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Interview with Dr. David Dockery: Part Five

The final edition of my interview with Dr. Dockery addresses the phenomena of blogging, the state of worship, and a concluding word from both us.  


Brister: Over the past two years, hundreds of Southern Baptists have become bloggers, built networks, and fostered dialogue as well as controversy on the Internet.  Some people in the media argue that blogs are “written by fools and read by imbeciles” and that they are “the friend of information but the enemy of thought.”  At Greensboro, an editor of a state newspaper said that blogs are “Internet graffiti.”  On the other hand, Time magazine reported, “Without the bloggers Page wouldn’t have been elected. He was a relative unknown, and the bloggers really have created the whole conversation.”  In addition, the Alabama Baptist recently had an article which stated that blogging can be a great ministry tool.  What are your thoughts on the recent phenomenon of blogging?  Do you lean towards the graffiti/imbecile position, or do you believe blogs are making a significant contribution to Southern Baptist life?  What advice would you give Southern Baptist bloggers who read this interview? 

Dockery: I usually read blogs when others point me to something that they think is important. I don’t read any one particular blog on a regular basis. I recognize that blogs are here – and here to stay for awhile. I recognize that some have great influence and others are hardly ever read. There are some important ones in SBC life – such as Dr. Mohler’s and Dr. Chapman’s. I think that Nathan Finn, Joe Thorn, Steve Weaver, Justin Taylor, yours, and several others are always thoughtful, and are generally informative and helpful for advancing important conversations.
        It is hard to know the long-term impact they will have. Many people who blog are only “journaling” in public. Many of their thoughts would probably be best kept private.
        As I just mentioned, some of the clearest thinking to be found anywhere on key issues can be found on the better blogs. “The friend of information, but the enemy of thought” is probably accurate for some. But, I am grateful for several good blogs that I trust can be used to build up the Body of Christ.
        The changing technology can be a great ministry tool. I would encourage bloggers to be constructive and edifying. The negative sarcasm is not helpful for the building up of the Body of Christ. The obvious anger expressed on many blogs does not help anyone.
        I would add, however, that the “irony” employed by some is a powerful means of communication. Beyond that I am not sure what word of advice to offer. I would think that Paul’s words in Phil. 4:8 could serve as a healthy guide for bloggers and for the rest of us as well.


Brister: Bill Harrell, the new chairman of the Executive Committee of the SBC, recently stated that there were “two important issues to solve in our Convention,” namely worship styles and Calvinism.  In 1992 you wrote an excellent article called “Baptist Worship: A Call for Renewal.”  Fourteen years later, do you see that your call for renewal has been heeded?  Secondly, do you agree with Harrell that our Convention leaders “need to make a more definitive statement about how we identify ourselves in worship and who we are as Southern Baptists?”  

Dockery: The worship articles appeared in two or three different LifeWay publications and in the volume Baptist Why and Why Not (revisited). I remain convinced that renewal in our worship would go a long way toward bringing about renewal in the Southern Baptist Convention. We need to recognize that the worship of God is a primary (if not the primary) function of the church (John 4:23-24).
        We must help people learn that worship is active, not passive. We need to recognize that Christian worship is rooted in the Christ event in which God revealed Himself as our loving and compassionate Creator and Redeemer. We must be reminded that worship is primarily spiritual and symbolic. Worship is only possible in and by the Holy Spirit, who prompts our love and praise of God.
        One of the most important needs is the need to help people prepare for worship. Worship leaders must work hard and plan wisely to structure services that are biblically and theologically informed, as well as thematically coherent. This involves prayers, praise, singing, readings, confession, and offerings. But at the heart of faithful biblical worship must be the faithful exposition of Scripture. I think we sometimes forget that the Holy Spirit is present as much in the preparation of our worship, our singing, and our preaching as the presentation. Worshipers must gather not just to sit and listen, but to exalt God and affirm their faith.
        The people of God who have worshiped their God and who have been mutually strengthened are prepared to enter the world to touch lives, meet needs, counsel hurts, speak to injustices, and by life and witness proclaim the saving message of the Gospel. Reaching people and exalting God are hardly in conflict. We need to pray for renewal in our worship, renewal in our outreach and mission, and renewal in our Southern Baptist Convention. I am working on a book called Renewal to be published by Broadman & Holman in 2008. I trust it can be an instrument of grace in these matters in our convention.

A Concluding Word

Brister:   Dr. Dockery, it has been a privilege and a pleasure to be able to discuss these important matters with you.  Your contribution to the current discussion is significant and well received, and I thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and responses.  May God continue to richly bless you, your ministry, and Union University.

Dockery: Thank you, Timmy, so very much. May God’s blessings be yours.


[Special announcement coming soon!  Stay tuned for the details . . . ]

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One Comment on “Interview with Dr. David Dockery: Part Five”

  1. martyduren Says:

    You know you have the “underground” blog when it can’t be mentioned in public ;^)

    Viva la SBC Outpost!!

    Timmy, thanks again for this outstanding interview and thanks, Dr. Dockery, for your time and thoughts.