Friday, July 03, 2009

Blogging in the name of the Lord: Rob Bradshaw

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

GD: Hello Rob Bradshaw and welcome to Exiled Preacher. Please tell us a little about yourself.

RB: Hello Guy. I’m a graduate of Bangor University (where I became a Christian during my first year) and of Mattersey Hall Bible College (Assemblies of God) 8 years later. In the past I’ve worked for TEAR Fund in Nepal and for a short time with a church in Vancouver, British Columbia. My most unusual job was carrying out a tree survey of Windsor Safari Park prior to it becoming Legoland (they locked the lions up first!). For the last 9 years I have worked for the Deo Gloria Trust as administrator of the national follow-up service Contact for Christ. In 2001 I launched a series of websites intended to provide free resources for Bible students – particularly those in the developing world - which I run in my spare time. I am married with three little boys whom we homeschool.

GD: You have several blogs, BiblicalStudies, TheologicalStudies, EarlyChurch, MedievalChurch and Missiology, what made you get into blogging in such a big way?

RB: The main reason for the blogs is to keep visitors updated when new material is added (in that sense they are what you might call “announcement blogs”). When your site reaches over 500 pages you begin to suffer from the law of diminishing returns – you have to do more work to make it look like the site is still active. Announcing new material gets round this problem and also makes sure that new material is picked up by the search engines quickly.

GD: What are the strengths and weaknesses of blogging as a medium for theological/ reflection?

RB: I think that blogs dealing with the Bible (the “Biblioblogs”) have been great at creating a sense of community amongst laypeople and scholars working in this field. Perhaps one of the weaknesses is that on controversial subjects those who disagree with you are more vocal in the comments than those who agree (perhaps they don’t want to be ‘flamed’ themselves). I noted this in the past when I wrote about the role of women in the church and in my critique of the teachings of Brian McClaren.

GD: It is evidently a good thing that sites like "Biblical" and "Theology on the Web" have made theological resources readily available on the internet. We should use modern means of communication just like the Reformers utilised the printing press. But do you think that there is a danger that "Googling" can sometimes replace proper thought, reflection and research? What can be done to avoid producing "instant experts" who have read something on the net and then think they know it all?

RB: Absolutely – but that’s not the medium’s fault. The solution is better education to get students to refer to printed material when they can access it. My own concern is to provide good theological material to those in countries where no printed version is available. In the past the poor quality of material available has been an issue, but with more and more theological journals making heir back issues available free on-line that is changing.

GD: Who has had the greatest influence on your theological development?

RB: Shortly after I became a Christian I was introduced by a student at Bangor to the teaching ministry of the late Roger Price of Chichester Christian Fellowship. Roger’s enthusiasm for the Word of God was contagious and gave me a real thirst to know more. While I have since learned that on some points his enthusiasm led him in the wrong direction (on minor issues) his teaching provided me with a grounding that I will always be grateful for.

GD: If time travel were possible, which figure from post-biblical Church history would you most like to meet and what you say to him/her?

RB: F.F. Bruce – I’d like to thank him for his work in reestablishing evangelical scholarship.

GD: You often express concern over the state of our nation, highlighting some rather alarming stories of Christians being questioned by the authorities over their beliefs. How did we get into a situation where mounted police confronted a Christian for handing out Easter leaflets on the street?

RB: It’s a good question. I think that Evangelicals are suffering from a crisis of faith in the face of the rise of postmodernism. It takes courage to assert that we have a source of authority beyond our own opinions in the face of a society that denies any absolute authority.

GD: The forthcoming Equality Bill threatens to remove our freedom to say that homosexual conduct is wrong. What can we do to express concern over this matter?

RB: Every Christian should contact their MP and explain why this change should not be made in the first instance. I would also recommend that your readers support the work of the Christian Institute as they work to oppose the change.

GD: Is the traditional evangelical stance on homosexuality based on selective use of biblical texts? For example we quote Leviticus 18:22 on the issue, but we don't follow the regulations prohibiting clothing with mixed materials, Leviticus 19:19.

RB: Unless I had time to explain to someone how to interpret the OT law first (see here) I don’t think I would start to argue from Leviticus. The New Testament teaching on the subject is clear and is consistent with that of the Old.

GD: How can pastors help prepare their churches for what may be tough times ahead for Christians in the UK?

RB: Sorry – I’m not a pastor and wouldn’t presume to tell them what to do beyond encouraging them to teach the whole of Scripture.

GD: In the past, revivals have had a dramatic impact on society. Should we just batten down the hatches and hope for revival to come?

RB: No, I believe that we need a revival of the Word of God starting with families reading the Bible together, learning it, talking about it in their day to day lives. I have heard from Bible College lecturers how Biblical knowledge even amongst those preparing for ministry is declining. Recently I even heard a minister apologise for preaching from the Old Testament. We should be ashamed of this!

GD: What is the most helpful theological book that you have read in the last twelve months? It is a must read because?

RB: Not in the last 12 months, but the most helpful one I have read is Gordon Fee and Douglaw Stuart’s 'How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth'. Having read widely in hermeneutics I have noted how Fee & Stuart have carefully distilled down a great deal of material in order to produce this book. I would place it in the hands of anyone who is serious with getting to grips with the Scriptures.

GD: Care to share your top three songs or pieces of music?

RB: I rarely listen to music, but my wife and I devour unabridged audio books in the evenings. Our favourites are the works of P G Wodehouse, C.S. Lewis and J K Rowling.

GD: What is the biggest problem facing evangelicalism today and how should we respond?

RB: We are losing our young people to the World. At the risk of being controversial I agree with Dr Voddie Baucham when he says that this is due to the professionalization of youth ministry and the decline of role of the family. What previously was the responsibility of the parents – teaching the Children the Bible - has been taken over in many churches by a member of staff. I am in favour of family integrated churches (rare in the UK) where all age groups stay and worship together throughout the service.

GD: Which blogs do you enjoy reading and why?

RB: Voddie Baucham’s – although he seems to the little known in the UK what he says (see above) strikes a chord with me.
GD: Thanks for dropping by for this conversation Rob, and for all your efforts in making good theology resources avaliable on the internet.

1 comment:

Augustinian Successor said...

Keep up the good work, Bro. Rob. Thank you for your ministry.