Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What would Jesus blog?

I recently received a private email from a fellow Christian who is on the private Christian email list I previously mentioned (I have since unsubscribed from it), who assumed that I "slam people" on my blog.

[Graphic: "In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?," Wikipedia]

I responded to him:

"I do not `slam' people on my blog (I disagree with Christians who do personally attack their opponents on their blogs and I try to be unfailingly polite, e.g. `Richard Dawkins' rather than `Dawkins', etc)..."

It followed a thread about "blog rage" on that list (which I did not participate in) about how some ID blogs have "turned nasty". Another member (i.e. not the one who thought I "slam people" on my blog), wrote the following (I assume he won't mind me posting this anonymously) which I wholeheartedly agree with:

"What really bothers me, though, is when a blog or blogger purports to have some connection with Jesus and yet adopts the arrogant, nasty tone of that post and its comments. In the faith-science arena, that kind of approach is the domain of PZ Meyers and Dawkins. We can't respond in kind! It isn't about `winning' a `culture war.' The war was already won, on the cross. We are to tell the truth in humility and love as the `already' part of the kingdom unfolds while waiting patiently for the `not yet.' Now, I know that ID is not inherently supposed to be a religious movement, so one could say that this law of love shouldn't apply to ID advocates qua ID advocates. I don't buy that when the advocate in question is also known to be a Christian."

What triggered this blog post of mine is that an animation (which I refuse to look at) on a blog run by a Christian theologian and leader of the ID movement (I won't mention his name because it might sound like a personal attack on him when it isn't, and anyway if there is anyone who does not know who or what I mean, they will, by following the link in the next but one paragraph) which shows Judge Jones in what looks like a courtroom dock, with prominent evolutionists like Richard Dawkins and Eugenie Scott in what looks like a jury panel behind him.

Quite frankly this is sub-Christian (and indeed sub- normal non-Christian) and is just playing into the anti-Christians' hands because it reinforces their Inherit the Wind stereotype that "all critics of Darwinism ... are Bible-thumping fanatics challenging scientific fact in order to impose political oppression. ... fundamentalists who want to substitute the book of Genesis for science" (see `tagline' quote at the foot of this post). That "evangelical Christians" are "angry and close-minded `pit bulls of the culture wars'" (see below).

That this is so, is confirmed by Richard Dawkins having posted the animation on his own website with the comment, that he wants to keep it there permanently, in case this Christian ID leader "tries to remove it from his own website":

Response from Richard Dawkins: Anybody who resorts to tactics of desperation like this has to be a real loser. ... and it now looks as though he KNOWS it. My guess is that he will try to take it down when he realizes how foolish it makes him look. Josh, can we can keep a copy, after he tries to remove it from his own website?

It reminded me of this article, "What would Jesus blog?" (see also The Guardian, USA Today and Wired News) in which it was "stressed that God blogging has the potential to be a `train wreck' because done wrong it can reinforce stereotypes of evangelical Christians as angry and close-minded `pit bulls of the culture wars'" (my emphasis):

"What would Jesus blog? Christian bloggers gather at conference," MSNBC Oct. 15, 2005 LA MIRADA, Calif. - What would Jesus blog? That and other pressing questions drew dozens of Christians to a Southern California university this weekend for what was billed as the first-ever national conference for `God bloggers," a growing community of online writers who exchange information and analyze current events from a Christian perspective. The three-day conference at Biola University marked an important organizational benchmark for Christian bloggers, who have worked behind the scenes for several years to spread the Gospel and infuse politics with religion. It was the first time many of the 135 bloggers met face-to-face, and organizers took the opportunity to address sometimes controversial questions surrounding the future of the Christian blogosphere. ... During one well-attended workshop entitled `When Non-Christians Read Your Blog,' Biola University professor Timothy Muehlhoff instructed people on how to write about their faith without alienating nonbelievers. He stressed that God blogging has the potential to be a `train wreck' because done wrong it can reinforce stereotypes of evangelical Christians as angry and close-minded `pit bulls of the culture wars.' `We need to write in such a way that people can see themselves presented as ... complex people who aren't monsters," said Muehlhoff ... As Christians today we are embroiled in the argument culture and we have forgotten this one thing: 'Blessed are the peacemakers.' Wouldn't it be nice if we could say we brought a level of civility back to the conversation?' ..."

