I rarely read comments on other blogs (except for my family members' blogs - I love you guys!). They tend to act as a forum for unending exhibitions of vituperation and ignorance, though I suppose I have been known to contribute in my day. (Wheaton professor Alan Jacobs made some insightful observations on the nature of blogging in a 2006 Books & Culture article, calling it "the friend of information but the enemy of thought." Not one to toss the baby with the bath water, Jacobs blogs at more than 95 theses and contributes to The American Scene.)
However, I found myself completely absorbed by the comments on a recent post at Inhabitatio Dei, provocatively titled "The Worst Theologian Ever?" I fully expected the comments to descend into a firestorm of name-calling... which they did, but not necessarily in a bad way. The commentors provided a fascinating gallery of controversial theologians, who are also often the most interesting.
I think the aforementioned "firestorm" began in the best possible way with a commentor named Andrew replying simply, "me." (As another commentor pointed out, "Very Chesterton-esque.") Dan Belcher brought some much-needed gravitas to the discussion:
"Doesn’t this just play to our already bent prone toward scapegoating?... Isn’t this simply a clever ruse on our part to divert attention away from our own complicity with and to the destruction of “the church,” or perhaps of faithfulness to the community that professes obedience to the Word of God? It also seems to be a way for people to prop up or repristinate their already entrenched biases."
Wise words. All in all, a bracing discussion. I even read the comments all the way to the end. I, of course, know next to nothing about the esoteric end of theology (which contains the vast majority of theological thought), nor of the vast panoply of theologians throughout history. However, if pressed, I would cast my vote for Charles Finney. Then me.