This is going to be a bit of a long and personal post and will meander through some personal news, and some reflections on this blog and blogging in general, before eventually getting to the subject of American Independence Day as seen through the eyes of a Brit! So bear with me . . .
I know that none of you will believe me when I say this, but I really did consider shutting down the whole blog for good this past week – perhaps moving to a group blog if anyone could bear having me. (The title “Warnock Wars” did spring to mind for such an endeavour if I was to do it with Dave Warnock!)
Blogging is quite draining at times, and so the idea of laying it all down – or at least the pressure to write something EVERY day – was quite attractive for awhile as I lay on my bed for most of the week!
But the lure of solo-blogging proved too strong, even for a shingles weakened man. Some of you predicted that I wouldn’t last without blogging for 24 hours, and judging by the traffic this past week, my absence hasn’t stopped you from popping by – either to see if there was any news or to browse the archives. In fact, I made it to a week!
Speaking of the archives, one of the things that drew me back is all that unfinished business. At various points, this blog appears totally preoccupied with certain things; then after awhile the focus shifts. In the past these preoccupations have included the ESV Bible, being a reformed charismatic, preaching, Together for the Gospel, neo-liberalism, the so-called “New Perspectives on Paul“, and of course, the atonement or “Who Killed Jesus?” It really isn’t true that this is a one-subject blog, although at various times it sure has looked like it!
But along with all of that, there are so many loose ends to tie up, and whatever my next pre-occupation is, I do want to get back to and finish off as many of these as possible; things that spring to mind as areas to which I want to return are (roughly in order of priority):
- Blogging through the Together for the Gospel statement – Both Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Piper will have a break for another week or so, but they and I will return to this important task – why don’t you chip in as well and give yourself a chance to win a free book?
- Blogging the Gifts – I still have prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation to cover in my practical look at how the gifts of the Holy Spirit are used in the churches in which I have had experience.
- Social Styles and Teamwork – this kind of practical thinking about how we can best serve and draw out different kinds of people in various teams is vital. I never finished what I wanted to say in this series, and I would love to get back to it sometime. This series was in itself a diversion from the next one in this list of unfinished series.
- Churches that Change the World – sparked by a sermon, I would love to blog more about this one day and finish going through the points I made about what kind of churches we need to see planted in order to change the expression of Christianity.
- My Story – someone recently asked if I was going to finish this autobiographical series – perhaps not, but I really should try to go a bit further with it!
- Of course, I haven’t mentioned all the people I want to get around to interviewing, and the books I want to review, nor what I feel is still unfinished business with the Blogdom of God, which needs a major facelift (any web developers interested in helping with that?) nor the fact that if anyone is still interested and I can find another worthy recipient, I think I’d like to revive the Warnie awards!
Whilst I can’t promise that I will get back to any of these loose ends, I’m glad to announce that near-normal service will resume here this week . . . well, hopefully, and wi-fi permitting!
I go to the newfrontiers “Together on a Mission” conference tomorrow, and as the shingles hasn’t quite left me, whilst I do hope to do some live-blogging, I suspect it may not be as regular or as detailed as Tim Challies seems to manage at these kind of events!
I am beginning to get very excited about this conference, and am glad to have had the opportunity to quieten my heart down and begin to prepare to receive from God. For a regular preacher to get away from the home base where he feels so responsible and to just be an ordinary participant, present only to learn, is fantastic.
God has a good record of speaking to me at conferences like this, and I already feel this one will be something of a watershed for me in many ways. Why else would God arrange for me to STOP so suddenly and so completely for the week immediately before the meeting?
I haven’t a clue how many other bloggers will actually be attending this conference, but we will do our best to bring you the round-up of other posts about this conference as the week goes by. Being a part of the worldwide family that is newfrontiers is one of the greatest privileges in my life, apart from having a wonderful family!
It has been a great blessing to be reminded again this week – in case I was in danger of forgetting – that I have a real life outside of blogging! I am always happy, unlike some, for that real life to appear from time to time on this blog. It always concerns me a bit when Christian bloggers in particular want to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.
