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29 September 2008

10 blogging commandments

I am a year old as a blogger, and the more I blog the more I realise there are some amazing opportunities to connect with people, to pick up techie tips, to get the inside scoop on what’s happening, to find treasure buried deep in the web and lots more. But when I found myself blogging on our rainy family holiday in Dorset this year, I realised something might be wrong. I also began to notice the temptation to blog about something quickly – before I had thought about what I was saying and the potential to damage or even slander someone. So our team at the Evangelical Alliance dreamed up the idea of a day to draw on the combined wisdom of a group of Christian bloggers to work out how to make the best of blogging whilst avoiding the pitfalls.

So last week a cyber-agony aunt in her late 80s, church pastors from a wide assortment of denominations, an online cartoonist, a theologian or two and a teenager all gathered to think about how Christian values should shape the way we blog. It was a great day and we were treated to some thought provoking talks from Mark Meynall with his hitchhikers guide to the blogosphere, Phil Whitall thinking about how to keep relationships real in online communities and Peter Sanlon rethinking theology in a Web2.0. Our intention had been to construct a code of best practice for Evangelical Bloggers, based on the Evangelical Alliance’s 1846 Practical resolutions. These were intended to help evangelicals from a broad spectrum work together and learn how to disagree agreeably, and we amended this to apply to blogging in our blogging relationship commitment(See below).

But we were encouraged by many present on the day that we should offer something to the wider blogging community – as we talked it through we were aware that our original plan was too insular and introverted so the Alliance decided to write a tongue in cheek set of commandments based on the original Ten Commandments God gave his people. Unlike the original these commandments are not written in stone – but are offered here as our humble attempt to relate biblical wisdom to the blogosphere. There’s space below for you to comment and tell us which ones resonate with you, which need amending and which need scrapping.

Together we can make these ten commandments more useful to our blogging communities.

Dr Krish Kandiah, churches in mission executive director, Evangelical Alliance


Press Release

Ten cyberspace commandments are to be posted online to give bloggers a moral edge in a virtual age.

29 September 2008

Ten cyberspace commandments are to be posted online to give bloggers a moral edge in a virtual age.

Based loosely on the real Ten Commandments from the Old Testament, the revamped version for guidance in online communication emerged from an event reflecting on the ethics of today’s most popular form of public comment.

The commandments are intended to cause bloggers to consider the social impact of their blogging.

1. You shall not put your blog before your integrity.

2. You shall not make an idol of your blog.

3. You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin.

4. Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog.

5. Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes.

6. You shall not murder someone else’s honour, reputation or feelings.

7. You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind.

8. You shall not steal another person’s content.

9. You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger.

10. You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking. Be content with your own content.

Godblogs, a gathering held by the Evangelical Alliance on 23 September, was designed to give Christian bloggers an opportunity to network face-to-face and think through a Christian approach to blogging. The group, aged from 18 to 87, reflected on how to honour God with their blogs and in their relationships online.

Krish Kandiah, Churches in Mission Executive Director said: “During the Godblogs event, we discussed ideas about how to communicate a code of best practice to Evangelical bloggers. As we talked it through, the Alliance decided to write a tongue in cheek set of commandments for the wider blogosphere, based on the original Ten Commandments God gave his people.

“Unlike the original, these commandments are virtual rather than set in stone, but are offered to the blogging community as a way to link the Ten Commandments with the art of blogging.

“In the ever-changing information age, what we need is wisdom for life, and God communicates wisdom to our culture through the Bible on every issue from social justice to social networking.”

He added that the Alliance is inviting bloggers to feed back on the commandments, which are on the Alliance website, www.eauk.org, and make suggestions for improvement.


Rev Mark Meynell, Senior Associate Minister for All Souls Church, Langham Place said: “The internet is merely the latest step in the evolution of human communication - and so like any other new medium, it presents us with huge opportunities as well as challenges.

“It is essential that Christians make the most of it, not least because we believe we have good news that is as relevant to those in cyberspace as it is for those in real space.” 

Rev Meynell began the day by taking the bloggers through a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Christian blogosphere, followed by talks about relationships in invisible communities by lead elder at North Shrewsbury Community Church, Phil Whittal and Web 2.0 and the Bible by Peter Sanlon, an Anglican Ordinand from Cambridge.

A Blogging Relationship Commitment for Christians has also been produced as a result of the day to encourage Christians to think through how they can communicate in cyberspace in a Christ-like way and promote good relationships between Christians.


Blogging Relationship Commitment

We urge Christians to pray as Christ prayed, that we may be one in the Father and the Son, and so by the Spirit promote personal relationships of love, peace and fellowship within Christ’s universal Church, both online and offline.

We encourage Christians earnestly to strive for biblical truth in their blogs, since we will only be drawn closer to Christ and each other when we are open to learn from others and commit to obey the truth more fully.

We call on each other, when blogging on issues of faith or practice that divide us, to acknowledge our own failings and the possibility that we ourselves may be mistaken, avoiding personal hostility and abuse, and speaking the truth in love and gentleness.

We owe it to each other, in writing blog posts on the alleged statements of our fellow Christians, first to get directly in touch with them and to establish what they actually meant. Then to commend what we can, to weigh the proportional significance of what we think is wrong, and to be gracious about what is doubtful, expressing our thoughts with courtesy and humility.

We rejoice in the spread of the Gospel across the world and urge all Christians to commit themselves to this task, avoiding unnecessary competition and co-operating, wherever possible, in the completion of Christ's kingdom of peace, justice and holiness, to the glory of the one God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Adapted from the Evangelical Relationships Commitment document, designed to promote good relationships between Christians. Practical Resolutions of the Evangelical Alliance is an update of the original eight general resolutions crafted when the Evangelical Alliance was formed in 1846.