A Suggestion for Better Baptist Blogging

I am a conflicted blogger. I love blogging and I love this site, and yet I am often concerned about whether the way we do things is the right way. There can be little doubt about the popularity and expanded impact of blogging. But the question still remains as to whether what we do is spiritually productive. Are we an asset to the kingdom or do we hinder God’s work?

If we are going to improve our work, a little self-reflection is in order.  I think there is a simple way for each of us to review our own record as bloggers – to do a little self-evaluation that could help us.  Here’s my idea; do with it as you will.

Look at your last 25 blog posts, and the comments that followed.  (No, we are not always responsible for the comments left on our posts, but if there is a pattern of commenting, it may have something to do with the way we post.)  Read them over reflectively.  Look at the topics, the tone and the point of your post and how people responded.  Then, ask some simple questions. 

So, here we go.

1) How many of my posts are “contra-posts?” 

Contra, of course, means against. How many of your posts are directed against someone – a person, a doctrine, a movement. All of us need to take a stand sometimes against something we find wrong. But if all or most of your posts end up in the contra category, you may have a problem. That kind of negativity has an effect.  I’ve seen some who come to the point of thinking that they are God’s avenging angel sent to destroy the bad guys and establish truth, justice and the American way. Those who adopt this battle-blogging mentality usually end up doing one of two things.  Either they become bitter and angry or they get tired of it and quit blogging. In fact, some of the more balanced bloggers today are former battle bloggers who just got tired of the constant fight and decided there was something better out there.

Does there have to be an enemy, a bad-guy in all of your posts (or comments)?  If so, maybe you should examine your blogging patterns.

2) How many of your posts are about one topic?

There is a great big world out there with lots to talk about. If every one of your posts is about a single topic (Calvinism comes to mind), you need some balance. There are 66 books of the Bible to talk about. There are a lot of issues to deal with. There are a lot of theological topics to explore.

I agree that Calvinism is an issue that needs to be dealt with, but I think the entire SBC would be healthier if we just stopped talking about it for 6 months or so. I just returned from the mission field and NO ONE is talking about Calvinism in Taiwan. According to Jeremy’s post a couple of days ago, no one is talking about it where he serves.   I think we are fixated.

There are other topics that people sometimes get fixated on.  If you look at your posts and 15 or 20 of the 25 are about one a single topic or range of topics, you might be guilty of tunnel vision in your blogging. Something to consider.

No one likes to listen to a broken record.

3) Do your posts consistently produce commenting wars?

Commenting wars can come from anywhere, even the most benign of posts. We are not responsible for every angry comment someone leaves on one of our posts. I am constantly amazed at the ability of some readers to misunderstand, misinterpret, misapply or otherwise miss the point of the post. More than once I’ve had someone angrily “disagreeing” with me, making a point that I made in the post. I’m convinced that many begin commenting before taking the time to read the post. Commenters are responsible for their comments.

But there are certain forms of writing that tend to provoke certain forms of commenting. Name-calling, extreme analogies, unfair accusations – these all push a point in such a way that others tend to push back. If you notice that every post you write tends to invoke a comment free-for-all, maybe there is something in your writing that you could improve.  If you create an us vs. them, white hats vs. black hats mentality, that will often be reflected in the comments.

Do you often find yourself amazed at the anger of those who respond to your posts? Perhaps you are either not editing carefully, or perhaps you are saying things in a way that provokes anger rather than promotes understanding.

Do you often have to backtrack, clarify, explain or enhance your arguments? Again, either editing or word-choice can be the problem.

At the convention, I was at a bloggers’ meeting and was being made fun of for the volume of material I produce. I gave a simple response – I write but I do not spend a lot of time editing. I should do more. Often, I have to edit things after I’ve published them and I see grammatical or typographical errors. But when I am writing a more confrontational post, I take time to edit. I write it, walk away and then come back to work it through again. I generally tone it down, then tone it down again. When we are being confrontational, it is important that we put a velvet coating on our words.  Too often, when I don’t do that, the focus becomes my anger instead of what I am confronting in the post.

