way you do.

Second, we should learn how to handle flamers with grace and wisdom. I still recall how I felt when I was first flamed on this blog and it was quite frustrating. It became clear to me that it was going to be impossible to answer everyone of their challenges, so I quickly learned to keep to the point and try to avoid reciprocal flaming. As in my first point, we will probably not reach a flamer, but people will read the back-and-forth and if we are wiser and more gracious, I think it will come through. So if flaming frustrates you, you might do well to have the mindset where you wisely and graciously engage with a flamer for the sake of the readers.

Encouragement of the Saints

Dory has also made this kind of point, and I don’t think it can be overlooked too quickly. When we do apologetic work well, we encourage the faith and evangelistic fervor of fellow believers. Personally, I have had the most lasting effect with believers when it comes to the heavy-duty issues in apologetics. How do science and Christianity work together? Can I take the entire Bible seriously? How can I think about the problem of evil? These are not just questions non-believers ask-plenty of believers have these issues in the backs of their minds somewhere.

As a pastor, I have to remind myself from time to time that the adage, “you never know who is listening” is true. You, as a blogger or a Sunday school teacher, may not be the next C.S. Lewis, but if you are faithful in your work and presentations that person may be encouraged by what you have to say and how you say it.

Overall, the blogosphere promises to be a virtual space of increasing influence. More and more church members will keep in touch with their pastors/leaders through their blogs. More and more churches will keep their people informed about the life and activities of the church through blogs. More and more virtual small groups will have a place to “meet” when they don’t have a chance to meet fact-to-face. More and more Sunday school teachers will be able to disseminate their lessons through blogs. More and more theological, apologetic and philosophical interaction and collaboration can take place across the world within circles of interest (much like the Apologetics Aggregator).

We are on only the ground floor of what the blogosphere can do for the Church. Let us be wise, winsome, and creative in how we proceed!