Is this blog a hindrance or a contribution?

Recently I have been thinking more about the purpose of this blog, and the fact that I have obviously, but totally unintentionally, offended a brother in Christ in my previous post has got me thinking even harder. Originally I hoped my blog would contribute something to the discussion about the future of Christian witness in Wales. This is what I said at the outset:

I hope to explain to those on the outside some of the issues facing Welsh churches and Welsh language Christian witness and mission. I’ll praise and give a shout out to the good stuff that’s going on in Welsh circles; and I’ll try, gracefully, to point out the not so good aspects within the body of Welsh language Christianity.

It seems that I have offended a lot of Christians in the process and that saddens me deeply. One option of course is to keep the blog going but avoid all contentious issues; but I have deep reservations about that. The unwillingness to tackle tough and decisive issues within Christian circles was what sort of made me loose interest in Christianity toowords my late teens. So I know that unwillingness to discuss tough stuff produces victims too. God leading me to meet, mix and share fellowship with Christians in University who were willing to engage in critical discussion about faith and church and it’s implications on culture and politics was what brought me back.

Anyway, here is a pole to my readers to help me decide the way forward with the blog. You vote totally anonymously so I won’t know who voted for what.

Thanks for your help – Rhys x

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8 Responses to “Is this blog a hindrance or a contribution?”

  1. Delyth Morgans Says:

    Dal ati, Rhys.

  2. wyn jones Says:

    paid rhoi lan, gwerthfawrogi beth ti’n neud a gweud

  3. Steffan Says:

    Thanks for this Rhys – I’ll speak to you personally soon.

    I think there’s a fifth option, and it is to do with HOW controversial issues are discussed, not whether they are discussed or not.

    It is good to be challenged to think about how and why we believe and act as we do.

    Can I make a few suggestions Rhys?

    (they are implications of Colossians 1:25-28 and 4:4-6 – principles I’d like to follow personally, by God’s grace)

    (a) Take us to Scripture. Argue your point from there. We can then reason together from the Bible. Let the Word challenge and build us up. Use positive examples, and other people’s teachings, but I’d really appreciate it, and I think you would be doing something worthwhile, if you spent time telling us about your reflections on the Word in the areas under discussion. This would prevent blog entries appearing like rants reacting against this or the other.

    If I was offended by your post (that is probably too strong a word) it wasn’t because I took it personally (I know I’m a sinner prone to mistakes and wrong emphases), or that I disagreed with your general principle, it’s because it followed a tendency to use a criticism of other groups who are sincerely aiming to honour Christ and be faithful to Scripture, as a launchpad to make a point. It’s a weak and negative – and lazy? – form of argumentation.

    (b) If you are going to refer to others, and use them as examples, make sure that you represent their views in a way that they would consider fair. In other words, get your facts straight, and be nuanced in your presentation of others’ views and practice. It is very easy to create caricatures so that your argument appears stronger, but it is not honourable, and in the end undermines the argument.

    (c) I think it was the prognosis boys who said that every blog entry must seek to build others up in the Lord, ultimately by pointing others to Christ. If you do this, Rhys, you will do doing something special.

    (b)

    (c) Is it naiive to th

  4. Dyfed Says:

    Rhys, there are challenges to be made to Welsh evangelicalism, and as someone who has strong links with the movement you are well placed to make them. You should not be put off from doing so by people reacting strongly to what you say.

    It appears to me – from a far removed standpoint – that the Welsh speaking movement is struggling these days as some leave to return to the older denominations and as little real growth is experienced. In times such as these toes stretch – thus making it easier for others to tread on them.

    Keep going – your views are valid.

  5. Gethin Says:

    I agree with Steffan. Maybe a further idea would be some accountability? i.e. maybe ask some other people to read through your posts before you publish them to check that they do the things steff mentioned? it’d probably best to get some people who are older and wiser than you and maybe some who won’t agree with you on everything?
    It’d be a great way for Christian young men who blog to show distinctiveness in the way they blog – a longing to learn to be self-controlled as Paul told Timothy to teach the young men, and a desire to be humble and respectful of older people even if we disagree. I think there’s often pressure on young men to act like they’ve got it all sorted. The gospel frees us to admit that we’re young and still learning and in need of help from older men – c’est genial, non?

