Weekend Fisher wrote... I've found myself wondering: What are the criteria for a Christian blog? And, What are the criteria for a Christian sermon?
First, I am grateful for the question, and the assessment. I try to produce a Christian blog. But "what makes it one?" is a good question. (I'll try to deal with sermons in a separate post, later.)
One aspect of being a Christian blog is, I hope, found in my "Guidelines for this Blog," published nearly seven years ago. I hadn't read that in quite a while, but I still think I'm trying to follow these guidelines. The first one is the most important: "I hope to glorify God with this blog." That is the most important criterion. A Christian blog must glorify God. I understand that no objective measure of whether or not I do so is possible. God knows, and understands, my motives, and what, if anything, is accomplished by a blog, or a blog post. A Christian blog should have, as its fundamental purpose, to glorify God. Does every post need to do that? No. An occasional political post, recipe, photos of the family dog, or setting forth the blogger's side of an academic, theological, or philosophical dispute would also be acceptable, and need not take away from the main purpose, it seems to me. A personal blog -- one that's about aspects of the blogger's daily life -- can glorify God, and I have seen some that do.
Conversely, a blog that is mostly about selling something, glorifying the blog owner, seeking redress for actions that the blogger perceives as hurts to her, or to put forth some partisan political view* is not Christian. A blog that isn't written from a Biblical world view cannot glorify God, as I see it.
*What do you get when you mix religion and politics? Politics."
Do you have to testify or preach in a blog, for it to glorify God? No. Instruction on what the Bible says, for example (Anne does this very well.) glorifies God.
Glorifying God need not be done explicitly. For example, in posting excellent poetry or photographs, a Christian blogger need not say that she is doing this for God's glory. If it's good enough, and has a Biblical world-view, it will do that without having to tell any one that you are doing it. As C. S. Lewis wrote: "What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians about other subjects--with their Christianity latent." (God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, edited by Walter Hooper. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970, pp. 89-103. Quote is from p. 93.) Lewis never saw a blog, but I think this statement applies, if anything, more to blogs than to books. I thus propose a second criterion, namely that a Christian blog should be excellent. It should use language well, use graphics that are appropriate and well-done, and, where appropriate, refer to pertinent recognized sources. It should mostly stay clear of subjects that in which the blogger has no real expertise, or at least it should steer clear of pontification on such subjects.
Excellence, of course, is also subjective. I'm not proposing that every Christian who blogs should try to emulate C. S. Lewis, Oswald Chambers, or Billy Graham, but that every Christian who blogs should try to do her best.
I would propose a third guideline, which is important, but especially on posts on controversial matters, namely that the blogger observe the golden rule: treat readers, commenters, and the authors of source material, as you would want to be treated yourself, in the same manner that Christ would treat them. A Christian blogger, then, should answer comments courteously, treat the views of others with respect, and have a humble attitude. Again, this is subjective.
A commenter, who disagreed with me on a particular issue, demanded that I remove a post. I didn't do it, and I suggested that further comments on this particular post, by this person (who says he is a Christian, but had made several long comments, most of them claiming that I must not have read the Bible) would not be welcome. I did not delete any of his comments. I hope I treated the commenter with more respect than he used in treating with me. I saw caving in on this matter as forsaking excellence.
Thanks for asking, Anne!