So What?: A Question on Blogging and Edification

(Lisa Robinson)

Yesterday, I got into a discussion with one of my classmates about The Bible mini-series. I wasn’t able to catch the first episode but I received some not so great feedback from multiple sources.  Sure enough, my classmate wasn’t impressed either and gave me his reasons. He noted how a number of people were commenting on Facebook about it but then indicated that he didn’t want to post anything about it because he didn’t want to be ‘that guy’.  You know ‘that guy’. It was the person who decided to give their two cents about everything that was wrong with the production. He observed that a number of folks were providing positive feedback and seemed to edified by it. Why burst their bubble? he reasoned.

It made me think of that post I had mostly written for my blog and intended to finish. It was a post about a very popular movie that probably every Christian has seen except for me though I have seen many clips. I wanted to write about why I could not bring myself to see the movie and why I thought the focus was wrong. Yet, the more I wrote the more I hesitated. So during the course of this conversation with my classmate, it hit me that maybe the reason my hesitation increased was because I would have deflated some enthusiasm from what most people found edifying. Now I believe my reasons were valid. But just because I could doesn’t mean I should, especially if it would have dimmed somebody’s hope unnecessarily.

It made me cognizant of asking the ‘so what’ question – what is the purpose of writing this? In the world of instant publishing of thoughts, ideas, challenges, instruction, critiques, etc. I think this is a question that must be at the forefront of posting. It is easy for bloggers to become ‘that guy’, making sure the audience knows everything that is wrong with a statement or a position or a person or a ministry. I’ve been ‘that guy’ (or rather that chick). Justification is easy enough because people need to be informed and it is our duty to inform them. Or so we reason.

Now, I’m not saying there isn’t time for critiques. There are some dangerous ideas floating around contrary to the tenets of Christianity. But another component of ‘so what’ should compel us to look at the logical implications for an idea. In other words, what is the consequence to the Christian faith if this idea or position is embraced? What does it ultimately change regarding the character and works of the triune God?  Often, I find reactions far outweigh careful analysis. Fingers start typing and the publish button is pushed because something might sound dangerous at first glance. Or it could just be that it is an affront to our theological system because of course we’ve figured it out perfectly.

I do like instructive posts that challenge my thinking and provide me with a perspective I haven’t thought of, especially when they come from persons who have poured significant study into what they are proposing. I am often encouraged to write those kinds of posts myself. But reflecting on my unpublished post, I realized there is a difference between being instructive and being provocative. There’s nothing wrong with the latter as long as it serves the purpose of the former. Just throwing thoughts out there because they are different may undermine good instruction. That is the conclusion I came to and deleted the post. It wasn’t worth it.

A passage of scripture that has been driving my thoughts behind the ‘so what’ question is this:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

I think the goal of blogging about matters of Christianity out to encourage this, even for instruction and critiques. Yes, that is a delicate balance. How do you write thoughtfully and yet critically, especially when rejecting a position or such? I’m sure I have failed in this endeavor. But in the end, it is for the purpose of thinking about what is true and honorable, pure and lovely, etc.  It is about honoring Christ after all and proclaiming him (Colossians 1:28). This is what ultimately edifies and should provoke careful thought in asking ‘so what’. Otherwise, we can be clanging gongs feeling good that we addressed some important issue but really did provoke thoughts on the right thing.

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21 Responses to “So What?: A Question on Blogging and Edification”

  1. I have yet to watch the mini-series, which I believe you are referring to the series ‘The Bible’ on the History channel. I will have to watch all of it in order to make an objective judgment.

    Now to be honest, I have to say most of the things I’ve seen about Christ and the Bible on that channel have been flawed, but I have always watched them first before giving an opinion one way or another. I think it is important to do that to make a judgment on these types of things to see if they line with what the Bible says and how or if the presentation agrees or disagrees with what we consider truth of the Bible, rather than relying on personal opinion, or reviews, one way or another.

