Monday, December 14, 2009

On blogging and J.I. Packer

I'm amazed at the amount of time people spend on the internet. I'm not against technology, but all tools should be used to their best advantage. We should be spending our time on things that have staying power, instead of on the latest thought of the latest blogger-and then moving on quickly to the next blogger. That makes us more superficial, not more thoughtful. — J.I. Packer

@Phil_Johnson Dissidens answers JI Packer: "Blogging is not the problem. The problem is much, much larger than that."

Over at the Remonstrans blog, Dissidens have shown why J.I. Packer is wrong when it comes to blogging.

J.I. and his ilk have not given to my generation a very compelling example of a serious world of letters. Had they done that, bloggers would not have an audience.

You won't sell many rhinestones to people who already have diamonds.

Sorry, Dr. Packer, but it must be asked: have you been in a Christian bookstore in the last 20 years? Have you read the books your own publishers have marketed? Have you taken a fair sampling of the magazine that now quotes you?

Blogging is not the problem. The problem is much, much larger than that.

Let us be serious for just a moment, shall we? If you leave us a world full of Dan Rathers, don't be amazed to find bloggers; amazement is unbecoming.

There is not a place for us to look in this wide world where we don't see falsehood, hypocrisy, idolatry, and pretense. There is hardly a show, a commercial, an advertisement, a church ad, a magazine article, a religious publication, or weather report that isn't superficial about race, gender [sic], religion, beauty, happiness, piety or truth. In fact, yours is the generation above all others that has "branded" the truth. Why should you dare to be amazed that there is a reaction to this state of confusion?

My own advice is to see blogging for what it is: a necessary, an inevitable, and even a reasonable reaction to the shambles that was left us. Could blogging be done better? Of course it could; and I wish it were. We follow some blogs that are travesties of reason and crimes against language. But let's recognize blogging for what it is; when blogging is done right, it is a conversation where there was none. And I'll put some blog conversations I have seen up with anything found in the Letters Section of most magazines, certainly the religious magazines that have made your name well known.

Imagine a blogosphere populated with men like Swift, Pope, Milton, Herbert, Eliot, Chesterton, Muggeridge, Charles Williams, Barfield.... The fault is not with the blogging, the fault is the deformed and flabby Evangelicalism you left us. The real problem is a superficial Christianity.

Blogging is very much the unflattering consequence of your negligence toward "things that have staying power".

Imagine if Packer was to really invest in the Gospel instead of compromising with Rome and her false gospel...


Daniel said...

Blogs haven't addresed the problem described either.

If not Packer's way and not the bloggers' way, then what?

Daniel said...

I think Packer wrote some very very good books.

ricki said...

hey Daniel - just wanted to comment to let you know I'm still out here ... :)

I hope you are well.

Regarding this post, the argument seems to be against Packer as opposed to his statement. If this were sent to you without reference to Packer, would you agree or disagree? I believe I would have agreed.

Daniel C said...

Hi Rick,

glad to see you are still around and doing fine.

As for the statement, I think it may be valid for certain people and certain blogs, but to put it as a blanket statement that "ALL blogging is superficial" is just wrong. I have learnt a lot from various people like Dr. James White and Phil Johnson and R Scott Clark etc. through their blogs which are definitely NOT superficial.

Daniel C said...

@Daniel Yap:

Packer's books are not the best books there are btw. I would never have learnt anything about apologetics for example from him, while I could from Dr. James White. He has no Systematic Theology or serious grasping of theological matters either, and his defence of the faith is well.... seriously lacking.

Daniel said...


Agree that Packer is not complete, but his theology is not in theological words. It is more practical and real-life, which academics would not appreciate.

No man is complete. That is why there is a body. Not the theology scholars pore over, but Packer knows God. I think it would be ungracious to dismiss the man just because you couldn't learn from him.

"Knowing God" is an excellent book.

Daniel C said...

@Daniel Yap:

I didn't "dismiss the man". Packer's Knowing God is excellent, and I have said so myself in my review of it. The issue here is not whether some books by Packer are excellent, but his books are by and large stuck (in a rut) there. All of his best works are done around the 60s/early 70s, as if after that he has nothing better to contribute (besides endorsing books). Perhaps if he would obey the Scriptures instead of persisting in his faulty Anglicanized Ecclesiology, which cause him to compromise the faith, then he would be fitter for God to use.