Hmm, he seems to write a lot!
The very short answer to the question in my title would be this: I like writing. We could just leave it at that, but perhaps a bit more can be said. Still, some folks might be thinking: ‘Hmm, so Bill is writing a longish article about, well, writing longish articles! There he goes again!’
But there might be some good reasons for this. It is possible I might even have a biblical basis for doing it. Let me appeal to 2 Corinthians. I did not always appreciate this letter of Paul all that much, but as I more fully got my head around it, it is now one of my favourite New Testament books.
In it Paul spends a lot of time seeking to defend himself and answer his critics. His God-ordained ministry is so important that he feels the need to counter his critics and try to set the record straight. I of course am not anywhere in his league, but sometimes I too feel the need to try to explain things a bit. So here I go.
Again, the question is, Why do I write so many articles? Haven’t I written enough by now? In fact, this is my 5668th published piece so far on this site – and there seems to be no end in sight! They just keep on coming. In part, I write because it is what I am gifted in doing and it involves what God has called me to do.
As to so many articles (there are over 1200 pieces in my theology section alone), the truth is what I write about usually concerns some of the more important, fundamental and hardcore topics there are. Why do I write so many of these longish articles? In part because so much of what I discuss can be quite complex, detailed, nuanced and deep.
I can barely introduce some of these topics in a 2000-word piece, be it on politics or economics or philosophy or theology, etc. When various contentious matters have been debated for many centuries, and have filled entire libraries, I can often only scratch the surface on so many of these topics.
So if folks want to know my thoughts on different topics, and why I believe what I do, I keep cranking out these pieces on a daily basis. With these articles averaging maybe 1500 words each, that comes to some 8.5 million words so far, and much more can be said about such things.
Most of these issues and topics do indeed require a lot of writing – they just cannot be done justice in short, brief snippets. Simply consider the issue of theology. If one wants to discuss, or debate, some big theological topic such as the atonement, that requires a lot of time and effort to do properly. Indeed, my articles are the result of much careful and prayerful reflection and thought.
In fact, they grow out of a half century of reading, study and research on so many issues. To share this with others requires a lot of writing, based on all that reading and study. And most things I write about are not simple or minor topics. Most have been explored and debated in great detail by millions of people over many centuries.
Just take one major theological area: the matter of the atonement, salvation, and the like. There are so many views and understandings on these subjects. And kazillions of words have been penned on them. Simply keeping up on the literature on this is a full-time job.
To illustrate this, I just strolled over to the part of my library containing works on this topic. There would be several hundred volumes there at least. I just grabbed one very large and heavy volume on justification that is over 900 pages long. Another equally massive recent volume on the extent of the atonement is over 800 pages.
Such large tomes are most certainly NOT the last word on the subject! Remember, we were warned thousands of years ago about this: “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). I have plenty of books, and I often can be rather weary as I go through and digest them.
Of course all this is not to imply that we cannot briefly say things that are true, significant and meaningful. There certainly is a place for shorter, even bullet-point summaries of various topics – theological and otherwise. But as mentioned, I still consider most of my 1500-2000 word articles to just be introductions to what I wish to discuss and explain.
I know full well that what I have to say will not be the last word on such subjects, and I often point the reader to other places for more study. So I might point to other articles I have written. Or I will often have bibliographies or ‘For further reading’ sections included in my articles.
However there is a place for brief, distilled explanations of things. It is said that Karl Barth was once asked by a student to summarise his theology. He is reported to have said this in reply: “In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so’.” Recall that Barth had penned the 14-volume, 6 million-word Church Dogmatics.
Whether this event actually occurred is still open to debate, but you get the point. On the one hand, biblical truth can be short and sweet, something a child can understand. But on the other hand, the greatest minds in the world will never fully fathom it.
So God could have gifted us with divine Scripture which were very brief and to the point, but instead he thought that 66 books penned by 40 authors totalling over 800,000 words was needed to give the full story. If that is the case, then we should be aware that discussing and understanding such things will normally require much time and effort.
Writing, but not fighting
While I happen to write a lot – often on quite controversial topics – that does not necessarily mean I like to fight a lot. Some folks get their jollies out of knock down drag out fights – but not me. It might seem odd for me to say this, but even though I am so often dealing in controversy and in the big debates of the day, I really don’t like controversy!
My preference is to avoid all sorts of conflict and controversy, but because of the sort of ministry I am involved in and called to, that will not be the case sadly. But I can still try to minimise unnecessary debates and fights. There is a time and place to engage in battle, but there is also a time and place to refrain from doing so. Wisdom is needed here.
I sure am not going to get into big dragged-out discussions and arguments using the social media which is not very conducive to such debates. That is why, for example, when I used to be on Facebook before they kicked me off, in most of my posts there I would have links to my articles where things are explained and elaborated upon in much more detail. You cannot properly discuss and debate these matters in tiny little FB comment boxes.
And I am also not really too thrilled when folks come along to this site wanting to engage in some big theological fights. Often folks will want to get into the theological boxing ring with me to push their pet peeve in theology. Such battles are not always to my liking, especially when folks seem to be on a mission to let me know how wrong I usually am!
Some folks think they must always come here to ‘correct’ me and set things straight. I am not a fan of dealing with such people. If they have a theological bee in their bonnet and are so obsessed with it, my advice to them is this: ‘Fine. Set up your own website and you can run with that to your heart’s delight.’
They really do not need to keep coming to my site and starting WWIII all over again – especially when we have had these debates before. I prefer to refer them to some of my other articles where I have already explained my position much more thoroughly. And I certainly do not like it when they come along, hijacking my posts and derailing my discussions. As I say, set up your own website!
In sum, my gifting is teaching, and that involves reading a lot, studying a lot, and writing a lot. That is a big part of my calling. So if the Lord should tarry, and if I live long enough, there may well be thousands of articles more to come. Whether I write some more books as well remains to be seen.
Hopefully this helps you to understand a bit about where I am coming from. I do like writing and I do like explaining things and teaching various truths. However, fighting and warring over these things I am rather less thrilled about. But I guess if you want to engage in the former, you have to expect, and put up with, the latter. It seems to go with the territory.