Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blog Commenting A Picture of the Church

If you ever read the comment thread on popular blogs you will notice a pattern emerge.  There are certain topics that bring out the comments: Calvinism, alcohol, ecclesiology, to name a few. 
Whenever we see a large group of believer commenting its always interesting because we see the church displayed.  We see the richness, diversity, and potential for good.  But we also see the ugliness.  We see that the church is a group of redeemed sinners that are still being redeemed and are hopefully repentant. 

Here are the typical commenter’s.  I’ve probably been all of them. 

Precise Percy

This is your more Calvinist than Calvin and more Reformed than Jesus guy.  My wife used to be married to this guy.  Until her husband (me) got a kick in the pants from the Lord via the ever gracious John Newton.  This commenter is very passionate about precise doctrine.  He strains gnats with precise words and swallows a camel with his crappy attitude.  And he/she usually has a whole discernment blog dedicated to stamping out such heresy.

When the post is really heartfelt, passionate, displays the truth of Jesus, but may overstate something a little about a critical doctrine this homeboy starts out by asking a thought provoking question.  Then when Light-hearted Leroy shows up and says, “dude chill out”, the claws come out.  Next thing you know Leroy is illogical, unconcerned about doctrine, and probably hates the biblical Jesus.  Everyone but Percy is watered-down.  Percy needs to remember that he is arguing about the doctrines of GRACE. 

Amish Al

I jokingly call him Amish Al because this guy is the prototypical cultural retreater.  If it looks like the world, sounds like the world, smells like the world Amish Al wants nothing to do with it.  He has a passion for holiness which translates into a passion for 1846. 

In his passion for holiness Al usually winds up calling those young whippersnappers names that would make his more refined Victorian friends blush.  He wants to see a healthy separation between the sacred and secular.  But in his attempt to rescue the church from worldliness he often forgets to rescue his own heart from worldly slander.

Cultured Charles

This guy is on the internet to defend the world from the Amish Al types.  It’s all about Freedom baby!  Amish Al comments on blogs about beer drinking, rock and roll worship music, and all things “missional”; so does Cultured Charles. 

He knows the buttons to push and he pushes them.  He is all about contextualization, cultural engagement, and the gospel.  But he forgets that he’s not only called to reach the punk-rocking worldling but also the isolated “idiots” that he so disdains as culturally backwards.  He needs to apply the gospel to his own heart and his interaction with those who have less “freedom” in their conscience. 

Rambling Rodney

Usually nobody interacts with this guy because nobody is really too sure who he is or what he is talking about.  He probably just stumbled across the blog accidentally and thought it was talking about what he was passionate about that day.  Ramblin’ Roger will write a three paragraph treatise without spaces, no commas, and usually no point.  It will be filled with his years of experience and his connections to all sorts of knowledgeable people.  In his mind he settled the issue being discussed.  Problem is nobody else knows what he is saying. 

Balanced Boris

Boris is the guy above the fray.  He’s got no dogs in this fight but he knows the answer to the argument.  He is able to clearly see the issue that everyone else is arguing about.  He gives his answer, reminds both people they are wrong, and posits that there is a biblical balance here.  Honestly, sometimes he is right.  But what he ends up doing is ostracizing a large group of people and he ends up pridefully positioning himself above all the silliness. 

Boris just has to be careful that he doesn’t fall into what Richard Sibbes calls, “a false spirit”.  “Their doing so,” says Sibbes, “is but to carry their own projects with greater strength; and if they prevail they will hardly show that moderation to others which they now call for from others.  And there is a proud kind of moderation, likewise, when men will take upon them to censure both parties, as if they were wiser than both…”

Witnessing Walt

Walt is the super spiritual guy that thinks discussing doctrine and “silly” matters on blogs is a huge waste of time.  You always see this guy win the argument by saying, “dude, when was the last time you shared the gospel with someone.  You should just stop all your blogging and go share the gospel with someone”.  The problem is Walt typically read the entire blog and all of the comments, himself.  He probably doesn’t even witness himself.  And it’s as if sharing the gospel is THE spiritual discipline.  What if the guy he’s criticizing is praying through this discussion.  What if he’s sharpening a tool because he has a teenager he’s trying to counsel through an issue.  Walt just doesn’t want to deal with the issue so he throws this out to try to win the argument. 

There is truth to what Walt is saying.  We should spend more time doing important things and less time wasted on silly little arguments.  That’s why I very seldom read comments on popular blogs.  It’s often all of these people I’ve been describing talking around each other. 
There are probably more that I could mention.  But there is a lesson to be learned here.  The church is made up of really diverse people.  Some things that rub you the wrong way may not rub others the wrong way.  At the end of the day our online behavior should be a reflection of the manifold wisdom of God in calling all these different types of people together for His glory. 

There is something positive about each of these individuals.  We need Percy’s precision.  In the early church people engaged in meaningful and heated debates over single letters.  We need Al’s passion for holiness, and we need Charles’ heart for cultural engagement.  I’m sure we need rambling Rodney too, I’m just not sure why because I’m yet to figure out what he’s saying.  We need Boris for his wisdom and balance and we need Walt for his passion to keep the main thing the main thing.  We even need those that don’t comment, because they are probably praying. 

So, who are you?  Is there another commenter that you’d like to stereotype? 

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