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.
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):
- Love my enemies (Mat 5:43-44; Lk 6:27,35): That is, I am to love, not hate my opponents (I don't hate them actually). This love is to include praying for them, and not only not doing bad to them but actually doing good to them!
- Not say anything knowingly false against anyone (Ex 20:16; Mat 19:18-19).
- Not say anything intentionally insulting or nasty to anyone (Mat 5:22).
- Speak the truth always but in love (Eph 4:15).
- Respond with gentleness and respect (1 Pet 3:15; Gal. 5:22-23; Php 4:5; Col 3:12; Rom 13:7; 1 Pet 2:17).
- Not repay evil with evil. (Rom 12:17; 1 Thess 5:15; 1 Pet 3:9): In particular, I am not to "repay ... insult with insult, but with blessing.".
- Correct errors and apologise (if applicable) where I am wrong (Mat 5:23-24; Jas 5:16).
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.)