Symposium Winners- and further observations

Evangelical Outpost published the list of essay winners inThe 2008 EO/Wheatstone Academy Symposium Winners. I visited most of them, and will read the remaining over this weekend. One observation that occurred to me, perhaps due to the widespread call to be “humble” and raise the bar generally on public discourse, is how much the new media has served to expose the innards of Churches and Christians, individually. By this I mean it does us a service… much like unexpectedly catching your reflection reminds you how you really look. Not that I’m comparing this to the scriptures description of itself as a mirror for our souls, but rather the new media shows us how we look as a group and in our image presentation. And sometimes that has been rather ugly.

We Christians have sort of known this and struggled with it, having difficulty sometimes, deliberating between whether the rejecting reactions were to our actual ugliness or to the repugnance of the natural man to the spiritual, the “hostility to the gospel”. Sometimes it is just us and the way we act. I think the new media, the blogging, the catch-phrasing, the t-shirt delivery of the gospel… brings it all up close and personal and has made it downright problematical for the usual cover up and obfuscation that often goes on. i.e. “Wade Burleson is the pastor who blogged frequently his frustrations with the board of trustees of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, provoking the board to pass a blogging gag rule among attenders and had Burleson censured from further meetings.” as reported by Letitia, one of the essay winners.

Not that all is truth and light in the blogging of frustrations, or in the debates on internet forums, etc. but it does highlight something that another essayist pointed out.

The internet in particular, and related “new” media, have raised important issues for the ways in which Christians communicate with each other and with non-Christians. –Powerblog

The general consensus being that there should be an ethical standard involving the character of humility, the mode of civility, and the goal of doctrinal precision. I agree, and inside my own essay on the topic, I tried to submit how this comes from an inner directed discipline and conviction. What I find contrary to the medium itself, and to the general goal of bringing the gospel into the public forum is an idea that embodies the same locked away elitism that Roman Catholicism once used in its argument against the Reformation demand of scripture in the vernacular: the need for “erudite scholars” to interpret everything properly for the rest of us.

At least that is the gist of some of the protests I have read including Powerblog’s last paragraph.

Before we can indulge the luxury of polemic, Christians today must at least approach the erudition and piety of giants like Luther, Erasmus, Melanchthon, Cajetan, Calvin, Musculus, Vermigli, Brenz, Bellarmine, Junius, Arminius, and Voetius if we hope to live up to our calling to be witnesses to the truth in a digital age.

While it is lofty sounding enough, I would be careful of that last piece of advice. It seems inimical to the humble gospel to restrict our ability to share our witness publicly in the digital age to some vague future worthiness. Because, really, who is going to compare themselves with those worthies? and what of Peter and the other disciples? Wasn’t it noted that these were ” unlearned men”?
“Acts 4:13
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

Is it our erudition, degrees and scholarship, that mark us as able communicators for Jesus? I have problems with that conclusion.

There is quite a bit more to chew on in the list of essay winners posts. It seems in the spirit of the challenge to take note of points of discussion and perhaps open up the blog forum to interact and get the conversations going.