I started this blog about three weeks ago as a way to help chronicle my struggle to become more fit, to share some of my theological insight, and to have a place to record some random thoughts. I had no visions of grandeur when I began this endeavor. I got a real kick out of the first set of comments I received from friends who appreciated my writing. It was great to hear from a couple of people I was not expecting, and I was flattered by some very kind words both here and in other places in cyberspace. I enjoyed monitoring the number of visits I had, and I get a small sense of joy when I see the history graph on my blog stats spike past 30 visits in a day.
Last week I achieved two milestones as a blogger. The first was that I passed 500 visits. I average about 100 a week, and that is pretty cool – but those are just numbers, and I have no idea who those 500 visits were, but I figured they were mostly friends of mine. Then the second milestone happened. Last week, I had a comment from someone named Neal.
I do not know Neal. I am not sure how he came across my blog, but he commented on my blog about the Social Creed. He and I carried on a discussion through a few posted comments. We seem to disagree on the nature of the gospel. He seems to be a thoughtful person, a Christian, and probably a pretty nice guy. But I have no idea who he is, and I realized that I have officially expanded my sphere of influence. I have now reached people with my ideas that I would have otherwise never reached. There is great power in that concept, but there is also a serious problem.
If you read the comments we left for each other, it is clear that Neal and I disagree about some things. He clearly has little respect for Chuck Currie, who was a classmate of mine. And while I don’t agree with Chuck on everything, I respect his passion, his intellect, and many of his ideas. I also have a great deal of admiration for the mission of the National Council of Churches.
Neal and I could have gone back and forth for sometime on my comments page and argued about the mission of the Church, the interpretation of Scripture, and the authority of the Bible. I am willing to bet that we disagree on a lot of things, and could probably argue about abortion rights, homsexuality, immigration, war, poverty, and probably over the advantages of a queen opening in chess and the designated hitter.
Neal and I could probably argue and argue and argue, and have lots of very logical and eloquent diatribes. We could quote the thoelogians of the past, we battle with Bible quotes, and have a literary contest of wits and wisdom. But what good would that do?
I wonder if a single heart has ever been won with those tactics. Has anyone on a discussion board ever changed their mind?
Theology is a tricky thing. What makes it so difficult is that we think about God with more than our head. Knowing God is not a purely intellectual endeavor. I stand whole-heartedly behind the idea that education and scholarship can bring us to a fuller, and more healthy faith. At the same time though, I recognize that God-words are written by the heart.
That is the problem with blogging – with discussion boards – with chat rooms – with call-in TV shows – with formal debates – there is plenty of head-work, but little heart-work. We can argue all we want, but until there is a relationship, there is no transformation. Theology is a barren wasteland if it is not connected to human hearts. Theology, if done without relationship to other human beings, is dead. And I cannot help but think that the internet has created a vast network of pseudo-relationships that fool us into thinking we are influencing people, when all we are really doing is spitting in the wind.
I am going to keep blogging. I am going to keep it up because it strokes my ego just a little to see those spikes in my blog stats. I am going to keep it up because maybe, just maybe, someone will read my words and be touched or inspired or challenged or entertained. I am going to keep it up because I am, at heart, a writer. It’s what I do. And I am going to keep it up because despite all of its shortcomings, this blog is still a great way to increase my sphere of influence.