I’m picking on Southwestern Baptist because my Dad and his wife Ophelia, up from Texas, visited us yesterday, and told me they now attend an almost lily-white Southern Baptist congregation in Dallas whose lead pastor is a Southwestern grad. They are happy as clams. After providing leadership in an American Baptist African-American congregation in Madison WI for decades, they now let others do the heavy lifting. To be sure, Ophelia said she’s already been tapped by one of the associates for a new ministry. That’s how it goes in a well-oiled congregation. Did I say oil?
People prefer to take in things that reinforce what they already think. But that’s no way to learn. At most, it’s a way not to forget what you thought you already knew. Biblical blogs are more informative than attending class at Southwestern because you will hear a greater variety of perspectives. Information is not prepackaged and you never know in advance what you might learn. If you are confident enough to have your beliefs challenged along the way, free-form table talk around the Bible among people who read it in the original languages and study it against the background of its ancient contexts is rewarding to listen in on. Participation is an even greater adventure.
For example, take a look at this conversation between Charles Halton, John Hobbins, and Alan Lenzi. Notice Charles’ method: he makes it look as if he concedes everything, but he really hasn’t conceded anything. I’m joking, of course. Still, Charles is pretty good at the art of rhetorical kung fu. Someone is going to offer him a nice appointment someday. I feel it in my bones.
For those who know their way around it, the blogosphere has become a classroom every bit as interesting as a classroom at your friendly neighborhood university. One does not replace the other, but they complement one another nicely.