The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

Concerning dogs and their ears

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It struck me again recently that the internet, and not least social media and blogs, enables us to have arguments with people we would never normally meet about things that would never normally swim into our ken, if I might be permitted a nod to Keats.

Many of these engagements are carried out with scorching pyrotechnics, eschewing the trammels of grammar, punctuation and spelling with a view to the devastating broadside of scorn and abuse. If not, it tends to take place in portentous tones of great sombreness, often in language that is doubtless intended to carry weight and express spiritual gravitas, but which often ends up sounding like the pompous tones of what would be a great style for a lampoon if it were not intended to be serious, in language that actually reveals that the writers – who evidently think that by writing thus they sound intelligent and theologically mature – actually don’t quite know what all the words they use mean or how to use them.

And so, like techno-knights jousting across the broad field of the interweb with slightly unbalanced but highly polished lances overdecorated with the bunting of rhetoric (Q.E.D.?), we clash with people we do not know over things that do not concern us (or would not if we had not made it our business to look into someone else’s).

I wonder how many blogs would dry up and ‘ministries’ would fold – or, at least, how many fewer posts would be written – if we got on with the work of the kingdom that is in front of us instead of carping at and meddling with the way someone else is doing it a thousand miles away. More particularly, how much progress might we make in our own spiritual development or in the intensive and extensive growth of the kingdom if we engaged with good words for profit (receiving and then giving) rather than seeking out bad words for criticism. I am not arguing here for the suspension of the critical faculty, nor that love should ignore a multitude of heresies, I simply wonder how much of it is really our business.

Shepherds are not wolf-hunters, nor do they need to be. Our primary concern is for the sheep appointed to our care; for some, that means a small flock in an out of the way place. Others, by virtue of gift and opportunity, under God, have larger flocks. Others still, often by dint of unusual insight and long experience or particular training (perhaps in some specific area), are sought out by other shepherds for advice, and so might give counsel that will have an impact on the health and wellbeing of several flocks. But, in any of these instances, the shepherd need not go looking for wolves. He simply needs to watch for their approach and to prepare to deal with those particular wolves who are a danger to his particular flock. And it is his particular flock which is his concern; again, there are right times to send messages to other shepherds on the same hills warning of wolves roaming the area, but there is not necessarily a need to broadcast that warning to all shepherds, not least because not all shepherds need to worry about them. And the fact that wolves exist, and that some wolves have a wide range, does not legitimise our agitating about all wolves all the time.

We are not wolf-hunters, but sheep-herders and sheep-defenders. Be faithful in the work that God has given you to do, and you will have no need to go hunting for error and spiritual danger: it will come hunting you and your flock, and you must respond when it does. If you have spent all your time and invested all your resources in spectacular but largely pointless wolf-hunting then you might find yourself caught unawares or engaged elsewhere when the wolves in your area come hunting.

That is the thing about dogs and their ears: “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears” (Prv 26.17). Once you have that dog by the ears you are trapped: before it was only a dog, but now it is an enraged dog, and you cannot afford to let it go. You are stuck with the beast snarling in your face, unable to disengage lest those well-stropped claws find a grip in your flesh and those gnashing teeth find a lodging in your throat. And while you and your dischuffed dog are locked in a mutually unproductive tussle, who knows what is going on around and behind you. So leave quarrels to the people who need to have them, or are ready to indulge in them.

When the Lord Christ returns, I doubt his first concern will be with how many wolf-pelts you have hanging on your walls. “Where are my sheep that I committed to your care? How are they?” I doubt that he will be impressed to find you hanging on with all your might to the ears of some passing dog. “Why are you not feeding my lambs?”

The apostle Paul had a legitimately wide scope to his ministry; there were plenty of wolves to fight and warnings to be given. But we do not find the apostle indulging in slanging matches for the sake of it, but putting his body between the wolves and the sheep for the sake of the flock, and for the glory of Christ: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” (1Thes 2.19).

