Please sit down, for your own safety.
We open with a Startling Insight that (I say, intending very little snark) a surprising number of people don't seem to grasp: I preach to be heard, and write to be read.
Yessir, there it is. As you know, unless this is your first visit (Welcome!), we here at Pyro write from deep conviction. "We" includes me. When it's about any of the issues of the day and not mere trivia, what I preach and write comes from 40 years of seeking the Lord, seeking to know Him and walk with Him and be of fruitful service to Him. This desire was born in my heart literally the day He saved me, and what you're reading right now is a fruit of that.
That being the case, probably like most sane males, I do what I do aiming at an impact. I neither preach nor write solely to amuse nor please myself (though there is the Jer. 20:9 factor). Writing to no readers, preaching to no hearers, would be the sound of one-hand-clapping, an exercise in futility.
So I preach and write because I'm convicted that I'm communicating some portion of God's truth. This rests on the deeper conviction that nothing matters more than God's truth. Put them together and you have the driving imperative that's moved me for forty years: to know Him and make Him known. To study, do, and teach (cf. Ezra 7:10; 1 Tim. 3:1).
That said, I was very grateful to God that so many found last week's thoughts on Gen. 1:1 to be true and useful, and expressed their desire to put it to use. (See, there it is again: true, useful, used; there's my aim.) I always smiled when folks asked my permission (!) to make use of it; and I always said "Yes, thank you, please do! That's exactly why I write this stuff: to glorify God, to inform and instruct and equip and arm His people. When you take what I give and use it, I'm a happy man."
Many gracious and kind readers and Tweeters and others echoed the word of the post, to my grateful surprise. Among their number were Challies and the TGC home page. To say that none of this ruined my day would be sheer litotes.
And so it was a pleasure to see Doug Wilson also tweet kindly about the post. Then to my even greater surprised gratitude, a reader pointed out that Wilson elected to make use of the post in his debate with Andrew Sullivan about homosexual "marriage." And so he did:
Now, I suppose that, were I a Big Name, I'd strike a jaded pose, sniff indiffferently, murmur "Quite," and reach for another pinch of snuff — as if this happens every day, and is only what one should expect.
But I won't. Why not? See above. When I Tweet something I feel deeply is vital, maybe I get a few, or if I'm "lucky" a dozen retweets. When Doug Wilson Tweeted about my post, he got 76 retweets and 56 "Favorites." The mentions on TGC and Challies drove our traffic up to 8-10X its already-generous normal rate.
Why do I care about that? Again, see above. That's why.
It's a funny thing; when I do something I care deeply about, and then share it, or share others' appreciation, some unkindly sneer that it's "self-promotion." Yet when John Piper and others constantly Tweet about their talks, conferences and articles, I don't see the same. Why not? Because we know Piper's very passionate about his message, and because most of us are glad to know about what he's doing.
Yet John Piper (unlike most of us) has his own instant-promotion machinery. He doesn't need to promote his work. So why don't we accuse him, who doesn't need to promote his work, of self-promotion? Because we know why he's doing it. He is completely sold out for his message, and he wants everyone to hear it. To which we say, "Amen, me too."
In that way, I'm no different... except for not having the built-in megaphone Piper has. So I have to work harder to get out the word I care about so dearly.
That being the case, I really have a special place in my heart for anyone who does what he can to use his own means to share the message I'm trying to broadcast.
I confess, not for the first time, that I don't completely "get" Doug Wilson. I haven't made a study of him. I know there are some areas where we absolutely do not agree: his postmillennialism, his baby-sprinkling, some of what he says about how parenting. Then in other areas, I just don't think I yet understand where he's coming from. But thirdly, in other areas, I think I do get him, and agree, and in those areas Wilson is absolutely brilliant. He expresses the truths I adore in simply sparkling, exquisite terms. I have used his insight (down to the very wording) again and again, usually with credit.
Now think a bit further. I say that to say this. If I were to use the cool hipster term I despise — "tribe" (eugggh) — Wilson's not exactly my "tribe." When my first book came out, many other highly-visible folks one might see as being more in my "tribe" opted not even to publicly acknowledge its existence. Yet at that time, Doug Wilson was kind enough to reach across "tribal" boundaries to pick it as his first book of the month, and recommend it heartily. That I wasn't an A-lister like Wilson, nor a dead-center member of his "tribe," didn't stop him. He shared my passion about the message, and used his megaphone to commend it to others.
Why did I care? Well, of course, first, because it was simply kind and gracious of Wilson. Also, it gave me some insight to what Wilson must see as the Gospel, if he thinks that book represents it faithfully.
But, again, why did I care?
Once last time, see above. Wilson took the book in which I pulled out every stop and gave everything I had to give to convey a message I was and am dead-earnest about and wholly devoted to, and he raised its visibility. By doing so, Wilson used the platform God had given him to assure that others who otherwise would not have heard of the book would give it a look and PUT IT TO USE.
For that, I'll always be grateful; and this use vis-a-vis Andrew Sullivan is yet another example.
And then there's this bonus. Andrew Sullivan hears the name "Dan Phillips," and thinks... "Who?"
What's not fun about that?