How apologetics bloggers caused the downfall of the United States

Well, not really. But addiction to the internet is a legitimate phenomenon, in the category of non-chemical addictions that can cripple an individual’s ability to communicate with someone outside of the internet. In the sphere of apologetics and theology bloggers, the isolation that comes with addiction to the internet can disrupt the relationship between a young Christian and his or her elders in the church; it can lead them down dangerous and heretical paths as they are isolated with no point of guidance other than their own internal reasoning; finally it provides a warped and anti-pauline model of Christian service. That is how apologetics bloggers caused the downfall of the United States. I realize that this is a very niche point of contention and only bloggers or their friends and family will find this relatable. Nonetheless, it is relevant in the modern era as more young people isolate themselves and addiction to the internet because increasingly prevalent.

When I was working on my undergraduate degree, my primary task was to do homework, which ultimately left me with a lot of free time. I worked a few part-time jobs here and there, but usually not more than 20-30 hours a week. A lot of my spare time and energy went into this very blog and into having debates about these topics. If somebody were to tell me that I was spending too much time on these tasks, I would have rebutted with the importance of the tasks. “I am defending the faith: developing and learning about nuances of points of doctrine.” While I do think the subject matter of theological discourse is important, I am not convinced that blogging is an important tasks. It is fairly irrelevant, which I will discuss later on in this post. Either way, I think that the consequences of internet addiction are significantly worse than whatever positive effects might come. Even if your internet addiction is used in a way that is productive and even helpful to some, it still needs to be measured by considering the adverse effects upon your Christian spirituality.

Your Blog Addiction

I recognize again that this is a niche concept. However, many scholars of psychology have written about internet addiction. This addiction can manifest in a number of different ways, including but not limited to information overload [1]. This category of addiction typically relates to compulsively surfing databases for information. It might not be a stretch to say that it is possible for theology and apologetics bloggers to fall into this category. Typically, this leads to diminished interaction with the outside world, very few, if any, friendships outside of the internet, thinking obsessively about your next internet sessions, etc [2]. I have some thoughts about how this behavior affects one’s spiritual life, though I recognize that this list is limited.

Isolation From Elders

This stems from the general principle that those who have an internet addiction will likely not have close relationships with those around them. The apostle Peter believed that the relationship between the elder and the young man was an important one, writing in 1st Peter 5:5, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” You probably do encounter your elders, but a more significant question is whether you have subjected yourself to them, or if you size them up based on whether they have read as many books as you or have as much content knowledge as you.

A young apologetics blogger who has read a lot of books will have a lot of content knowledge, but that does not mean that he has wisdom. With knowledge, you will understand the theories of the atonement, how they are defended and what their detractors have to say. But a man of wisdom will be able to answer questions such as, “What should I do with my life?” or “Should I get into Christian ministry?” or “How can I manage and grow my ministry?” or “How do I measure success in my ministry?” Subjecting your blog to your elders can help you answer that question.

Let me give you an example. The career apologist, for whom I have respect, Frank Turek, usually does not disclose his views on the age of the earth. He will quip, “On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’m a young earth creationist. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I’m an old earth creationist. On Sunday, I take the day off.” Yet in his lectures, he talks about Big Bang cosmology, which would make very little sense if the universe is six thousand years old. He is almost certainly an old earth creationist. But he never talks about it because he knows it will isolate people from his ministry. A knowledgable person would have content knowledge about the theories surrounding the age of the earth, and a wise person would know when to broadcast those theories. Isolating yourself from elders and strong Christian mentors leaves everything up to your judgment when there are people of more experience and wisdom who can guide your in your walk with Christ and in general help you to live a more fruitful life.

Heretical Paths

I firmly believe that Holy Spirit teaches us about the Son and guides us into all truth (John 16:13). Yet this truth needs to balanced with Paul’s comment about those who are infants in Christ being blown around by the wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). When you are isolated on the internet, you are the only judge of what is true. This often results in bloggers just believing in whatever sounds like an appealing view: whatever they think will craft their image as an intellectual. Or, in general, if a new idea sounds exciting, they’ll eagerly pick it up because they are completely isolated from outside influence. For example, a young blogger might be impressed by the ideas of open theism or postmodernism once they are initially introduced to the scholarship surrounding it. If he is the only judge, cannot refute it, and thinks the ideas are interesting, it would be easy to imagine him adopting it.

Being involved in a strong Christian church that has standards for what they believe and maintains elder oversight will guard the more impressionable, young bloggers. If someone told me this while I was more invested in my blog, I might have rebutted that I survey the relevant literature, arguments and counterpoints and would not change my view unless it met a very high standard. The problem is that my standards are too low. In his letter to Timothy, Paul instructed him to “Watch your doctrine closely” (1 Timothy 4:16). What we believe about Christ and his church is important. I should not be the only judge over what I believe.

