Saturday, March 19, 2005

What is a Christian blog?

In my last post, I suggested that elite bloggers have a gatekeeper role, and that their general avoidance of linking to Christians has the tendency to relegate Christian bloggers to a virtual ghetto, as has already happened in the other forms of media. Parableman has posted a reply as well as adding comments to my last post. I think we are looking at different aspects of Christian blogging, or perhaps have different conceptions of it.

Jeremy seems to be thinking of Christian blogs in terms of high-visibility bloggers who are Christians: "Evangelical Outpost, In the Agora, La Shawn Barber, Hugh Hewitt, Scrappleface, and One Hand Clapping" Not A-list, but very well known, widely read and great at what they do. There is certainly a place for Christians addressing news and politics from a Christian perspective; you don't get much of that in the mainstream media except for the occasional guest spot for one of the predicatable few: Dobson, Falwell, Robertson. As Steve Taylor put it over 20 years ago:

A Christian can't get equal time
Unless he's a loony committing a crime.

So I certainly applaud what these folks are doing. I want to ask though: What do we mean when we say "Christian blog"? At first blush the answer should be obvious, but is it? What should we expect to see at a Christian blog? I'm asking this question of myself too, because more often than not my blog has been the place for my reaction to news events, or my opinion on issue X. But if all I do is argue for a pro-life position, what am I doing more than a Mormon would? If I'm just criticizing the Democrats, what am I doing more than a Randian libertarian? If I argue against the denial of a Creator being passed off as science, what makes me different than a UFO conspircist in the eyes of a scientolater?

Surely there is more to being a Christian blogger than lining up with the Republicans 95% of the time; the organizers of GodBlogCon recognize this and that's a positive move. When a non-Christian visits a Christian blog, what is the main idea that they will come away with? That being a Christian means being a Republican? Or pro-life? Or pro-war on terror? I wonder how a Christian in China would answer that. My guess is that he or she would be tearing his or her hair out, seeing that we have complete freedom to blog about anything we want, and we blog about... the news. Is that all we have to talk about?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that there's not a real place for giving the Christian perspective on news and politics. I'm not saying there's no place for what Francis Schaeffer called pre-evangelism. We have to show that objective truth exists and that historic Christianity offers reasoned, coherent, relevant answers to the problems that confront us in our own day. And some of the more prominent Christian bloggers are accomplishing more than being effective Republican partisans, otherwise why do the A-listers not link to them as much as they do to less popular bloggers?

What I'm saying is that a Christian blog, to the extent that it addresses problems in the world, ought to provide uniquely Christian answers. And the answer, ultimately, is not better public policy; you can be an atheist and think that. The answer is that Jesus Christ is Lord. Not Karl Rove, not Rush Limbaugh, not Sean Hannity, not the RNC, not James Dobson, or whoever else you want to put in that list, Democrats included. The answer comes when we repent of our rebellion against God and trust in the crucified and risen Christ. The answer becomes active in us as we surrender to the Holy Spirit and our minds become immersed in the propositional truth of the Bible. It will affect not just what we say in our blogs, but how we say it. Democrats, abortionists, homosexuals and journalists at the New York Times cease to be enemies, or even a threat. They are a threat to themselves, but not to us and not to a fallen world that is only seeking someone to lead it down the wrong path. Any religion can condemn people and tell them what sinners they are, but only the message of Christ is Good News. I hope that we as Christian bloggers are making that known.

Update: 3/20

Jollyblogger is blogging about the role of blogging (i.e. metablogging?) and says this (hat tip: PlaidBerry):

"[B]logging is a vehicle, it is a tool, it is a medium for communication. Blogging could play a part in a new reformation, assuming some type of message develops that can radically alter religion and society at large, as happened during the Reformation of the sixteenth century."

A blog written by a Christian is potentially a Christian blog, but not necessarily. It depends what we're communicating, and how. The Reformation was still empowered by the printing press, even though very few owned one. Christian blogs can do great things without the help of the gatekeepers, and the more distinctively Christian we are the less we should expect to get linked to. Now, my cynical side thinks that last statement is a nice way to put a positive spiritual spin on obscurity, but Jesus did say that the world will hate not just Him but His followers. Paul's address on Mars Hill might have begun with bridge-building via natural philosophy, but it didn't end there.