Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Little Men with Little Ideas"

This week in the Editor's Journal section of the (North Carolina) Biblical Recorder's web site Tony Cartledge writes about the role that blogging continues to play in SBC life. While not an exhaustive analysis of how blogs have been helping to shape the conversation on a number of issues within the SBC, the fact that state papers and other traditional media outlets are writing about the blogs indicates that blogs are making some impact. Cartledge lists a few of the most prominent SBC bloggers (Marty Duren, Steve McCoy, Wade Burleson, Ben Cole, Nathan Finn) and points out that even SBC leaders Jimmy Draper and Al Mohler set up blogs (he forgot Morris Chapman).

Even though some of the most prominent and popular leaders in the SBC have their own blogs, a number of SBC leaders still seem to have little respect for the medium and/or those who use it. In a way, the criticism that certain leaders have directed at bloggers is also evidence that blogs are making an impact. The following quote from this article describes how one SBC leader, Southeastern Seminary President Danny Akin, views the blogging phenomenon in the SBC:

Blogs are not universally popular, however. During a plenary session of the trustees at Southeastern Seminary, seminary president Daniel Akin was asked by a trustee to share his opinion about blogging. Akin, who posts many of his writings online, though not in the form of an interactive blog, said blogs are both a blessing and a curse, "a 21st century outlet for extreme narcissism."

Blogs require no accountability, Akin said, allowing people "to make scurrilous, false, untrue accusations against men that I believe are men of God."

Akin said he didn't know anyone who had been attacked more than former SEBTS president Paige Patterson. "Some people have personal agendas," he said, and do things that "are shaming the body of Christ."

"Even if they have legitimate concerns," Akin said, verbally underscroring the "if," they are not expressing them "in ways that are consistent with the Bible."

"I don't really give a rip what most bloggers think," he said. "Most of them are little men with little ideas and little agendas."
I have never met Danny Akin. I have always respected him, but these remarks of his have caused me to lose much of my respect for him. (I doubt he will lose much sleep over this, since he doesn't "really give a rip" what I think.) Ironically, two of the most prominent SBC bloggers---Brad Reynolds and Nathan Finn---are employed by SEBTS. I can only assume that he sees them as being part of that small minority of SBC bloggers who are not "little men with little ideas and little agendas."

To be fair, Akin does have some valid criticisms. There are far too many personal attacks made on blogs. Sometimes bloggers do fail to express themselves in a manner consistent with how the Bible says we are to treat one another. Too often accusations are made without being backed up by evidence. And undoubtedly there are some bloggers who are advancing their own personal agendas.

Unfortunately, these valid criticisms are overshadowed by the tone with which he expresses them as well as the disdain, or even outright contempt, he demonstrates toward most bloggers. The fact that, according to the article, he underscored the "if" when saying "Even if they [bloggers] have legitimate concerns," implies that our concerns are not legitimate. (If you're not convinced, just say it out loud, emphasizing the "if.") Also, I find it disturbing that the leader of one of our SBC entities doesn't "really give a rip" what we think. Akin then goes on to do the very thing he accuses many bloggers of when he describes most bloggers as "little men with little ideas and little agendas."

Akin's last statement indicates that he either has not read what bloggers have been saying or believes that those who do not agree with him and/or Paige Patterson are "little men with little ideas and little agendas." As someone who has been an active part of the SBC blogosphere for over a year I can say that such a characterization is completely off the mark. We may be "little men" in the sense that few of us pastor megachurches or serve in denominational positions, but as I recall Jesus is not too impressed by status. A cursory reading of the dozen most influential SBC blogs reveals that some of the sharpest minds in our convention are engaged in blogging. I have no problem with Danny Akin or anyone else disagreeing with what we have to say or even with how we say it, but I would think that someone as educated as Danny Akin, someone who is looked upon as a spirutal leader, would be able to express disagreement without being contemptuous.


Kevin Bussey said...

Sometimes people knock what they don't understand. Great Post.

Any news? I've been praying for you.

art rogers said...

Good thoughts, Tim. I would add that the point you cede to Dr. Akin, that sometimes bloggers don't express themselves in Christian ways, is best proved by purusing the site of Dr. Brad Reynolds. Some of the stuff that has been allowed to stand there is unconscienable. Granted, Brad has chided the ad hominem attacks, but when I last was there, the words still stood. My apologies in advance if he has changed his behavior and started actually removing inappropriate comments.

In my opinion, though, it is not enough to rebuke and allow libelous remarks to stay printed. Of course, it's just my opinion and that governs only one blog.