What commenters say is not your fault. But if you notice a continual pattern of angry comments, maybe it is not all their fault.

4) Do you find yourself having to correct facts often? 

It is crucial that we get our facts in order. When we publish comments or posts in haste, we sometimes have to go back and correct things. That is generally just a marker of being careless in writing.  Get your facts straight in advance.

A little self-reflection can go a long way to making us better bloggers. This is just a suggestion – to review your most recent posts.  I just did it myself. An interesting and instructive review.


  1. says

    Excellent topic.

    Before I hit the ‘submit’ button, I try and reread my comment and ask myself if this promotes what Christ has done, is doing, and will yet do…or have I said something that will lead people back into themselves.

  2. Dave Miller says

    I wrote the post that went up this morning just before going to bed last night. Since the Taiwan trip, my sleep schedule has been awful. I lay in bed all night and think.

    I lay there thinking about the post I just wrote (and got up and made an edit.) Then, this idea came to my mind.

    So, anyway, this is kind of a follow-up to this morning’s post on Nuking the Fridge.

  3. John says

    I am a Southern Baptist, and this is the only Baptist blog I read consistently. I scan lots of others, but have quit reading them unless it is a specific topic I am interested. Most blogs I read are from non SBCers, and I learn a great deal from them. Rarely do I see the vitriol I see in the SBC blog world. My guess is that they are not happy unless they are angry at someone. If the liberals and charismatics are gone, I guess the Calvinists are next. The only difference I see is that there are a lot more Calvinists than there were of the other groups so the fighting will go on longer and louder.

    This blog, however, is always a breath of fresh air and I learn a great deal from you an the other guys. Thanks for being a kind and sane voice for us.

  4. says

    Good stuff, Dave. I know I mentioned more than once while you were gone that I didn’t have a prayer of producing the same volume of posts that you do on a consistent basis. Just wanted to say that this one is one of the really good ones.

  5. Ed Stetzer says

    Helpful stuff, Dave.

    People are growing weary of those who only seek to stir up strife and say, “look at me, I am standing against something or someone– again and again.”

    We must not forget that the Southern Baptist Convention spoke this year and rejected such contentious people– again.


      • says

        Jim one example might be those who spend the majority of their time standing AGAINST the same thing over and over again rather than standing FOR something.

        Regarding the original topic, I agree with every point. I write for a blog regularly and I try my best to offer variety in my writing. I would call myself a reformed Baptist but the amount of time I spend dealing directly with tulip or related doctrines is very slim.

        I think one of the reasons we are tempted to write about things that are controversial or write with an adversarial edge is because we see the responses and hits and our eyes light up. Trouble is, we may lose ourselves and our walking in grace in the process. But the temptation is great to just go for the hits.

        • Rick Patrick says


          My difficulty is that I am FOR a specific soteriological view called Traditionalism, but no matter how hard I try to advocate FOR a theological view that is important to me, my Calvinist friends only SEE me as being AGAINST their particular viewpoint.

          See, from THEIR perspective, they see me as a hater, which is just completely unfair. By the way, the Unity Resolution by Chris Roberts was not the “If You Disagree with Calvinism, Shut Up” Resolution. It cannot possibly mean that, because if it did, it would be seeking to marginalize voices in the Southern Baptist Convention, and that would not contribute to unity at all.

          I think it’s a little naive to think that a non-binding resolution at the Southern Baptist Convention is going to silence this discussion. The way forward in resolving this issue is the Consensus Accord that Dr. Page has promised. We need to talk about the elephant in the room.

          The issue has been raised. Telling those who have questions that they should hush or go away is insulting and counter-productive.

          • Tom Parker says


            You said:”The issue has been raised. Telling those who have questions that they should hush or go away is insulting and counter-productive.”

            I am very afraid the only consensus that is going to occur–correct me if I am wrong-is for the Calvinists to leave the SBC.

            I have seen nothing in your extensive comments related to Traditionalists–I still do not what that is?–that allows the Calvinists to remain in the SBC.

