Having read a few other bloggers over the past few days, in particular Jollyblogger’s learthearted response to some of the recent talk about Calvinism, and also various really good posts (mainly on Challies IIRC), I’m thinking that the view I expressed in my last post was a bit too pessimistic, and maybe I need to lighten up a bit.
Also, I’ve got some time to finish some thoughts partly triggered by Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism by Phil Johnson (who I had never heard of until a few days ago):
One of the problems with all internet journalism is how easy it is to get involved. This is, of course, one it’s great advantages, and there are plenty of examples of how useful this has been, such as a few well-researched bloggers exposing mainstream media (Pamela Jones of Groklaw justly achieved distinction and fame in this way), and marginalised people being enabled to have a voice.
But it also enables complete wackos to get a platform they would never have had from anyone else. A case in point is Alex Chiu, who I came across a few years ago while at University. Since I last visited, this self proclaimed genius has expanded his apparent range of expertise from medicine and physics (having invented an “Immortality Device”, and explained the unsolved mysteries of the universe), to politics (“How to unite the entire world”), biology (“Alex Chiu’s New Darwinisim”) and theology (“What is God?”). The guy genuinely believes every word he says, and he has me in stitches within minutes.
The fame achieved by this poor bloke has no greater effect on the scientific establishment than providing some amusement — the last thing you’ll find is any real scientist getting het up about his lunatic explanation of gravity (it works like the static on a comb, apparently).
In the Christian blogosphere too, there are plenty of people who would never be published by anyone who had to make some money from the book, and who may well have no significant influence on others around them in RL. Of course I’m not saying that either of these mean they must be wrong — I’m simply pointing out that although someone may be making a significant splash online, they may be no more worthy of our attention than Alex Chiu, and were it not for the internet, we would never spend a moment of our time on their ideas.
But the problem with Christian doctrine is that it actually matters. So Christian’s do get het up when they see people spouting heresy or division, and instead of ignoring sites like “Outside the camp” (deliberately not linked as you have better things to do with your time), we actually engage with them, especially if we worry that they are having an influence. Maybe we just need to learn the advice of Proverbs 26:4. Of course, that verse has to be taken with it’s sister, Proverbs 26:5, but I suspect in the blogging world, with the temptation to correct all the errors we see, it’s the former that is the most pertinent.