Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blogging and the Truth

Blogging is a curious enterprise. There is an element of narcissism in it but when one writes about people, places, things or events then they take on the role of journalist. When one writes for a newspaper or a magazine there is always an editor to whom one is accountable. Sure, editors can be biased, and they can surely fail to be fair, but at least there are some checks and balances.

Things are different in the realm on blogging for there is no editor or second set of eyes to review one's interpretation of the facts. One can say whatever they want, particularly if they choose to blog under a pseudonym. The only check on this is the realm of public opinion where dissenters can post comments and questions (if the comments section is open). In this sense the free market works -- if a blogger routinely stretches the truth or fabricates the truth readers will go elsewhere.

Sometimes in the heat of battle folks shade the truth in order to win an argument. They use hearsay to prove their point and they often lump people together, as if they all have identical beliefs on a certain matter. This is true of bloggers and it is true of those who post comments on blogs. Perhaps this is most sad when it happens among professed followers of Jesus Christ.

Having observed this on numerous occasions I feel compelled to post something about telling the truth at all times. I'm afraid that most people act as if the ninth commandment only addresses big whopper lies. The following words from the Westminster Larger Catechism are merely an excerpt but they address our duty to our neighbor, even if we strongly disagree with them:

Q) 143. Which is the ninth commandment?
A) The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Q) 144. What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
A) The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth...a charitable esteem of our neighbors; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for, and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them...

Q) 145. What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A) The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature;

In light of this teaching let me ask a question:

How many bloggers (and their followers) are concerned about the good name of their neighbor more than scoring points or winning the debate?

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