  6. welshwilderness Says:

    All of Steffan’s points are valid but with regard to argueing from Scripture I would argue that all my theology stem from the meta-narrative of the Bible – that should be taken for granted until proven otherwise. The problem is, and where disagreement rises, is in the interpretation of Scripture. The healthy discussion between Tom Wright and John Piper is a fine example of this – both men argue their point from Scripture but come to a different conclusion as to what the scope of key passages in the Bible mean. Both men don’t necessarily disagree with each other’s point – the difference is in emphasis and then that difference in emphasis has a knock on effect on our view of practical and public theology. I suppose that sums up myself and Steffan’s differing approach.

    Dyfed, thanks. Two things I’d like to say in response. First of all I do find it odd that us evangelicals are more than willing to critique what is obviously wrong within more liberal denominational churches but that we’re scared when it comes to critiquing our own scene. Thanks for pointing out also that I’m not giving a critique from the outside because I am a’n evangelical myself – I’m a product of welsh evangelicalism. Also, my critique of the evangelical scene is nothing new. Most of my arguments stem from the work of Bobi Jones especially the final chapter of ‘Mawl a Gelynion ei Elynion’ (2002); I suppose the difference between me saying them here on the blog and Bobi saying them in his book is that, sadly, more people read my blog than read Bobi’s complex books!

    Gethin, with regard to your idea of accountability. You’d be surprised how much my posts get toned down after phone calls from my Mother!

  7. Steffan Says:

    I have no problem with critiquing the Welsh evangelical scene. Any church or movement that doesn’t evaluate itself is in a dangerous position.

    Of course there are issues to be dealt with, and to be discussed (and I think they are being considered). I agree that we should seek to be aware of many of the dangers you highlight.

    I’m not happy however with an approach that caricatures a movement, group, or church, in order to make one’s point. I really do believe that you are over-egging the weaknesses of evangelical churches and groups, and in doing this, reinforcing prejudices in the wider society, thereby damaging its witness.

    Also, personally (but I’m sure others will disagree) I’m not convinced, that blogs are the best forum for this. Here are my reasons:

    – It is never a good thing to air each other’s dirty clothing in public, especially in a medium that is notoriously black and white. If there are issues, let’s discuss them with people face to face, let’s chat over coffee, let’s write articles and books that require research and reasoned approach (more of that below).

    – To be bloggish, I’ll now make a sweeping comment: Blogs are, ultimately, opinionated rants written on the spur of the moment.

    This is why a critique in a book, such as Bobi Jones’ (which I haven’t read) is very different.

    Good books are fruits of months of research and reflection, footnotes and references are expected, there is space and time to be nuanced, and there is an accountability as the books are reviewed, etc.

    A reasoned, well-argued, fair and constructive critique, given from a loving and humble heart, will be received in most cases.

    Blogs are the opposite. Black and white, generalised rants, tend to alienate and polarise.

  8. Gethin Says:

    I guess I’d have two things to say – on basing everything you say in the meta-narrative of Scripture – that’s great but I think arguments will be much easier to follow, and the following discussion would be much fruitful, if you take us explicitly to the text of Scripture. Show us exactly where you’re getting it from – let’s all demonstrate that we’re being mastered by the word. It’s hard to really build someone up in the truth by just saying “it’s in there somewhere” (which I realise is not quite what you’re saying) but let’s love and submit to the Word by wanting to ground all we say in the words God has given us – not in the general gist of it.

    Then secondly – I more or less agree with Steffan on his last point – deal with concerns? yes, absolutely. On a blog? well maybe not the best place. They’re not always opinionated rants – they can be used for other things – e.g. sharing experiences and things we’re learning or pointing to some good material on the tinternet. But they do run the risk of becoming opinionated rants in the context of voicing and dealing with concerns. Maybe (I don’t know) it feels like the comfort of one’s blog is the only place one can voice them at the moment, but let’s be patient and try to encourage discussion and maybe little by little it’ll get better.

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