Monday, February 19, 2007

Blogging in the name of the Lord: Martin Downes

This is the part of a series of interviews with Christian bloggers. In the hot seat today is...

Martin Downes

GD: Hi Martin, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

MD: I'm a Christian, a Welshman, I'm 31, I'm married to Debbie, I have two daughters, and I'm the pastor of Christ Church, Deeside, in North East Wales.
GD: Why did you get into blogging?
MD: I wanted to get some comments and feedback on my area of specialist interest, which rather strangely is the intellectual and moral sin of heresy.
GD: Your blog is entitled "Against Heresies" - does this make you a modern-day heresy hunter?
MD: Not really. As a minister of the gospel the focus of my ministry is preaching good news. But when heresy and false teaching are a "clear and present danger" to the church then they must be dealt with. It is important that the negative never outweighs or controls the positive. James Buchanan once wrote that "truth is one, error is multiform." If people can be well established in the truth then they will be safeguarded against a multitude of errors. Likewise the Westminster Directory of Public Worship cautions ministers not to mention blasphemous opinions unnecessarily, nor to raise old heresies from the grave.
GD: So, you've never used a thumb screw to make a suspected heretic 'fess up?
MD: The trouble with heretics is that they think that they are orthodox. Thumb screws are of limited use, better exegesis is to be preferred in most cases.
GD: "In most cases"? Hmmm. Define heresy and tell us why dodgy doctrine is so dangerous.
MD: I like Mike Horton's definition of it as "any teaching that directly contradicts the clear and direct witness of the Scriptures on a point of salvific importance." Heresy is the kind of doctrinal error that is so serious that it redefines the gospel. And you can't be saved by a false gospel.
GD: What have you found most enjoyable about blogging?
MD: It has helped me to clarify and develop my thinking on heresy in new ways. I have also enjoyed interacting with Christians in the US.
GD: What are some of the dangers of blogging?
MD: Reading blogs is time consuming and addictive. Whilst they can be informative they ought not to take time away from proper theological reading.
GD: I notice that Pyromaniacs link to your blog. Do they really like your stuff, or was there a fee?
MD: When my blog was still in nappies Phil Johnson kindly added me to their blog roll. He liked a comment that I made about Western Evangelicalism being infected with Socinianism. Their blog is stimulating, clear, and helpful. A large section of my readers come via Pyromaniacs.
GD: Could you get Pyromaniacs to link to my blog too?
MD: I live in North Wales, I just don't have that kind of influence.
GD: Oh well, nothing ventured.... Next question is: What does your family think of your blog?
MD: The girls like the graphics (done with the invaluable help of Dave Bish). We find it fascinating that the blog receives visits from all over the world.
GD: I read somewhere that you like the Manic Street Preachers. Name your top three tracks.
MD: I do like the Manics...but let me choose my top three U2 tracks in honour of your recent post on them. 1. Stuck in a moment 2. Angel of Harlem 3. So cruel
GD: You just can't go changing the questions! Please try to answer this next one properly: Name the most helpful theology book that you've read in the last 12 months. It's a must read because...?
MD: Just one? I'm working through Herman Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1 Prolegomena. As well as being a substantial theological work Bavinck deals with unhelpful trends and methodologies that are still around, albeit in differing forms.
GD: Sounds interesting. Which blogs do you enjoy most and why?
MD: Alan Davey's blog. Every missionary should have a blog. The bonus with Alan is hide dry humour. Scott Clark's The Heidelblog, very helpful on confessionalism. I like Pyromaniacs (see above for reasons) and The Bluefish (Dave has thoughtful posts and it keeps me informed on the student world). Finally, I do enjoy reading blogs from a different perspective that I am unlikely to find agreement with on some important issues, like Blog and Mablog (Doug Wilson), Jesus Creed (Scot McKnight), the BHT (Michael Spencer) and Reformed Catholicism. [Really] Finally a mention should go to Justin Taylor, Ron Gleason and Ref 21.
GD: Isn't there another blog you'd like to mention? No? Really? OK, be like that! ;-) Martin Downes it has been a pleasure to speak to you here at Exiled Preacher.

Who will be next to face my Paxmanesque interrogation? Keep visiting Exiled Preacher and you will find out. It could be you! But it might not be.

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