Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blogging and the future of theology

"It is to be feared that the democratisation of the theological process (every blogger now demands the right to have centre stage and equal validity) destabilises serious theological engagement. The church's affirmation of its 'tradition' becomes engagement with last week's posting." (Derek Thomas here).
In response to Derek Thomas' recent remarks, here are some thoughts on theology blogging,
1. The bloghood of all believers
It is true that you don't have to be a theology professor or even a pastor to start as blog. Anyone can have a go. Blogging is democratic rather than elitist. Does this mean that all blogs are equally valid or useful? Hardly. Some bloggers don't seem to realise that it is best not to post on things that they know nothing or very little about. But blogging can be a means of facilitating the communion of the saints as believers from all over the world share their thoughts for discussion and reflection.
2. Centre stage?
Only a mighty Aussie theoblogger like Ben Myers or evangelical uberblogger Adrain Warnock can hope dominate the theoblogmatic stage. I think that the rest of us (apart from a few megalomaniacs) are simply content to engage in the drama of blogging in a modest, but (hopefully) meaningful way.
3. Serious engagement?
Theology blogging may sometimes be little better than an opinionated slanging match. Ignorance is pooled and tempers get frayed, but nothing good happens. That is a bad thing. But this need not be the case. There is some seriously serious theological engagement going on out there in the blog-land. I would venture to argue that many people have been theologically enriched by blogging. Views have been tested, new aspects of truth glimpsed and books read that otherwise would have been missed. The act of writing up posts on a regular basis helps to sharpen thought about theological matters. At its best, blogging can enhance and invigorate rather than destabilise the theological process. If you don't think that the blogosphere is the place for serious theological engagement, see here and here.
4. Engaging with tradition
Of course, blogging is a fast-moving medium where the focus of attention shifts from day to day. But there are a number of blogs that are devoted to engaging with tradition in a lively and helpful way, notably here and here.
5. Theoblogging is here to stay (until something else comes along)
The medium is now pretty well established with an almost discernible "community" of serious theology bloggers. Google being the blog-friendly search engine that it is, regularly sends theological enquiries to blogs. Even some of my older posts attract daily Google referrals. This phenomenon isn't going to go away, so we had better learn to live with it. By creating a means of sharing information and facilitating theological discussion, blogging may even have a positive contribition to make to the future of theology as a global enterprise.
6. Derek Thomas is a blogger
Yes, tell it not in Gath, but Professor Derek W. H. Thomas himself has been known to blog over at Reformation 21!

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