I cannot find where anyone has answered online the question, "What would Jesus blog?" Actually, I take it that the real question is not what but "How would Jesus blog?" That is, "How should Christians blog?", as a particular application of the universal ethico-moral question to be asked by each individual Christian in any particular situation, as per the subtitle "What would Jesus do?" of Charles Monroe Sheldon's 1896 book, "In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?" (which I have never read).

So here is my answer, which applies to my posts and comments to this my blog (i.e. it has always applied - although I have no doubt that at times I have failed to live up to these principles, but now I am explicitly accountable to live by them):

If there are any other principles relevant to blogging that I later think of, I will add them to this post. But the above are plenty!

I encourage other Christian bloggers, if they have not already done so, to adopt similar (or even these verbatim-they are not copyright) principles for their blog. If anyone knows of any other statement of principles for a Christian blog, I would appreciate being advised in a comment below or in an email (see near the foot of my home page for a link to my email address) of them.

If anyone claims that I am not living up to these standards, I would appreciate it being drawn to my attention via the comments below or an email message. If I consider the claim to be valid, I will publicly issue a correction or retraction. However, claims that I consider to be trivial, frivolous or insincere will be rejected without publication.

I conclude with something that Phillip E. Johnson said on one of his audio tapes in the 1990s, near the beginning of the ID movement, that I totally agree with, namely:

"How we win is more important than that we win"!

And remember, we Christians have read the end of the book (Rev 21:1-22:5) and we do win!:

"When things get bad and you can't stand to look
It's time to read to the end of the book
Don't put it down 'til you get to the end
When Jesus come and His Kingdom begins
... we win ..." (Michael W. Smith,
"End of the Book." My emphasis).

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).


"The second event to recall was the 1960 Stanley Kramer movie of `Inherit the Wind,' starring Spencer Tracy as the agnostic lawyer patterned after Clarence Darrow. It was one of the great propaganda masterpieces of all time. In the context of presenting a very distorted account of the notorious Scopes trial, the film portrayed the moral side of the Darwinian triumph over Christianity. `Inherit the Wind' is a simple morality play in which the Christian ministers are evil manipulators and their followers are bumpkins who sing mindlessly in praise of `that old time religion.' In the movie, it appears that the theological content of Christianity amounts to threatening people with damnation if they dare to think for themselves. The overthrow of this caricature provides a liberation myth ... The movie teaches that the truth shall make us free, and the truth, according to science and Hollywood, is that Biblical religion is an oppressor to be overthrown. The film embodied a stereotype that has dominated public debate over evolution ever since the Scopes trial. As far as the media are concerned, all critics of Darwinism fit into what I call the `Inherit the Wind stereotype.' No matter how well qualified the critics are, and no matter how well grounded their criticisms, the reporters assume that they are Bible-thumping fanatics challenging scientific fact in order to impose political oppression. The review in Nature of Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box [Free Press, 1996] fits squarely in that tradition. Behe made solid scientific arguments demonstrating the existence of irreducible complexity in biochemical systems, arguments that the reviewer did not dispute on scientific grounds. Instead, the review began and ended with irrelevant attacks on fundamentalists who want to substitute the book of Genesis for science. Like Marxism, Darwinism is a liberation myth that has become a new justification for ordering people not to think for themselves." (Johnson, P.E., "How to Sink a Battleship: A call to separate materialist philosophy from empirical science," Final address at the 1996 Mere Creation conference, Leadership U., 14 December 2002.)

8 comments:

David Churchland said...

Congratulations. I pray that the example of bloggers such as yourself will demonstrate the contrast between the Christian commitment to radical love and the 21st centurie's demand for hollow 'tolerance'.

Stephen E. Jones said...

David

>Congratulations. I pray that the example of bloggers such as yourself will demonstrate the contrast between the Christian commitment to radical love and the 21st centurie's demand for hollow 'tolerance'.

Thanks for your comment.

If I understand you correcttly, that is *very* challenging. We are not just to neutrally *tolerate* our enemies, but positively *love* them!

Also, a point that may be overlooked in our Lord's command to love our enemies (Mat 5:44), is that they *are* our enemies, while they remain enemies of God.

We are not to love our enemies in the sense that liberalism does, which seeks to secularise Christianity, so that there are no enemies left *to* love!

Stephen E. Jones

idnet said...

