Discernment Blogging – Why R.C. Sproul Jr. Denounces It

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Osmar_Schindler_David_und_Goliath.jpg Osmar Schindler Lithograph of David and Goliath (Wikipedia)

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-"

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

Moderator

Westminster Presbytery"

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

Comments

Discernment Blogging – Why R.C. Sproul Jr. Denounces It — 131 Comments

  1. Sorry to go off topic, but I thought you may be interested in this.

    It’s from a site by former members of a Christian group called “Teen Mania” which is currently based out of Texas and founded by Ron Luce. I’ve seen some of Teen Mania’s “ATF” programs on Christian networks.

    The former members alleged on one of their pages (with links on their page to more in depth coverage):

    – Teen Mania encourages individuals with depression, bi-polar disorder and other mental illnesses to quit taking their medication. Then, when their symptoms worsen, they are punished.

    – Teen Mania has covered up sexual harassment.
    – Teen Mania has employed sexual predators and then failed to warn interns about them. When a female intern is taken advantage of by the predator, they are kicked out.
    – Ron Luce published lies about his own family in a book in order to boost his own reputation.

    And much more here (from “My Teen Mania Experience”)

  2. What kills me about Sproul Jr.'s defrocking is that it was not done in a larger, more "normal" denomination like the PCA…it was in a hyper-conservative "micro-Presbyterian" church. Even the crazy hyper-conservative people think his behavior was inappropriate. This is the denomination in question: 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformed_Presbyterian_Church_General_Assembly

    Also, Deb, you may interested in this. Wikipedia thinks Sproul Jr. got another Reformed denomination to reinstate his ordination:

    "The Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC) examined the case and accepted Sproul as an ordained minister in good standing in 2006." Any notion the accuracy of this?

  3. Hester,

    Thought you might be interested in the following written by Doug Wilson and posted on his Blog and Mablog website.  I have bolded the pertinent part of the excerpt:

    http://www.dougwils.com/N.T.-Wrights-and-Wrongs/our-theological-bumpity-bumpity.html

    “The next Tabletalk article was written by a friend, RC Jr. I begin this way in the interests of full disclosure, and also because it is important to note that I happen to know he did not contribute this article in the interests of scoring anybody off, or for the sake of picking a fight. RC is not a Federal Vision guy, and never has been, and this article does not represent any change in his views. He believes that it is possible to be a fine and orthodox Christian while embracing the Federal Vision, but that it is not possible to be a “Reformed and confessional” Christian while embracing the Federal Vision. He thought this before he came into the CREC, and he has believed it during his time in the CREC. So on a personal level, things are just fine.”

  4. Over the years, it seems that the circle of people Ken Silva approves of has continually shrunk.

    I suspect that eventually the only person in ministry that Ken will be able recommend will be Ken…

  5. Criminals need their deeds to be done in darkness. When exposed, they are seen for what they are: common thugs. This kind of “we believe in free speech as long as we are the only ones talking” attitude is why so many people are fleeing the Calvinista church. It is a communist dictatorship wrapped in pretty stained glass bows..

    The level of self delusion in RC is staggering. The hypocritical persecution complex these Calvinist tyrants carry around is paranoia. They build their fortunes on the backs of innocent people and have the nerve to snivel about “poor, poor me”; they don’t understand my love, they persecute me without cause. Boo hoo…

    Neo Calvinism is the new socially acceptable narcissism I guess.

  6. Where does RCSJr. get off calling me or anyone who comments on these websites a hater, coward, and bully!!!!!! That is what these control nuts like to do. Don’t address the comments, just “bully” them back. And, this is so timely because I am being bullied at work here by a co-worker which of course, nothing is being done about it. So, this subject hits a personal cord with me.

    Thank you Dee, Deb and the others (who I can not remember the names right now because I am so angry)who have given us a place to talk and share with others who have been abused. God bless you all!!!

  7. @ Daisy:

    Daisy When I was reading Teen Mania my brain was reading Teen MAFIA. Based on their bahviors it seems appropriate. Anyway, I decided I needed to get a cup of coffee so I could clear the cowebs out of my brain.

  8. @ Warwick:You should see the authors that Tim Challies does (and does not) recommend. We will be discussing this later in the week. This is a game played on all sides. Hence, our point!