Let us pick our fights with care, focusing on the needs of those committed to our keeping and investing in those wider spheres in which the Lord himself has given us legitimate opportunities. Let us leave alone distant wolves and passing dogs, and deal with those who need to be dealt with. And who knows? Maybe this year your own soul will be fed and the sheep will grow healthy. Maybe you might find all the fighting you desire on your own doorstep. And maybe you will have all your energies rightfully taken up with all those things, and the kingdom shall be all the better for it.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 4 January 2012 at 17:01

Another anniblogary

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Believe it or not, happy or not, this is the blog’s second birthday.  As last year (and again excepting the ‘About’ page and the homepage) here is a list of the top fifteen individual viewed pages of the past year, and then the all-time list, noting the movers and shakers.

The best of last year

  1. The poem “The Wanderer”: A short essay on an Old English poem, which provides some of the backdrop to the naming of this blog.  The blips in interest continue to suggest that popularity here is linked to essay deadlines elsewhere.
  2. Encouragement for mothers: Despite the fact that this is a nugget from the inimitable Mr Spurgeon, it looks like this is another in the ‘popular photo, shame about the words’ category of popular posts.
  3. The skulls of children: Prompted by a programme about the deaths of children in Africa, this post wondered why liberal angst never seems to embrace the horrors of the abortion holocaust.  It continues to prompt a spiky discussion, although I still can’t understand one of the comments.
  4. Idols, God and Jesus: Who knew that a picture of the Welsh flag would give such a boost to a mundane article?
  5. In Eden’s sinless garden: The first of the hymns on the list.  This is one that I wrote when preaching on masculinity and femininity, frustrated by the lack of material readily available.  It is marked by one of the more unusual rhymes in the oeuvre, prompting a friend to ask quite how his little girl was meant to work through the pairing of ‘abdication’ and ‘insubordination’ – check it out, though, and you will see that it does scan, and fits the context, as well as being an opportunity for education both theological and literary.
  6. O Lord, our King, our grateful praise: Another hymn.  This one was written, if I remember rightly, after hearing a friend in the US preach on the person and work of the Holy Spirit at a pastors’ fraternal.
  7. What is a true Christian?: This sets out to answer the question by surveying some of the marks of true sons of God that the Apostle John identifies in his first letter.
  8. Women in combat: A glorified link to an Al Mohler article, but the picture and the topic seem to have combined to generate a bit of interest.  For the record, I am making plain that women ought to not to be in front-line combat.
  9. Here, there, and everywhere: Another meandering report, which I have pretty much ceased doing.  I have no idea why so many wanted to read this.
  10. Faithful and true: A little illustration from life as a father, but – again – the search patterns indicate that it is not so much my penetrating insights and flowing eloquence that have garnered such attention, as the fact that the article is garnished with a picture of Thing One and Thing Two from the pages of Dr Seuss.  Tell it not in Gath.
  11. Gospel Intimacy in a Godly Marriage: An interview with my good friend, Alan Dunn, considering his excellent book on marriage.  My wife and I are reading it again at the moment (albeit somewhat intermittently) and it remains one of the better volumes on this topic that I know.
  12. The works of Jonathan Edwards online: Links to the complete library of Jonathan Edwards’ Works online.  I suspect that this is more of a portal post than a final stop.
  13. Prayer an investment: A quote from John Preston via the now defunct Paul Wallace . . . by which I mean, not that Brother Wallace has shuffled off his mortal coil, but rather that he has now ceased blogging (not Preston, Wallace).  Anyway, you get the picture.  In fact, I think that’s why most people visit here: another nice pic.
  14. When all about me falters: Another hymn, this one written a long time ago during a lower point.  I think I was at university at the time.
  15. John Newton on the pastoral office: A snippet from the excellent Mr Newton on the natural insufficiency of any man for the pastoral ministry, pointing – as every pastor-preacher must – to the sufficiency of Christ alone, in every aspect of our life in and service of him.

The all-time greats?

Last year’s ranking is in brackets.  I haven’t bothered replicating the descriptions.  Evidence of the relative youth of this blog is seen in the fact that most of this year’s top posts have moved into the list of all-time popularity.