          • Rick Patrick says


            I have heard the Calvinists say this repeatedly, but I never know where it comes from, because I have never once called for Calvinists to leave the SBC. I have merely called on them not to reform it and take over.

            I admit, by the way, that the relationship between Calvinist and Traditionalist is intrinsically adversarial. Our purposes oppose each other, like when I play a friend in tennis. I don’t hate my opponent, but we want different things. If he wins, I lose. He wants to Calvinize the same convention I want to Traditionalize.

            By the way, to define Traditionalists, go to the SBC Today blog and click on the Traditionalist Statement.

          • Bill Mac says

            “He wants to Calvinize the same convention I want to Traditionalize.”

            Some people, I daresay most people in the SBC, including me, don’t want to do either. The SBC exists for another purpose entirely.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Bill Mac,

            I agree that the primary purpose of the SBC is to serve God and fulfill the Great Commission. I believe both Calvinists and Traditionalists desire that. However, there are additional sub-purposes in life which, though not primary, cannot be avoided and should not be set against the primary purpose as if they were mutually exclusive.

            My primary purpose in life is to serve God, glorify Him and fulfill the Great Commission. This morning, my purpose is to mow the yard. These aims should not be set against each other.

            As we fulfill the Great Commission, we must make decisions regarding doctrine, just like every other denomination. It is at this secondary level that our conflicting purposes must somehow be resolved.

          • says


            You said, “I don’t hate my opponent, but we want different things. If he wins, I lose. He wants to Calvinize the same convention I want to Traditionalize.”

            First, I know many people in the SBC. In both camps, so to speak. IMO, most people don’t want what you want on either side.

            But here’s a question. You have decried Calvinists who want to Calvinize the convention. Now you say you want to traditionalize the convention.

            What makes your intent more moral or right over the Calvinists, assuming what you say is true about intents?

            Brother, seems to me you have no standing to be critical of any kind of takeover by others if you now admit you have the same goals, just from a different theology.

          • Rick Patrick says


            When you imply that most Southern Baptists don’t care one way or the other about Calvinism or Traditionalism, I tend to agree, but would be quick to add that most do not even know about the issue yet, and once they were informed about the two perspectives, and particularly the reform goal of some Calvinist groups, most Southern Baptists would then engage the discussion and view it as important to the future of our denomination.

            I freely admit the quandary posed by what I have termed elsewhere the “adversarial relationship” between Calvinism and Traditionalism. If I disagree with a Calvinist takeover of the convention, which I do, and there are groups out there seeking such reform, then how exactly do I defend against this encroaching Calvinism without actively promoting my own alternative viewpoint? In other words, is not the defense against their reform theology the promotion of a counter-reform theology?

            I realize you see hypocrisy in this. From my perspective, however, I simply see two competing doctrines in Southern Baptist life, with brothers and sisters on both sides free to advance their position, which will always appear to the other side as opposition, if not open hostility and the breeding of disunity.

            To be responsive, let me say I do not view my intent as more moral than theirs. We believe in local church autonomy and soul competency. If Calvinists want to reform the convention, then have at it. Just don’t be upset when I stand in your way to promote Traditionalism. I’m not breeding disunity simply because I favor the promotion of a different theology than yours.

          • Bill Mac says


            My point is that it does not follow that because I am a Calvinist, that any of my purposes, primary or otherwise, is to Calvinize the SBC. I have no such purpose. My contention is that most people, no matter what doctrinal stance they take on soteriology, eschatology, or whatever, feel the same.

            Regarding Founders: As I said, they have had a public purpose statement for decades, which hardly represents a hidden agenda to reform the SBC. Additionally how many Founders friendly churches are there? A few hundred? And many of those not even SBC. Out of 44000 SBC churches, most likely less than a tenth of a percent associate with Founders. There are probably more snake handling churches than Founders churches.

            There is no secret agenda.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Bill Mac,

            “There is no secret agenda.”

            You realize, of course, that if there WERE a secret agenda, by definition, we wouldn’t know about it, would we?

            When I describe the Founders purpose as a hidden agenda, I simply mean that it is hidden from the majority of Southern Baptists who do not realize that one group is seeking to reform all the churches of the convention, at least according to their stated purpose, which I accept at face value, unwilling to call them liars.

