Some Positive Theses on Theological Blogging; And Some Lamenting on Its Current State

I wanted to register a few theses on why I think theological blogging is still the better and more viable alternative to other forms of social media (Facebooking, Tweeting, etc.) when engaging in organic theological conversation.

  • Theological blogging fits well with the reformation concept of The Priesthood of All Believers. In other words, just as this principle fit with the practice of translating the Bible into the vernacular for all Christians; so too, theological blogs open the doors for all Christians to engage in thoughtful and reflective theological machination in the context of the broad gamut of various other Christians and their respective traditions.
  • Theological blogging offers the space required for meaningful theological discussion to occur (V Facebook and Twitter which only allow for soundbyted pearls that are prone to misunderstanding, and don’t have the capacity to draw people into a deeper reflection and sustained thought, per se).
  • Theological blogging, as a subset of blogging in general, has a greater preponderance for promoting free thought; just because blogs and their hosts have a greater distance from each other (meaning less editorial oversight by the hosts — like we get on Twitter and Facebook).
  • Theological blogging has the potential (now mostly lost, but it’s still there) to provide for networks of people coming together to form other networks with other people, thus providing ferment for a cross-pollination of ideas that outwith would not happen.
  • Theological blogging is populated by people who voluntarily engage in theological reflection, and is made up by people who want to engage in this sort of discussion and reflection. This is not the case, especially with Facebook (but also with Twitter), since it is made up of people who are there for a variety of reasons; and around a variety of shared or unshared commitments. Theological blogging doesn’t have this disadvantage. The people bloggers encounter, via comments, and other blogs within their chosen network[s] (in my case, theology) are people who by definition want to share in the same sort of discussion you are seeking to promote, provoke, or foster.
  • Theological blogging is a perfect place, particularly if you are engaged in academic theological writing, for floating various projects, theses for dissertations or books so on and so forth.
  • Theological blogging is a place where you can learn while you write and write while you learn.
  • Theological blogging allows a place for the theological writer to mature as a writer. Blogging allows for freedom in the writing process where an organicism can blossom, while at the same time a discipline can be cultivated.
  • Ideally, theological blogging promotes real life discussion, such that people comment, and the author the blog gets almost immediate feedback to their ideas. This can be a fruitful process, and a place where, again, maturation, in a variety of ways can take place.
  • Theological blogging is a place where education can happen. In other words, because of the variety of potential interlocutors in the blogosphere, there is a mixing and meshing of various education backgrounds and experience. As such, beginners can be pushed by veterans, and veterans can be pushed by beginners in the communicative and pedagogical process and development.

I just noted, on Twitter, that I think theological blogging is largely dead. Tim Challies responded thusly:

I tend to think that if anything is killing blogs, it’s people saying that blogs are dead. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the meantime, tons of people are still doing it and many more are taking up the craft…

I don’t agree with, Tim. My intent was to note the way blogging has changed. I’m not suggesting that blogging no longer represents an online presence. But I am suggesting that blogging, relative to its heydays, is indeed DEAD. In my theses above I touched upon some of the hallmarks that USED to make blogging a lively endeavor; most of that is gone. People no longer comment, for example; not just on my blog, but on some of the most popular blogs. Regular church people no longer have blogs, unfortunately; when in fact, in my experience, these were the folks who made up most of the theological blogs out there—I would suggest that it is this demographic that has largely given up blogging and migrated to Facebook (not Twitter).

Blogging used to be an enjoyable thing. For me it has mostly become a die-hard practice that I have been cultivating since 2005, and am unwilling to give up; precisely because of its positives as I’ve highlighted in my aforementioned theses. I will always continue to maintain a blog, again, because I think it has the values I’ve already mentioned. Even taking away much of the culture of the blogosphere, and it has been taken away relative to its past iterations, I still see value in blogging. Like I have posted in my sidebar:

“I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.” – St. Augustine cited by John Calvin

Contra Challies, there is nothing self-fulfilling about stating that blogging is largely dead; not when, in fact vis-à-vis its past, it is dead! Blogging has changed, and I would argue much of that has been driven by the onset of a new demographic (millennials, yes, I’ll blame the millennials again) entering the world at large. They are used to quicker engagement, and have been weaned on Twitter, Snapchat, Instragram, and other like social media. Blogging in such a context seems too slow and archaic for this sort of psyche. I’m hopeful that blogs might have a revival, but as it stands now I don’t really see that happening. I mean, sure, people still read blogs, but it is not the same dynamic as before. Things have changed in the blogosphere, and it isn’t for the better in my view.

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3 thoughts on “Some Positive Theses on Theological Blogging; And Some Lamenting on Its Current State

  1. As a retired pastor, and a long time reader of Karl Barth, I have appreciated some of the insights you have given me regarding your reading of Barth. But, I did want to comment on your recent blog on blogging. You talk about “regular” church members seemingly no longer interested in blogging. I would suggest that perhaps the “technical” nature of theological blogs, like yours, much of the time, preclude the patience and interest of regular church members. If you want discussions with other committed theologians, your blog is right on. If you want to reach and encourage the laypeople, you would have to drop it several octaves. I guess it depends on the audience you want to target. Not so much a criticism, as an observation. 🙂

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  2. Hi Robert,

    What I was referring to was an actual reality. There were multitudes of blogs by “regular church people.” I would interact with a variety of different bloggers etc. So I’m referring to something greater than just my reach.

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  3. Robert, I’ve had many blogs over the years. I’ve tried to do blogs that attempted to do as you note, but that isn’t how I *use* my blog. I use the blog to think out whatever I’m reading at the moment. To attempt a blog like you’re noting takes too much time and effort for me, and thus is not enjoyable at that point. Here’s an example of a blog of mine where I tried to do what you’re suggesting. http://evangelicalcalvinist.blogspot.com

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