Comments on the Comments
First of all, let me say that it's nice to be back from vacation. While I did have some access to the internet while I was away with my wife and son, I chose to severely limit the time I spent online -- hence no major posting or commenting. I now have several hundred posts in Bloglines to sift through, but oh well!
It was really interesting to see the wide range of comments on my recent posts. Several picked up on my brief comment about no longer being a dispensational, pre-tribulationalist and voiced their agreement (or disagreement, if you're Gordon Cloud! hehe). Others refrained from commenting on the position itself (my post was not intended to be a defense of any eschatological position) and commented on the idea of "celebrity Christians." Great comments on both of those.
One commenter simply copied and pasted an entire post from their own blog as their comment. A simple link would have been sufficient, and would have given my readers the opportunity to visit the other blog if they so desired. But why post a link when you can just copy and paste the entire post?! ;) Not to mention that the lack of any kind of formatting, even in the original post on their site, leads me to believe they might have copied and pasted it from some other blog onto their own.
And there was the self-proclaimed Messiah whose proofs I admittedly did not read in their entirety. All I know is that he was born in the year of the lamb, under the zodiac sign of the lion, making him very unique, as I'm sure there were no other births during that time period... ;)
And there were a couple of anonymous comments which basically just bashed the pre-trib position in general and Tim LaHaye in specific. (A tangential question: Did anyone feel like my post about Tim LaHaye was slanderous or in any other way inappropriate?) And it is those comments which prompt me to ask my own readers for their input.
I have made it clear on a number of threads that I do not delete comments (unless, of course, they are outright spam). If a comment was incredibly offensive (containing profanity, for example), I might consider editing it slightly and reposting it, but that has never even come up. So, I have yet to delete a comment that was anything but a duplicate post or spam.
Obviously, increased readership brings increased comments, but I've noticed that some of these comments are coming from Google searches for the topics discussed. (In other words, it is not technically "increased readership". These are more along the lines of what some bloggers refer to as "drive-by commenting".) For example, I mentioned the pre-trib rapture in another post a while ago (I have no idea which one now), and got a similar anonymous comment about searching Google for certain phrases that are guaranteed to give interesting reading material about the pre-trib rapture position. And now, when I mention it again, the same type of comment shows up, again anonymous.
Should I just delete comments like that? Should I have some guidelines for commenters that give me a basis for deletion? Or is it enough to simply respond with a comment saying that those types of comments are not desired, yet still leave it for the record? Those of you who also have blogs, how do you handle this?
Let me explain my reasoning for not deleting comments, and open it up for discussion, correction, or other viewpoints. Any of you who have read my blog (or comments elsewhere) for any length of time know that part of my philosophy regarding the body of Christ is that people should not set themselves up as "filters" for information. In other words, if we believe that people are filled with the Spirit of God, then we should not feel like we need to "protect" them from information that might counter the Spirit. Rather, we should be helping them learn how to listen to the Spirit themselves so that they can discern.
I base this idea, in part, on the example of the Apostles themselves. For example, Paul wrote to the entire citywide church (i.e., Corinth) regarding heresies that were infiltrating their fellowship. He did not simply tell the leaders to make sure to cover up the heresies and keep it under wraps. He told the entire congregation to test prophecies, etc. Similarly, John wrote to the believers (1 John) telling them to test spirits, etc., and that they didn't need anyone to teach them the things to which he referred. Likewise, the Bereans are spoken of positively in Acts for searching the Scriptures themselves to test what the Apostles were teaching.
In other words, while the elders and leaders certainly should be trying to persuade people of correct doctrine, it is not their job to actually filter the information for the people. I can find no precedent in Scripture for this (please correct me if someone knows of a passage I am missing in my thoughts here). So, if I delete a comment, just because I disagree with it, or because I think it is something that does not need to be propogated (such as self-proclaimed Messiahs or attacks on people), I feel like I would be overstepping my bounds and trying to do the the Spirit's job for Him.
Now, many blogs have "rules of engagement", either written or unwritten, to which commenters must adhere or risk being deleted. On blogs such as those, the anonymous comments about pre-tribbers would not be tolerated. But are those rules actually a hindrance to legitimate dialogue at times? For example, some blogs do not allow anonymous comments. People who comment without certain information revealed (such as name, email address, etc.) are deleted (well, their comments are deleted, not the actual people themselves, to my knowledge!) regardless of the content of the comment. The comment may include very pertinent and truthful information, or may ask legitimate questions, but the "rules" of the blog supercede the content, and so those comments are deleted. That seems to me to be antithetical to other principles that should be at play.
All that to say, I would like some feedback from my readers (even anonymously, if you choose!) with regard to all of this. Are there legitimate reasons (other than those I already mentioned) for deleting comments, thereby filtering some of the discussion? Is it a necessary step for a growing blog? Or is it possible to live differently, even in this world of blogging, and allow more true discussion to take place, even if that discussion is counter to my own thoughts and desires?
Whatever your thoughts, I do so appreciate you regular readers and commenters, and value this particular type of conversation. And for those who comment anonymously (or any of us for that matter), I would appeal to something other than a set of rules that I might come up with on my own. I would appeal to the Spirit of God's own guidelines. May we all demonstrate fruit of His indwelling in our conversation here.
Until next time,