  1. (1) The poem “The Wanderer”
  2. (new entry) Encouragement for mothers
  3. (11) The skulls of children
  4. (2) Idols, God and Jesus
  5. (new entry) O Lord, our King, our grateful praise
  6. (new entry) In Eden’s sinless garden
  7. (new entry) What is a true Christian?
  8. (new entry) Here, there, and everywhere
  9. (new entry) Women in combat
  10. (new entry) The works of Jonathan Edwards online
  11. (new entry) Faithful and true
  12. (new entry) Prayer an investment
  13. (new entry) Gospel Intimacy in a Godly Marriage
  14. (5) Psalm 107: Oh give thanks to God our Saviour: A paraphrase of Psalm 107, as the name suggests.  Not much more to say, really.
  15. (4) Punctuality: Joining forces with C. H. Spurgeon, this is a pointed plea for punctuality, especially among believers.  I think I was probably graciously frustrated when I wrote it, but it is fairly good-natured.

Dropping out

In the top fifteen last year, but not floating boats in the same way over the last few months.

Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother: The only review on the list (one other was just outside).  A brief review of Carolyn Mahaney’s very helpful book, I suspect that this is a reflection of her popularity and the recognition of the Mahaney name especially in the US.

Womanly Dominion: An interview with Mark Chanski: My friend Mark Chanski has written two books from the perspective of ‘the dominion mandate’ looking at the roles of men and women.  I interviewed Mark concerning the book for women, although I never did get round to posting a review of the book itself.

A horrifying obituary: The blog equivalent of rubbernecking, this points to the kind of obituary that I cannot imagine anyone wanting – the woman in question was, it seems, unequivocally unmissed.

Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End: Another hymn, this one reviewing some of the names and titles of the Lord Jesus, and seeking to weave them together.

An introduction to John Bunyan and The Pilgrim’s Progress (outline of the book): Another student favourite, perhaps, or maybe a first resort for those who want to get an overview of John Bunyan’s best known labour.  Nothing spectacular.

The end of the law?: Prompted by the Affinity theological conference that ran under this title, this post simply highlighted a trend in modern antinomianism, and suggested or hinted at some of the dangers inherent in the ‘New Covenant Theology’ which is increasingly popular.  It contains links to a number of articles defending what I believe is the Scriptural and orthodox perspective on the enduring nature of the moral law (even allowing for subtle variations among those holding to this perspective).

Facebook friendship #1: One of two posts asking whether the social networking experience offers anything approximating to true friendship as Biblically defined.

Federal Vision UK?: Prompted by another blogger, I was raising questions about the theological pedigree of a new theological webzine.  There is some indication that behind the blurb their lies a definite attachment to the Auburn Avenue theology, also known as the Federal Vision or hypercovenantalism.  Having had some personal experience of the dangers and direction of such thinking, I sounded a significant note of caution (and – having been called out because of my tone of writing – sought to do so more carefully in a revised post).

Don’t ignore polygamy: Probably the aberration on this list.  If I remember rightly, this almost certainly got picked up for some strange reason on one of those sites that draws attention to particular posts.  I have no idea why this was chosen, but it boosted the numbers big time.  It’s a curious post to make this list, being a single quote followed by a sarcastic comment, and I expect it will drop off if I am still doing this kind of list a year from now.

Reformed and reforming: When Time magazine called “the New Calvinism” one of the modern philosophical movers and shakers, it seemed as of the Christian blogosphere went spoony.  Among the responses was a post from Mark Driscoll.  While I have enjoyed and appreciated much of what Mark says (while disagreeing with some of the tone and substance, at times significantly) this one stirred my soul a little.  It raises questions about the nature of ‘being Reformed’ as well as false distinctions sometimes made with regard to Calvinists of different stripes.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 23 April 2010 at 09:05

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Another blog blizzard

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I had a blast through the blog reader recently, and whittled it down, knocking away huge chunks of debris.  Here is a selection of what caught my eye as worth considering a little more.

