Sunday, February 05, 2006

Blogging in the Context of the New Testament Church

James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

Blogging, though something that can already seem to be rather old, is a fairly recent explosion. Blogs are used for many purposes: to post pictures for the family to see, to act as an online journal, to promote truth, or even to propagate lies. Frankly, at least half of everything that is posted on blogs in the name of Christianity is garbage theology. But where does blogging fit in the context of the New Testament church? How is it meant to serve the church? If you are the owner of a Christian blog that has its purpose in presenting and defending truth, you most likely view it in one of these ways:

1. My blog is simply my own personal thoughts for others to see. While my intentions are to present truth, I’m not trying to convince anyone. In reality, I just have fun writing the articles and view it as a means of personal growth.

2. My blog has its goal in serving the church by presenting correct doctrine and practice. It is my hope that believers who read this are edified, exhorted, and convicted. I hope they truly learn something at their stay here.

Both of these reasons seem noble and “Christian-like” at first glance. But is either one of them Biblical? Does either one of them answer Biblical mandates concerning the teaching and defending of truth? Of course, you won’t find blogging in the Bible. But you also won’t find believers meeting together for personal Bible studies led by someone other than a teacher of the church and governed outside of the authority of the local church (something that I’m sure many Christians do today). If we were to examine the two motivations or visions that are listed above against Scripture, what would be our conclusions? The first one sounds good enough, even humble. But the ultimate conclusion of such a position is that the person handling truth in this manner is doing so to simply serve himself. What is his vision for the church? What are his concerns about the edification of believers? Is he merely handling truth in this manner because it is an enjoyment of his? Learning and presenting Biblical truth is certainly an enjoyable task, but if our motivation in doing so is merely personal enjoyment, our focus is on ourselves, not the church. DA Carson writes concerning seminary students:

As someone who has taught seminary student for more than 15 years, I worry about the rising number of seminarians who, when asked where and how they think they might best serve, respond with something like this: “Well, I think I would like to teach somewhere. Every time I have taught, people have told me I have done a pretty good job. I get a tremendous sense of fulfillment out of teaching the Bible. I think I could be satisfied teaching Scripture.”

How pathetic! I know pagans who find satisfaction and fulfillment by teaching nuclear physics. In any Christian view of life, self-fulfillment must never be permitted to become the controlling issue. The issue is service, the service of real people. The question is, “How can I be most useful?”, not, “How can I feel most useful?” (DA Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers pp 82-83).

While DA Carson is writing about seminary graduates and those exploring the call of ministry, what he states is true in a number of categories of our lives. Why are you exploring the career you are? Why do you want her as your wife? Why are you posting on your blog? If your answer to any of these questions involves self-satisfaction and fulfillment, you have adopted the spiritually perilous mentality that causes someone to control his life based upon his emotions, based upon what thrills him, rather than what the Bible has deemed important.

But what of the second possible motivation or vision? In that scenario, the blogger was motivated not by what brings him personal satisfaction, but by what edifies the church. Surely his act of blogging has been blessed by God because of such a motive! Well, the problem is, the Lord has designed a means of equiping the church. He has designed a means of teaching his sheep. The Perfect Shepherd has shared his task of leading his sheep with pastors and teachers. Remember the gifts that the ascended Christ gave to his church?

Ephesians 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.

Oh, and yes, Paul forgot to mention bloggers, of course. It is the responsibility of Apostles, Prophets, Pastors and Teachers, and Evangelists to be the ones who build up the church for the work of ministry. What we often fail to realize is that when we place ourselves upon the platform of teaching the church outside of the context of the local church (and blogging allows for anyone to gain such a platform), we have created a para-church ministry. Furthermore, many who use their blog as a means of “teaching” are simply not qualified to speak to the church (in the sense of the 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 qualifications, that is). And as we see in the the first passage quoted, we are told, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). Perhaps you do not view your blog as a ministry. Perhaps you do not view your blog as setting yourself up on the platform to speak to the church. My only question for you, then, is what is it?

Of course, I’m certainly not advocating that pastors and teachers alone should be allowed to be the ones who ever utter a word of theology or correct another person’s misunderstandings. And ministry certainly is not a spectator sport. Notice that the text does not say that the ascended Christ gave these gifts to the church simply to do the work of ministry. Rather, they are here to equip the church to do the work of ministry itself. Sunday morning prepares the church to look like the church for the rest of the week. We see in Romans 12 that different people in the church are gifted in different ways, but they all minister and serve according to the faith that has been given to them. But the context is in the local church.

I’m certainly not seeking that all of you go and shut down your blogs. And I’m definitely not stating that any service that is done outside of the context of the local church isn’t true service. I simply want to remind us of a few Biblical truths: that pastors and teachers (who have met certain Biblical qualifications) have been given to equip the church for the work of ministry, and the church then in turn serves and edifies each other in the context of the local gathering and throughout the week in local settings. This is the Biblical model.

What, then, becomes of my blog Veritas Redux? No, it isn’t being shut down. But I do hope to rearrange the format in the near future. I would like to transform Veritas Redux into more of a resource website rather than simply people coming here, apart from the context of the local church, to simply read what Evan May has to say. Yes, I will still contribute on a regular basis with my own writings. But you will also be able to witness the gift of teacher performed on paper as you are subjected to the “cloud of witnesses,” both ancient and modern. I hope that you accept my Biblical convictions for Veritas Redux, and perhaps keep some of the things I have said here in perspective for your own lives: whether it be blogging or anything else.

Thank you,
Evan May.


  1. I personally blog under the watchful eye of my local church. Now, they don't patrol looking for every comment I make on every blog, but they are aware that I write here and am involved in the online apologetics community. They do check on me to be sure all is well, and they have even contributed to some of our threads here and at other blogs, so I definitely know they are watching.

    This is all to say that I would encourage bloggers, particularly those of us with apologetics blogs and blogs that discuss theology (systematic, exegetical, etc.) should do so under the care of our local churches, no matter what tradition in which we find ourselves. It keeps me accountable, and it also means that, behind at least part of what I write, there is a pastoral concern of sorts, because my peers, and not just my peers, but my brothers and sisters in my local church are watching and, I hope, learning. At times, you'll see me post an item we've discussed at church or in emails. At other times, I'll post and send the link to our email list or I'll take your articles or Steve's or those at other sites and do the sam.

    So...eye's are watching. At least for me, that includes the elders of my own church. This keeps accountable and responsible and it helps keep me relevant. It also keeps me aware that folks are watching me...folks that I know, who will correct me if I exceed our confession or they think I'm out in left field.

  2. Evan, you have made an excellent point. It made me think about my blog as well.

    My point falls under #2 of what you had said. I also desire to use it as a way for people from my church to be able to increase their biblical knowledge, especially the students in my SS class (I am a recognized teacher in my church, however small the recognition). Yet, you do make a good point about accountability.

    I think I'll ask our students minister (who is my accountability partner anyway) to keep tabs on me as I do my posts.

    Thank you sir (and you too, Gene) for your timely insights.

    David Hewitt