It is now two years ago that this blog was launched. It is my hope that those who read it, or those who stumble on it, receive some edification from it. This blog exists for dialogue. Dialogue on spiritual matters, theology, trends in the Wesleyan world and the Church at large. It features a few regular continuing series's such as "Monday Morning Devotions" (short impressionistic studies on Biblical passages that will be later developed into sermons), occasional sermons, "Close Encounters of the Theological Kind", "Clouds of Witnesses" (celebrations of past saints and the present struggles of the Global Church), and what I call "Friday Night Frozen Dinner and an Intellectual." (This last title has cause some comment. It refers to how I try to spend my Friday evenings, reading Christian and secular works on important subjects current in the Church or in the news. No, I am not the intellectual referred to in the title: the author I am engaging is the intellectual. In many of these posts I share what I ate, which sometimes is of dubious nutritional value, where I read and what I listened to. This is about as personal as I get on this blog. Those who know my phone number are welcome to call and discuss what I am reading or bring up another subject on Friday evenings. If you haven't figured this out by now, anyone who spends his Friday evenings in this way must be single.) The Hand is not limited to Christian topics; a good many posts on secular matters, such as history, politics and literature, are covered. Some may counsel me to narrow my focus to gain a specific audience, yet if Christians fail to join the debate and discussion with the secular world, that would widen the perceived divide between the spiritual realm and the secular one. Anyway, it is my hope that readers find plenty of material to express their opinions on in the Comments Section. Those that disagree are welcome to register their disagreements. One series in particular caused some to do just that.
As I look back over the past year, The Hand would like to mention the most important works examined on this blog this year. "The New Faces Of Global Christianity: Believing the Bible In The Global South" by Philip Jenkins is a look at what the Church looks like in Asia, Africa and Central and South America. Jenkins points out that the center of gravity for the Church in the 21st Century will shift to these regions. Jenkins's portrait of the Church in these regions causes hope for the future while at the same time scaring the Northern Christian as to the what shape the Church will take in the future. There was simply too much material for one review. This next year I will examine each chapter in detail plus the end notes. I will examine the implications for how the Bible may be viewed by the future Church. How will this effect the Church's Scriptural Witness? Will the intrusion of secular mindsets and morals into the Church be halted? Will the Church as a whole emphasize healing and spiritual warfare? What will be the effect of some of the more questionable doctrinal positions held by many in the third world? The other book was "The Way To Pentecost" by Samuel Chadwick. With the exception of John Wesley's "A Short Account Of Christian Perfection", this work by Chadwick is simply the best work on why we need the experience of sanctification, how to become sanctified and what sanctification should look like in the believer. The book is free of theological jargon that has confused many Christians seeking a deeper spiritual life. I will return to this work as well next year.
Next year I hope to begin audio blogging. I'll begin experimenting this month with it. Audio blogging would allow me to post sermons and short devotions. Also, when I return to my hometown, where free wifi is scarce, it will make the posting of articles easier. I might possibly create a third blog exclusively for posting sermons.
Of the articles published this year, which ones are worth the most in mentioning? First would be the series chronicling my experiences in prison ministry. These were prompted by Tim Sheets at http://timsheets.blogspot.com/ . Tim stumbled on my other blog and read my profile. Reading that I had three years of prison ministry experience, he asked me what I meant by the term "prison ministry" and what my experiences were. In response, I published a three part account of my experiences. The main purpose was to show how the Holy Spirit works in our witnessing and the sufficiency of the Word in bringing people to Christ. However, the only person to respond was an individual who accused me of being heretical and twisted everything I said. I tried to get her to engage in constructive dialogue, but she refused. Most her comments did not even have to do with what was written. This experience led me to start using the "Comment Moderation" option offered by Blogger, which allows me to reject comments before they have a chance to be published in the Comments section. One can read these three short posts by clicking the link to March's articles in the archive section of this blog. I will probably republish them next year.
The most memorable experience in blogging this year concerned the October series Exposing ExpelledExposed. This series grew out of a positive review of Ben Stein's documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed that I posted in May after seeing the film in the theater. Within ninety minutes after posting the article, a blogger calling himself Ben Franklin disagreed in the Comments section. He recommended a site that he confidently asserted would disprove every claim made by Expelled. That site http://www.expelledexposed.com/ is put out an organization called The National Center For Science Education, which works to prevent alternatives to Darwinian Evolution being taught in American Public Education. I had a spirited debate with Ben Franklin concerning the veracity of the website. That debate led me to do a series on expelledexposed and its claims. The time and effort put into the series rivals the efforts undertaken on certain class projects in seminary. After five weeks of research and writing (nearly 50 handwritten pages) and typing, I thought the work was completed. However, never did I realize that before publication, each of the eight articles required hours of continual rewriting. This series prompted more comments than any other series. It is interesting that while those who disagreed with me would only discuss the issue of Evolution and Creationism in general terms, they avoided the real arguments in the articles as well as the evidence backing them up. Even though the subject matter was not the usual content that appears here, I had a great time with it. A link to all eight articles in the series can be located in the blog roll to the right side of the page on this blog.
I hope that next year you might find something in the content of this blog that helps you spiritually and stimulates thinking. Before I close I must thank my friend and fellow seminarian, Jason Kranzusch at http://www.axegrinder.blogspot.com/ for convincing me to start blogging.