One Annoying Tactic of Some Christian Authors

Every author of theological stuff thinks they are right. If they didn’t think they were right, they wouldn’t be writing a book. I assume that anyway.

In an effort to sound right, authors often use tactics to fool the reader into trusting them. One tactic is to compliment people who agree with the author. It’s the opposite of making a personal attack on those who disagree. It often sounds like this:

*The diligent student of God’s Word will see this point.

*The thinking Christian will agree.

*All who are interested in truth must see this point.

*The Spirit-led believer will readily admit this.

*Every sincere reader understands my idea.

Having read a number of Christian authors who do this, I realized that I frequently disagree with whatever it is these statements are made to support.

Now, I suppose it is entirely possible that I am not a thinking, diligent student who cares about truth, following the Spirit, or being sincere. It’s possible.

Or it could be the author knows his point is weak and feels a need to bolster the point with pseudo-authoritative statements. Peer pressure forces the doubtful reader to think, “Hmm, if all sincere believers go with this, I guess I should too.”

Don’t be too quick to agree. The only reason the author is saying such things is because he knows there are people who disagree with his point! That’s why he has to qualify the group that agrees with him. His assumption, obviously, is that those who agree with him are spiritually superior.

These statements are usually made on divisive issues that have sparring groups taking sides. The author is claiming Us vs. Them. Us vs. Them theologians have been backed into theological corners and typically are extreme in their theology. These phrases are, in essence, fightin’ words.

If you ever come across such statements in your theological reading, think twice about whatever point is under discussion. You also might want to duck, odds are you have wandered into partisan theology and may get hit in the cross-fire.

Intelligent readers of my writing will agree with this assessment.


A Few Thoughts About the Discouragement of Internet Talk

More and more Christian bloggers are quitting. One of my favorites recently quit, but thankfully decided to return.

I myself quit my original blog. But I also immediately began this one, because I just plain love writing.

I regret some of my tone and topics of the old blog, so this was an effort to cut off that tone and approach, and hopefully have a new start.

However, theology gets people cranked up. No matter what tone or topic is chosen, people get mad and disagree and argue and fight. It gets old.

My favorite blogger who recently quit and then unquit, blamed his quitting on responses he was getting. Here is what he said:

“I enjoyed blogging, but the negative feedback–including from some people I care about very much–had become discouraging. I honestly felt I was failing to communicate my thoughts and feelings well. And then there were the personal attacks, even occasional threats, when I posted my musings about controversial subjects.”

I agree. Reading many blogs over the years and seeing the authors quit, all due to this exact same thing, is discouraging. So much negativity has silenced so many good people from sharing good thoughts. That’s annoying.

The internet is a great medium, and one of the worst. I like reading what people have to say. I disagree with lots of it, and if there are authors that I find myself always being annoyed with, I, get this, I stop reading them. They probably aren’t writing for me anyway. I read who I can learn from.

I have been told that I need “equal time” or else I will “live in a bubble.” I really don’t. I have a life outside of the internet involving real people.

I like a nice place to share my thoughts and don’t find it helpful to be harassed continually about sharing them. In the end, this is my blog. You are free to start your own.

I have never felt it was my duty to correct every author of everything I read on the internet. I assume the people I disagree with are learning, just like me. Even if I know someone is wrong, I generally refrain from saying anything, and if I do, I make it short and as non-combative as possible, and usually quote a verse or two. I am a guest on their page, so I try to act like one.

Some people love everything I say. Some people hate everything I say. Neither is largely helpful, although loving everything I say is much nicer! Eventually I ignore the message of both crowds. I can’t possibly be right that often, but nor can I possibly be wrong that often!

I have blocked many people over the years. I get it, you don’t like anything I say. Got it. Some continue to email me and hunt me down anyway. Some try to sneak back in with fake identities. I find this all very ridiculous.

People apparently need more hobbies.

It’s easy to feel discouraged. It’s very hard to feel encouraged. I share my thoughts here because it helps me think. I hope my thoughts can help others think.

In the end, we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account for every deed done in the body. I imagine this should influence our internet discourse more than it does currently.

I shall continue writing. I don’t need your applause, nor your booing. I could use encouragement and sincere teaching, and I will try to do the same for you. We’re all in this together. Let’s act like it and say together with the Apostle Paul:

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

CS Lewis on Writing

Last week I was down in Illinois and visited the Wade Center at Wheaton College. Besides dodging all the heresy flying around there, I got to see some things that belonged to CS Lewis (his desk and wardrobe), JRR Tolkien (his desk), Dorothy Sayers, and George McDonald. It was interesting and very scholarly and smart-looking.

C S Lewis' desk where he wrote everything with a pen
C S Lewis’ desk where he wrote everything with a pen

It was cool to think of these guys sitting at their desks writing their impressive works. Inspiring for writing. I came across a couple of sites when I got home about Lewis.

Here is a list of 15 things Lewis said about being a good writer. A few bits of his wisdom:

“Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.”

“Be sure you know the meaning (or meanings) of every word you use.”

“Read all the good books you can, and avoid nearly all magazines.”

I also found out that Lewis never knew how to type. Apparently he only had one joint in each thumb, which prevented him from using a keyboard properly. But he also thought typing was too distracting and noisy. He wrote everything with a pen, the vast majority with a fountain pen that had to be dipped in an inkwell every five words or so. Here is more on his non-typing style.

James McPherson on Writing

James McPherson, one of my favorite Civil War historians, was recently interviewed about his writing process. I would love to be able to write like this man.


Looking back at his older writing, he admits he had many faults.

I had yet to learn not to use two or more words when one would do, to use the active voice and action verbs whenever possible, and to keep adjectives and adverbs to a minimum.

Getting better at writing happens by writing and:

In the final analysis, I think that one learns how to write by reading good writing and consciously or subconsciously absorbing the models while retaining one’s own voice. Writers like Allen Nevins, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Richard Hofstadter, David Herbert Donald, George Mowry, and Arthur Link.

Good stuff. Good guy. I wanna write gooder.