The Bible For Bloggers – By Bryan Chapell

Wise words by former Covenant Theological Seminary President, Bryan Chapell. This was posted on the Gospel Coalition website and has a little something for everyone of us who write blogs, read blogs, and comment on blogs. Enjoy this read, it is very profitable for our approach to the written word on the internet and seeks to glory Christ in all we do as our first and foremost function.

The Bible for Bloggers

Bryan Chapell | Aug 27, 2012

What biblical principles should guide Christian bloggers? I am increasingly thinking about this question because maintaining the mission and reputation of the institution I lead increasingly requires me to respond quickly and frequently to questions, assertions, and criticisms from the unjuried world of the blogosphere.

I do not think I have always responded well. Defending truth may well require correction and rebuke (2 Tim. 4:2). Still, I confess discomfort with the ready sarcasm and flip accusations that seem so prevalent in the world of blogs and but so foreign to the biblical ethic of esteeming others more highly than ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4).

Listening to the “ouch” from others about things I have written, and feeling the “ouch” from what others have written, have convicted me of the need to think more seriously about the biblical benefits and boundaries of such words—a task also urged by leaders with similar concerns at a recent meeting of The Gospel Coalition’s Council.

I am particularly concerned about two issues: What general principles should guide Christians in distributed communication, and what special principles should guide Christians when they address issues about and to the church in such communication?

Some may shrug off the question of what is proper Christian communication on the internet, saying it is hardly likely that all internet dialogue will honor the rule of Christ. Even Christians may argue that internet sites and social media create something of a digital lunchroom where participants not only expect the conversation to be free flowing but also less accountable to the standards of traditional media.

Of course, the context and genre of communication properly influence our judgment of what Christians can or should say. We do not expect a stage play to sound like a Sunday sermon, or a website to be as careful as a catechism. But if Christians are to be salt and light in every sphere of life, then they must also consider what should characterize internet communication that honors Christ.

The present era is not the first in which Christians have considered whether the Bible’s standards apply to new forms of communication. Gutenberg, Marconi, Coughlin, Hearst, Limbaugh, Drudge, Huffington, and Zuckerberg represent waves of new communication approaches that have changed the shoreline of expectations regarding what utterances can or should be distributed. Still, we limit our God if we presume that he cannot establish transcendent standards of truth and love that supersede changing communication expectations.

As a Christian who believes in the lordship of Christ over the whole of life, I know that I have a responsibility to discern what the Bible requires of me in all aspects of life—even those of the web. [1] I also know that I cannot here address all possible issues (such as those faced by bloggers in lands of persecution). Still, I hope the following discussion of biblical principles will make all of us who engage in internet communication more conscious of applicable biblical principles—and also a bit more reflective before hitting the “post” button.

I. Christian Communication Must Be True

Christian communication that purports to be true, should be. That’s obvious, but some additional specificity may be helpful—and challenging. The third commandment (which requires care for God’s name, particularly in taking oaths and vows in support of the truth) and the ninth commandment (which is more narrowly concerned with malicious slander) plainly forbid spreading falsehoods in either personal or public communication. [2]

The Bible repeats the requirement of guarding the truth many times and in many ways in both the Old and New Testaments (e.g., Ex 23:1; Lv 19:11-16, 35-36; Ps 82:2-3; Prv 23:10; 31:8-9; Rom 12:9-10; 2 Cor 12:20; Eph 4:25; 2 Tm 3:3; Jas 3:17; 1 Jn 4:20). The judgment of charity binds us not only to tell the truth but also to seek to interpret other’s statements and actions in the best light (Mt 7:12; 1 Cor 13:6-7). We are also obligated to protect the reputations of others against slander, innuendo, false implication, and even the damage to truth caused by inappropriate silence (Zech 8:16; Prv 17:15; 1 Tm 6:4; 2 Tm 4:16).

These standards of truth are high, but they merely form the ground floor of the biblical architecture for communication that honors God. Simply telling the truth is not enough.

II. Christian Communication Must Be Provable

The Bible does not allow us to publish what we think is true if we cannot prove it. Before we disseminate favorable or unfavorable information we are required to ensure and evidence its accuracy.

Continue reading here: The Bible for Bloggers On Gospel Coalition website

4 thoughts on “The Bible For Bloggers – By Bryan Chapell

  1. Dear Abidingthroughgrace,

    Grace and peace in Christ Jesus!

    Very much appreciate you sharing this post and it is definitely one that should be printed out and referenced for proper commenting etiquette:)

    I think there is great responsibility in adding to a public discussion, especially in light of confessing to be a Christian. My prayer is that our “typing” as well as our speech may be pleasing to the Lord.

    May God continue to bless you and your ministry for His glory!
    In Christ alone, come what may in a world passing away, charissse

  2. In many respects a great article. I have a couple of critiques, but I would hope everyone would read the entire thing, and take it to heart. I was particularly struck by the first paragraph under “Verifiable Claims” and the entire section under “Edifying” — these are horribly violated over and over again in Christian blogs and especially discussion forums / comment sections.

    Critique #1 — Bryan Chappell violates his own standard when he says that bloggers are driven by a page-view motive. There is probably sufficient evidence that some are, but he’s not provided any. He shouldn’t have gone there, or at least not with such a direct assertion of motive. It isn’t necessary to his point.

    Critique #2 — he tells Christians to avoid watch-blogs. I believe his characterisation of watch-blogs has merit in most cases. However, a watch-blog can serve a very useful purpose.

    We live in a world where the Internet has brought everything closer together. What happens in Chicago or Mumbai or Rio is likely to quickly hit the radar screen of believers in Scotland. If a pastor / elder is going to keep up with all the efforts of cultists who may be influencing the flock (or the deviations from true doctrine and true practice among apparently Chriistian churches), he’ll not have any time for studying and preaching the Word and doing the work of an evangelist.

    In such a world, a website which provides resources that can be accessed at need can be a valuable asset. A watchblog can simply be a tool of entertainment for those who love a good fight, but it also can be a great aid to the proper work of the ministry.

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