Why “Theological Rationalism”? and My Personal Development.
My blog has really come a long way since I started it four years ago (I’ve also only been a Christian for four years myself). For the first year (+- 8 or so months) my site brought in no more than 500 views! And just three years later I am sitting on one million as this site continues to grow (last year this site brought in 519 000 views!). Sure, that’s a tiny number for many bigger and more popular bloggers out there but for me that is a fair number and I’m quite proud of this progress. Moreover, in that time I’ve made many connections online that I never thought I would ever make. I’ve written for several different publications including university Christian ones, and I am currently an apologetic writer for Reasons for Jesus. It’s thus been a great journey in sharing the Gospel, and especially doing so in my own theological rationalist kind of way.
Defining myself as a “Theological Rationalist” is also not a title that I just sucked out of my thumb; rather, it is the result of four years of serious thought and development. One might also recognize that my site has evolved over that time in that I’ve called it different names (initially starting with Happy Christian Apologetics, to Historical Jesus Studies, to James Bishop’s Theology and Apologetics, and finally, as it is now, James Bishop’s Theological Rationalism). Although my journey with this site has taken me many places intellectually and emotionally it has also been incredibly difficult. I say difficult because to develop one’s own worldview naturally results in massive intellectual and emotional stretching. There is nothing worse than having to reject some beliefs you once thought were true or took for granted but, at the same time, there is also nothing more necessary if one really wishes to pin down what he believes. Also bear in mind that this is accompanied with a fair amount of hostility and/or confrontation. Developing my views has brought me into conflict with Christians, atheists, New Agers, and agnostics etc. But this is expected since when defending and promoting a worldview there are going to be many people who are going to disagree with you. Those people can also be on the inside as well as the outside. But on the positive side nothing has ever matured me more than engaging with people who vehemently disagree with me. It has truly taught me how to disagree in the right way, respect those with whom I disagree, as well as apply discernment when deciding who I should and should not engage. At the beginning of my journey my apologetics (most of which I deleted after a year since I grew to realized how bad it was – this is another massive responsibility of having a blog – you keep having to go back and change stuff/content/grammar etc., and that soon becomes problematic when you’ve written 600 articles) centered on an intellectual superiority methodology in which I cared little for the person with whom I disagreed. Rather, it was about winning arguments and showing that I knew more than my opponent. But now I’ve seen how damaging that can be as just looking to down others, and arrogantly boast in one’s own capabilities, is entirely the wrong approach when sharing the Gospel or any other worldview/opinion. Today I do my best to present someone with what I believe and why I believe it, and I often leave it at that. It is for him or her to decide at the end of the day to accept or reject what I’ve presented, and I cannot, nor ever would want to, force someone to accept my views and beliefs against their will.
Blog Shares & Online Growth.
What’s also super amazing are those who have shared my work over the last few years. A number of top atheist writers have shared and/or attempted to rebut my work, notably of the likes of Richard Carrier, Jerry Coyne, and Peter Boghossian. Many Christians, including some notable Christian apologists such as Jim Wallace, have likewise shared my work on their social media sites. This is pretty cool since these are people who have a following in their respective fields and are the ones we often hear about from others. Some widely read apologetic organisations of the likes of Ratio Christi, The Poached Egg, CARM, and Premier Christianity, to name but a few, have also shared some of my work. This is great and I thank each and every one of them for their contribution to the growth of this site. And for the tens of thousands who have shared my content on Facebook and elsewhere you have my sincere and hearty thanks.
Other amazing stuff, lest I forget to mention, has also happened. Some of my work has been featured in podcasts, others have written back to me saying how thankful they are to have shared some of my research in their church presentations and small groups. Mothers have even shared some of my research and arguments with their doubting children. Others have shared content with atheist relatives and I know this because they write to me telling me about it. That God could use me, and my site, in this way is amazing. Long may it live.
Writers & Monetization.
My site has also grown content wise from the initial emphasis placed on purely historical Jesus studies. Today that section, though one of the biggest sections, probably makes up 15-20% of the total content. So, my site has grown. Moreover, most of the articles minus a dozen or two are penned by me. However, though I’ve learnt an incredible amount over the years there are some areas that my site has grown into that I admittedly have little knowledge or would prefer for others to tackle. Thus far I’ve had three co-writers for my site with two of these three having willingly committed.
Very recently, by that I mean like two days ago, I upgraded my blog to include advertising from companies willing to promote their brands online. I’ve also purchased a domain name and several other solid features that will help my site grow. To make a meaningful ad revenue income one requires a few thousand viewers per month which isn’t an issue for me. So I am hoping that this will translate into some income. I also hope, though this remains a premature hope for the moment, that I can use this income to pay my writers. This is where I see my site going next.
I will also be adding a PayPal donation button to my site in hope that I can use donations from my readers to assist in community projects and efforts. Either way my readers can be confident that any donations will go to good causes, and there isn’t a shortage of those to choose from! I have also made an account with Patreon which will also hopefully assist in donations. Right now I am just busy setting all of this up and hopefully this will be done in the next week or two. I am also more than happy to have guest writers writing for my blog in the mean time. So, if you’re interested, and if you think you know what you talking about, you’re more than welcome to PM on Facebook (on my personal profile or page).
Thanking My Readers and My Skeptics.
I just can’t quite capture through words just how grateful and appreciative I am of my readers! Without you my blog would be a pointless exercise for I’d have no-one to share the Gospel, or anything else I’ve written, with. I also know some readers by name that have stuck with my site over the last few years; I just want to say how thankful I am to you, and I know you know who you are! It is also massively encouraging for me to hear stories about how my site has inspired others to take up apologetics. This is not only limited to those readers that mostly agree with my views but with skeptics too. A good few skeptics, whether they be atheists or agnostics or whatever else, have stuck at my site and have generally been respectful in their disagreements and dialogue. That is what I hope to generate here: a space where disagreeing worldviews can dialogue over important matters. Of course there have been a few unfortunate bans here regarding people who have failed to exercise respect but, in general, I am grateful to skeptics who challenge my, and other Christians, views.
So, in wrapping up, the last four years have been both an amazing and challenging journey. I am also sure there will be further developments as this blog continues to grow and evolve over the coming months and years. And if that does happen I will make sure I keep my readers in the loop!