    Will weigh on it once, both pro and con, once I have watched the entire series.

  2. P. S. to my last post: I should add that will be based on a comparison of the Bible itself, and not with my own opinion, as to whether it was edifying to me personally, which I hope I didn’t get you wrong that was the whole point of your post. I know so many people who were edified by the best selling book “The Shack” including my pastor’s wife, which many people disagreed with that it followed the Bible. To me, edifying or not, that’s where we need to be.

  3. I did want to watch the first part of the mini-series this past Sunday but I was at a gathering and I don’t have a DVR. I do want to catch the other episodes.

  4. We recorded them, so if you want them we can make DVD’s and send them to you.

    I like it that we can do that, but sometimes we miss things the first time around, so we usually watch each episode twice before deciding, unless there is some really glaring difference the first time.

    Now, again to be honest, we have hesitated to watch again if we have seen that in the beginning but we go ahead and watch it again anyway, because it gives us answers sometimes as to why folks believe the way they do.

  5. Oh, come on, Lisa. Don’t leave us guessing. What movie were you talking about?

    I saw The Bible episode. There was one scene in particular that I thought was pretty lam…well, incredibly lame, but overall I thought it was OK. It’s telling a story and it takes some liberties in doing so, but I didn’t think there was any specific heresy involved. But there will still be plenty of people to fuss about it.

  6. Lisa,

    Just watched the first two hour episode. Personal opinion: very Hollywoodish and over dramatized. Biblically speaking, which is the most important, there were lots of important parts left out, like Abraham lying to Pharaoh and saying Sarah was his sister, and the golden calf episode, and God punishing the israelites by making making them not see the promised land and Moses striking the rock and God punishing him for disobedience. Not to mention God feeding them everyday with manna from heaven. Can certainly see why some would be okay with the emotional parts but, hey, it’s typical History channel over dramatization, rather than than presenting all the historical and pertinent facts.

    Still, as I said, I will watch the whole thing. But so far am unimpressed.

  7. Mbaker, thanks for the thoughts on the Bible. I’m sure you can appreciate that the post was really about how we address issues in the blogosphere and I was only using that as an example. With that said, your comment about the Shack was really interesting and raises some good questions about what I’m trying to address. When stuff like that comes out, we become really sensational in our approach to information. When I say we, I mean evangelicals. But how many posts were written in haste and not careful thought? And then there are those disagreements with other figures. It does seem at time that social media can turn into a blood sport with the goal of tearing something or someone down. Yes, let’s raise awareness but constructively. But writing just because we disagree with something and intent on criticizing it is something different. It’s a fine line I suppose.

  8. Lisa,
    I think we do agree that it’s not only about speaking the truth, but about speaking the truth in love, as the Bible admonishes us all to do, no matter who we are. I always believe in encouraging our brothers and sisters, and *gasp* even non-believers, because we can and should do that without an unnecessary need to “Bible bash” them because they disagree with us. But withholding the truth from them because they need to believe in a fairy tale myth about God is the worst we can also do. It’s how we present it that either promotes the true gospel to them or turns them off.

    The “I’m right and your wrong so you need to be ostracized” sort of thing goes on way too much on internet blogs, and is one of the biggest detriments to Christianity nowadays, IMO.

  9. Thank-you Lisa, your review reflects my feelings. I received many negative reports on the movie. Since we don’t have satellite/cable it wasn’t viewed by our family. My two main thoughts on this are; those who complained were chastising another’s ministry, and, wasn’t it better than the viewer watching 2 1/2 men? There, I`m judging another show I’ve never seen. ;-)

  10. Rick,

    I have to agree that watching a show about the the Bible is
    far more edifying. My concern is that some of these religious shows depict a wrong sided or incomplete view,

    This forces Christians to fill in the blanks for those who will listen, and that’s good thing . However we don’t often have the opportunity unless they are shown in our churches and then discussed honestly.

