Wade Burleson has announced that he will "[lay] aside blogging for good." I thought it might be appropriate for me to mark the occasion with a backwards glance and a comment or two.
- Wade Burleson's blog has been THE blog in Baptist life. Whatever people say about "Baptist bloggers," they say with Wade Burleson at least partially in mind. There is no doubt that the years 2006-2008 in SBC denominational life were defined more than anything else by what Wade Burleson wrote at his blog and his prospects for success or failure. So prominent has been his blog as to merit a category all unto itself—no other SBC blog even comes close. Indeed, for myself, whatever traffic I ever received at this blog (and I have deliberately never allowed any measure of that statistic), I'm sure that a great deal of it was produced by the popularity of Wade's blog and the fact that I was often a disagreeing voice.
- Wade Burleson has had impressive stamina. Those who started blogging in agreement with him—Art Rogers, Marty Duren, Ben Cole, and many others—long ago disengaged. Many of those who took up blogging in contention against him, me included, have at some point lost their zeal for the medium. Wade has sallied forth time after time.
- Wade Burleson's own theological migration is chronicled in his blogging. Particularly on the issue of biblical roles for women and men in the church, I think that later generations will detect movement in Wade's position over the latter half of this millennium's inaugural decade.
- Wade Burleson has stayed on-message with a determination that political campaigners must be able to admire. Although he has varied his terminology, his central message has remained unaltered, calling Southern Baptists to lay aside doctrinal contention in favor of a warmer, fuzzier, feel-goodier congeniality.
- Wade Burleson is eloquent. He knows how to tell a story. He knows how to cultivate a public persona. He is better with a lectern than with a keyboard, and he's pretty good with a keyboard. Yes, I think that all of this talent has been harnessed to the wrong yoke, but I admire the talent nonetheless.
The closing of Wade's blog seems to correspond with the closing of a chapter in Southern Baptist history. It isn't the major chapter—let's not overestimate the importance of our times. But it marks a season when technology was changing the way that Baptists operate in subtle yet dramatic ways. Wade's name will forever be associated with that.
His reasons for setting it all aside are good ones, and I have stepped back (although not entirely away) for very similar reasons. I genuinely, sincerely, earnestly wish that God will bless Wade's ministry and that more peaceful days will lie before him than behind him. I want to feel fondly in my heart toward him, and to leave things there. Jesus is just mischievous enough to put us next-door to one another in Heaven.