Just Blog-War Theory: We Believe in the Holy Spirit

But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men…I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” (Acts 5:34-35, 38b, ESV)

Not every aspect of Gamaliel’s counsel is applicable in the concept of a just blog-war. I have provided his quote in order simply to highlight one aspect of his thought—his willingness to embrace a strategy that does not depend entirely upon his own actions or the actions of any other man or group of men. Gamaliel believed in God and had enough confidence in God to leave God’s work to God. To think that you must vanquish through your blogging efforts alone is an atheistic idea.

I see a similar rationale illustrated in David’s interaction with his harsh critic Shimei (2 Samuel 16:5-14) and commanded in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Romans 12:19). Warfare in the Bible, where it is exemplary, often takes place in such a way as to require human soldiers to defer in unconventional ways to the hand of Almighty God (see, for example, Gideon’s victory over Midian in Judges 7).

I think there’s a place in blog-war to leave room for the hand of God to work. This is particularly true in dialogue among believers, who share the Holy Spirit. Blogging becomes abusive and destructive, according to my observation, not when the first person strikes the first blow (unless your first blow is ridiculous), but when the Internet dogpile gains a full head of steam. Somewhere short of there, if we believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, perhaps we ought to leave a little time for the “target” to reflect, pray, and hear the voice of God. I think that most people find that more difficult to accomplish in the heat of battle.

Flight training involves introduction to a concept known as Pilot-Induced-Oscillation (PIO). PIO occurs when a pilot, trying to steer the aircraft in one direction, turns too far in that direction (because there is generally a small lag between a pilot’s input and the aircraft’s response). The pilot must then steer in the opposite direction, and the pilot who lacks the finesse to stop at the right heading when turning left often also lacks the finesse to stop at the right heading when turning right, so he may overshoot once again. The cause of PIO is what flight instructors call “overcontrolling.”

How do flight instructors correct overcontrolling? Here’s what mine did. He said, “For small corrections in instrument conditions, turn the yoke until you see the first indication on the instruments that the aircraft is turning. At that point, stop your input and let the aircraft do what it is going to do.”

Likewise, in blogging warfare I think there may be wisdom in the idea, after you have provided enough input that you think perhaps ought to prompt some sort of change, to take a deep breath and withdraw, patiently waiting to see what might happen. Sun-Tzu wouldn’t approve, but I think Gamaliel would. It only makes sense, after all, if you believe in the Holy Spirit.

Comments

  1. Dale B says

    Perhaps Gamaliel’s wisdom allowed him to recognize the truth in Christ’s words- truth that is frequently not evident in the blogosphere. And David’s dealing with Shimei appears to be more tactical than strategic (I Kings 2: 8,9.) Fortunately/unfortunately; Dave doesn’t have that option.

  2. cb scott says

    Actually Sun Tzu would approve. Genghis Khan would not. For it was Khan who stated, “It is not sufficient that I should succeed, but all others must fail.”

  3. Peaches says

    I am not sure that blog arguments after a point in which the major points have been exchanged have changed a mind, much less a heart, in the history of the world. Blog warfare seems more oriented to inspiring fear in bystanders and playing to the home team than actually engaging and persuading.
    Once emotions have escalated and set positions and predictable insults are rehearsed, nothing positive is going to happen. Now for some, blog warfare is entertainment. Like gambling, it might pass the time but is unlikely to edify anyone.
    Stepping away from the fray and allowing the Holy Spirit to do his job seems a wise approach rather than the fantasy that one more salvo will do the trick.

    • Dave Miller says

      “Stepping away from the fray and allowing the Holy Spirit to do his job seems a wise approach rather than the fantasy that one more salvo will do the trick.”

      Bingo.

      It’s one of the things I learned (though I sometimes fail). State your case, maybe restate it. Then walk away.

  4. says

    Good stuff. A couple of scattered observations to make:

    1) Moses never stood up for himself, but he always strongly defended God’s honor. Much vitriol is exuded in self-defense on blogs.

    2) Many points are repeated many times over in part because we think we can say it better than the sea of people who have already said it and assume that if we don’t say anything, people will think we don’t have anything to say about it. Of course, trolls often dogpile on purpose which leads defenders to dogpile intentionally as well in response. There is a principle of propaganda where most people will believe whoever states their position most often with the most passion. So there’s that. But we have the example of Christ who shut up his critics by immediately zeroing in on what is truly important rather than by being distracted with red herrings. But many people spilling unnecessary verbiage will cover the one or few actually getting to the heart of the matter.