Theologizing in a Connected Culture

Jared Oliphint and Camden Bucey speak about a number of topics in today’s open discussion, but the discussion gravitated toward theologizing in today’s connected culture. With the proliferation of social media, particularly Twitter, theology seems to be growing and spreading in new ways. Jared and Camden speak about these changing dynamics—particularly the role of polemics.


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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program and learn how to subscribe.

15 Responses

    1. Thanks Jason.

      Some people get upset with our “intros” but they’re really an important part of the show—as it was originally conceived. Interestingly, Jeff, Jim, and I started Christ the Center to give people the opportunity to join in a Reformed discussion as one would on someone’s porch. When I lived in Illinois, I didn’t have the opportunity to speak about Reformed ideas, but when I attended seminary, I began having these conversations all the time. We thought it would be a worthwhile endeavor to let others join in as much as we could. We sort of allow people to feel like their not theological lone wolves.

      I think that’s part of the “charm” of the show and one of the salient features that makes CTC different from the other options. But oddly enough, I get emails time to time asking for us to cut down on the intros and to produce our shows in the format of a terrestrial radio show or a Sunday School curriculum. But to me, that would be to redefine the essence (in the philosophical sense!) of CTC. There’s a place for Reformed Forum to do those other types of things, and I know this particular episode was much more on the “casual” side of our spectrum, but we’re trying to strike a balance.

  1. Enjoyed the show, the latter half. 🙂

    Ever thought about doing these live and taking skype calls or twitter questions from listeners on a show like this one? (I know you’ve taken questions in a chat before on some live calls in the past, but for a show like this I think hearing from listeners on their opinions would be very interesting.)

    Keep up the good work y’all, soli Deo gloria!

  2. Camden,

    Looking forward to listening to this one. While I think that some of the theologizing on the web is a but immature and not well thought out at times, I think it’s actually very healthy for believers to has these things out virgorously and in a respectful manner. It causes all of us to think through our positions more carefully, I think. Regarding your podcast format, I, for one, love it. It’s different from ours at ReformedCast, but some diversity in this common activity is more than welcome by me.

  3. I must confess, I wonder is the medium of social media/internet etc, actually detrimental to what you might call theologising. Serious theological requires intense and prolonged concentration. I suspect that the developments in communications are probably not helpful to that sort of application.

    Interested in your thoughts.

  4. Thanks be to God for the social media. Otherwise there would be no grassroots critique of those in ivory towers, be they theological or political towers.

    As Carl Trueman openly said on your program once, there is no such thing as a reified Reformed Center. Reformed theology is as diverse as “Evangelicalism”. The divisions within the broader “Reformed” movement are in fact greater than any so-called ecumenicalism among the “Reformed”. The various factions are still at war with one another. Neo-Calvinists label those who oppose Bavinck and Kuyper’s doctrines of common grace and divine favor for the reprobate “hyper-Calvinists”. Those who oppose neo-legalism and theonomy are labeled “antinomians”. The short answer is the social media is the check against false authoritarianism in the theological realm.

    As one infamous Reformer once said, “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!” William Tyndale

    Charlie J. Ray

  5. Bob McDowell

    Please accept this criticism in the spirit that it is offered.

    I wouldn’t have spent the time listening to this episode if I had known that it would take the format of a front-porch type discussion. It would be helpful to me as a supporting listener if you could have some sort of a tag which could classify such episodes. Better yet, spin these off into a separate stream (such as Reformed Media Review).

    I particularly appreciate your interviews of authors, who discuss their writings.

    If you’re going to spend the listener’s time talking about upcoming conferences, please do us the favor of having details at hand.

  6. 1. Bob, I do not think that is a fair criticism. They said so in the introduction that this was going to be one of those type of episodes. And other people do like them. They are important issues that face believers and need to be discussed.
    2. Guys, I cannot believe you mentioned polemics without talking about the best article on the subject. The Late great Roger Nicole’s article ”Polemic theology: How to deal with those who differ from us” is a classic and must read article. It is available in his ”collected writings volume” plus free online at founders.org
    3. I think these kinda episodes would be better if you had a chat room going so people can interact and discuss with you.

