A Triperspectival Approach to Blogging

Tim Brister —  July 9, 2012 — 15 Comments

Don’t look now, but I’m about to toss more triperspectivalism on the blog. If this is a new term for you, you can get the scoop on my “Resources” page for previous posts.

Triperspectivalism simply is a way to look at reality from multiple perspectives, specifically three. From an Christological standpoint, the perspectives relates to the three offices of Christ mediation, namely Prophet, Priest, and King. From an ethical standpoint, the perspectives are described as Normative, Existential, and Situational. And on a practical level, these perspectives can be argued from Head, Heart, and Hands. Through the multi-faceted angles and perspectives, one can develop a healthy and balanced paradigm for living skillfully (as I have sought to argue in the past).

Another area I’d like to posit a triperspectival approach is that of blogging. As I was returning from vacation last week and launching the updated version of this blog, I began thinking of how I can evaluate blogging in general and this blog in particular, and the triperspectival framework clicked into my brain about halfway home from the beach, and here’s what I came up with.

Triperspectival Blogging

I find that strong, balanced blogs generally take a triperspectival approach to blogging. They may not call it that, and they may not realize they are doing it. So what do I mean by triperspectival blogging? I am referring to blogposts (and blog metanarrative) that incorporate all three perspectives of normative, existential, and situational to everyday life. Let me explain.

The Normative perspective generally deals with content, or text. A good blog must begin with quality content.  They have something to contribute that has value, insight, inspiration, or further exploration. The content encourages to center our lives on truth and make it “normative” in our lives. Examples of this would include Trevin Wax and Tullian Tchividjin.

The Existential perspective generally deals with personal commentary, or subtext. This is where the blogger will get personal with a measure of disclosure and transparency.  The result is a greater sense of relatability with the author as he or she brings “earthiness” to the content. The commentary is an encouragement to experience the truth in real, personal, and life-transforming ways. Examples of this would include Joe Thorn and Tim Challies.

The Situational perspective generally deals with community interaction, or context. This is where the blogger will engage the audience or blog community to “hash it out” in each person’s situation. The result is a greater sense of relevance to the content as people discover ways the content fits in their respective contexts. Examples of those who do this well include Michael Hyatt and Carlos Whitaker.

Triperspectival blogging encourages a balance of head (content, and knowing the truth), heart (subtext, and experiencing the truth), and hands (context, and applying the truth). Where I find blogs become less helpful or useful is when one emphasizes one perspective to the exclusion of others. For example, some blogs can be very heavy on content while the author is disengaged and the comments are closed. This is hardly blogging, in my opinion. Other blogs can be people simply giving everyone personal commentary about their lives, assuming it is interesting enough that people want to read their biography one blogpost at a time. If we would be honest, most of our lives just aren’t compelling to make our breakfast the subject of a blogpost. However, when a blogger speaks with first-hand experience about the subject matter, then he becomes “real” and more relatable. Even still, some blogs can have great interaction in the comments section and community involvement, but it is lacking in substance. Sometimes controversy builds community interaction as a lot of heat it exchanged with little to no light.

When I consider most of the successful blogs that have been around for some time, then tend to have (a) great content, (b) relatable author, and (c) developing community. Their readers benefit from the content, appreciate the personal commentary, and feel like they can contribute to the discussion and get meaningful feedback from the author and others in the community.

So what do you think?
Does this register in your approach to blogging?
If you don’t blog, do you feel compelled or encouraged to comment on certain blogs that intentionally facilitate reader interaction?

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  • Josh

    Great post, brother. Must admit that I’ve never looked at blogging this way, but I think you make a compelling argument for it. And I agree that, once I’ve seen it, triperspectival contexts start popping up all over the place.

    Frame would be proud!

  • Great perspective… I like the tri-faceted approach. I think I am one of those who have agreed but not known that I agreed — that’s probably why I don’t post more often.

    One consideration, does having a closed comments section really disqualify someone? Can a blog interact with a greater community and yet not enable a comment thread that is all-too-often the source of much unhealthy, drive-by commenting? Or maybe, I have just been reading the wrong comment threads… do you have issue with that here?