        • Jim G. says

          Hi Darryl,

          Ed wrote,

          “We must not forget that the Southern Baptist Convention spoke this year and rejected such contentious people– again.”

          There is no “example.” He has someone or some group in mind, because his language is specific – it occurred at the SBC and the convention rejected contentious people. I just want to know whom he thinks is contentious. And this is far from the first time Ed has logged on here and fired a stinging shot at an “unspecified” person or group without any clarification. I’d like to know who it is. He’s the one famous for his “Baptist Bogeyman” speech, and yet feels comfortable calling unspecified people contentious.

          This post is about making better Baptist blogging. A comment about “rejecting contentious people” in such a vague manner does not contribute to better blogging. It keep Ed safe by causing us to draw our own conclusions about who these contentious people are, which in my opinion sows discord. We all know what the big “contended” votes were at the convention. One side of the controversy will “amen” Ed that the other side is indeed contentious, while the other side will take the hint that Ed is speaking about them. All the while, Ed stays “above” the fray while taking a pot shot at those with whom he disagrees. If Ed wants to say the 2012 convention rejected “Joe Smith” or “Bill Jones” (made-up names) because they are contentious, then we have a discussion. Keeping it “anonymously” veiled brings nothing but silent amens from one side and mistrust and anger on the other. Such a comment does not promote better Baptist blogging, in my opinion.

          Jim G.

          • says

            Jim, it could be that the ones guilty of it are the ones getting most upset about it. For me, I do not want this contentious spirit in the convention. I want the Cooperative Program to function at its maximum capacity and not to be destroyed by ANYONE of any stripe who only seek to classify Baptists and divide the work. I work with Southern Baptists of all stripes. I am a staff member of a very traditional Southern Baptist church, my pastor is a traditionalist, my congregation is mostly traditionalist, and I also work with pastors in the area who fit into many different categories. But we have the Kingdom of our Savior in common and we can work together. I have not had one MOMENT of trouble working with anyone who can agree to the BF&M, but I do believe that there are many I’ve met in blogging over the last 2 months or so who WOULD have trouble working with me.

      • says

        I think Jim asked a reasonable question, Ed. At which vote in the 2012 NOLA session did we reject “such contentious people– again”? Indeed and just who are those people whom you dub as “such contentious” we “again” rejected? Not asking for individual names. Just a direction or something so readers will get your drift.

        With that, I am…

        • says

          I would say the resolution as well as Bro. Ed’s post here are both referring to anyone who is contentious and whose words and actions are intended to divide Southern Baptists rather than unite them.

          • Rick Patrick says

            What if it is not so much our “words” and “actions” that are dividing us, but the genuine presence of positions that are intrinsically at odds with one another? In other words, what if our conflicts are not interpersonal in nature, but derive from genuinely foundational disagreements that need to be resolved?

            “Paging Dr. Page. You are needed in the Consensus Accord Room.”

          • says

            I think you are making more of the differences than those differences deserve, Bro. Rick. We preach the same Gospel. We simply believe different things about the way God works behind the scenes.

          • Christiane says

            RICK, you wrote this insight:
            “What if it is not so much our “words” and “actions” that are dividing us, but the genuine presence of positions that are intrinsically at odds with one another?”

            in some way, I think I understand . . .
            the ‘sides’ involved do see God very, very differently. Their views of Him are either reflected in their separate doctrines, OR the doctrines themselves have informed their understanding of Who and What God is, and from this, an understanding of the relationship between Our Creator and mankind.

            Of all the differences, I think the way that God is perceived by both sides is the most important. Why? Each side is defending more than their doctrines, they are each defending their view of ‘God’, which they see as ‘under attack’ by the other side.

            That’s a very serious division. But I think it can be overcome through the mutual understandings of Who Our Lord is, and what He has done for us, and what He asks of us.
            I think putting the focus back on Him can bring people together in a way that brings some healing to the breech.

            What do you think?