  9. I’ve read most of this stuff before, and it is the reason that I do not donate to Ligioner. However, what I don’t know is where Sr. fits into all of this. I absolutely believe that he should take responsibility for this ministry and the people he’s put into place, but I see his culpability in this as lesser from the outright hostility displayed by the other folks. At best we can say that Sr. is a poor leader. I wish I knew just how much he knew and supported in all of this.

    And FWIW, think there are occasions where it is OK for Christian to sue other Christians, but this, like the lawsuit against Julie Anne, was out of bounds- the SGM lawsuit is not.

  10. @ Deb: Great post. You see, Sproul Jr is not a discernment blogger even though his post on discernment bloggers arises out of his own little problems in his church. He gets defrocked, causes a ruckus, and we can’t say anything? As my dear departed dad would say, “What kind of a racket are they running?”

    Here’s the deal. Big boys can take an internal disagreement. Wusses stomp their feet and cry “Foul” as soon as people, not of their tribe, raise a question. They would do well to remember that TWW is nobody. Heck, we didn’t make their top 200 blog list, did we? That would mean that nobody is reading us, right?…So why are they getting their panties in a wad?

  11. Well…in my case they get one thing right. I am a hater. I hate what they teach, say, and stand for. I would be lying if I said otherwise.

  12. TedS

    For years, I have been thinking about doing a post on those who use the term “Dr” when it involves an honorary degree. Franklin Graham has been known to do this (earned undergrad degree from Appalachian State) along with an umber of Baptist preachers. It appears that some Christian have no understanding regarding propriety.

  13. Dee wrote:

    @ Jeff S:I wish Christian leaders would not make their ministries a place to give their relatives a good paying job.

    Yes, I agree. As I said, as long as Jr. gets a paycheck from this ministry, I will not donate. And (before knowing all of this) I turned three of my coworkers on to Sproul’s teaching and they all DO donate to it, even after I’ve showed them stuff about Jr. I get materials from Ligonier all the time asking for money and it always makes me upset because it reminds me I have no idea what these guys are in it for. I still believe (maybe naively) that Sr. is in it to preach the scripture, but I don’t trust the organization at all.

    And maybe I’m wrong to listen to Sproul Sr. still. It’s something I struggle with.

  14. @ Dee: These people are all small, shallow con men. “Big boys,” indeed!

    As for the pic accompanying the article, it’s exceedingly creepy.

  15. @ dee: Francis Schaeffer was constantly referred to as “Dr.” during his lifetime. Thing is, it was an honorary doctorate. : (

  16. One thing about Ken. He is discerning in a way that very few were regarding my case. He took a look at the BGBC site and read through the by-laws and had concerns. He has a heart for the abused. He would not report anything on my story until he had fact checked and had legitimate sources. He did the legwork himself on talking to key people and getting information verified. I was frustrated at first because he seemed interested, but didn’t publicize anything for the longest time. That was because he was prudent and careful. I appreciate that. I am sure that Ken and I don’t agree on everything. He calls me friend – most likely because we share the same concerns about abuse in church.

    A side note: I am concerned about Ken. He hasn’t had a new post since March 17. Hasn’t tweeted for a long time. I sent him a note a few days ago telling him that I am concerned about his silence and haven’t gotten a response.

  17. @ Deb:

    Deb and Hester –

    So Sproul Jr. was accepted into CREC because . . . he and Wilson are friends? I’d love to be a fly on the wall of one of CREC’s presbytery meetings and hear the dialogue. I wonder how much influence Wilson wields in his neck of the woods?

  18. @ numo:
    I’m sorry, but when someone places a Dr in front of his name, derived from an honor, he defeats his integrity and authority even before we get to his name.

    Honorary degrees are a lovely way to acknowledge that there is more than one path to expertise in any given field. But no standards have been established for them, and therefore it is a politically-based who’s who. Which can be fine and useful, but the meaning is only ceremonial.

    Numo, do you know who conferred the honor on Francis Schaeffer? I am so disappointed that he did that!

    And who has conferred it on Mark Driscoll? The guy can’t think past his ego—-a real PhD would at least be able to think around his ego.

    Ach!

  19. Off topic: I apologize

    Paul Dohse from paulspassingthoughts.com is no longer posting my comments. Any interested can see my responses to his ideas on my site from now on.

    Thanks.

  20. The CREC is just a sandbox created by Doug Wilson so he could take his toys and go play someplace else when his ego was wounded by (I think) the PCA who was giving him grief. Only his besties are allowed to come into the CREC sandbox. It’s not a denomination per say, but rather a loose affiliation or a bad ole boys club.

