No, I’m not “selling out” to “the man.” (Actually, I suppose that since I have a good job and live in the suburbs with my family of four, I’ve probably already sold out to the man. But, that’s a question for another post.) But, I do have a good reason for thinking that it might be worth running ads on the blog. More on that in a second.
You’ve all seen what it looks like – the sidebar with several small ads. (I wouldn’t go with the three-column visual monstrosity you see on some sites.) And, the ads would all be related (hopefully) to Christian life and ministry. So, I’m not thinking about using some generic ad service that would push ads that have nothing to do with what the blog is all about.
Now, I realize that these ads don’t bring in very much money. So, you might be wondering, “If we’re not talking about very much money, and if the ads take up space on the blog, why bother?” Good question. (Of course it is or you wouldn’t be wondering about it.)
It wouldn’t take much advertising revenue every month to subsidize a small scholarship for the Th.M. program. We have a few Th.M. scholarships and I’ll be posting an announcement soon about a very generous scholarship for Th.M. students headed toward teaching. What I would love to have is even a small Th.M. scholarship dedicated toward students focusing in pastoral theology and preparing for local church ministry. (A big scholarship would be better, but I’m willing to take baby steps.)
So, here are my questions for today. Would it bother you if we included ads on the blog? Or, if any of you have some experience with this, Is running ads on a blog worth it? I don’t really know the logistics of blogvertising (I don’t know if that’s a word, but I like it). So, I’ll take any input I can get.
If you haven’t seen this yet, Jim West posted an article at The Bible and Interpretation arguing that a-theistic biblical studies are at an end (HT Jim West). Studying the Bible apart from an active faith commitment, which he argues is the dominant approach to biblical studies, leads nowhere. Indeed, with typical West-ian pointedness, he summarizes where this approach has taken us.
So where has this approach gotten us? It has gotten us a population utterly ignorant of the contents and meaning of the Bible. It has gotten us a generation of young people who can’t tell the difference between an Epistle and an Apostle. And it has gotten us learned societies which produce journals which propagate and promulgate a-theism to the exclusion of theism.
And, he contends that there are two very good reasons that Scripture cannot be studied a-theistically. First, the Bible is the church’s book. It was written by the church and for the church. Non-christians can observe the text, but they will never participate in it like believers do. Indeed, “Atheists are to biblical studies what television commentators are to a sporting event.” And correspondingly, Scripture itself claims to be “insider literature” – i.e. literature for the people of the Spirit (1 Cor 2).
So, wrapping it all up, West contends:
Authentic biblical studies will more and more be found among the people of faith who value the bible and who understand it because they are endowed by the Spirit with the gift of understanding. Farewell, a-theism. You were amusing, for a while, but now you’re time is over and your discipline so completely fragmented that, like Humpty Dumpty, you can never be put back together again.
This doesn’t mean that West rejects any role for non-Christian scholarship on the Bible. But it is a necessary limited and superficial role because they will always be “outsiders” with respect to the text – outside the community and outside the Spirit.
What do you think? I’m sure this is an issue that you’ve worked through in your own understanding of how hermeneutics works. Is there a difference between a really well-done commentary produced by a non-believer and one produced by a believer? If so, what exactly is the difference?
Earlier today I posted a link to a video of John Piper discussing whether pastors should get PhDs. That video has begun to make its way around the blogosphere and has prompted a really thoughtful response (both appreciative and critical) from Dane Ortlund. Nick Norelli has also weighed in with a brief comment in favor of Piper’s overall take on the subject. I’d encourage you to watch the video, and then I’d like to hear what you think. I’d also be interested to know if you think that his arguments extend to Th.M. programs as well.