I used to love reading Christian blogs, and not even that long ago. Back when Google Reader was still a thing, I had a pretty regular intake of this weird corner of the internet — both the “Young, Restless, Reformed”/Gospel Coalition sites and the more moderate ones like J.R.D. Kirk’s excellent “Storied Theology.”
When I had to move everything over to a new aggregator, I started to unsubscribe from blogs I almost never read anymore or don’t actually like. By the end, I’d dropped almost half of my evangelical blog section, but I kept all my sports blogs (e.g. mgoblog, Joe Posnanski, the incomparable Smart Football). Why?
A friend just emailed me a link to a Peter Enns’ post here: “On the Count of 3, ‘Let’s All Pre-Judge Rob Bell.” He links to a smattering of initial criticism from conservatives (Denny Burk, Carl Trueman among them) of a promo video for a new Rob Bell book, urging that we not write scathing reviews of books we haven’t read. Fair enough — Enns makes an important point and I have no problem with what he said.
Nor do I think, generally speaking, it’s always wrong to respond to promo material; it might not be the full book but it’s usually still making a claim about something, otherwise it’s lousy promo material. I reference the Enns post not to comment on its content, but to bemoan the deleterious nature of evangelical blogs this little exchange represents.
Sports bloggers tend to be (again, generally speaking) supportive of other sports blogs which consistently produce diverse, high-quality content about a given subject (like college football, for instance). Each writer has his or her own niche, and collectively they cover a subject no one person could ever have time to write about. The good blogs have excellent prose, penetrating analysis, and the individual personality of fanhood that brings us all to the internet in the first place. Minor differences are minor. Subjective taste is fairly well-defined. I like Michigan, you like Ohio State. Now let’s talk about why punting is stupid.
Meanwhile the evangelical blogosphere is too often a bunch of theological skirmishes, with half the group saying we should lay down our guns and get along (while still taking potshots) and the other half denying that they’re even fighting really.
I think this is why I suddenly have no interest in blog debates. That stuff used to be my jam, but now it’s just incredibly depressing.*
People like Rob Bell will do things. Then conservatives like Trueman and Burk will criticize them for doing these things by writing sometimes-rash blogs, and moderates like Enns will defend them by writing sometimes-rash blogs of their own. The conservatives will write that they just stand for truth but they’ll appear uptight and reactionary doing it, while moderates will write that the conservatives are too self-serious and divisive but will be just as frustratingly polemical.
That’s where we are. We can do better.
* doubly so when you read the always-awful comment sections.