I ask myself, now and then, “Why do you still blog?” The work behind this writing is time consuming and sometimes I would just as soon quit. I can tell that after some years of doing this"the dew is off the rose." The real answer lies in my experience of this growing medium of communication. Let me explain.
I am positively not a controversialist. I much prefer to study and teach people who want to learn and grow, not engage in debates with fellow Christians. I listen to others teach and seek to better grasp the truth as it is found in Jesus Christ through what I hear and learn. Since truth is not an abstract system to be discovered but a person to be known and loved I learn freely and simply. The person who is the truth is Jesus, the eternal Word. Because his truth is discovered in Christians, and through deep Christian teaching and reflection upon the Holy Scripture, I listen attentively to the whole catholic church. By this approach I learn all that I can from everyone who reverently “hears him.” I believe the best learning actually occurs in a context of love and listening. Without this context we are not learning. We may be rearranging our personal prejudices but we are most definitely not learning.
Blogs are often used to stir controversy and create debates. They are also used to gain support for causes and movements. Some of my posts might seem to foster this end. Several friends, to use but one example, asked me if this was my goal in writing about Mary last week. I answered, “No, not at all.” I wrote those three blogs because I wanted to create a place for conversation and listening. I wanted, to be specific, to encourage my evangelical readers to listen to the catholic tradition. Evangelicals are so focused on the Bible that they seem unable to admit that they are actually interpreting the Bible every time they read it and argue about what it actually says. When I invoke the tradition of the early church, and the teaching of the fathers, these evangelicals see this as in direct conflict with the Scripture. But such is not the case. I am seeking to “listen” to great Christians who read and understood the Bible long before I got here. In fact, I am doing this in much the same way my opponents listen to their favorite (modern) Bible teacher. The difference here is that the people I am listening to often formed a meaningful consensus that remains extremely important to faith and godliness. Face it, these early church interpreters lived a lot closer to the apostles and the culture of the New Testament than we do. They should at least be given a seat at the modern table in terms of their beliefs and practices. This ancient-future faith perspective is gaining momentum every day. I welcome it. I want to encourage evangelicals to realize just how much they depend on modernity and the Enlightenment to form their conservative opinions about the Bible. In so doing I want them to move away from the Enlightenment enterprise. By understanding this problem they can better hear the canonical witness of Jesus Christ, who is the only truth.
On the other side of the debate about Mary I also wanted my Catholic friends to see just how much an evangelical and Reformed Christian can embrace the traditions of the early church. I wanted them to see how a Reformed Christian teacher can sit at the feet of these important teachers and profit immeasurably from them. I really take Patristic study very seriously. I really do think consensual orthodoxy matters. I agree with a statement that A. Basil Mitchell once made about John Calvin. Mitchell said Calvin was “mastered by the vision of a world-wide church