OK.  Nuff.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 27 January 2010 at 15:49

Happy anniblogary

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bloggingBelieve it or not, happy or not, I have been blogging for a year.  This strikes me as having come round a little soon, and leaves me – as on my own birthday – reviewing the labour and profitability of the work.

That apart, I get the sense that it is de rigeur among bloggers on such occasions to give their bleaders a sense of what has got the juices flowing over the past year.  With that in mind (and excepting the ‘About’ page accessed by those asking the question, “Who is this freak?”) here is a list of the top fifteen individual viewed pages, with some appropriate explanation and comment.

  • The poem The Wanderer: A short essay on an Old English poem, the poem itself providing some of the backdrop to the naming of this blog.  A more-than-sneaking suspicion persists (based on search patterns) that this page becomes especially popular when there is a spate of essay-setting on this poem in current educational establishments.  It seems I am building a significant following among the students of this and other nations!  I trust that they are not cheating.
  • Idols, God and Jesus: The popularity of this article (again, looking at search patterns) is due to the fact that it has a Welsh flag prominently displayed.  This is simply a brief report of various preaching activity and the life of the church here in Maidenbower.
  • Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother: The only review on the list (one other was just outside).  A brief review of Carolyn Mahaney’s very helpful book, I suspect that this is a reflection of her popularity and the recognition of the Mahaney name especially in the US.
  • Punctuality: Joining forces with C. H. Spurgeon, this is a pointed plea for punctuality, especially among believers.  I think I was probably graciously frustrated when I wrote it, but it is fairly good-natured.
  • Psalm 107: Oh give thanks to God our Saviour: A paraphrase of Psalm 107, as the name suggests.  Not much more to say, really.
  • Womanly Dominion: An interview with Mark Chanski: My friend Mark Chanski has written two books from the perspective of ‘the dominion mandate’ looking at the roles of men and women.  I interviewed Mark concerning the book for women, although I never did get round to posting a review of the book itself.
  • A horrifying obituary: The blog equivalent of rubbernecking, this points to the kind of obituary that I cannot imagine anyone wanting – the woman in question was, it seems, unequivocally unmissed.
  • Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End: Another hymn, this one reviewing some of the names and titles of the Lord Jesus, and seeking to weave them together.
  • An introduction to John Bunyan and The Pilgrim’s Progress (outline of the book): Another student favourite, perhaps, or maybe a first resort for those who want to get an overview of John Bunyan’s best known labour.  Nothing spectacular.
  • The end of the law?: Prompted by the Affinity theological conference that ran under this title, this post simply highlighted a trend in modern antinomianism, and suggested or hinted at some of the dangers inherent in the ‘New Covenant Theology’ which is increasingly popular.  It contains links to a number of articles defending what I believe is the Scriptural and orthodox perspective on the enduring nature of the moral law (even allowing for subtle variations among those holding to this perspective).
  • The skulls of children: Prompted by a programme about the deaths of children in Africa, this post wondered why liberal angst never seems to embrace the horrors of the abortion holocaust.  It prompted an interesting and moving discussion.
  • Facebook friendship #1: One of two posts asking whether the social networking experience offers anything approximating to true friendship as Biblically defined.
  • Federal Vision UK?: Prompted by another blogger, I was raising questions about the theological pedigree of a new theological webzine.  There is some indication that behind the blurb their lies a definite attachment to the Auburn Avenue theology, also known as the Federal Vision or hypercovenantalism.  Having had some personal experience of the dangers  and direction of such thinking, I sounded a significant note of caution (and – having been called out because of my tone of writing – sought to do so more carefully in a revised post).
  • Don’t ignore polygamy: Probably the aberration on this list.  If I remember rightly, this almost certainly got picked up for some strange reason on one of those sites that draws attention to particular posts.  I have no idea why this was chosen, but it boosted the numbers big time.  It’s a curious post to make this list, being a single quote followed by a sarcastic comment, and I expect it will drop off if I am still doing this kind of list a year from now.
  • Reformed and reforming: When Time magazine called “the New Calvinism” one of the modern philosophical movers and shakers, it seemed as of the Christian blogosphere went spoony.  Among the responses was a post from Mark Driscoll.  While I have enjoyed and appreciated much of what Mark says (while disagreeing with some of the tone and substance, at times significantly) this one stirred my soul a little.  It raises questions about the nature of ‘being Reformed’ as well as false distinctions sometimes made with regard to Calvinists of different stripes.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 24 April 2009 at 10:25

