Apr

03

2012

John Starke|6:59 PM CT

The Cross and Christian Blogging

We love the shrewdness and wit of Jesus. There's a fist somewhere inside that pumps whenever we read the parts of the Gospels where the religious leaders are left unable "to answer him a word," or when no one "dared to ask him any more questions."

Image courtesy xkcd.com

And that's why some of us blog. We love the feel of silencing our foes. Paul's use of "emasculating" irony in Galatians 5 gives us every justification for sarcasm. Oh, we bloggers love sarcasm; this literary tool allows us to assume our opponents' position, only to take it all the way to its foolish end without ever having to explicitly call them a fool.

Of course, the best of Christian public intellectuals carried this same shrewd sarcasm. C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton are excellent examples, and we often follow in their lead, showing others just how exasperating their logic can be. That's been our self-appointed task, too, ever since we registered for [insert name here].blogspot.com.

The problem is that we tend not to follow Lewis and Chesterton all the way. In other words, we adopt their sarcasm and wit but not the spirituality of their aims. They guided readers toward the place where wisdom could be found, introducing them to a kingdom that stands on firmer ground. We thrive on exposing the fool. We hold the doctrine of J. Gresham Machen but carry the tone of H. L. Mencken.

Blogging Like Jesus

It shouldn't be surprising, then, that our opponents don't see us in the same light as Lewis and Chesterton, or associate us with Jesus for that matter. If we aim to follow Christ, as Paul exhorts us in Philippians 2, then we must imitate not only his wit and wisdom before opponents but also his silence before enemies and mockers at the cross. In Matthew 27, we read about how the Romans deviated from the typical practice of posting a criminal's charges above his head as they crucified Christ. Instead, they mocked Jesus with devilish irony as a royal pretender: "This is Jesus, King of the Jews." They had no idea this very humility of the cross marked Jesus as the ultimate king.

Jesus could have come down and shamed his opponents. He could've silenced them once and for all. The religious leaders, later on in the narrative, even tempted him do so. "If he saved others, why can't he save himself?"

But Jesus, by not saving himself, was saving others.

None of us can replicate what Christ accomplished on the cross. But thanks to his triumphant resurrection, which gave new life to all who believe, even something like our blogging can be done in the Spirit of Christ, by thinking more highly of others than ourselves and forgiving those who oppose us most fiercely. Sarcasm may sometimes be useful, but there are better ways to express regard for our internet enemies. The silence of the cross should cause us to pause and consider our response carefully.

Proverbs warns us, "When words are many, transgression is not lacking" (Proverbs 10:19). That text doesn't just mean lots of words create lots of opportunities for sin. That's certainly true, but only superficially. The real danger can be found in the motivation behind constant talking and typing. It's probably not love, and the example of Jesus reminds us to mortify it.

John Starke is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and lead pastor of All Souls Church in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. You can follow him on Twitter.

Categories: Noteworthy, Opinion
  • Dane Ortlund

    This is excellent, John. Good for me to hear.

  • http://42lifeinbetween.wordpress.com Matthew Rushing

    Thank you so much John. I have just recently started my own blog and have been venturing to other blogs to get inspiration and to comment. I have been shocked at some of the visceral hatred that I have witnessed on sites comment feeds. It hurts me to see Christians bashing other Christians with so little regard for one another. I really appreciate your post and will be sharing it with others! Thank you again.

  • Frank Turk

    I'm looking forward to seeing how this theology of blogging works out over time -- especially in the realm of social engagement and evangelism.

    • John Starke

      Me too, Frank.

      But I don't think you should mistake a call to love for a call to quietism.

      • http://Www.corinthtoday.org Paul Cummings

        John, thank you my brother. I just don't seem to remember "the need to correct and always be right" in the Fruits of the Spirit. ;-) excellent article.

        • Frank Turk

          Paul --

          It's funny you put it that way. I wonder if Paul setting up the contrast he does in Gal 5 to list the fruits of the Spirit was concerned about his friends and disciples being right, or if he was just being a nice guy?

      • Frank Turk

        I'm more concerned about the practical application here being a call to ineffectualism, or some sort of theological equivalent to what we call in the Manufacturing world a paralysis of analysis. There easily comes a place where we are so concerned about being always circumspect and forgiving that what we actually demonstrate is tacit acceptance. The utterly-perfect example of this is the matter of divorce in our culture, where we have been so forgiving and so ready to die rather than offend that we have actually accepted the status quo. The result is that now have no implements to turn it back, and the second generation of the problem (the formal redefinition of marriage into civil contract, to include any pairing) has no problem making us look helpless as we declare it to be wrong.

        It should bother us that somehow the Mormons are better at sounding credible when they refute gay marriage than we are.

        • http://www.corinthtoday.org paul cummings

          ...and it's simply a much more difficult task to hold Truth and Grace in perfect tension, rather than to sloppily fall over to one side or the other. Most everyday I find that I have slipped out of the tension towards an extreme...and I constantly marvel at how un-loving or self-righteous I am capable of being.

  • http://beekeeperontheloose.wordpress.com Nathan E.

    This is a reminder I needed. I appreciate the role models of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton which you mentioned. Thanks for your insights.

  • http://nohappinesslikemine.blogspot.com Heather E. Carrillo

    Great post, Mr. Starke.

  • http://www.glenkirk.blogspot.com John Stuart

    I've been blogging for years and have seen visceral attacks all over the web. The field of Apologetics is not for wimps. As well as Chesterton and Lewis, Christians should also get re-acquainted with Tertullian. Most of the theological issues and church crises that we tussle with today have their roots in the false ideas of Tertullian's opponents. His writings contain many gems of apologetic wisdom that we have long forgotten, but are in much need today.

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  • Mark

    Hey guys,

    Check out this new passover video on youtube.
    Its filmed in Israel and very inspirational music!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0UN_06tess

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