I've noticed that, over the past month or so, just about every reformed blogger has been talking about the notion of Christian hero worship--whether it's making a saint and martyr out of that bikini pageant lady (the one who stood up to some pseudo-famous, unfortunate-looking gossip blogger) or putting John Piper, John Calvin, or John Bunyan up on a pedestal as inerrant exegetes who speak ex cathedra. There has been appropriate caution urged. The cream of the crop, in my opinion, was a piece comparing the unquestioning veneration of famous pastors to pornography.
But in all these articles, one thing's been glaringly absent: any acknowledgement that, in today's technological world, many of these bloggers themselves are the objects of hero worship. I had been blogging for quite some time when I finally began to realize just how popular some young, restless, reformed bloggers have become. While I was putting together the initial blog list for www.calvinati.com, I became familiar with dozens and dozens of blogs. And when I realized which ones were super-popular (and which ones had tiny or non-existent reader bases), I was incredibly suprised--both by the gap between the reader-rich and read-poor and by the sometimes questionable taste of the masses.
As with most niche demographics these days, the YRR movement has its Internet darlings. I would guess that each of the ten most popular boasts more readers in a year than any fifty scholarly biblical commentators who pour decades of their lives into producing insightful, accurate, helpful studies and commentaries. This both saddens me and reminds me of the unfortunate situation among emergent types, wherein the most vocal leaders with the most loyal minions claim no particular insight into the text, no special level of study, and no desire to rectify that.
You see, it dawned on me a few days ago that most of the uber-popular bloggers of the reformed persuasion do not have a seminary education. I'm not going to start listing people, but even among those you would assume have been to seminary, upon a little investigation it seems that most have not. Those bigtime blogs with multiple writers?--yeah, one or maybe two contributors studied systematic theology, Koine Greek, and exegetical method under qualified men and women.
Does it matter? Hmmm, that's a tough one to answer. Certainly, there is no Scriptural mandate that pastors need to get an MDiv (and make no mistake--most of these bloggers are effectively functioning as pastors to many of the hundreds who loyally come back day after day to receive the next post.) In fact, Spurgeon didn't even have a seminary degree (something about a pig's tail). And certainly, the Holy Spirit has often called people into ministries whether or not they've got the standard outward credentials (think Moses, Gideon, or the Virgin Mary).
But how do we discern what is valuable to the church among the almost infinite number of blogs and websites out there? Is it based on who has the soundest doctrine? The most insightful perspective? The most ready-packaged application? The largest cache of free online materials? The sharpest looking presentation? Most stylish graphics? Most lively debate in the comments section?
I'd never suggest that only the seminary educated and ordained are fit to blog about the faith. Such a thought would be pure folly--Heaven save us from ivory tower Christianity. I'm just asking: what makes someone a superstar in our tiny little sub-culture on the web? And based on these criteria, is the level of authority attributed to each man really warranted?
Your thoughts, please.
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