Time for Change: Retiring this Blog to Focus on a Crucial New Initiative

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How does one say this, after all these years, all these friendships, all these interactions?

It’s been quite a ride, for one thing. And it’s coming full circle.

When I started this blog on another platform almost 15 years ago, I thought it was going to be about Christian strategy. It quickly morphed into an apologetics and ethics blog, however. Now I’m returning to that original strategic intention now. I’m doing as part of a group, on a different platform, for a new purpose fitted to a new day in our world. It’s still got plenty to do with ethics and apologetics, but it’s focused now on strategies to bring more thinking Christianity into the Church.

I’ll write several posts here to explain and introduce that over the next few weeks. And then I’m going to retire this blog.

The published posts and comments will remain, of course.

The Community

It really has been a great run. I’ve treasured my time with the community of commenters here: Charlie Scott, SteveK, Holopupenko, G. Rodrigues, BillT, scbrownlrhm, Melissa, Victoria, Jenna, Billy Squibs, JAD, djc, The Deuce, Medicine Man, bigbird, and so many other supporting commenters. It’s dangerous to begin building a list; I’ll miss someone crucial to my time here. I must apologize for that in advance.

I think as well as the loyal opposition. doctor(logic) comes first to mind: he was one of the first and one of the most engaging. Also Paul, Sault, Tony Hoffman, David Ellis, Raz, Nick Matzke, Tom Clark, OlegT, Jacob Stump, James Lindsay, Ray Ingles, Shane Fletcher, Keith, Ordinary Seeker, Larry Tanner, Gregory Magarshak, John Moore, Skepticism First, and so many, many others who have enlivened discussions here for so long.

Would You Be Willing … ?

If this blog has meant something to you over the years, would you be willing to say so in comments?

I’ve met some of you face to face, including one atheist who asked me never to tell about it — and I haven’t, though I still wish we could have recorded that meeting, or een sold tickets to see it! Nothing violent about it; we had a great breakfast together. And some lively debate!

Here is where I’ve honed my writing skills. Here is where I learned much of what I know about apologetics ministry. Holopupenko taught me to appreciate Thomism, much of which I even agree with now! Others taught me that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did, which drove me to further study.

Behind the scenes, too, this was where my son, Jonathan, taught me an awful lot about web design and especially WordPress, as he also developed a whole series of outstanding design themes.

The Content, the Connections

Here, too, is where I found a network that connected me with writing opportunities online with First Things, Breakpoint, the Christian Apologetics Alliance Facebook Group, the Apologetics Bloggers Alliance, and ultimately The Stream, where I now do the great majority of my writing. I can’t begin to say enough thanks for the friendships gained through all that extended network.

Would You Also … ?

Would you consider contributing toward the needs of the next phase?

It was great, when it was at its best. At its peak this blog was seeing something like 35,000 page views a month. On this WordPress platform alone, after I switched from the original, this post is the 2,345th I’ve written. Commenters have written more than 60,500 comments. Four years ago I ran a test on a random sample of blog posts, and estimated that by then I’d blogged just under half a million words, not including comments (which were much more voluminous).

The Recognitions

This change isn’t easy. I’ve been agonizing over it literally for months. I’ve got a lot of history here. Three years ago Feedspot honored this blog as the top-ranking individually-hosted Christian blog on the internet. As of this writing, Feedspot is still ranking it the number two Christian philosophy blog, right behind Edward Feser’s. Since Feser is a Roman Catholic, that would make this the top Protestant Christian philosophy blog in Feedspot’s view.

Also at various times Thinking Christian has ranked at or near the top of several lists at Blogmetrics.

In time it will disappear from all those rankings, I know. It’s going to be hard to let that go.

So Why On Earth Would I Leave This Behind?

Why move on, then? I’ve changed. The world we live in has changed. The Church has changed, too — but it’s not keeping up with the rest, and that alarms me. American Christianity is moving toward persecution, in terms that Jesus himself defined in Matthew 5:11-12. Anti-Christian hostility is well documented. Even where individuals aren’t facing hostility, the Christian view of reality is under persistent, consistent attack. It’s only likely to increase as our culture polarizes more and more.

And we’re not ready for it. For that reason, along with a growing group of friends and colleagues, I’m turning my focus toward Christianity’s readiness for what’s ahead.

Many of my colleagues in apologetics have asked, “Why won’t the Church adopt apologetics as part of its equipping?” It’s a great question. We at the Spiritual Readiness Project are turning it into a matter of research. We want to be able to answer that great question, from the perspective of the churches — and especially the pastors who have so much else to think about.

We want to know very specifically how we can help. And then over the course of 3 to 5 years we intend to produce books, articles, and conferences to serve the Church in this vital area of equipping.

If that weren’t so crucial, I wouldn’t leave here. But it is.