    I would really like to see more of that, because edification wthout proper education is not going to work.

  11. @mbaker. All you have stated, I fully agree with. That said, I think a tv show would be a comfortable/nonthreatening place to first hear of GOD`s love. And He can and will use all things to His purpose

  12. First, I haven’t seen the show so my comments are on the topic not in reference to the show particularly.

    Personally, I would phrase my concerns differently. So what if you might temporarily dim the hope of someone that is already saved? Isn’t the impact that the show/movie would have on those that aren’t saved far more important?

    Many shows have been so full of glaring inaccuracies that it leaves non christians believing that we don’t care about the truth or reality. It can create yet another intellectual hurdle that the unsaved must cross.

    On the issue of political correctness. What does it say about the value of our beliefs and the message we bring when we can easily change it to satisfy others? Aren’t we in essence telling that world that we are ashamed of the bible when we change elements of the story to hide its apparent intolerance?

  13. Sorry, fell behind on the comments. But I must re-iterate that the post is not about the Bible mini-series nor is this meant to be a review of it. But there are a couple of helpful critiques I came across that I’ll post here. Overall, I’m addressing how we put our thoughts out on the web, primarily through blogging. But the same can be said of other social media channels.

    Porter said, “So what if you might temporarily dim the hope of someone that is already saved?”

    Isn’t that the job of those who oversee the local bodies? Really, its wonderful that technology exists so that anyone can express whatever thoughts they want. But when we go on critical agendas about everything, I think that is just counterproductive. I guess what I’m saying is to think about what is worth addressing and what is not.

    Oh and Greg, comments and interaction on blog posts are good and welcome. So feel free :)

  14. Also, I think I was too vague in that second paragraph because I really didn’t want to mention the movie I wanted to write about. But that post I didn’t publish was on the Passion of the Christ. I know, I know don’t say it. Again, I was using it as an example of evaluating what is worth publishing.

  15. Lisa,

    While I appreciate your thoughts on these things and can agree with them, I also have to wonder why you can comment on them without even have watched them. I do think we have have an obligation to both watch them and correct any errors objectively. Otherwise we are leaving the general public hanging on what we do believe.,and what is
    really orthodox about our beliefs. IMO. if we don’t we are simply skating.

  16. The post was not a review on the movie. I obviously cannot write a review of a movie that I have not seen, though I have seen a number of clips. Rather, the post was describing why I kept wrestling with thinking I should watch it and giving reasons why I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. But I chucked it since I didn’t think it was worth writing about, especially given the theme of the movie.

  17. Lisa,

    I got that. But what I am saying is why you were so sure in writing this post before reviewing both sides is why you DID NOT listen to both sides, and address that since now you have you have mentioned this as an example, yet have not fully reviewed it yourself.

  18. Both sides of what? I provided an example of how I decided not to publish something. Whether I had valid reasons or not for writing the post is not relevant to the point I’m trying make here. It was just an example. There’s no need to comment on it further. Thanks.

  19. Lisa you said:

    “Whether I had valid reasons or not for writing the post is not relevant to the point I’m trying make here.”

    What are you saying here? That you don’t need to explain, or what?

    I am trying to very hard to be gracious here, but I don’t really don’t get how you can use something that you really haven’t watched, either in the Passion of Christ or the the Bible mini-series as an example of edification (or not).

  20. Mbaker, the fact that I did not watch these movies has nothing whatsoever to do with the point of this post. The point I’m making is HOW we decide to address topics in the internet and WHETHER we should. I only used the movies as leverage to discuss this main point. I’m not writing about the movies. I only mentioned in passing that the 2nd paragraph referenced the Passion, which I now regret since it seems to be an unnecessary distraction. Again, the movie itself was not the point. I’m asking kindly to end this side discussion on why I am writing about movies I haven’t watched since I am not writing about the movies. Thanks again.

  21. Lisa,

    Your post, your decision.

    God bless anyway.

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