NOTE TO OUR READERS
This week we are discussing a newfangled concept called 'discernment blogging'. We will investigate various angles and share our conclusions on Friday.
Have you heard about a cyberspace skirmish that is being described as a David and Goliath confrontation? Much to our amazement, Tim Challies is being portrayed as 'David' (a man after God's own heart), while some discernment bloggers are being likened to that giant Philistine warrior 'Goliath'. Which discernment bloggers you might ask? Why, it's none other than your glam blog queens Dee and Deb! ROFL!
As far as we can determine, the only advantage we have over Challies is that it's two against one. Rest assured, we are a tag team that fights fairly. FYI, we have now added 'Goliath' to our list of what the world is saying about The Wartburg Watch, right under one of our favorites, E-Pharisee. Funny thing, we have also been called Philistines in the past but we didn't know we were that big! So who has fondly labeled us as Goliath?
Why it's R.C. Sproul, Jr. Here is the Tweet he sent out on the same day Tim Challies' post was published:
" Tim "David" Challies takes on Discernment "Goliath" Bloggers. Plz give Tim a read, so you'll learn not 2 read Goliath-http://www.challies.com/articles/in-the-crosshairs-of-the-discernment-bloggers#disqus_thread …"
For those who wonder what all the fuss is about, allow us to catch you up.
Last week's blogging brouhaha involved a post penned by 'David' entitled "In the Crosshairs of the Discernment Bloggers". It was fascinating to read the commentary under this post by those who had no idea which bloggers they were being instructed to avoid. There is a high probability that the taboo blog is The Wartburg Watch. Why? Because last month we featured a post with this title: Tim Challies / Cruciform Press in our 'Cross' Hairs. What was the inspiration for this post? It was a post written by Tim Challies in which he stated:
"I recall meeting Mahaney only one time and for no more than two or three minutes. To my knowledge we have never corresponded by email or any other media."
In our 'Cross' Hairs post, we revealed that Challies has a business relationship with Kevin Meath who worked with Sovereign Grace Ministries for eleven years and oversaw many of the writing projects of SGM leaders, such as: The Cross Centered Life; Sex, Romance and the Glory of God; When Sinners Say 'I Do'; Why Small Groups; as well as Sovereign Grace music projects.
Some figured it out, such as Kris over at SGM Survivors, who featured a post called Tim Challies Has No Room For Discernment Bloggers. Here are the highlights of the SGM Survivors post:
"But what’s interesting to me is that nowhere does Tim Challies actually explain what was inaccurate about what was written about him and his business venture. I know he complains that people didn’t just report facts but also interpreted them…but since when are bloggers solely reporters? Since when is it not OK to state an opinion, or make an inference based on facts and point out what seems obvious? …
Instead of railing against “discernment bloggers,” it would have been much more effective for Mr. Challies to explain how it is that having a business partner with longstanding relationships with SGM would NOT have affected his own impartiality when it comes to what he tells people to think about SGM. How, precisely, did the scorned “watchbloggers” misrepresent the facts?
I’d really like to know. Mr. Challies, if you’d care to respond, I’d love to post your explanation. Were the Wartburg ladies wrong in saying that you co-own Cruciform Press with Kevin Meath? Is Mr. Meath’s biographical information on the Cruciform Press website inaccurate?
And can you truly not see how it looks to those of us outside the cozy world of conservative Christian publishing? Can you truly not understand why it would make total sense for someone to connect the dots and say that if you’re trying to make it as a publisher of Christian books, you’re probably going to try much harder not to offend the guys who author many of those books?
Or were you just trying, again, to cloud matters for your readers?
If what the Wartburg people posted is not true, how was it inaccurate?"
What does any of this have to do with R.C. Sproul Jr? Besides the Tweet Sproul sent out about David and Goliath, we believe he posted a comment in response to Challies' post under the initials "rcjr". Here it is:
"First, I am sorry you are going through this brother. Since I suspect that I might have been the impetus of at least one batch of attacks on your blog in the past I know you are aware of my experience and the continuing existence of various rcsprouljristhedevil.com sites. It too lead me to repent for my past reading of these kinds of sites. Second, thank you for writing this. As always, not just well done, but edifying to me and your many readers. Third, there remain two great hardships. You will come to understand, if you haven't already, that the great pain is not that there are Pharisees out there who would write/create such stuff. Haters, after all, gonna hate. The real heartache is that decent people will read this stuff and believe it. Other decent people will read this stuff and have vague doubts about you. Other decent people will read this stuff, know it is still bogus, but figure that you deserved it anyhow. The last heartache is that it will stay out there forever. If the New York Time published an expose of me tomorrow the day after it would be wrapping fish. But the internet is forever. Let me encourage you not only to not read about others at attack blogs, but don't read about yourself there. Don't pick the scab. Just know that we servants are not greater than our Master. God bless."
