Why This Blog Post Won't Change You
I’m inviting you into a paradox of sorts. I’m going to use a blog to try to convince you that blogs are mostly ineffective.
When we launched our new website, a priority was for the site to be a resource. Toward that end, I agreed to start “blogging” on a regular basis. I must admit that I have enjoyed writing for a blog more than I expected, and I have been amazed at just how far reaching this platform is. I still don’t read blogs (not because I’m a snob, but because I have no time), but I certainly have grown to appreciate this modern form of communication. I guess you could say I have been pleasantly surprised by blogging.
At the same time, I see more clearly the failures of this cyber-culture. I’m sure you are familiar with the many critiques—the loss of true community, everyone with a computer has become and expert, the dumbing down effect, and so forth. But there is an unforeseen failure that nobody seems to be noticing. Blogs do little for you. Or to put it more accurately, blogs do little to you.
How are you changed as a human being? That is a huge question. I’m assuming every person reading this wants to be different than you currently are. How does that happen? The crucial flaw of our modern world is that change takes place through the dissemination of information and apprehension of ideas. In other words, the best way to change you is to cognitively instruct you. This is a woefully reductionist view of the human person. We are not just minds. In fact we are not primarily minds; we are primarily lovers.
The Augustinian view of man, and I believe the Biblical view of man, is that we are desirous creatures compelled by our loves. To use the language of the Bible, fundamentally we are worshipers. It is what we desire that determines the people we are. Certainly our cognition influences our desires, but not as much as you might think.
Why is there such a disconnect between your opinions and behavior? Everyone reading this believes that you should eat healthy and exercise. Nobody thinks these things are bad for you. Well if this is your belief then why don’t you do it? Simply put, this is not your compelling desire. Even more simply put, it is not what you want to do. You desire T.V. and doughnuts. So you watch T.V. and eat doughnuts even though you have been convinced that it would be better for you to exercise and eat healthy.
Or to press in even further for us as Christians, do you really need another Sunday school lesson to convince you that looking at pornography is bad? Do you need me to write a blog post to convince you that gossip is not fitting the people of God? Perhaps it would help, but I’m assuming that you have already been convinced. So why are so many enthralled by porn and gossip? It is because people are not cognitive machines that just need to be re-programed with new data. People are complex image bearer of God constrained by desires.
So what’s my point in all this? The blog and social media world that we now inhabit is simply perpetuating the lie that we are changed by new information. The Internet is nothing more than one big information exchange. All a blog can do is disseminate ideas. All a tweet can do is share an idea. But if what I’m saying is true, then that is not what you need.
Now I recognize the utter irony of using a blog post to tell you that blog posts are not what you need. So yes, clearly you cannot escape the cognitive. But the point we desperately need to realize is that we are not exclusively cognitive beings. In fact we are not primarily cognitive beings. We are fully orbed human beings who think, feel, and act, and each of these three things have profound impact on what we worship and love.
This is why I love our third value at TCPC, “A commitment to God’s Word that engages the mind, nurtures the heart, and transforms lives.” Notice the prominence of the head, heart, hands motif in that commitment. As we discuss what discipleship will look like at TCPC (and yes those discussion are happening!), one of our priorities is that our discipleship take on the form of our Lord’s discipleship, which involved teaching but was not exclusive to teaching. It was a training that considered the whole of the person.
So what form does discipleship like this take? That is what the leadership of TCPC is discussing. But one thing is for sure, it won’t fit on a blog.