I know that for many of you Americans, especially at this time of Independence Day, you will want to remind me that, of course, bloggers are “free” to do just that. But, in my opinion, as much as with great power, so also with great freedom comes great responsibility. With this blogging media a nobody like me can suddenly find his thoughts being
shared online, opening up the possibility for international influence unprecedented in history for someone without any recognised power or authority.
Blogging can, because of this power for influence, be a powerful force for good and potentially a means of challenging those with established “off-blog” authority. Where that authority is being misused, or needs to be corrected, then I guess blogging can usefully be a tool – a bit like in the Reformation where pamphlets and the printing press led to a single obscure monk’s weird ideas being spread throughout the known world. We should welcome this opportunity to be always reforming and holding those with influential voices to account.
But, for many bloggers – even sadly some Christian ones – the very concept of authority seems to have gone missing. Blogging can give people delusions about their own importance. It concerns me that in our drive to make a mark and stand for our own opinions, it is possible for us to denigrate those with whom we disagree, forgetting in some cases their positions of authority within the church. This wouldn’t be so bad if some of the most vociferous critics of Christian leaders online were not themselves so unaccountable. The harshest voices are invariably the ones who do not tell us who they are, nor what church they go to, nor whose authority they are under. For many, of course, they do not feel the NEED to be under anybody’s authority – let’s be free, let’s be “independent” they cry!
Of course, American Independence Day speaks to this. Few, even on this side of the Atlantic, would today doubt that throwing off the tyranny of the British king was the best thing the US could have done, both for itself and for the mother country. But imagine, if instead of a domineering and oppressive regime, there had been a king who put their interests first and exported not just “civilisation,” but also the democracy we had begun to experience in England. Who knows? Perhaps we would now be living in some kind of mega-state – the United States of America and Britain or the British and American Federation or perhaps even the Anglosphere of which some people speak (see also the Wikipaedia entry on the Anglosphere).
Such thoughts are, of course, a bit fanciful, but what is perhaps less fanciful is to imagine the anarchy that would have ensued (and indeed nearly did!) if, in the history of the liberated America, the founding fathers had not learnt to balance the needs for freedom and for collective responsibility. For a country, like a church and like a family, needs to have some form of leadership and accountability. The truth is, we are not all “independent,” and both in the modern family of nations and also in their constitutions (both written and in our case virtual!) this is recognised.
The pressure to be independent and stand alone is, we all often feel, never more powerfully felt than in the blogosphere. This blog has always stood for an aim to help us bloggers who follow the cause of Christ to try to stand together, even if only online! For, if we cannot learn from one another, disagree with each other honourably, and glorify Christ throughout all these interactions, there is something seriously wrong.
I have written in the past about principles for Christian blogging – we must remember that one of our characteristics as Christians is community. Let’s blog to build one another up and support the leaders of the Christian movement out there in the “real world.”
Incidentally, speaking of teamwork, I do want to take this opportunity to thank my editor and research assistant who helps to make all this blogging possible – whilst being keen to remain in the background! God knows the blessings that many will receive for all they do without public recognition! It really seems that I have the beginnings of a “staff,” and it may be that one way to take some of the pressure off would be to have even more support in that department.
So, if you fancy an unsung-hero type job sifting blogs, Christian magazines, theological journals, secular newspapers, books, and other sources of great stories and provocative quotes for this blog, let me know!
Alternatively, do begin to use the for:apwarnock tag on del.icio.us. Since it is so easy for us to re-use those links, I am sure that a link placed there has a very good chance of appearing right here if it is consistent with the kind of things we link to!
We do also track links back to this blog, and the use of certain key words from time to time using the fantastic Google Blogsearch. (Make sure your blog is read by this service – just pass your feed through feedburner.com if for some reason it doesn’t show up!
God bless you all, and let’s all continue to enjoy the white-water rafting ride that blogging is together!