        • says

          One other quick thought here Rick: I don’t have any trouble with your stand or your position regarding soteriology. I work with folks every day who have the same position. We work side by side. My problem is with your insistence on making it an issue of contention between us. It doesn’t have to be.

          • says

            It almost sounds as if the Founders or certain statements on their website disappeared that all of these conspiracy charges would also disappear. Yet, some how I don’t believe that would happen.

            Either way, it is also not fair to treat every SBC Calvinist as if they are a monolithic group who are each promoting some take-over agenda.

            Imagine if folks from other denominations painted all Southern Baptists as racists because of what happened at First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs. Then, when we individually deny racism those making the charges continually point to that event as representative of the SBC over and over and over regardless.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Well, Darryl, PERHAPS it doesn’t HAVE to be an issue of contention, but since we are dealing with a fair amount of conflict, if there is not going to be contention, then we must deal with a few matters, rather than ignoring the issues. That’s what the whole “elephant in the room” metaphor is all about. I do believe we can have peace, but I don’t believe we can have it by ignoring our issues.

            There are theological reasons why Presbyterians are not Methodists. If Baptists are somewhere in between, having walked a tightrope for years, I believe we can still do so. I do NOT want to rid the convention of either Traditionalists or Calvinists. But we need to have a serious talk about balancing these two positions in the proper measure. We can have a big tent, but we need to work out some “house rules.”

            I remain optimistic that Dr. Page’s Consensus Accord can accomplish this.

  6. John K says

    We are looking through the lens of society as one blogs. This is what you are seeing more and more of. When you see the Senate Majority leader accuse a Presidential candidate of tax evasion from the Senate floor with no substantiated facts. Or when you see the President say too business owners that “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” Or when you see a blog article derogatorily accusing you of following a God of Calvinism a natural flesh reaction is to be a little concerned and yes angry.

    When you have spent your life building a business, paying taxes, and following the Holy Spirit and then to read on a SBC blog an article telling you are influenced by Satan for sanctification leading you to share views with what many call Calvinism. When you try to explain to folks what your views on election are, along with views of grace, and they continue to misrepresent your views you get angry.

    Most the time I would just ignore these fringe thinking folks. The problem is these fringe thinkers are claiming to be the 90%’ers within the SBC.

    First they came for the Methodist,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Methodist.
    Then they came for the Presbyterians,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Presbyterian.
    Then they came for the Calvinist,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Calvinist for I followed the Holy Spirit as it lead me not John Calvin.
    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    I do not always know when and what to stand up for in Society or within the body of Christ. I know not long ago folks stood against a church that did not marry a black couple and called it racism. I know that Bigotry has always been an issue in the SBC and folks are forming lines in the sand over Calvinism. Others are telling folks to stand down. Maybe it is time to spend more time with scripture and more time in prayer, less time on blogs. I don’t know Dave what do you think, do we have time before there is no one left in the SBC to speak up? Where is your line in the sand? In 6 months what will be different?

    • Christiane says

      increased prayer can help people who suffer from fear and anger,
      but blogs do at least offer a place for that fear and upset to be expressed in a Christian setting . . .

      then other bloggers might be able to reach out to the fearful in a way that encourages them in their faith, a faith that offers shelter for all Christian people in the peace of Our Lord.

      Trust me, on this earth, there is no other shelter.

    • Dave Miller says

      I believe that if we do not fundamentally change the way we relate to one another in several areas – Calvinism, traditionalist/contemporarian, etc. – we will fracture, splinter into smaller groups and see a gradually increasing bleeding away of the SBC.

      It will die from attrition.

      • John K says

        I happen to agree with you Dave. I am strongly thinking of taking Calvinism off the topics that I will blog about because it brings out bigotry in me, and that is even after I modify my comments. As you have said Calvinism did not use to be that high on the list of importance of the Gospel message, now it is taking away from the Gospel. The Holy Spirit lead me to Calvinism not man, I knew scripture long before I knew of Calvin. If the bigots of Calvinism within the SBC have a goal to force Christians out of the SBC I would rather leave following the Spirit than stay in the SBC submitting to the Bigotry of Calvinist or non-Calvinist and I certainly do not want to submit my self to falling into the sin of bigotry.
        Matthew 5:29 (ESV)
        29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

        PS. Try Tylenol PM it works wonders to regain a sleeping pattern after traveling in other time zones.