    1. Joseph,

      Thanks for the feedback. I received a bit in person and it seemed that the conversation was helpful on several of its points. I agree with your idea of a chatroom. We’d like to do that more often as well as run a few hangouts on Google+. It’s been hard just to schedule recordings lately let alone live interactive recordings. Hopefully we’ll get back into a regular mode in the next few weeks.

      I haven’t read the Nicole piece. Thanks for sharing that—I’ll get to it at some point.

    2. Bob McDowell

      All I’m really asking for is to better classify the nature of an episode so that busy people can decide if they want to invest the time to listen to particular episodes.

      J’habite sur la frontiere VT-QC; est-ce que vous etes proche du Lac Memphremagog??

  7. Carl

    I think I commented on another post on casual (public) conversing about such topics so I second some of the concerns expressed above. I think I also mentioned where this need (or desire) may be arising from.

    I would like to be clear, though: I think you are doing a good thing on this outfit.

    However, seeing that you set your purpose up as one of service to the church you should strive to fulfill it in a manner reflecting the soberness and gravity of its mission.

    Truth (used for reformed doctrine here) does not need to compete for popularity and should not be subjected to (some of the) methods you seem to be keen on employing.

    Casual public conversing, reporting halftime-like from conferences, and generating buzz & following in diverse manners and venues – these things I feel would be much better left undone.

    Generally speaking, I think you would do well if you sought to avoid referring to (or even thinking of) the content you are producing as “shows”.

    Truly, you would not be lacking material if you focused simply on declaring (and distributing) established reformed truths. The church is in sore need of such resources while you, I feel strongly, would be more faithfully fulfilling your own expressed purpose.


    1. Carl,

      I appreciate your comments. But I must respectfully disagree. I still feel strongly that many of the things we do that you would rather have us not do are actually what differentiate us from other resources. Many of our listeners listen precisely because of the style of our conversations. They learn better that way. Moreover, they want the “half-time reporting” because it helps them stay abreast of what’s going on.

      This isn’t speculation. Oddly enough, we receive an order of magnitude more private correspondence and face-to-face feedback than we do blog comments. Consequently, we feel that what we do is fulfilling our own expressed purpose rather well.

      We want to provide more traditional teaching resources. Indeed, we have projects in the works for such a thing. Yet, Christ the Center doesn’t have to bear this weight fully. It’s a matter of choice. We can’t please everyone with every item we publish. That’s why we attempt to mix it up when we can.



      1. Carl

        I hear you, Camden, and can well relate to what you are saying. I’ll leave you with a few thoughts, though, requiring no reply.

        Cordial though we both are (and well should be), it is hard to read our notes without getting a distinct sense of the (opposing) ‘forces of the undercurrent’ we bring to the forefront. In many ways they seem to echo those confronting today’s church leaders. You speak of differentiating yourselves in some way and/or doing a mixed bag approaches… I am suggesting and encouraging you to keep it narrow and focused… I can almost hear the echo of this ‘dilemma’ across the many session/elder meetings of today’s reformed churches, can’t you?

        You know well enough, I am sure, that a faithful church will not and should not look to their ‘audience’ for their methodology. Nor gauge their success by the amount of (private or public) feedback, be it positive or negative.

        You may quickly object that RF is not a church. This I grant you in my sleep. Your role or your mission as you all have laid it out, I understand, is to serve the church. But therein lies the crux of the matter, doesn’t it? How accurately should a servant reflect the mission and character of the one he serves? And truly, should a faithful servant view the manner in which he serves his own choice?

        I think that one of the distinguishing marks of a faithful servant is that he views the mission – methods part and parcel – of the one he serves his delight, not a weight to bear.

        But then again, I understand the word (serve) is used very loosely these days and so I fear what I wrote already may be much too much for some to bear (no pun).

        Keep on doing the good work, but do take to prayer, if not the words, the spirit of my exhortation.

        All the best.

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