COMING SOON: Beginning next week I will begin crafting posts centered around the theme “Toward an Ethic for Online Theological Discourse.” I have heard N.T. Wright call for some serious thinking about an ethic for blogging, a call that any of us who are presuming we have something to say publicly within the cyber realm should heed (if you do not like N.T. Wright and possibly shifted in your seat in mild annoyance at the mention of his name, then all the more reason to heed that call). As a new blogger, I am interested in establishing my own personal ethic for how I write online, and “the Rob Bell thing” as my friend (and future co-blogger!) Joel Busby calls it, has provided urgent wind behind the sails.
We simply must begin disciplining our conduct online. We seem so eager to publish our theological thinking on blogs and tweets, but we also seem to be unwilling (perhaps unknowingly) to apply some serious theological thinking to the means and manner by which we publish those thoughts (and rants). It is quite disastrous in my view that visibly etched into the pixellated text of the blogosphere are such unkind and careless words… of which so many Christians are the source.
I do not mean that we should not offer critique.
But, to quote Busby again, “there is a wrong way of being right.” I just wrote a book presenting biblical models for how we are to address and critique the church in its errors, illusions and misdeeds. Those models include prophetic anguish (not cynical anger) and reverent wisdom (not elitist intellectuallism). Guiding our blog posts and those hastily typed tweets and angrily typed comments should be some ethic for the proper, constructive, biblical employment of words that directs us truthward in the most helpful and Godly fashion.
Haunting anyone who would ever click “publish” for a blog or comment should be these words of Jesus in Matthew 12:26:
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak….”
These words of Jesus apply to the our words which are being so unscrupulously used in this whole “Rob Bell thing.”
I invite you to join in with me (and Busby, who will be joining soon me as a co-blogger ). Please contribute to the dialogue as we work together in crafting an “Ethic for Online Theological Discourse.”
1] Blogging in light of the Wisdom Literature’s Instructions on “Speech”
2] Online Theological Discourse and Paul’s criteria of Love and Edification.
Etc., Etc., Etc.