So the question naturally arises when browsing the internet why you should listen to this person whom you have never met and know very little about. On well-respected sites like Patheos or CNN blogs, individual bloggers are, essentially, paid columnists of sorts. Presumably, someone has vetted each of the bloggers to make sure that they have some kind of authority to speak on their respective subjects. On sites like these, the blogger could be anyone. So why should you listen to me? Why, indeed.
That is the primary question that I want to ask, at least in the first season of this blog: why should we listen to anyone? Whose authority do we trust? When there are a million voices making mutually exclusive claims, how do we have good judgment in picking the right voice? And there are a million contradictory voices, and listening to the right ones makes a huge difference.
Specifically, I want to give reference to the Christian evangelical culture which finds itself on the brink of some major changes — changes for the better, if I may say so. We’re realizing that long-cherished ideals like Biblical infallibility and historicity all have major opposition that comes not from secularists with a vendetta against Christianity but from serious Christian scholars who aren’t just trying to justify a loose moral code or undermine God himself.
Why should we listen to these malicious upstarts, these heathens who would dare question our long-held traditions? Well, there are many good reasons, and I want to outline what they are and why they matter. This is not only an intellectual pursuit — say, switching from Creationism or Intelligent Design to believing in evolution — but an intrinsically moral matter. It affects how you treat others in politics, in your church, and in your communities. Is the man advocating a metaphorical Adam a threat to your children? Some people think so. But some people don’t.
Now certainly most Christians don’t belong to that fringe group which believes in a 6,000 year old earth. Most of you reading this, if Christians, are far more moderate than that; however, there is a degree to which moderates empower the crazies. If “moderate” means “only slightly consistent with our stated values,” then the crazies will take our values to their extreme conclusions. For example, Westboro Baptist Church is a highly consistent, incredibly evil consequence of Reformed theology. The goal is to be consistent and authentic while also not crazy and/or evil.
So how do we, as Christians, go about our Christianity in such a way that not only promotes what is right but also disenfranchises or even actively condemns the behavior of Westboro and similar organizations? How can we avoid compromising theological and spiritual integrity? We need to think hard about our values.
As for me, I do not ask that you automatically grant me authority to speak on these subjects. Test what I say. Do not reject it without consideration, but don’t pile on the bandwagon with me just because I promote your pet issues. If you will bear with me and hear me out, I hope that you will find yourself a more discerning and cautious Christian. Stay tuned for more!