      • Frank L. says

        Dave. I’m betting you will agree — it (SBC) may die but the Kingdom will live on.

        If you are correct in your assessment–and I think you are–then could it be that this splintering will actually be pruning? John 15.

        If so, then I think the group that learns: in non-essentials, liberty; in essentials, unity; and in all charity–this group will thrive and be blessed

        I hope to begin practicing to fit into that group. Yes, I’ll need a lot of practice.

      • Bruce H. says


        In order to avoid splintering into smaller groups we will eventually have to use the word “COMPROMISE” and that is going to be a hard pill to swallow on both sides. I would try to think about considering HOW to splinter and make it work rather than the other option. To splinter in love would be much better than trying to unify under faiths that will never mix. Some will always be hostile and they are presently in their own group. Personally, I think it would be a good idea to consider it.

        • Christiane says

          the early Church used ‘consensus’ in the great councils

          ‘Consensus’ is way different from all other means of arriving at agreement, and it mirrors more honestly the use of gifts in the Body of Christ to help build up the Church

          ‘Consensus’ also does not leave the members of the Church in a situation where the Peace of Christ is broken among them, and where the unity of the Church is harmed

  7. Christiane says

    “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.
    In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence,
    I have overcome the world.”

    (St. John 16:33)

  8. Bruce H. says


    I guess I know less about myself than what others know about me on this blog. In my mind I have a picture of each of you, but not so much of me. I am willing to let everyone tell me what they see about my past comments, about how I appear to others. I think I know the bad more than I know the good, even though I have always felt that my honesty was acceptable though it is obvious that it isn’t.

    I would like to address the point you made about if this is spiritually productive. One thing I have noticed is that I have had to go to scripture more often here to confirm my belief and faith before I write. What I believe has become deep rooted now. Another thing that happens is a sense of conviction when statements of truth are made or humble transparency is expressed. Finally, some of the testimonies have encouraged and inspired me.

    One thing I have noticed is that when I wonder if the work is doing any good, it really is. Why? Because the sheep who fed Him when He was hungry, gave Him drink when He was thirsty, a stranger and took Him in, clothed Him when He was naked, sick and they came unto Him and visited Him when He was in prison said, “When did we do this?” I think somehow our senses are dulled to certain things because God is doing His work and preparing to give you the credit down the road. Keep up the good work and good words.

  9. says

    CONTRAS do not have to be hateful. They can be compassionate, caring efforts at correction to help and aid another in his or her walk with the Lord. We do not have to succeed on our own. We do have to be faithful, and one can grow weary in well-doing, David. Remember that! Being so focused as blogging is tends to be exhausting. H.G. Wells once took the post of writing editorials weekly for some magazine. He resigned after the first year, if my memory serves correctly, because, as he said, it was hell to have to produce something creative every week. Evidently, he had never had any contact with ministers. So it is no surprise to find his last work was, if I remember correctly, “Mind at The End of Its Tether.” Of course, he never believed much of anything and was agnostic at best from all that I know (and I stand to be corrected, if some one knows better). So keep your spirits up, brother. Take breaks, do some soul searching, and tackle things from other angles. Be alert to your respondents. Sometimes they will give you an insight that had never occurred to you. In fact, seems like you have made reference to that reality already.

  10. Tom Parker says


    You said:”He wants to Calvinize the same convention I want to Traditionalize.”


    Is it that cut and dry–black and white, etc.??

  11. says

    Hey, Rick: Is the splitsville routine your way of saying to the folks of Va., the Separates and the Regulars who united, allowing that the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man should be no bar to communion. when the dominate view was Particular Redemption/Limited Atonement, “I am to take your offer of freedom and depart the camp and go my own way?” Funny, how them calvinists of that day were much more liberal that most of the advocates of all camps today…or so it would seem. Could they have known something about the flexibility of the Christian Faith that we do not know today?