    • Regarding blogs without comments, I don’t think they are necessarily disqualified for being blogs, but my understanding of blogs is that communication is two-directional. In other words, there’s opportunity for the reader to contribute and the author to gain immediate feedback. News columns are almost always impersonal. Think of blogs as a coffee shop or living room conversation while news columns are more like classroom lectures or monologues.

      I whole-heartedly agree with the unhealthy, drive-by commenting and disappointing outcome of the comments section of some blogs. That’s why I use comment moderation and determine whether or not the feedback contributes to the discussion (either for or against my position in a healthy, productive manner). I don’t envy the blog editors who have to wade through what you speak of on a daily basis. On the other hand, you can find some excellent examples of how comments sections on blogs have allowed for substantial dialogue, debate, and discussion. Here’s to hope the latter characterizes my blog!

      BTW – an example on my blog from several years ago of healthy debate via comments section can be found here – https://timmybrister.com/2007/01/inclusivism-the-answer-to-the-emerging-question/

      • Wonderful…. I definitely agree that when rightly utilized comments sections are beneficial. I especially like the “coffee shop” picture (because I especially like my coffee shops). Comment moderation is a good tool… I have found beneficial dialogue here. I guess I just haven’t been reading the right blogs! Thanks, again.

  • Love the new look of the site and really enjoyed your triperspectival approach to blogging!

  • I would have never imagined that triperspectival would be an appropriate adjective for blogging, until now…well done!

    • I literally got out my notebook and started taking notes. Like I was in class. This is great!
      I just started my first (serious) blog, and I have a whole checklist and calendar of things I want to do with it. But I assumed I would operate by the mantra, “content always comes first” and, “when in doubt, work on content.” But you’re right – the content is for naught if I’m not relatable or engaging my audience. Do you think I’m doing an okay job so far? Any tips for moving forward?

      • Greetings, KC!

        Yeah, content is key. What will determine if people consistently come back as you seek to build an audience is if your contribution is valuable and worth their time. Even it is a few minutes. If you have good content 25% of the time, you will likely not build a consistent readership. On the other hand, if you never engage your community, then you will not attain maximum benefit of your blog. By that, I mean you will learn and begin to tailor your content to the practical, day-to-day realities of your readers. Good preachers do this well. Not only do they have sound exegesis (content), they know how to exegete their community and understand the way they think, live, feel, and interact in society so as to “fit” the content in real and meaningful ways.

        I would keep your content concise and clear. Brevity is better. Less is more. Hitting singles on a regular basis (consistency) is better than occasional home runs. Blessings on your writing endeavors!

        • Thanks for the metaphor – singles/home runs. Great insight. I’ll keep that in mind as I keep working on content and audience. I’m really learning a lot right now, and feedback is so helpful. Thanks!

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  • I love this. I’m going to share this post with all the Sojourn bloggers. I’d kind of thought about what a triperspectival approach to blogging might look like but I hadn’t really worked it out. This is very clear and helpful.

  • Great post!

    Have you thought too about how this might apply to Twitter?

    The best people to follow on Twitter are those who have a balance between pithy wisdom (normative), interesting and important links (situational) and personal anecdotes (existential)?

    Keep up the triperspectiblogging!


  • Great post! As a blogger myself, I am always seeking ways to engage my community and relate my content to others better. Your idea of Triperspectival blogging is helpful, and something I have been trying to implement in both my blogs and sermons, even though I had not articulated it myself.

    Thank you for bringing these categories together and providing some framework for my blogging and preaching.


    Casey Lewis

  • I think that I think this way without noticing it, although being weak in the third one. I sometimes feel guilty if I only have time to post a quote without any commentary on it. I do often try to find Scripture that goes with it, at the risk of pulling it out of context. I also try to write about more personal things, like what God has taught me, or even just difficulties, but I don’t expect anyone to be interested in the more minor things. I also don’t tell people I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in a while, because I don’t expect them to be ‘waiting by the computer’ for my next post. Maybe I need to slightly re-think that as far as consistency.

    Thanks for defining this stuff for me. Hopefully I’ll better know what I’m doing and can improve.

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