The current generation of young people in America is information-saturated and technologically savvy, but is also largely unevangelized, presenting Christians with a stewardship to proclaim the Gospel through new media such as the blog, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told attendees of Godblogcon 2007 last week in Las Vegas.
Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the explosion of the Internet blogs has revolutionized communications in the past decade and has birthed a unique opportunity for the spread of the Gospel. Mohler served as the keynote speaker for the third annual Christian blogger conference. He writes a blog at www.albertmohler.com.
Christians must take seriously their opportunity to engage the culture with the Gospel through blogs, but must avoid the tendency for course and unfruitful dialogue that can come with a form of media that lacks any real accountability.
“The new media is a missiological opportunity to which we are obligated,” Mohler said. “We need to take the new media seriously, not making it a bulletin board for isolated, disconnected, reckless ideas, snarky comments and anonymous diatribes, but rather, a place where seriously-minded Christians do the seriously-minded Christian thing and make serious Christian arguments in a serious Christian way with love and with charity, with boldness and with courage.”
Traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and TV have credibility because the information is vetted by a series of editors and gatekeepers before it is published, Mohler pointed out, but the typical blog post is not edited or proofread by anyone but the writer before it is posted. This reality makes the new media a bit like the “wild, wild West,” Mohler said—there are a lot of writers roaming loose on the blogosphere, but there is no “sheriff” to hold them accountable.
While the risk of misinformation, misrepresentation or manipulation is real, Mohler warned, Christian bloggers must realize that God will hold them accountable for every word they write.
“Should Christians go into the wild, wild, west? Yes,” Mohler said. “But we need to go in understanding that there is no sheriff. But that doesn’t mean that we do not have a higher accountability, certainly we do.
“Accountability is very important. We need to make sure our blogs are accountable to the Christian church. Someone ought to be able to call us on this. Our fellow Christians involved in our local churches ought to be reading our blogs and checking up on us to make sure we are telling the truth in a wholesome, compassionate way.
“Don’t write anything that you wouldn’t want your parents, children, pastor or lost neighbor to read. That would certainly change a lot of what many of us are tempted to do. Use language that you can live with over time in terms of accountability. Don’t make hit and run attacks and write for more than today. Let your horizon be more than a 24-hour period or the week. Write knowing that someone somewhere is going to find your blog on some future day, and don’t be embarrassed. Think before you post. If at all possible, have other eyes that look.”
Christians who seek to minister through blogs must strive for integrity in five areas, Mohler said:
· Personal. Christian bloggers must always write under their real name; there should never be an anonymous blog.
· Intellectual. Christian bloggers must make series arguments and avoid shallow, critical and mean-spirited comments.
· Cultural. Christian bloggers must address people “where they are.”
· Theological. Christian bloggers must articulate sound doctrine.
· Technological. Christian bloggers must have a certain amount of technological sophistication and must keep up with the times technologically.
“There is a tremendous opportunity here,” Mohler said. “The imperative is that we communicate, that we engage the culture and that we do so on the basis of the great commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and that we love our neighbor as ourselves.
“Blogging is here to stay and the media will only expand. Embrace the new media, and let’s go out into the wild, wild, west, and let’s recognize that though there may be no sheriff, nonetheless, there is an accountability. Let’s see it as the mission field and let’s do all of this for the sake of the Gospel and for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”