The Past Few Years: The Good and the Bad

The pace here has decreased over the past few years, too. When I joined Ratio Christi’s national leadership team some five or six years ago, my writing time diminished. Later on I tried to keep things going here while also writing for The Stream, which might have worked had my heart not been turning toward the Spiritual Readiness Project.

When I quit writing here as much, the commenting community I’d enjoyed so much here dissipated, too. It only makes sense. There wasn’t nearly as much reason to come and converse. Not only that, but the quality of skeptic/atheistic commenting has diminished greatly; either that or it’s always been this poor, and my patience with it has worn out.

I’ve told would-be bloggers, “Whatever you do, write something you enjoy writing about!” I’m doing that at The Stream almost every day, and loving it! But I’m also finding new excitement in the Spiritual Readiness Project. It’s a team effort, which like The Stream is a welcome break from years of solo blogging. And I’m choosing the venues I think will matter more over the next several years.

Transition Begins Now; and Thank You!

I’ll write few more transitional posts here, since I really want you to know about the Spiritual Readiness Project. Then I will turn all my attention there, The Stream, and other writing (including a book in progress), and be done writing here.

I leave here with a lot of joy in my heart for all God has allowed me to do and to experience here. I say this with love in my heart, and great appreciation: Thank you all for reading, sharing, commenting, and making my life richer through it.

Stay connected!

Be sure to visit, follow, and subscribe to the Spiritual Readiness Project!

20 Responses

  1. Skepticism First says:

    Hi Tom.

    While I appreciate the shoutout, I seem to recall that the last time I commented here, long ago, you seemed fairly angry with me for supporting anarchism and abortion-on-demand (among other things). I don’t recall the specifics of that conversation (although I do recall being somewhat angry myself), but honestly, I’m not very happy with how that ended. Perhaps we can find a way to resolve things amicably before you close this blog?

  2. I’ve been following you for only a short while and enjoyed your posts. I heard about you when you discussed your Critical Conversations book on Relationship Insights with Carrie Abbott. (I also learned about The Stream from her.) I haven’t gotten to book yet, but it’s on my list. I recently started volunteering at our local pregnancy center on Whidbey, Washington. One of the directors is also a youth worker. She recently said that her middle schoolers said they were struggling with same-sex attraction after it was taught in school. The kids at school are experimenting with the idea and propositioning other students. Your book may be helpful to her.

    I’m trying to be more bold in my faith by blogging. I also get frustrated with the biblical illeracy in the evangelical church. My husband and I hope we can do more to help people defend the faith. We used to teach Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project. I love discussing worldviews.

    I’ve been homeschooling as well. Our older child is in trade school and our younger one is a high freshman. So, I’m starting to have time to write again as I did before kids.

    I’ll miss your blog, but I’ll read you on Stream.

  3. Tom Gilson says:

    Thank you, Lorinda. That’s really encouraging. My wife works at a pregnancy resource center here, specifically teaching at local schools, and some of her colleagues are running into similar things.

    I wish you well with the blogging. The Truth Project is great — I’ve been through it with a few groups, and it was really influential even with our teens at the time.

    I hope to see you at The Stream!

  4. Tom Gilson says:

    Skep,

    Thanks for dropping by one more time.

    In our last conversation just under 2 years ago, we talked about your glee over the possibility of a billion abortions if there were a billion unwanted pregnancies. I told you then that I found that view extremely repugnant. I don’t like it any better today, which makes continuing a conversation together very difficult.

    In that last conversation you also urged me to read an FAQ on anarchism that was literally three times the length of War and Peace. You suggested there was little grounds for my talking with you, or at least understanding your position, unless I read that first.

    When I pointed out the length of that FAQ — which I’d guess is the Guinness World Record winner by a long shot — you answered, “I’ve read it. *shrug*.”

    Granted, you offered a shorter alternative, but here’s the point. We had some really engaging discussions, for which I’m grateful. There comes a point, though, where conversation needs to end. It was very clear to me that you and I had reached that point. Your answers were both morally off-putting and unreasonable. Some things were left unresolved, but necessarily so. I don’t think we’ll improve things by trying again; not unless you’re willing to move a long way in the direction toward reasonability.

    I wish you well.

  5. Skepticism First says:

    I am a bit disappointed by that, but ok. You have my email if you ever change your mind. I also wish you well.

  6. Shane says:

    Tom, I wish you well in your future endeavours, and I hope there is nothing but health in happiness for you and your family from this point on. I especially hope your last surgery is indeed your last surgery, and that your ankle problems are all behind you.

    Cheers
    Shane

  7. Len says:

    Hi Tom,

    Best of luck in your new venture. Whatever else you do, have fun!

