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Friday, February 10, 2012

What makes a blog Christian?

I received this comment recently (on this post) from another blogger. I am pleased to read her work on a regular basis, and often comment on it, and I suspect that she is my most faithful reader and commenter.

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?

I have some thoughts on it myself, but my question to you is: Would you have parallel criteria for those, compared to the ones you have for novels? Would the requirements be higher / lower for blogs? Sermons?

For example, I consider your blog a Christian blog -- and I've read blogs by pastors and theology professors that I do not consider Christian blogs.

I'd be much obliged if you'd share your thoughts.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

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!

12 comments:

Keetha Broyles said...

Jim Watkins, Wesleyan writer/speaker says a nonhuman "thing" cannot be "christian" - that to be Christ-like is an attribute that should only be applied to a person.

Yes, Isaiah was Charlie's brother and my mother's father.

Martin LaBar said...

I thought so.

I know who Watkins is. I see his point, and, in an important sense, he is correct, but we use Christian as an adjective all the time, whether we should or not, as in Christian Contemporary Music (if anyone still uses that phrase), Christian novel, Christian radio station, and the like.

For what it's worth, I consider your blog to be a Christian one.

Thanks for that thoughtful comment!

Martin LaBar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin LaBar said...

The Free Dictionary gives several definitions of "Christian," some as an adjective, some as a noun.

The second definition, as an adjective, is "Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings." (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Christian)

As I understand it, by that definition, a blog, and many other things, can be Christian.

The definitions of "Christian" as a noun which are given by this dictionary could only apply to humans (and, possibly, to other moral agents, if there are any such).

Weekend Fisher said...

That's a succinct way of putting it: a Christian blog should glorify God. Excellence is nice but I'm ok reading even a passable blog that glorifies God.

Nice comment about mixing politics & religion. :)

More comments under the second post ...

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Keetha Broyles said...

I too understood his point, but I also "get" using it as an adjective, and it is most certainly used that way. Overused? Perhaps.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for your comments, ladies!

atlibertytosay said...

I guess a good followup then … Can a truly devout Christian, write a true Christian blog - under these guidelines or any guidelines?

I try very hard to make my sites (I have several) to honor God, but in a way you didn't mention.

I think I have a talent to share a story. I also think I have an above average sense of design. I believe that God gave me those talents. God gives you talents so you can share them and proclaim God's glory.

Since one of the sites I have is a news site - it's rather hard to integrate religious beliefs ~ but I do so whenever and wherever I can and I feel appropriate. It's one of the reasons I enjoy having my own news site because I'm not bound by any acquiescent or arbitrary of journalism.

I have from time to time even shared my Bible study lessons as a "variety feature" on my news website.

That begs the question in my mind though … "Is it ever an inappropriate time to be a Christian?"

I don't necessarily think that writing about secular things is non-Christian.

On another blog I was blasted by a few of my regular news blog readers because I relayed a true story from my past ~ it had curse words in it. I told my wife that I've never (that I can remember) taken the Lord's name in vain … so I didn't know how to take the backlash I received. The point of the story, which I thought was rather obvious ~ that bullies can turn you into someone just as bad if you let them ~ didn't come across so poignantly as I had hoped.

This is interesting Dr. Labar, Thank you for posting it. I may share it!

Martin LaBar said...

By excellent, I didn't mean winning the Pulitzer. I meant the blogger trying to do his/her best, with the ability God has given, and under whatever circumstances exist. For some people, excellence wouldn't even include good English usage, I guess.

Martin LaBar said...

I don't see any reason why a news, or mostly news, blog, can't be Christian, by the criteria I gave, and I think yours is. God can be glorified by good workmanship, including good workmanship in reporting the news, as I see it. A poetry blog, a recipe blog, or a sports blog, which is authored by a person with a Biblical world view, and who strives for excellence, and treats readers, commenters, and sources by the Golden Rule, would glorify God, in my opinion, after C. S. Lewis.

If I understand what you mean, I don't think it's ever an inappropriate time to be (and act like) a Christian.

As you know, the Bible has some pretty raunchy scenes, and occasionally (at least in the KJV) uses language that I wouldn't normally use. But, if raunchy scenes, foul language, and the like are necessary to tell a story, and the story deserves to be told, and isn't being told to glorify the teller, or to glorify foul language, violence, prejudice, and adultery, then they should be used, carefully and prayerfully.

Thanks for your comment, atlibertytosay.

atlibertytosay said...

Very very thoughtprovoking ... Thank you.

This message was a true blessing to read.

Martin LaBar said...

You are welcome, and also thanks.