[#] "next blog" evangelism

Eventually, somebody was going to ask the question, "so what are you talking about, pinhead? One minute you're gabbing (inadequately) about theological stuff, and the next minute you're playing 'next blog' and wishing you were the 'Chris Rock' of internet apologetics."

(That somebody, btw, was not going to be any of you readers who simply don't leave comments. Over 700 unique views since the beginning of March, and you crackers haven't left one meaningful comment. Sheesh. STATS? It's embarrassing.)

Here's what I'm talking about: these things are intimately related. In all that jabbering about orthodoxy, and my limited responses to Tim Enloe about history and scripture and authority and the relevance of small-"c" catholicism, I mean to tell you few who are reading here that there is something in particular that matters which we are supposed to be preaching, as Jesus said, to every living thing.

Now at least one of you out there is thinking, "yeah, but if I start talking about the nuances of the anathema of Paul in Galatians to the avergae blogger, how is that going to win anybody to Christ?" And I think that's a great question, which is particularly framed by the game of "next blog".

See: I have been playing "next blog" for about, well, since I've been blogging, and I've run into a lot of people out there. Dad Gone Mad, Dooce, VeryMom, Brighton, Bitter with Baggage, the Macek Collective, Sarcastic Journalist, and a lot of others who are interesting reads, but -- and as I type this, I realize that they may accidentally be reading this -- they do not know anything about Jesus Christ. They are interesting because I can see the world through their eyes, and such an one of these have I been, and I realize that they need to hear the Gospel because they are lost souls.

Now, some of the people I have linked to on this blog -- like Rusty, and Mark, and even the TELIP-wearing Redgoatboy -- do make an effort to evangelize in real life. But I wonder: what would Rusty do if he ran into Brighton, married mom who is the stripper-by-night, or Bitter with Baggage, who would probably assail him with profanity before he could get to Romans 1? That's not a slam on Rusty: that's pointing out that we-who-blog-for-Jesus are very often so caught up in defending the faith against (ahem) popery and lies that we forget that the most obvious person we need to be worried about is the person who doesn’t care that Joseph Smith was a fraud or that Islam works from a highly-redacted text. The person for whom the Gospel is intended to be preached is the blogging mom who thinks she has to be Carol Brady 24/7 on her own to be a good mom and is suffering for her sickness. It's for all the bloggers who are scatologically-obsessed. It's for the ones who right now have a marriage which is pleasing to them but they are doing things which are destroying the basis of good marriage.

And beginning this week, that's what this blog is going to be about as well. It is important that we have a firm grasp of orthodoxy; it is important that we face the cross at all times with humility and gratitude. But if that's all we do, we have blown it. We have failed our call if we are only honing the point of our theological pencil and not actually writing letters truthfully in love to those for whom the savior died.

I'm staying linked to all the bullfrogs and tadpoles as I love them as brothers in Christ. They are better at the fine art of high theology than I am. Let's see if I can instead be shod with the Gospel of peace, and take it to all the "next blogs" out there in order that some might be saved.


Sam said...

Great post. I often wonder if some folks are unsuited for witnessing to the common man. After all, God's made us all very different. Still, a call for balance and reexamination is always welcome.

I'm half asleep as I write this, so I hope these are sentences I'm putting down. ;)


Hal said...

A challenging and well-intentioned post. We should all be so bold about our evangelism.

Just remember, evangelism on the web is incredibly difficult (your time at CARM should tell you as much).

How do we get people interested in that message? When they find our blogs, how do we get them to not just hit "next blog" with the thought, "Oh, it's just another Christian blog"?

Hal said...

BTW, you should avoid the grey text. It's hard to read on your blue background. (Incidentally, do you program your themes yourself?)

FX Turk said...

Hal --

Yes, I am building the template for the blog, tho I used a blogger template as the base. A lot of the CSS styling is from "minima blue".

How do we get people interested in the message?
(1) Prayer
(2) Commitment to the Gospel as it is relevant to their concerns*
(3) speaking the truth in love**

* "relevant" here does not mean using cuss words or trying to po-mo the Gospel into something it is not. What it does mean is that we don't talk about soteriology to a woman who is a part-time stripper to make ends meet because her husband doesn't object and the money seems good. The Gospel is an amazing thing: it convicts kings and commoners alike by the power of the Holy Spirit, but when Jesus preached the Gospel to the woman at the well, it was a different method than when he preached to the Pharisee who turned his nose up at the woman repentant and weeping at Christ's feet.

** likewise, the truth in love is about not compromising orthodoxy for the sake of gaining and audience. "love" in a lot of cases looks pretty stern -- and the #1 example I'd use is the love at the cross. The love shown at the cross was perfect love for the Father (in obedience) and perfect love of His people (in sacrifice) -- and it looks brutal, doesn't it? Think about Christ hanging there, suffering what must be the equivalent of torment in hell for the thief on his right as this man jeers Him -- and never once shouting, "You fool! I'm doing this for you!" And what does that love do? It changes that jeering criminal into a humbled, broken man who asks for forgiveness as he too hangs there dying.

The love of the Gospel is not a cheap, sentimental love but the love of God -- a love which acts and does the thing it sets out to do. It's not even a vain love which demands it must be seen the first time, but it is an effectively-persistent love which will not be denied. It is the truth that sin is as ugly as the cross, but that God's love will go to the cross to redeem the sinner's debt to God.

Taking that message to the ex-mormon who thinks all religion is a crock, or to the young mother who is wracked by guilt over antenatal depression, or the the fellow who thinks the only funny jokes are scatological is more important than making wure they "get it" the first time, and taking it back again and again is why we wear the shoes of peace, and why blessed are the feet of those who bring that good news.

Jester of Alba said...

I like this post. Granted this comment is probably not the most intellectually stimulating but true none the less. I have also appreciated a comment I read on another blog (how I found your blog in the first place). I will read and comment as I feel "inspired". And hopefully I will prove myself more then the simpleton some think I am. Ok maybe hopefully I will at least raise to that level.

Deleted said...

I'm sure you'll call me an embryonic tadpole. I sometimes write about my chrisitanity and my struggles to live a Christian life. However, I sometimes just write what's in my head. I'm not Brother Lawrence yet...God is not first in my thoughts 24/7 as I would wish him to be. That is the goal to which I persevere.

I saw your attempt to help SJ, and I think it was honorable. She is struggling to keep her head above water, and you offered her the solution which you and I both know will work.

Apparently, she is already saved. I wish more Christians understood that salvation is not the finish line, but the starting point of a long race. A daily struggle of taking up the cross. Christian maturity is the goal, and as long as we draw breath, we haven't attained it. If we think we have, we are deluding ourselves.

Deleted said...

One more thing, about evangelizing the "next blog". Evangelizing on-line should be similar to real life evangelizing in that you need to first build a relationship with the person.

I read somewhere that the most effective evangelical blogs are those that are about the Christian bloggers interests, i.e. cars, cooking, kids etc., colored by the bloggers Christianity. We should show how our beliefs are integrated into our lives. For example, if a Christian blogger has a certain experience they faced that day, they could blog it hopefully reflecting how Christian values were or were not evidenced in that situation. Just an opinion.