Bible Before Blog

I am blogging for a few days as the guest blogger over at the Blue Fish Project. Here is today's post:

Several people over the last few months have told me either that a post on my own blog is not theologically nuanced enough for them, or that I didn't include enough exegesis when making a provocative comment. I agree. The reason is not that I think theological nuance or good exegesis are unimportant - actually the exact opposite - but that they are impossible to deliver in a blog. Not if the blog is going to be readable, anyway.

For all its ability to communicate widely and brilliantly, the blog has some glaring inadequacies. For the serious communicator the worst is that blog posts will always struggle for detail and nuance. A blog is not a book. Nor a sermon. At its best it can be a conversation when comments are posted and responded to, but we should never assume that blogging can give us the kind of depth a book can.

It is, however, incredibly addictive and potentially time-consuming. I recently asked a pastor what he thought the big dangers of the internet are for himself and his flock. His answer surprised me: time wasting. We now have a medium in the home that takes an incredible amount of time to use well. And on which it is possible to spend an incredible amount of time for reasons that are merely trivial.

It is tempting to assume, when surfing and interacting with the best blogs (even this one!), that we are engaged in deeper theological reflection than we actually are. Therefore if we let our blog use take more time than we spend in God's Word or doing Christian reading there is every danger that we get shallower, even while we think we are receiving good stuff. It commits us to only ever expecting to receive at a certain level. Or, worse, it commits us to only hearing stuff we personally decide to surf because we already agree with it. There are far too many theologically duff conversations that happen in cyberspace where they can never mature through access to encouragement or correction from the outside.

The writer to the Hebrews told people in the churches that they should already have elementary teachings under their belt and now be pressing on to maturity. If we aren't careful the blog easily becomes a means of keeping us at the elementary level. It is a poor medium for taking us further.

If you more readily read a blog than a book - or the Bible - switch off the computer now and get your Bible off the shelf. Linger over it. Enjoy the presence of God. Turn your reading into worship. Write down what you discover and how God wants you to respond. Don't rush it. Then, if you have access to one, get a good Christian book off the shelf. Nothing simplistic, go for some deep stuff and linger in that too, letting wise people teach you.

And for those of us who write blogs, let's acknowledge their limitations as well as all the good things about them. And then do our utmost every time we write to do so with as sparkling and scintillating a style AND as much penetrating depth and weight in the scriptures as we can.