The question of how to respond to blogs is going to be so vital, I believe, that it will give birth to an entire new branch of corporate consulting. These blog consultants, increasingly, will be battling with the entrenched public relations departments for control over the corporate message.
Southern Baptist bloggers do not have a public relations department, nor do we have paid consultants to help us respond to blog attacks, but after over two and a half years, 700 posts, thousands of comments, and a proliferation of Southern Baptist blogs which use me as their subject matter, I've learned a little about what it feels like to come under 'attack' by blog writers. I am fully aware that some feel they also come under 'attack' by me. I seek to write about issues and not people (the Baptist Identity movement, Southern Baptist Fundamentalism, etc . . . ), but I realize it is sometimes hard to separate issues from people, and my writings can give the impression I am attacking people. In my heart, I'm not, but I understand how others can feel that way about what I write. Nevertheless, I do have a little experience in receiving what seems to be , or at least feels like, personal attacks. For example, a blogger friend of mine sent to me the following comments which were written about me yesterday by five different people.
"I felt as if I was going to be sick (reading what Wade Burleson writes)! Garbage is spewing and the guilty one is once again denying any and all truth concerning the post that produces the garbage . . Wade Burleson is indeed sickening and wrong - garbage!"
I wish Wade would fade into the background . . . it seems like every issue we deal with comes down to Wade, Wade, Wade. I am really sick of that."
"Wade is an SBC Moderate. He appears to come across as a bitter man who at times feigns an irenic and pious spirit, yet repeatedly, betrays himself by his bombastic posts and comments that has pummeled the character of so many. His current demeanor will only make himself irrelevant to the SBC."
(Referring to my blog post) "It is wrong…it is sinful…it is godless."
"Mr. Burleson no longer kicks sand; instead he poisons soup. His current post posing as an "unmasking" of those he dubs the "Baptist Identity movement" is a complete fabrication within his own mind."
"A wise person has said that it is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. The owner of Grace and Truth to You has opened his mouth . . ."
The statements above do not offend me. A couple of years ago they would have. I'm not always successful in thinking through an appropriate response to what I perceive to be personal attacks, but the following, in outline form, is my response plan.
An Answer Worth Remembering
When Shemei began cursing King David, lying about him, and throwing rocks (literally) as the King and his men walked through a valley on the way home, Abishai, David's loyal servant asked the king, 'Will you allow me to go cut off that dead dog's head?' David's answer is very revealing. "Leave him alone. God hath bidden him to speak."
A few times in years past I have sought to stop people from writing untrue things about me. I have made a handful of phone calls to seek to correct the errors that I perceived in what some bloggers have written. Over time I've learned that the attitude of King David is far better - and when I read things like the above, it is worth remembering the words of the ancient king of Israel. Sometimes it is best to relax and let a fire burn out rather than to fight to put it out.
An Attitude Worth Imitating
The Bible says "love covers a multititude of sins." It would seem that when a Southern Baptist blogger really loves others, he lets them 'offend' on many occasions without making an issue of it. I have read recently that some postulate the problems in our convention are people who either complain or are critical of the work of the SBC. I propose that the problems are not the critical words that are written, but the lack of humility in refusing to receive the words as being from God - even those words we don't like - and loving the person who wrote them.
An Action Worth Initiating
Jesus said, "Bless them that persecute you." You examine this word 'bless' in the Sermon on the Mount and you will see it is in the imperative. It is not an option; it is a command. It is also in the continuous, present tense. It is not a one time act, but a repeated series of 'blessings.' It would seem to me that the person who is really obedient to His master is the one who blesses the person who persecutes him.
I was once told that a leader of one of our SBC agencies has a practice of sending a new tie, with a kind note of encouragement, to the person he believes is persecuting him. One has to commend such a spirit. You or I may not send a tie, but we sure can pray for those who persecute us, or we can write an encouraging note, or we can say something positive and public about that person.
Those of us who have entered the blog world need to think through how we respond to personal blog attacks. Attacks will occur. If you blog for any amount of time, you will experience it firsthand. I suggest that the battle is won, not when the attacks stop, but when God's people respond in a Christ-like manner. I don't always respond in a Christ-like manner, but it sure is my goal.
In His Grace,