The rcsprouljristhedevil.com reference was a dead giveaway. But what did this commenter mean by the remark "Since I suspect that I might have been the impetus of at least one batch of attacks on your blog in the past…" ? Through God's sovereignty we have figured it out, but we'll save that discussion for another time since this post will get lengthy if we go down that rabbit trail.
Almost a year ago Ligonier Ministries' Tabletalk magazine featured an article by R.C. Sproul Jr. entitled: Someone is wrong on the internet. Here is an excerpt from that post:
"In the prototypical schoolyard fight, there is typically the victim, the bully, and the cowards. While we rightly cheer for the victim and hiss at the bully, the cowards, too, deserve our opprobrium. They haven’t even the willingness to risk what the bully has, and worse still, they provide the audience he craves.
The Internet has not helped. Cyber-bullies hide behind proxy servers and false names. Victims slowly learn that fighting back only encourages them…
It is true that the world out there matters. There are controversies that count. Martin Luther changed the world, facing bullies like David before Goliath."
Once again Sproul Jr. brings up David and Goliath…
Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries weighed in on Sproul's article in his post R.C. Sproul Jr. Says Internet Discernment Bloggers are Wrong.
Why is it that R.C. Sproul Jr. doesn't like discernment bloggers? Could it have anything to do with his being defrocked by his denomination? Until now we have not felt compelled to bring up history, but R.C. Sproul Jr.'s recent outcry against bloggers like us has prompted us to do a little digging. Here is the conclusion of a declaratory judgment in January 2006 against Sproul and other church elders.
"Judicial Action: Deposition from Office
The Moderator, by the authority of the Elders of Westminster Presbytery, herein deposes from the office of Elder, Dr. R. C. Sproul Jr., Mr. Laurence Windham, Mr. Wayne Hayes and Mr. Jay Barfield and dismisses them to the general membership of Westminster Presbytery. They are to be held for trial pending additional charges, both public and personal, that are currently being investigated. The consistent pattern of actions taken by these men are duplicitous in nature, and demonstrate that they willingly and knowingly act in an arbitrary fashion in violation of their vows of ordination and in violation of our denomination’s Book of Church Order. Most importantly, their actions manifest that they lack the qualification for the ministry (1Timothy 3:1-7). It would be unwise to allow these men to continue to hold an office for which they are not qualified. They have no interest to govern themselves appropriately within this Presbyterian system of government that they vowed to submit and conform to its rules and regulations with conduct becoming ministers of Jesus Christ.
Ordered and Declared and sent to the Office of the Stated Clerk on this 26 day of January, 2006.
Kenneth Gary Talbot
If you read this document, you will discover that there were a number of charges in the defrocking of R.C. Sproul Jr., but the one we consider to be the most egregious is identity theft. Whose identity did Sproul and gang steal? On page 4 of this judicial action, we discover that these men used a tax-exempt tax number illegally (see below).
"This illegal use of the tax number continues to be of great concern because it is a matter of identity theft under Virginia state law and Federal Statute. It is also a great concern that the Session of St. Peter Presbyterian Church stated it was an administrative oversight by the Session in using the tax number of the ARPC. The improper or unauthorized use of one or more identifiers belonging to another person or entity for the purpose of obtaining benefits or services is known as Identity Theft. Identity Theft is a crime in Virginia, and it may occur through nothing more than the unauthorized use of another’s Tax Identification Number (TIN). The Session of St. Peter Presbyterian Church committed Identity Theft by absconding with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church’s EIN in order to open one or more bank accounts and a credit card merchant account…"
You can read more about R.C. Sproul Jr.'s defrocking here. Perhaps this is the reason why 'rcjr' wrote this remark on Tim Challies' website: 'The last heartache is that it will stay out there forever." There was an attempt to clear R.C. Sproul Jr.'s name, which you can read about here.
Then there was the problem of Ligonier Ministries attempting to sue a blogger, which garnered the attention of USA Today. Here is how it was reported:
"Ligonier Ministries, a religious broadcaster and publisher in Lake Mary, Fla., has taken the unusual step of asking a judge to pre-emptively silence a blogger to try to prevent him from criticizing the ministries. Judges historically have refused to place such limits on traditional publishers.
The lawsuit cites postings on a blog by Frank Vance that described Ligonier president Timothy Dick as "a shark" and as coming from a "family of nincompoops." The suit says the entries are false and have damaged Dick's reputation."
The lawsuit was later dropped. Before bowing out of blogging, Frank Vance wrote a summary at Ministry Watchman detailing his experience of challenging the Ligonier establishment. It's definitely worth reading.
In conclusion, it is important to understand that R.C. Sproul Jr., has his own biases and in our estimation is unqualified to judge the motives of 'discernment bloggers'. We will be tackling this subject all week, so there will be much more to come. This is Goliath Deb signing off…
Lydia's Corner: Judges 21:1-Ruth 1:22 John 4:4-42 Psalm 105:1-15 Proverbs 14:25