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Calvin on blogging

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john-calvin-3It is a little known fact that Calvin had a great deal to say about blogging.  Not directly, of course, but the attitude and speech and behaviour that is often in evidence today in the blogosphere is no new thing, it has simply found a new platform.  Calvin has little time for it:

Now if the devil caused grumbling during the apostles’ time, what about today, when we have so many troubles and quarrels and offences among us?  We are still far from achieving the kind of perfection they had, for they had such order and such regulations among them that they are like angels.  And yet when we hear that there arose grumbling among the apostles, let us not be surprised if we encounter many stumbling blocks within God’s church today.  There is a lot of wickedness and there are many who are inclined to rebellion and who want everything to be governed according to their insights.  The very ones who have less understanding, less judgment and experience, and who are the most presumptuous are the ones who want to rule and direct everybody as they see fit.  And yet they go around creating conflicts!  They will certainly say, ‘Why is such and such not done this way?  Why can we not do it thus and so?’  To make a long story short, God would have to make them a world of their own!  If you put a dozen such clever people together, they will claw one another’s eyes out and still presume to govern everybody.  Now I would really like for such ‘governors’ to know what true Christianity is, namely that we interact with our neighbours in such a way that we show we honour other people, as Paul instructs us (Phil. 2:3).  That means we think more highly of others than of ourselves.  But some of them, indeed the majority, think they have the skill to manage something, such that, to hear them tell it, they seem to be angels whom God has sent to restore everything that is badly built.  And when it turns out for the worst, they stand there all confused.  That is what we need to glean from the firt point that Luke deals with in this account.[1]


[1] John Calvin, “True Discipleship” (sermon on Acts 6.1-6) in Sermons on the Acts of the Apostles (Chapters 1-7) (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2008), 321-22.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 18 April 2009 at 09:32

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Watchbloggers and weed-eaters

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bloggingChallies started it.  Camp and Johnson joined in, and they have been slugging it out on this one for a couple of days.  The iMonk has now got involved.  I am not sure if I care, but it has some interesting points underneath it.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 10 April 2009 at 08:30

Why Paul stopped blogging

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My friend Paul Wallace is hanging up the keyboard.  He gives his reasons why, and they are copied below.  Paul has had many stimulating, wise and helpful things to say, and has often passed on rich nuggets of truth from the past.  He is not trying to bind anyone else’s conscience (and says so), but his thinking is nevertheless a challenge to other bloggers.  Why do I do this?  For what reason and with what purpose?  You might even share some of Paul’s thinking without reaching the same conclusions.  You might have other reasons for the same conclusions.  However, there is a challenge to me and I think to others.  I am not ready to stop yet, but what I do and how I do it may need to keep altering if I am to honour Christ by this medium.  Thank you, Paul, for your honesty, earnestness, and wisdom.

OK. I’ve come to a decision. I’m stopping blogging. I’m hardly a regular blogger anyway, but I’ve been thinking more and more about it, and without trying to trample on anyone else’s conscience, especially you folks who read here regularly and have your own blogs, I have come to the decision that blogging is no longer useful as a means of Christian communication. mouse-and-keyboard1When I say that, I do not include all blogs but merely my kind of blog – a theological kind of blog. Nor do I want to suggest that any of you should give up blogging, but this is where my conscience is and you can read what I think and make up your own mind. I’ll probably still read the odd blog, but so far as writing and commenting it’s pretty much over for me I think. Blogging had a great potential for information sharing, edification and fellowship, and it has been all those to me, but sadly I believe it is evolving into something that is becoming ever more dangerous for the welfare of the Church of Christ. When I speak of blogging I mean the worldwide concept and not necessarily individual blogs themselves. There are some stunningly good and useful blogs and I hope there will continue to be, but I am not convinced that the culture that blogging has become is good for the Church.

