What branches grow out of this stony rubbish?

Posted on April 10, 2009

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A chance conversation this morning worried me.

It seems that someone had read something on this blog and, knowing something of the contexts I live and work in here in St Andrews, had assumed it was intended as a veiled criticism of a particular person.

It wasn’t.

In all honesty, it surprised me to discover that folk in the ‘town’ rather than ‘gown’ side of St Andrews might find anything of interest here. This blog is intentionally an academic exploration of ideas – if that’s not obvious enough, check out the regular quotations in Greek and Latin…

The ideas that I explore here are suggested by all sorts of contexts and triggers. Almost always, it is the coincidence of three or four conversations or things I’ve read or listened to that coalesce to form the belief that a blog post might be worthwhile. The subjects I deal with – the nature of Evangelicalism; theological concepts; church life – are such, however, than inevitably several of the ideas I explore or criticise will be ideas held, and perhaps taught, by people I know: colleagues in St Mary’s, or pastors in the town, or leaders in student Christian organisations.

In some cases I am aware of this; in others, no doubt, I am not. Because I had assumed that the readership was mostly further afield and more ‘academic’, I had not been particularly careful about the phrasing of comments even when I have known. I now see that this was a mistake, which has led to misunderstanding in at least one case, and I am sorry for it. I will try to be more conscious of potential overlaps between what I say here and the people I worship with and live and work amongst in real life.

All that said, my task as an academic is to discuss ideas. I have found this blog a useful place to do that. Inevitably, the ideas discussed will on occasion be topical, controversial even, in one context or another here in St Andrews. Not all of my colleagues, or all of the local pastors, are right about everything (some of them aren’t even Baptists!)

But if there is no-one named in a blog comment, it is not aimed at anyone in particular. That simple. I’m not in the business of trying to undermine unnamed people behind their backs (and, to be honest, if I was, I’d find a more effective way of doing it than a blog that only occasionally gets 100 hits in a day…).

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