A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 11.08.2005

    Constructive Criticism

    A Break from Buddhism

    I recently came across some very fair criticism of Anvil and Fire. An objective third-party perspective always helpful.

    A blogger named John recently did a “compare and contrast” of a couple of Christian blogs, including this one. He said,

    “The blogosphere, of course, does not belong solely to those who are skilled in edgy and tight blogspeak, but most of us seem to agree that adherence to this blogging aesthetic is more likely than not to increase the blogger's sphere of influence by making the blog more eye and ear-catching. Anvil & Fire has plenty of passion, of a kind, but this Tennessean of faith seems more fond of sermons than conversations.”

    I would probably have to plead “guilty as charged.” My training and experience has primarily been in sermon preparation and delivery, among other things. My calling and occupation is that of a pastor/teacher/preacher. So, I think in terms of studying the texts of Scripture, trying to delve into the context of a passage, getting a handle on the Greek underlying it--for the New Testament (I struggled a lot learning the Hebrew, so I am more comfortable in the New Testament...), and seeking to deliver the message in an interesting way. Pastoring includes so much more than this, but this process is definitely in the core.

    So I may have been blending the two avenues of communication: blogging and preaching. A natural error....IF blogging is supposed to fit a certain mold.

    I have never taken a class on blogging. It is probably a good idea to do so. I have read Hugh Hewitt’s book, but that is about it. At that time I didn’t really plan to blog. I was more intrigued by how the bloggers nailed Trent Lott and Dan Rather. Now those were power bloggers!

    I really have to blame Steve Weaver and Phil Rogers for pushing me into this. I never would have blogged if they hadn’t forced me.

    No. I guess that won’t do. I blog because I do want to try to communicate to a broader audience the things that I think, feel, and experience. It is kind of a gut thing. But I admit that sometimes I try to speak to a non-Christian audience, then zig back to those who have come from a similar background, and zag over towards “everyone”--just nailing my thoughts on the door for any passer by to read. Sometimes, I have simply adapted some sermon notes and flung ‘em up on the cyber wall.

    Now, I am grateful to John for pointing out a reason why the Anvil and Fire circle is so tight. Maybe Anvil and Fire should seek more of a “conversation.” Preaching and conversing don’t blend well. But two issues arise:

    1. I have a life to lead with people close at hand. If I constantly converse with the friendly folks who visit Anvil and Fire, I will not spend enough time with family, friends, and the church folks for whom I am responsible. I know of one guy who quit blogging because it took too much time.

    2. The computer I use for blogging is not at my home anyway. Talk about time consuming! I can’t drive back and forth to respond to comments. I already have too many outstanding projects around the house: Have to finish putting polyurethane on an old kitchen table today, Have to cut wood (its supposed to be cold this winter), Still haven’t bagged my deer this season, and Christmas is just around the corner. How many shopping days left?...

    I think there is a third reason why Anvil and Fire is a small blog. Others are good at it, and I’m not. But can’t resist trying. If you want to see a solid Christian blog, try Phil Johnson's at PyroManiac. He's a Calvinist. But He's a good Calvinist.

    John goes on to contrast Anvil and Fire with another blogger who “understands the nature of the beast and he does desire to speak to a wide audience of people who also ponder how to be a religious person not in the mold of the Christian right” [in contrast to Anvil and Fire, I infer.]

    Now we wax a little more philosophical. My goal in ministry and writing is not to move people into a nebulous subculture known as the “Christian right.” I really resist the idea of simply seeing people as groups, subcultures, or herds simply making truth claims that mask a will to power. I don’t deny group dynamics in living, but if that is all we see, then we miss the individual. (Let me “step in it” a little by saying this is major difference in how “liberals” and “conservatives” see the world. But you don't have to be politcally "conservative" to know Christ.) My core desire is to point individuals to Jesus Christ. They individually must decide what to do with this Person.

    My blog represents the variety of my thoughts. So I guess it will ramble some. At least I'm not attempting to make money at it! Whew! I'd be in the poor house.

    Anyway, I must say that John pegged me pretty well. I will try to be more conversational and audience focused, if I can swing it. But as the great philosophical cartoon character said: “I yam what I yam.” Yet there’s always room for improvement, and I have John to thank for some very constructive criticism.

    Thanks, John!


    At 11:58 AM, Blogger Rose~ said...

    Great post! The Bad Christian Blog (I looked at it very briefly) is a "trip"! I look forward to reading your future, more conversational posts, but I have enjoyed your blog sermons also. (for what it's worth)

    At 1:16 PM, Anonymous saford said...

    I don't read blogs to converse. Maybe I need to take a class in blog reading! I read to gain knowledge, refreshment to my soul. Maybe that is why I really don't leave many comments. Mostly I respond to others about what I have gained not to the blogger. So I like the less conversational style.

    At 7:11 PM, Blogger Joe said...

    Here's the thing. This is YOUR blog. It is supposed to reflect YOU, unless YOU don't want it to.

    I read your posts almost every day, even when they are not new.

    I like your style and I like your content.

    If others don't, they are but a mouse-click away from going elsewhere.

    I say: do what you want to do. Ignore criticism, unless you like not ignorng it. Then don't.

    Keep on loving the Lord and doing as He leads.

    I, for one, will keep reading.

    At 7:27 PM, Blogger John Rush said...


    You are a shot in the arm.


    At 7:52 PM, Blogger John said...

    It is easy to see why some read you faithfully. You sound like an open and interesting person. My brother-in-law is a pastor, and we have good conversations about many of these issues. But he doesn't know the first thing about blogging. You're out in front in ways you may not realize. I wish you luck with future blogging.

    At 7:59 PM, Blogger John Rush said...


    I appreciate your comment as well. (Not that encouraging comments are all that are allowed!)

    I thought the other John did have some valid criticism. I take it seriously, not because blogging is all that important, but perfecting one's ability to communicate is. And I am in the communications bidness.

    Take care!


    At 8:07 PM, Blogger Brett said...

    Blogs are public for a reason. If John didn't want any criticism, he should sit back and write his thoughts in a journal or perhaps say them in a more conventional manner. Part of the purpose of a blog is to invite debate and dialogue, even if it is negative. John Rush's real morality showed up when he decided to accept the criticism and respond to it. That's what makes a person grow.

    At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I was brought up being told , If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all!
    times have changed

    At 7:28 AM, Blogger J. Wendell said...

    Brother John-
    what Joe said! A men!

    At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I have enjoyed reading your blog. Maybe SP101 and the tall speech teacher/administration guy will start a class in Florida to teach blogging next year! Happy to see that you are sticking to The Course.


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