Warped View of Christian Service

If you would have asked me why I blogged and what I thought would come of it, I would have told you something like, “I want to equip Christians with good answers to difficult questions,” or “I want people struggling with doubt to read my blog and find their answers.” These are noble goals, and I have been told by many people that I assisted them and my blog continues to assist them in this way. I’m grateful to Christ for that. But insofar as Christian service is concerned, an internet presence only goes so far. The apostle Paul wrote letters when he was in prison, but he yearned to see the churches in person. He wrote to the Thessalonians, “For we wanted to come to you– I, Paul, more than once– and yet Satan hindered us” (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

People are told, “Bloom where you’re planted,” but instead of going out into their communities, they go on the internet. Going on the internet is very easy; anybody can do it. If you have enough free time, anybody can read about apologetics and theology and start blogging about it. They could even develop a strong following. But it is much harder to go out into the community, in real life, and bloom there. True Christian service doesn’t end at answering someone’s question. It continues into encouraging a fellow sinner when they fail again, visiting an older man who has nobody to talk to, or helping someone load their old washer into a truck.

Jesus did not get on the internet and spend his three years of ministry writing blogposts. He went out into the community.

Advice For Bloggers

I spent 2012 – 2017 building this blog and writing very frequently, sometimes even twice a week. I would advertise on various platforms and had many ideas about what I wanted this blog to be. I do not think that you have to stop blogging or that it literally caused the downfall of the United States. Theology and apologetics blogging has its place. It has helped to form a culture in which the rich intellectual history of the Christian church is emphasized; it provides an outlet for your thoughts, which I know is very important and helped me process a lot of information and ultimately retain the information. Yet it needs to be balanced. I have written before about how to avoid being a hack as a Christian apologist. What follows is more advice about your blog’s place in your life.

Know Your Limitations

I have had a few moments in the sun; posts that had tens of thousands of views in a single day. Scholars that I admire have featured my posts on their podcasts. People have recognized me from my blog in real life. There was one time that I was talking to someone about apologetics, and he said, “Hey, have you heard of that guy Jim Boucher?” and he started talking about me and my blog. It was really funny. Yet at the same time, the job market for Christian apologists and theologians is very thin. It is thin for ministers and those who have a pastoral role as well, but even that would be easier to find because most churches have someone as a paid staff member. But there are very few companies that have job titles for Apologists. Walmart does not have an office for a Christian Apologist who answers questions.

So all of this is to say that you should know your blog’s place in your life. It’s not a career, and it is wildly unlikely that it will develop into one. Career apologists and theologians usually have a PhD and teach at a university. The exceptions that I can think of are those that have a really interesting story about how they used their skills as investigator, applied it to Christianity, and eventually became Christians (Lee Strobel and J Warner Wallace come to mind). Let your blog take an appropriate place in your life.

In the same way, do not let your blog define your intellectual abilities or make you think that you are superior to other people. While somebody else might not have read about the theories of the atonement, they could, fairly easily, and they could decide between them. There’s nothing special about that.

Your blog’s limitations
I also think it is important to add what your blog is and what it is not. Your blog is an outlet for your thoughts. Some people might read it, but most will not. There is nothing scholarly about your blog. You can cite as many sources as you want to. But by its very nature, a blog is not scholarly because it is not being reviewed by peers.

You Cannot Live Off Your Blog

When traffic for my blog was at its highest, I used Google Adsense (which I regret – I will never put ads back on this blog). While doing that, I probably made about $20 every day. Honestly, that is pretty good for an apologetics blog, because most do not get that much traffic and I definitely do not get that much now. But still, that’s not nearly enough to live on.

Outlets such as Patreon are not much better. Patreon basically allows content producers to request their followers to commit to a monthly donation if they enjoy their services. But the Return on Investment is very low, especially for theology/apologetics bloggers. There are a few reasons for this. First, there are so many bloggers; why should I donate to one and not the other? Second, an apologetics blogger is not really providing that much of a service. Most people do not have a blog that they are so devoted to following that they want to give them money. Blogs are more like, “Oh, that’s an interesting thought. Thanks for sharing.” Third, an apologetics blog is very inexpensive. I don’t even remember what my hosting fees are (they’re annual and automatic) but they’re cheap. I’m not going to donate to something that doesn’t cost that much money to manage.

An apologetics blogger might rebut, “But it’s my time that I’m spending, I should be compensated.” Well, no. You’re choosing to spend time on a hobby knowing that you will not be paid for your time. If you want to be paid for your time, then spend time doing something that people want to pay for.

Overall, you are probably not going to get paid for your blog. If you are building it up with that hope, then you should really reevaluate its role in your life. You can still work on your blog, but if you are concerned with making a profit, a minimum wage job would probably pay more than you could get selling ad space or on Patreon. Fortunately, I never really had that expectation, but I know bloggers who do.

How apologetics bloggers caused the downfall of the United States

Blogging can be very beneficial for a few reasons. It helps you think through issues and process information. Others who actually read your blog can also benefit from it. But for those who have an unhealthy view of their blog, it can have a devastating effect on their spiritual growth. That is how apologetics bloggers caused the downfall of the United States.

References
[1]: Ma, Hing Keung. “Internet addiction and antisocial Internet behavior of adolescents.” The Scientific World Journal 11 (2011): 2187+. Gale Academic Onefile
[2]: Ibid.

Comments

comments

Sidebar