    Take care,
    Len

  8. Ken Klos says:

    Tom, I haven’t subscribed to this blog anywhere near as long as you’ve been doing it, but I agree with your new direction. Our churches MUST WAKE UP to the need for apologetics, and it’s not just the pastors that need to wake up. Our congregations need to also! Too many are still in the mode of “the Bible said it, so I believe it, and nothing else matters.” That is so wrong in today’s world, but even my 2 small groups of men don’t understand how their faith has been warped and twisted by our culture, and their understanding of God has been minimized by the discredited theory of evolution! And WORSE, they don’t seem to care! Hopefully, that’s because they don’t realize how twisted their faith is. But how do we wake them up??? I pray that your research can uncover some answers and turn us to the evidence for our faith that is so overwhelming!

  9. BillT says:

    Thank you Tom for all you have done here. This was the best Christian blog ever and I doubt it will be equaled.

    All my prayers and all my best for your new endeavors. I’m am sure you will be a great blessing in your new role.

    God bless Tom.

  10. Voice of Reason says:

    Hello Tom,

    I wondered if you were continuing your apologetics on this website and decided to check. I am happy to see that although you are discontinuing this blog, you have not abandoned your effort to persuade people the Bible is true. For unbelievers like myself, the opportunity to publicly refute these arguments is always welcome. Perhaps one day we will see eye to eye on the subject of Christianity, though considering you have a monetary interest in believing what you cannot prove, I admit I am skeptical. Nonetheless, I look forward to reading and listening to you in the future.

    Your friend,
    VOR

  11. Tom Gilson says:

    Thanks, David, I saw that and I appreciate it. You’re right about the changing world of Christian blogging. That’s one reason this was such a hard decision for me.

  12. Tom Gilson says:

    One last jab, eh, VOR? Thanks for stopping by anyway, and leaving some otherwise gracious remarks.

  13. Jim says:

    This has been the one blog whose email notifications I clicked on, primarily because you’ve never been shy about sticking your chin out there and giving as well as you got in the fight. You’ve embodied 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 well. I’ve never offered a comment here, but I’ve greatly appreciated your unflinching work on behalf of the Church.

    As for why the Church remains reluctant to embrace apologetics – at least the Evangelical side of things – my guess would be that a lot of people see it as a discipline that tries to put itself in a place of authority over the Bible (a charge the more adamant Presuppositionalists are constantly making), combined with an aversion to confrontation that is seen as being inherent to the discipline.
    But I’m sure you’ve seen all of this many times.

    In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing your new project.

  14. G. Rodrigues says:

    May God bless your new endeavors.

  15. Francois says:

    Hi Tom

    I have only recently come across your site, and I enjoyed your articles. I agree with your assessment of Christianity’s future and the need to prepare for it. It frustrates me to see how many churches still preach a watered down form of prosperity theology, which leaves us unprepared for today, let alone the future.

    Regarding the reason why Christians are mostly uninterested in apologietics: Whilst I agree with some of the sentiments expressed by others above, I think the core issue is actually very simple: Most Christians (actually, most people) don’t depend on evidence for their beliefs, and therefore they don’t see the point of using evidence to try and convert other people. On the contrary, I often get the impression that faith without/despite evidence is viewed as “better” – think of doubting Thomas; Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”; Jesus saying “Evil and unfaithful people look for a miraculous sign” etc.

    In the research you plan to do, you may consider investigating people’s views about evidence and faith, and their reasons for their faith – and when someone says their faith is because the Bible says so, then ask why they believe the Bible to be correct.

    Wishing you all the best with your endeavours.

  16. Jeff says:

    In response to Francois, I’d just like to point out that Hebrews 11:1, although much abused by atheists, does not necessarily refer to belief without/despite evidence. On the contrary, just about anything we believe with evidence, religious or otherwise, is still “hoped for” (because we want it) and “unseen” (because it hasn’t happened yet.) For example, if I sit in a chair, I have faith that it won’t collapse. That faith is based primarily on the fact that others have sat in it before me without a problem, which most people would consider sufficient evidence to sit in it themselves. But I’m still hoping that it won’t collapse (at least subconsciously), and whether it will or not remains unseen. So don’t let an atheist trick you into thinking Hebrews 11:1 means faith without or despite evidence.

  17. Francois says:

    Jeff

    A few years ago I came to a similar view as yours regarding the nature of faith. Ironically, it is not the atheists, but my fellow Christians who used Hebrews 11:1 and other Bible verses to argue that faith did not require evidence.

  18. GRA says:

    A bittersweet end to this blog which I’ve come to enjoy reading. It has provided me some food for thought and there’s much to be read still – years of thrifting through your writings.

    I’ll admit, I was never impressed with the atheist/skeptic commentary on here. Out of all the Christian blogs that defended Christianity yours received the most traffic from non-believers. I always wondered why this was (I chalked it up as the Protestant Christian angle versus a Catholic viewpoint where nonbelievers see more opportunities to counter Christianity of the former).