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Why We Need Critical Weblogs

I had a lengthy conversation with a friend of mine today about an ongoing controversy in a prominent Southern Baptist megachurch. There is a faction in this church that has some criticisms of the church's leadership. So naturally, the dissenters started a weblog to criticize the church's pastor and deacons. I visited the blog for the first time today, and noticed that there had been over 120,000 "hits" on the blog since it went up three months ago. Amazing. I'm betting we can all probably think of other blogs that are devoted to criticizing aspects of Southern Baptist life, whether churches, indvidual leaders, agencies, or even ideologies. It is tempting to dismiss these blogs as the rantings of the discontent, Southern Baptist gadflies who are intent on making things difficult for others. But I believe that would be a mistake.

I think we need critical weblogs. Some of them can be nasty and unchristlike. Some of them make unsubstantiated charges about SBC leaders and agencies. Some of them are ongoing gripe-fests. And some of them are just old-fashioned, over-the-top vitriol. But I still think we need them, if for no other reason than to remind us that our words and actions matter and people are always watching.

We all know horror stories of prominent Christian leaders who, drunk with power or reckless with their personal lives, make terrible mistakes that end their ministries and bring reproach upon the name of Christ. Sometimes, these leaders are involved in patterns of sins that are literally decades in the making. I think the best thing about critical blogs is that they remind us that our lives are not as private as we think, that our sins cannot remain hidden forever. Indeed, "your sins will find you out," often in cyberspace. 

The pervasive presence of critical blogs should remind every pastor, seminary president, agency head, or other prominent leader that they are called to scriptural holiness, to be leaders above reproach. There is always someone waiting for you to slip, and now many of those someones have notebook computers and a Blogger ISP. The scope of a moral fall or an ethical collapse is much further-reaching than merely those in your circle of acquaintances; in this age of weblogs, the whole world will know of your misdeeds.

So my prayer is that the presence of critical weblogs and other websites will be a reminder that, even when a cyber-gadfly is wrong (and they are not always wrong!), the Lord is using them to remind us of the high calling placed upon those in Christian leadership. May we be men and women of integrity, godliness, personal holiness, and thick skin!

New Book(s)

Boadman & Holman Publishers has released its first book in a new academic series. The book, God's Indwelling Presence, is written by Jim Hamilton who is a professor at the Houston campus of SWBTS. Check out this post by Russ Moore on the book and the new series.