One of the dangers of blogging

Don Carson’s recent talk, ‘The Scholar as Pastor’, is now available free online as a 17-page PDF, MP3 file or video. Carson warns about ‘the seduction of academic applause.’ But he also talks about the ‘seductive applause’ that can come from:

the conservative constituency of your friends, a narrower peer group but one that, for some people, is equally ensnaring. Scholarship is then for sale: you constantly work on things to bolster the self-identity of your group, to show they are right, to answer all who disagree with them. Some scholars who are very indignant with colleagues who, in their estimation, are far too attracted by the applause of unbelieving academic peers, remain blissfully unaware of how much they have become addicted to the applause of conservative bastions that egg them on. On the last day we stand or fall on the approval of one Person, one Master, the Lord Jesus. (HT: JT)

This is especially true for blogging. We receive our ‘seductive applause’ almost immediately through hits, comments, Technocrati ratings and so on. If you desire the approval of your peers, or would-be peers, then you say the rights things, commend the right books, knock the wrong people and so on. Within a constituency it can all become dangerously self-reinforcing. We commend one another for echoing back the same thoughts. All the time, we feel we are part of the cogniscenti, the cabal of people who know what is right. But ‘on the last day we stand or fall on the approval of one Person, one Master, the Lord Jesus.’

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7 thoughts on “One of the dangers of blogging

  1. Pingback: Latest Links | blog of dan

  2. Thank you for that post! Even though I’m not a famous blogger, I’ve struggled with posting things from people outside the Charismatic Calvinist camp. God help us not to seek the approval of men, but God alone.

  3. What makes this especially interesting is how much the bloggosphere is heralded as the means to genuinely be yourself, the democratisation of thought, the place people flaunt it all before the world. I think your case is sound. When you get a community of any sort, let alone one with as many carefully constructed codes (visible and invisible, doctrinal and sociological) of how to be in or out as evangelicalism, that there are still lots things that are inherently positive to say and others which are impossible to say. Some things get you community brownie points, other things black spots.

    I recently argued ( that the plausibility structures of a relativist society mean we only ever hear what we are told by relativism. Other voices are excluded by subtle means. We have to work very hard indeed if Christian blogging is not to fall into the same trap of having a tight, exclusive and self-reinforcing “interpretive community”. Would love to hear other’s comments on how to take steps to avoid it

  4. Very helpful reminder – I have a most ungodly attachment to my ‘stats page’! thanks for this – I already came across it quoted on another blog – there a probably plenty of us who need to read it! (and there’s the stat-serving self-promotion. I have a way to go…)

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