Why have I decided to blog?
Like Anselm, I have a faith that seeks understanding. I find that writing is a helpful process toward clarifying my thoughts and moving me forward in my understanding. On one occasion, in the early 1990s, while I was in the process of writing a review article of three books on the salvation of the unevangelized, my own mind changed. It took me by surprise, but I suddenly saw the subject from a different perspective and had what Kuhn might have considered a “paradigm shift.” I have rarely had occasions on which my understanding changed so dramatically in the writing process, but many times I have found my thoughts becoming more clear as I formulated them in writing.
I appreciate the opportunity to get response to my ideas from other people. I expect a blog to provide some of that, although I am aware that many “professional” theologians will scarcely have time to read my thoughts, let alone to respond. Yet all Christians should do theology, and I expect to be helped in my own understanding, even by people with limited theological training. At the very least I can learn what others have heard me to be saying. Sometimes, regrettably, this turns out to be something quite different than I intended, but discovering this is very helpful.
I like the immediacy of the blogging medium. When I have written articles or book reviews, it has frequently been a year before they have appeared in print. Books have taken years. With a blog, I can get my thoughts out in public instantly.
I appreciate the accessibility of material posted on the web. Research has indicated that the average journal article is read by very few people. Similarly, I know of people who have purchased one of my books but have not yet gotten to read it. The fact that my last two books have each been over 400 pages long, may account for some of that delay. But with the blog and my new ability to post documents for access through the web, some of my thoughts will be accessible to people in remote parts of the world, where the internet is available but books are very hard to get.
What will I do on the blog?
As the title of my blog indicates, I plan to think out loud theologically about things I hear, read and see.
I expect to do some reviews and interactions. In some cases, these may be in the form of book reviews in journals, including a careful restatement of the author’s presentation and offering some critique and interaction. In such cases, I anticipate that I will review a book in one post.
More often, however, I envision moving more slowly through a book, attempting to restate the author’s perspective accurately and fairly, but focusing on my own thoughts about what the author has said. In these cases, I may not even restate the whole of an author’s presentation in a chapter but opt rather to identify points of particular interest to me, and to interact with them. These might better be called “book interactions” than reviews. It would be very beneficial to me and to my readers if the authors of the books with which I interact get involved in the discussion. Given the busyness of authors’ lives, however, this may be too much to hope for.
I may interact similarly with ideas I meet in the reading of journals and magazines, or that I hear in spoken presentations or see in movies. In all cases, my goal will be to work through my theological thoughts in writing, and to post them on the web for consideration by others and to stimulate conversation.
Doing theology to give God pleasure
In 2009, Gail and I spent Christmas in Barcelona, with the families of a couple of our sons. Together, we enjoyed visiting La Sagrada Familia, the cathedral to which Antonio Gaudi devoted most of his time in the last 11 years of his life. Begun in 1915, it was not yet finished when we were there, but it was awe inspiring to see the structure of a building so clearly intended for the glory of God. When completed, it will seat 13,000 worshippers and has two balconies for choirs, accommodating 1200 and 300 choristers respectively.
Gaudi was “asked why he lavished so much care on the tops of the spires, which no one would see from close up.” He answered: “‘The angels will see them’” (Lonely Planet’s Barcelona City Guide¸6th edition, p. 105). As I launch this blog, it occurs to me that no one may read some of my posts, but I take heart from Gaudi’s example. Some of the angels may read it and enjoy my quest for God, just as they rejoice over sinners that repent (Lk 15:7). Even failing that, I know that God will read my posts and that he will be pleased at my attempts to understand what he has revealed to us and to express my faith, as it progresses toward the greater knowledge of God which will be our wonderful and endless delight in the new earth.
I think of theology (speaking about God and his works) as a means of worship. With the psalmist, therefore, I pray that “the words of my mouth” and the posts of my blog, which express “the meditation of my heart,” may be acceptable to God my Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Ps 19:14). I expect to enjoy writing the blog, and I hope that God will enjoy the blog too. Meanwhile, I leave to his wise providence the direction of readers and conversation partners to this project, however long it may last.