Here are my reasons:

1) I have come to hate, yes hate, the celebrity culture that exists at present within evangelicalism and sadly none the less so within Reformed/Calvinist Christianity. I am convinced that part of the reason it exists is because of blogging. Within seconds of Mr. Big posting something, it is spurted all over the internet as the “new wisdom”, received with authority because of name and not necessarily because of the substance. I have decided that I no longer want to be a part of it. We shake our head in sad amazement at the “D lister” celebrities who are famous for being…well famous. I fear blogging is the medium for making Christian celebrities famous sometimes merely because they have good designs and a snappy turn of phrase, they are famous for being famous. Influence used to come with time, with Christ-centred work, by gaining respect among the people of your church, then your circle of churches etc. now you get it by having good visuals, multimedia sites etc. etc.

2) I believe blogging is contributing to the erosion of biblical authority within local churches and within the Church Universal. Everyone thinks if they have an opinion that it is worth airing, even if completely cock-eyed, short-sighted, poorly thought out and with little biblical substance or support. I think it was James White who said that blogs were aggregators of ignorance. In a wide variety of locations this is sadly true.

3) Furthermore it has contributed to an increased democratisation of the Church, where pastors called and gifted by God are “verbally chastised” by folks who have neither the experience nor theological knowledge to really know what they are talking about and who have never been recognised or called by any local church, and indeed on occasion could never and would never be permitted into a pulpit. It is especially the manner of communication I am thinking of and the harm this is causing in church structures and organisation. Things are written on blogs and especially in comments threads that would never, ever, ever, be said face to face. There is serious disrespect in much blogging. To that extent blogging is contributing to the evident disrespectful society that we live in. That’s not pulling rank, pastors are accountable, but they are accountable to Christ and to their own people primarily, and this pastor has decided that that is more than enough. The forum for intelligent conversation, discussion and correction is within the local church, and when it goes outside that I believe it tends to weaken the Church. I am committed to the biblical authority structures of the local church and cannot with a good conscience continue to be part of something I fear is seriously damaging that structure.

4) At the same time as there is increasing democratisation, paradoxically there is an increasing intolerance to honest disagreement. I’m going to be straight. There are too many fanboys out there who just cannot have their hero spoken against in any way, no matter how coherent, biblically argued, and charitable their hero has been written about. It is as if there is some kind of electronic ecumenical movement. We are no longer allowed to disagree with someone (especially the celebrity), we must all instead have a electronic group hug. I’ll be straight again, this sounds like a ploy of the devil and because of that I believe it is my greatest issue with what blogging has become. You just cannot critique anyone or anything any more without being attacked as a bigot by somebody. I am convinced there are people out there, who scan for tags of their favourite “celebrity” and come to their defence no matter what the issue is.

As I say, this is where I am at. Many of you will know that I have expressed concerns before, but over the last couple of weeks these concerns have been exacerbated.

I think there is a possible way forward. That is to keep blogs private (or at the very least commenting restricted), perhaps where groups of friends discuss topics by invitation only. Sadly however that would mean that I would probably never have communicated with many of you who read this blog regularly. However I am convinced that “open commenting” is not helpful, edifying or for the good of the Church. I suppose we could all agree to fully moderate our commenting, but I fear we are merely bolting the gate after the horse has bolted so far are rescuing the medium goes. Truth be told, perhaps I’m doing that even by shutting shop now.

This leaves me with a problem. There are a number of my “regulars” who I would like to keep in contact with in some way. So if you want to do that and have not already been in email contact with me. Leave a comment on this post, that way I’ll get your address and drop you mine in return.

Goodbye blogging.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 28 March 2009 at 08:10

Posted in General

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