The word ‘blog’, I gather, is a contraction of ‘web log’. I've been reading blogs on and off for a couple of years now, and it seems to me that ‘blog’ isn't the only new word we need to describe what goes on in the ‘blogosphere’. Other handy words might be ‘binane’, ‘brudeness’ and ‘bwaste of beveryone's time’.
But amidst the dross, flecks of gold shine out and gather grateful readers. For Christians, blogging has provided a valuable platform (‘blatform’?) for biblical teaching and encouragement. (See the sidebar for some of our favourites.) As I thought about the blogs and websites I return to most often, and pondered starting my own, it occurred to me that the kind of blog I'd really like to read (and write) would be:
- thoughtful (offering a considered, crafted piece of writing rather than a dashed-off and/or rabid paragraph in reaction to the latest thing)
- non-trivial (wouldn't feature pictures of the dog, or what the author saw at the movies last night)
- Bible-driven (in other words, it kept “What does the Bible say?” as the foundational question)
- unashamedly Reformed and Evangelical (didn't apologize for or seek to move on from classic Reformed Evangelical theology)
- ministry-hearted (focused me back on evangelism, people and the daily work of ministering God's word to others)
- proactive (didn't just react to the latest controversy, fad or someone else's blog, but drew me back to what was important)
- godly (in the way it dealt with issues, and in the way discussion and comments were handled)
- of a consistently high standard in all of the above!
As I looked around, I realized not only that such blogs were relatively rare, but that I had no hope of starting or maintaining anything like that on my own. So I approached some mates to see if they felt the same. The response was enthusiastic, and the idea of the Sola Panel was born: a bunch of Reformed Evangelical friends who love the five ‘solas’ of the Reformation, and who want to work together to promote a Bible-driven passion for theology, holiness and gospel ministry.
We share a great deal as friends; in particular we share a biblical theology that has been shaped by our various connections to Moore Theological College. But the Sola Panel won't have a particular party line, or any censorship. The Panellists all get to say what they like, and if we disagree with each other (which we inevitably will from time to time), we'll discuss it in the comments or in the next post.
Speaking of comments, please feel free to add some! We're hoping that the Sola Panel comments will be a fruitful place for interaction and discussion. There are only three rules for commenters:
- use your full name (your real name, not an alias)
- stay on topic
- be godly
Stick to these and you'll have no problems. Transgress these, and your comments are likely to be quietly deleted.
We're planning to post just one new piece each day, which we think is enough for us to handle, and enough for you to read. Sometimes we'll stay on a particular topic for a while and knock it around between the Panellists. At other times (probably most of the time), we'll just do our own thing and post on different topics.
The Sola Panel is new and exciting, and an experiment. We look forward to your feedback and suggestions as it evolves.
Sola Panellists on the ‘solas’
Who are we?
Tony is the Publishing Director at Matthias Media; editor of The Briefing; author of Islam in our Backyard, Fatherhood and numerous other Matthias Media resources; husband to Ali; father of five teenagers; and an avid consumer of books and almost any televised sport.
Jennie is married to Mark. She spends her time looking after their delightful little boy and occasionally delving into writing and other ministry projects. She would like to grow into a wise, gentle old woman who invests her time and energy in encouraging people to know and love Jesus.
Mark is undertaking postgraduate studies at Oxford on Athanasius. He was on faculty at Moore teaching Church History, Doctrine and James. He is married to Jennie, and they have a little son. Mark considers God’s extravagant generosity manifested in Jesus the best basis to live life, and finds doing so a lifelong project.
Andrew is a minister at Jannali Anglican Church in Sydney, NSW, Australia. He has a particular interest in taking God at his word seriously and passionately. He is married to Ruth. They have four sons and one little daughter.
Gordon Cheng worked for Matthias Media until 2009, before taking on the job of Campus Director with the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students, working at Cumberland campus of Sydney University. Because the students study Health Sciences, and because Gordon has three daughters, he is surrounded by women everywhere he goes.
Sam is married to Kristy, and the father of Elissa. He's a Christian, and works with a local church and a certain Christian publishing house. (Sometimes the latter vocations can happen without the first.) Many people call him a nerd, which he prefers to geek. He's keen on biblical studies, languages, great technology, science fiction, coffee, photography, frisbee, family, jazz, and hats. You could call his tastes eclectic.
Sandy is the senior minister at St Michael’s Anglican Cathedral in Wollongong. He is married to Karyn with three young daughters. Prior to entering full-time ministry, his only other job has been in a bottle shop! Sandy enjoys reading theology, biography and crime fiction.
Scott is the husband of Emma and father of Calvin and Aidan. He is currently at Tyndale House in the UK, undertaking PhD studies at the University of Cambridge on the nature of Old Testament prophecy. Having formerly served as a minister in Sydney, Scott and his family are now delighted to church with Christ Church Cambridge.
Gavin planted and now pastors St Ives Family Church, one of the morning congregations at Christ Church Anglican in St Ives. He has been married to Amy for 10 years and they have three pre-school age kids. At various times, he has studied history, philosophy and theology.
Ben is the Director of the Ministry Training Strategy. He is super grateful for: the gift of faith in Christ, marriage to Emma, and the blessing of their four children. He loves: SAS novels, physical training, the surf and blokes who take responsibility. He hates: sin, affluenza and apathy.
Peter is a missionary with CMS in Monterrey, Mexico. At the moment, he’s learning Spanish, but after that, he’ll be directing the use of the Moore College Theological Certificate Course by correspondence in Latin America.
Claire trained as a nursing sister and worked in oncology and palliative care, before studying theology at Moore Theological College. She has recently completed a doctoral thesis examining the place and practice of educational activities in three early Christian (New Testament) communities. She is married to Rob, with an adult son, and writes and speaks for Jesus as she has opportunity.
Nicole is married to David, a Baptist pastor and lecturer at Morling College, Sydney. They have three children. Before kids, Nicole studied law and worked as an editor in a legal publishing company. As well as writing for The Sola Panel, she coordinates and writes for the EQUIP book club, and blogs.
Jean is married to Steve, senior staffworker at RMIT Christian Union in Melbourne. They have four children. Jean has a PhD on the Puritan experience of enjoyment of God. She loves encouraging women to glorify and enjoy God, in seminars and on her blog, ‘in all honesty’.
Lionel is undertaking PhD studies with the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University in north-east England. He formerly served as a minister at St Michaels Anglican Cathedral in Wollongong, NSW, Australia. He is husband to Bronwyn and father to Adelaide, Harry and Eleanor. He also used to work as an engineer in a company making solar panels!