Thank you Stephen. Again you have distilled the essence of true Christian spirituality and applied it with prophetic and uncomfortable precision to a very emotional issue. I have suggested tha UD people may like to check this out. I hope we can be bold without being brash.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Mark

>Thank you Stephen. Again you have distilled the essence of true Christian spirituality and applied it with prophetic and uncomfortable precision to a very emotional issue.

Thanks for your positive feedback. I had been thinking of referencing this post near the top of my links, as a standard that I am publicly accountable to, and I have now done it.

>I have suggested tha UD people may like to check this out.

Thanks. I notice that Bill Dembski is now offering a "Flash Animation Contest" [http://tinyurl.com/ygozds] which includes:

"(5) I’ll throw in an extra 100 bucks for a flatulent version of Dawkins (only for private use — maybe)."

There is *no way* that Jesus would approve of this. Indeed, as I said, this sort of personal ridicule is not only sub-Christian, it is sub- normal *non*-Christian!

Quite frankly, in my opinion, Bill has lost the plot, Christian-wise, on this issue.

>I hope we can be bold without being brash.

Thanks again and well put.

Apart from Jesus' *command* for Christians to love their enemies (Mt 5:44), one of the things that will damage (if not kill) ID is if Christian IDists "repay evil with evil or insult with insult" (1 Pet 3:9; Rom 12:17).

It would be good if there was a code of ethics specifically for Christian blogs and/or bloggers (realising that ID is not exclusively Christian and so a multi-moderator blog like UD cannot strictly be called a Christian blog).

There is "A Bloggers' Code of Ethics" [http://tinyurl.com/6qurg] and a "Christian Code of Ethics" for the Internet [http://tinyurl.com/y69ebr], but there appears to be no code of ethics specifically for Christian bloggers.

If there actually is none, then I may consider posting a draft model "Code of Ethics for Christian Bloggers" on CED.

I would appreciate feedback on this.

Stephen E. Jones

Casey Luskin said...

Dear Stephen--

I just want to applaud your excellent post. I agree with you that it is important for Christians to not repay evil for evil and to love those who hate. There's nothing wrong with defending one's views on the internet, but do not descend into typical namecalling which unfortunately is common in this debate. Thanks for this wonderful post. Have a great Christmas.

--Casey Luskin

idnet said...

Dear Stephen, I would strongly encourage the removal of the comments about Bill Dembski in your reply to my post. Mark

Stephen E. Jones said...

Casey

>I just want to applaud your excellent post.

Thanks for your positive feedback too.

>I agree with you that it is important for Christians to not repay evil for evil and to love those who hate.

And the non-Christians *know* it! Dawkins and his anti-Christian ilk want nothing better than to get a Christian to repay them in kind.

>There's nothing wrong with defending one's views on the internet, but do not descend into typical namecalling which unfortunately is common in this debate.

Agreed. That is why it is important that Christians publicly disassociate the Name of Christ from such sub-Christian behaviour in their ranks. Otherwise the anti-Christians will be justified in claiming that all Christians are hypocrites.

>Thanks for this wonderful post. Have a great Christmas.

Thanks Casey. And the same to you and yours.

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

Mark

>Dear Stephen, I would strongly encourage the removal of the comments about Bill Dembski in your reply to my post.

Thanks for your concern. But as far as I am aware, unlike a Blogger post, it is impossible for a Moderator to edit Blogger comments, even his own. All he can do is delete the entire comment altogether.

But I would not delete my comments anyway, even if I could. What I said is what I believe to be true and what needs to be said. I did not mean to imply that you agreed with them.

My comment naming Bill was low-key, in my comments not my blog, to cause him the minimum embarrassment. I am hoping he has it drawn to his attention and reads it in the spirit of concern for him, and the cause of Christ, in which it was given.

I realise that the anti-ID side may make something of this (assuming they even read my blog) but in my judgment a far greater harm would be done to the ID movement (not to mention Christianity) if such `repaying of evil with evil' and `insult with insult' (1 Pet 3:9; Rom 12:17) continues and becomes the unchallenged norm.

It was not for nothing that "Biola University professor Timothy Muehlhoff" warned in a "workshop entitled `When Non-Christians Read Your Blog'" that "God blogging has the potential to be a `train wreck' because done wrong it can reinforce stereotypes of evangelical Christians as angry and close-minded `pit bulls of the culture wars.'"

Stephen E. Jones