  21. The real headache is that decent people will read the Scriptures  for themselves and believe it. Then they will have vague doubts about Neo-Cal pastors–they will now know that what the Neo-Cal’s are peddling is bogus, and the title ‘manure peddlers’ well deserved. The last Neo-Cal’s headache is that the people are listening to that ‘Jesus’ fellow again…

    “Our book sales are suffering…!?!”

    The Burleson Maxim: ” You don’t receive what somebody says just because of who says it – you search it out for yourselves to see whether the things said are true according to the Scriptures.” 

    We’ll leave the ‘Light’ on for ya…

    (grin)

    Sopy

  22. Daisy wrote:

    It’s from a site by former members of a Christian group called “Teen Mania” which is currently based out of Texas and founded by Ron Luce. I’ve seen some of Teen Mania’s “ATF” programs on Christian networks.

    Teen Mania appeared on Internet Monk last year, as part of a series on “On Fire For The LOORD(TM)” vs just Living Your Life in Christ, with the former related to “Wretched Urgency”.

    I mean, just the name — “TEEN MANIA”?

  23. Warwick wrote:

    Over the years, it seems that the circle of people Ken Silva approves of has continually shrunk.
    I suspect that eventually the only person in ministry that Ken will be able recommend will be Ken…

    Over at Internet Monk, that used to be called “A.W.Pink Syndrome”. It’s the theoretical ultimate end state of Protestantism, the “Church Of One”. Apparently A.W.Pink was some sort of theologian who alone had the Perfectly Parsed Theology; he spent the last 20-30 years of his life worshipping alone at home because every other church and Christian in the world was Heretical and Apostate with False Theology.

  24. Hester wrote:

    What kills me about Sproul Jr.’s defrocking is that it was not done in a larger, more “normal” denomination like the PCA…it was in a hyper-conservative “micro-Presbyterian” church. Even the crazy hyper-conservative people think his behavior was inappropriate.

    When you’re too crazy for the crazies…

  25. Patrice wrote:

    @ numo:
    I’m sorry, but when someone places a Dr in front of his name, derived from an honor, he defeats his integrity and authority even before we get to his name.

    Honorary degrees are a lovely way to acknowledge that there is more than one path to expertise in any given field. But no standards have been established for them, and therefore it is a politically-based who’s who. Which can be fine and useful, but the meaning is only ceremonial.

    Numo, do you know who conferred the honor on Francis Schaeffer? I am so disappointed that he did that!

    And who has conferred it on Mark Driscoll? The guy can’t think past his ego—-a real PhD would at least be able to think around his ego.

    Ach!

  26. @ Argo:

    “Paul Dohse from paulspassingthoughts.com is no longer posting my comments. ”

    Did you annoy him? : ) I removed his blog from my bookmarks bar after watching a long and unseemly exchange with a Calvinist commenter (by Dohse, not me), so I haven’t been reading there for a few months.

  27. @ HUG:

    I didn’t know that about Arthur Pink. Pink is intense and he’sall over Monergism.com (the site where I learned about Lorraine Boettner?). I’ve heard he believed God didn’t love the non-elect.

  28. The subject of honorary degrees is contentious – or at least the use of them is. Of course it’s nice to be awarded something in recognition of services rendered to an area of life, be it music, business or whatever.

    However I do have severe reservations when (a) certain groups of people start awarding one another degrees from their own institutions, esp if these are non-accredited, and even more so when (b) some people go to non-accredited institutions, pay a fee and write an essay or whatever, and come away with a “doctorate” which they then use to put “Dr” in front of their names in correspondence, etc. In its worst form this comes across as deceitful.

  29. Per Ken Silva: I think he has some good points about some sectors the Emergent Church, but he does tend to paint with a very broad brush and he’s way too anti-Catholic. I think he would come off as less crazy if he didn’t use his own personal coded language (Rick Warren = Purpose-Driven Pope, etc.).

  30. @ Bridget:

    I have no idea why this appeared from me. I didn’t comment or intend to, though it is a fine comment from Patrice 🙂

  31. I am appalled by the arrogance of these men- are they not reading the same bible I am? Here’s a poem for them, though I know first, they wouldn’t read it, and even if they did they would use it against Dee & Deb and all the other bloggers who are calling them out.

    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

    The heart is deceitful, Jeremiah cried,
    and as King David so eloquently wrote:
    Our secret faults from God we cannot hide,
    so not one of us have any room to gloat.

