2nd Most Read Post – Blogging, Discernment, and a Book by Tim Challies

No. 2 on the list of most-read posts on this blog appeared on October 26, 2007. This post was an expression of some of my own concerns and frustrations about the blogging world I have come to love so much. I said some things I had been wanting to say for a long time, and it was not a great surprise that the aftermath of this post would lead me to disable comments on my blog a month later. Tim’s book addresses discernment, which lies at the root of many of my issues with the Christian blogosphere and its direction.

A couple of updates to the original post appeared several days later and have been included here as part of the original post.

UPDATE—November 3, 2007
Phil has now written part two of his reply, and I have responded with a post entitled, “Of Tone, Discernment, and the Charismatic Question.”

UPDATE—October 29, 2007
Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs and I have been debating the issues raised by my criticism of him in the comments section of his original post. Just search for “Adrian” using the “find in page” function if you want to follow our specific debate. Phil has also written a new post, “If you can’t say something nice,” and we are debating in the comments on that post.

I will leave this post at the top of my blog for a couple more days as I want to give you all a chance to read it. If you are interested in some of my related thoughts on this subject, you could read the following posts:

Those of you with an eagle-eye will have already noticed that I am publicizing Tim Challies’ forthcoming book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. I doubt that many are surprised that I should want to encourage you to read his book, and I will show in this post why that is the case.

To begin with, however, I want to be very open and honest with you. When I first heard that Tim was writing a book I was actually a little concerned. This may surprise those regular readers who know how much I respect Tim and enjoy his blog. But I still had in my mind an old paradigm where those who are in some way “approved” as trained experts are the ones who should write books. Tim, like me, has no theological degrees. I also know that, just like me concerning this blog, he has been rather surprised by the way in which his readership has grown to an extent he never predicted (and, I should say, to a substantially larger figure than my own). So I was surprised that Tim put his neck on the line still further by taking on the challenge of writing a book.

Tim and I have both been riding a wave—the wave of blogging. In both the secular field and the Christian field, it seems that the most successful bloggers almost all seem to have something in common; they are not “officially trained” recognized global experts in their chosen fields. Perhaps this is because the real experts are too busy to write on a daily basis, or perhaps this is because of a new phenomena in our culture—one with which I’m not particularly thrilled, to be honest. In our 21st century culture there is a growing mistrust of any form of authority and of academics. It is actually rather sad to me that this now seems to be spilling over into the Church, and that it might seem, at first glance, to also include the Christian blogosphere.

David WayneOne of the most influential early articles discussing the Christian blogging phenomenon was titled, “We Know More Than Our Pastors,” and it embodied this trend. It concerned me immensely. David Wayne summarized this piece and sounded some very valid concerns about it. For me, I wanted almost nothing to do with the concepts outlined therein.

Even as I have enjoyed the way that I have been able to be buffeted in this hurricane called blogging, I have also been somewhat concerned about some of the implications of this new marketplace of ideas. I suppose that, despite these reservations, I remain in the blogosphere because I am drawn to it as surely as a bee is to a flower in bloom, and as the Apostle Paul was to the debating spots of ancient Athens.

I am also here because somebody has to be. I am certainly not here because I imagine myself to be at the vanguard of some modern reformation that will sweep away the “old guard” in the way some bloggers (usually not Christian ones) speak about. I am here because, ironically enough, I see this new media as a way that we can proclaim the old, old message. I am here because, in some small way, I can act as a signpost to direct passing traffic to wiser heads than mine. The more readers I find visiting here, the more I feel the need to both quote and link to others. Whatever the size of your blog readership, that filtering process is the single best gift you can give both to your readers and to the writers of even the biggest blogs. I am pleased that the headlines from several bloggers who deserve to be read more than I do appear in the “Warnie Winners” box in my sidebar.

The blogging community can be thought of as a road system, a library, an ecosystem, or perhaps most aptly of all, a jungle. With no single classification system or map, what is needed are good wise guides. There are precious few of them online.

Read more . . . Blogging, Discernment, and a Book by Tim Challies

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