Tim Challies, who recently live-blogged the Shepherd’s Conference, shared some reflections today on his blog.  Concluding his post, Challies writes,

I will leave you with one amusing visual. This is a graph showing the traffic to my site over the past month. You won’t have any trouble telling how the Shepherds’ Conference fits into this chart. In particular, you’ll know just how much interest was generated by John MacArthur’s comments in the first session regarding eschatology.

Here is his chart:

 

What does this tell me?  It tells me that we love controversy.  It is titillating to our ears and satisfies our sensational craze for the next best provocative statement.   I have learned this in the past when it comes to addressing the attacks on Calvinism, Billy Graham’s inclusivism, or the like.  Now I realize that my blog is called Provocations and Pantings, and it would be fitting to be provocative.  But the things I had in mind were the stuff that provoked me in the same way things provoked Jesus in the Temple or Paul in Athens.  The issue is not being provocative per say, but what exactly brings about such a provocation.  Dividing Reformed brethren over eschatology is a lamentable provocation in my opinion.

Let’s face it.  Controversy sure does the job for our blogs and stats, but I wonder what the gospel does when we proclaim it?  I wonder what faithful exposition of Scripture or writing about substantive material from church history does to our stat pages?  Does this diagram not speak volumes about the weakness of our affections and our lust for controversy? 

My hunch is that if MacArthur preached on the gospel, the stats would have looked really different.  I hope I would be wrong.  But a man of MacArthur’s stature gets up and says some uncharitable and controversial things on a nonessential matter of eschatology, and we are stuck to this tar baby.  Would to God that we would be so stuck and staggered by the gospel!  One of the things I pray and long for is that we would see a movement when our affections and attention would be so riveted by the excellencies of Jesus Christ and His gospel that we are consumed by it.  That would be revival.  This?  This shows our need for it.

If these stats could speak, what do you think it would say?