    Yet it seem we can be masters at self-deception,
    by projecting our sin onto another
    then hiding under the blanket of self protection.

    Not wanting to see our failures in the glaring light,
    we just forget that our motives are naked in God’s sight.

    Refusing to name the sinful pride that resides inside,
    some cover it up, blame, transfer, deny or hide.

    Yet many are so careful to behold the speck that they see in another eye,
    yet disregard Christ’s admonition to consider their log that they deny.

    O, Masters of Deception, those Pharisee’s were
    and of their self righteousness now of that they were sure.

    But Jesus wasn’t impressed with their external deeds,
    by pointing out to them that their claims to be righteous
    revealed how seriously they were self-deceived.

    Jesus told many stories of tax collectors & Pharisee’s
    how God’s heart was merciful to the broken mans pleas.
    He explained how that man beat his breast and cried out
    for God to have mercy on him,
    and by his humble confession he was cleansed from sin.

    The Pharisee pretended to keep all the rules-that was his pride
    but Jesus could see through his justifications that he held inside.

    Shouldn’t we learn from our Masters words?
    Are our hearts so hard that they are not stirred?
    Stirred to action to take a good look within,
    to confess our faults to one another & be honest
    by naming where ego & self righteousness brims…

    O may we not be like the white washed tombs that our Lord decried,
    for He adores humility and truth, those are 2 attributes of His bride.

  32. Hester wrote:

    @ HUG:
    I’ve heard he believed God didn’t love the non-elect.

    Many reformed folks believe this. It’s a point of contention between some close friends of mine and myself, actually- and these are NOT Calvinistas. I do not think that, however. I don’t know how pervasive a belief that is.

  33. Kolya wrote:

    However I do have severe reservations when (a) certain groups of people start awarding one another degrees from their own institutions, esp if these are non-accredited…

    This is called “The Larry-Moe-Curly System” where…
    * Larry awards Moe an Honorary Doctorate.
    * Moe awards Curly an Honorary Doctorate.
    * Curly awards Larry an Honorary Doctorate.
    * NYUK! NYUK! NYUK!
    You also find this when citing evidence for various Conspiracy Theories.

    …and even more so when (b) some people go to non-accredited institutions, pay a fee and write an essay or whatever, and come away with a “doctorate” which they then use to put “Dr” in front of their names in correspondence, etc. In its worst form this comes across as deceitful.

    “Just like a Diploma Mill, Except CHRSITIAN(TM)!”

    P.S. How many of these Dr Billy-Bobs denounce Catholic clergy with “Be Ye Not Called “Father”? (Apparently the Bible doesn’t say “Be Ye Not Called ‘Dr’…”)

  34. @ HUG & TW:

    Bet you dollars to donuts, when the nones don’t go to church, they’re “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” But when Arthur Pink doesn’t go to church, it’s a sign of how committed and holy and studious he was.

  35. So now the defrocked, conniving and greedy one weighs in on Challies’ behalf.

    Call the Waaaambulance!!

    It’s hilarious (and pathetic) that their knee-jerk response out of their playbook is to cast themselves as ‘victims’ like the Christians that were fed to the lions. They doth protest too much, methinks. The truth is, far from being ‘victims’, most of these guys are victimizers.

    The issues raised by discerning women and men are legitimate concerns deserving of responses addressing those concerns. Yet the subjects never do present such a response, instead, they can only whine. Responses like these deserve no more consideration than whining of a spoiled toddler.

  36. @ Jeff S:

    I think it is fairly pervasive in the reformed (maybe neo-reformed?) world, Jeff. It ties in with Jesus dying only for the elect (those chosen beforehand to be saved), therefore God can only love the elect. As the theory goes, Jesus’ precious blood could not be shed needlessly, so it could only have been shed for the elect. Apparently, it would be a waste of the grace/gift/sacrifice/blood/resurrection if some weren’t saved by that blood. I hold a different view about what “the elect” means and a view of God being much more gracious than some people seem to imply (intended or not) with their doctrines.

  37. Does anyone have any information about Jerry Bridges? Someone I know thinks he is good, but I have my doubts. He has been trying to get me to read his books, and I want to know what I should be aware of before I do it. I am already reading one of Stuart Olyott’s book on his recommendation, and I think it’s useless. Also, I was going to recommend he read The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. What else should I recommend? He recently made some unkind remarks about abused women in general, so I need to present to him an unbiased (read something written by a man) book or two on theological issues.

