Friday, March 04, 2005

Cerulean Sanctum asks: "Is Christianity broken?"

Dan of Cerulean Sanctum, after a morning's reading of various Christian blogs asks a great question, "Is Christianity broken?"

I've been using Bloglines to read the feeds from about fifty Christian blogs. The service works well and allows a person a quick way of scanning updated feeds. I can read through those fifty blogs as they post in less than fifteen minutes. It's almost like reading through a copy of Christianity Today, except with a far looser editorial standard. And that's a problem.

Since 2001, I've had a blog up. Cerulean Sanctum came about in late 2003 because I saw a need that was going unfilled, a blog that called people back to the heart of the first century Church. I've considered this blog to be a ministry for me; I've received many letters over the last eighteen months from people who have been blessed by this blog.

But now as I read all over the blogosphere, I wonder if we Christian bloggers are actually doing a disservice to people, especially to those who are struggling in the faith or are considering the claims of Christ for the first time.

My reasoning? Well, as I go through my list of fifty blogs, I often leave them feeling confused, angry, depressed, and just about every feeling but the one the Lord wants to cultivate most in us, joyful. This is not to say that there are no Christian blogs that are edifying. But as I read the blogs, see the dissension, note the snarky comments left, and take in some of the more extreme ideas out there, I am left with only one question, Is Christianity broken?

It's hard to escape that impression after a few visits to popular Christian blogs: See list here.

After a while you can't avoid the question. The blogs beg for it. The conclusion seems inescapable. Even writing about this seems to only add fuel to "Is Christianity broken?" If a cross-sectional reading of popular Christian blogs is any indication, the answer must be "Yes."

So on this Friday morning I'm wondering if those of us who blog are only making the Christian walk harder for people rather than easier. This weekend I plan on taking some time to ponder this question. I don't know what this means for this blog, but I'd like to hear what others think about how we Christian bloggers are portraying Christianity to the world. Truthfully, we have an enormous burden in an age when ideas are so readily presentable to the entire planet via the Internet. Maybe we just need to tone down our rhetoric and be a little less dogmatic in some of our thinking. Or maybe all we need is to simply shut up and listen for a change.

Dan asked for comments and I had lots to say. So much, in fact, that I decided to post my comments (and more) here. It's a good post and good questions, Dan. You've given me much to think about here. First of all I would like to offer that Christianity isn't broken at all. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. People are broken. We are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God. Christians remain sinners to their last day on earth, and often succomb to temptation...especially when they imagine that they've been a Christian for so long that they might just be immune to sin (Bill Bright's famous comments come to mind). Blogs are online journals, not poorly edited versions of Christianity today as you aptly noted. It is easy to think of blogs as "gospel", but they are not.

This new technology has enabled individuals to each publish their own household magazine. Very unedited, too. Do any of you have teens whose friends have Xanga journals? A few of them are good, most are really bad. I have to sit with my teen and point out that she can choose not to look at certain ones. Another example... in your town, are all stores good and helpful ones? No. There are churches, grocery stores, clothing stores, pharmacies and porn shops all in the same town. You and your family go the helpful stores and avoid the bad ones. Blogs are the same way; there are good ones and not so good ones. Not every blog that calls itself Christian will be a helpful blog to other Christians. Sometimes I stumble onto a Christian blog that is obviously a very personal view into someone's distorted life and I move on. Same with books and magazines...and that's been true for years. We have to discern whether someone is trying to be uplifting to others or not. And yes, we should all be aware that non-believers might be reading our blogs. Non-believers might be watching us at the hockey rink or at school or at the grocery store (perhaps a more sobering thought than merely reading our anonymous blogs).

Rather than be saddened by the inevitable sin nature of my fellow Christians, bloggers and otherwise, I think we should instead try to encourage and comment on good and helpful posts and contemplate this admonition by Craig Parton:

"Luther said the Christian life is one of continual repentance, and that every Christian is no more than one day old. Adam still rears his head, the flesh is still at war. One day we will enter into a final rest with our Lord Christ in whom is true RedemptiIon and Sanctification, the forgiveness of our daily trespasses."

It is in this contemplation of our own sin nature and through our only hope through Jesus Christ that we can fix our broken blogs and be joyful. Only when we are strong in the grace that is Christ Jesus can we truly be joyful.

1 comment:

Dan Edelen said...

First, let me say thanks for referencing my post.

As far as failings here, the finger points solely to us. The Lord is perfect. It's how we humans walk out the Christian faith that can be suspect.

The problem with blogs is that anyone can be an "expert" since there are no qualifications for commenting on a blog. But the beliefs we see set forth in Christian blogs don't arise from a vacuum--they had to come from somewhere.

Most of us are aggregates of the things we hear, read, and experience. That is on full display within a blog. And while sharing one's journey with another is great, HOW that is done and for WHAT goal does make a difference.

The other problem is the old joke that "On the Internet no one knows you're a dog." Some of the Christian bloggers with the loftiest credentials are well qualified to speak on certain doctrinal or counseling subjects, while other Christian bloggers should perhaps never be allowed to type anything on a computer related to doctrine or counsel. The problem comes when the "pro" incites a riot because of a lack of grace or tact. Meanwhile, the person with no credentials to speak on any issue may actually be quite congenial. Sadly, the Internet can make these two very different bloggers appear to have equally valid points because of the dynamic they create. That's inevitably going to cause problems for readers, especially those who don't know any better--or can't tell the pooch from the person.