One of the things I have learned about blogging and addressing issues is that whatever issue you address that is most controversial ends up sticking to you whether you like it or not. When people in the “real world” sit down with me and get to know who I am or what makes up my life, I make it my goal to describe myself as a follower of Christ, husband, father, and pastor/missionary. Our conversations for the most part are markedly different than the kind I experience on the internet, and I’ve come to accept that.
However, it goes without saying that whenever I meet someone who knows me via the internet, it is typically Timmy the blogger guy or some variation of that. There are other guys who nominally refer to me as the leading “Calvinist” blogger in the SBC. While some may not find this a surprise, I do find this rather intriguing. For you see, over the course of the past four years, I have submitted some 1,700 blogposts here on P&P. How many of them do you think have to do with Calvinism? 94. That comes out to 5,5% of everything I have written. Is it fair to label a person based on 5% of what they write? Perhaps. I’ll leave that for someone else to decide. Furthermore, regarding the SBC, I have written a total of 225 blogposts on or around SBC issues, again coming to 13%. Not exactly the kind of percentages that would seem to dominate or characterize someone’s internet presence. But I digress.
In any case, I want to make a simple and yet very frustrating point as a Southern Baptist and a Calvinist. Over the past two weeks, I wrote about two main issues (a few misc. posts excluded) : Calvinism in the SBC and missional prayer. Here’s the breakdown:
Calvinism in the SBC
11.30 David Allen, Hyper-Calvinism, and James White: The Rundown
12.4 Ed Stetzer Responds to David Allen’s Critique of Calvinism Research
12.5 Hyper-Calvinism, Anti-Calvinism, and Founders Ministries
12.8 Casualties of Anti-Calvinism
12.9 Nathan Finn on Calvinism and Cooperation
12.10 Missional Prayer: Introductory Thoughts
12.10 Missional Prayer: Jesus
12.11 Missional Prayer: Early Church
12.15 Missional Prayer: Paul
12.16 Missional Prayer: Concluding Thoughts
Now I want you to see the stat chart from the past two weeks. Notice the change from Dec. 1-10 to Dec. 11-17.
On a whole, I put about 1/3 the amount of time, effort, and study with Calvinism as I did missional prayer, and yet this kind of controversy brings more than double the traffic. This kind of thing has happened time and again over the years, and while I am never surprised, the level of frustration and disappointment continues to grow. I have no way of knowing exactly who takes the time to read my blog, and so I am perhaps going to be “preaching to the choir” here (the controversy hungry readers probably have all been run off by all this talk about prayer, mission, and Jesus). But that’s just it.
It is a case study of the kind of conversation (or controversy) that people want. It speaks to the direction we prefer to go–divide and conquer. We are excited (or upset) when controversy ensues or Calvinism is brought up, but no one is excited to talk about Jesus and discuss His mission of which we have been entrusted. The solemn call gets little serious attention or single-minded earnestness. Anyone who wants to kill traffic on a blog just mention the gospel, mission, Jesus, or prayer. You will be rewarded with 50% less readership. But it will be the readership that really counts.
I don’t know what kind of credibility this little case study lends to analyzing where we are today. Honestly, I hope that the trend is opposite of what I just experienced on my blog! A Great Commission Resurgence will need indicators that show our interest is more in the building of His Church, living out the gospel, being faithful to the mission, and seeking to glorify Jesus with those who are Southern Baptist or not, those who are Calvinist or not. I know it is not sexy or titillating, but it is coronary and commissionary.
Yes, I’m a blogger, a Southern Baptist, and a Calvinist. I wear those titles because that is how the game works on the internet. But there’s a whole lot more out there on my blog and the blogs of other Southern Baptists that are well worth reading and considering if we could get beyond ourselves and realize that being servants of Christ and stewards of His gospel are the only titles we should ever be concerned about in the first place.
After all, those are matters of first importance.