  38. I just listened to the live feed from the Gospel Coalition conference. After the four man panel concluded featuring Kevin DeYoung and gang, I heard a gospel infomercial. I couldn’t believe my ears when David and Goliath were mentioned. Interesting timing in light of this post.

  39. @ VelvetVoice:
    If the topic is abuse, I strongly recomment “A Cry For Justice” by Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood. Crippen will be about as credible as they come from a theological perspective if you are talking to a Reformed guy (Jeff is a Reformed Baptist pastor, but he definitely “gets” abuse).

  40. @ Leila:

    Interesting, Leila. I’m wondering if the churches in CREC are just independent churches then. I’ll have to check it out. It doesn’t sound any different than what SGM claimed (because actually they weren’t); that all the churches were independent. History shows a different truth concerning SGM’s activities. They clearly removed pastors and filled empty positions.

  41. Kolya wrote:

    The subject of honorary degrees is contentious – or at least the use of them is.

    Honorary degrees here in the UK tend to be awarded to people who are famous for something, as a kind of informal recognition by the university. I don’t know of too many instances in which they’re actually taken seriously as a qualification.

    In fact the only time I’ve seen one used was on Top Gear. The presenters were given a challenge, the nature of which I forget but which involved purchasing used cars. They also had to get an insurance quote – this, of course, involves disclosing one’s profession. Jeremy Clarkson called himself a “doctor” based on his honorary doctorate in engineering from Oxford Brookes University (NOT to be confused with Oxford University, btw). Incidentally, this was probably awarded for Clarkson’s enthusiastic support for engineering as a profession – he has presented a series on great engineering inventions, for instance – rather than for his actual prowess as an engineer. (Regular viewers of BBC’s Top Gear will concur.) And it may have been just a smidge tongue-in-cheek anyway…

  42. @ Deb:
    Also Mahaney’s blog has an interview w/ Bridges, where Bridges describes what he reads. For “personal enjoyment”, he was reading a book about–you guessd it– J.C. (no– not Jesus Christ). 🙂

  43. @ Kolya:
    FWIW, from wikiped—

    Francis Schaeffer:
    1. 1935, graduated from Hampden-Sydney College
    2. Enrolled at Westminster Theological Seminary, studied under Cornelius Van Til (presuppositional apologetics) and J. Gresham Machen (doctrine of inerrancy). In 1937, Schaeffer transferred to Faith Theological Seminary, graduating in 1938.
    3. In 1954, awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Highland College in Long Beach, California.[7]
    4. In 1971, honorary Doctor of Letters* degree from Gordon College in Wenham, MA
    5. In 1982, John Warwick Montgomery nominated Schaeffer for an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, which was conferred in 1983 by the Simon Greenleaf School of Law, Anaheim, CA in recognition of his apologetic writings and ministry.

    *Doctor of Letters or Doctor of Literature is a higher doctorate beyond the Ph.D…in recognition of outstanding achievement in the humanities, original contribution to the creative arts or scholarship and other merits. When awarded without an application by the conferee, it is awarded as an honorary degree.

    Mark Driscoll:
    1. Graduated high school in 1989.
    2. Bachelor’s degree in communications from Washington State University[4] with a minor in philosophy
    3. Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary.
    4. Can’t find source of honorary PhD for Driscoll.

  44. @ Beakerj:

    It’s a good thing we don’t have to read all that know and love God! God had the good sense to boil it down to ten important points and Jesus summed up the Way in two 🙂

  45. Pingback: Lunch time links for 9 April 2013 | The Richard W. Hendricks Experience UNITED STATES

  46. Bridget wrote:

    @ Leila:
    Interesting, Leila. I’m wondering if the churches in CREC are just independent churches then. I’ll have to check it out. It doesn’t sound any different than what SGM claimed (because actually they weren’t); that all the churches were independent. History shows a different truth concerning SGM’s activities. They clearly removed pastors and filled empty positions.

    Bridget, here is their web page. It’s a “communion.” Used to be a “confederation.” So, not a denomination. IMHO, it doesn’t really answer any questions about why they felt they needed to start their own club, other than the fact that apparently nobody else was doing it quite right.

  47. Dee & Deb,
    You two evil Canaanite women keep up the good work. You’re startin’ to get to em’ now.

  48. For you guys to be Pharisees, wouldn’t you have to be loading us (your illustrious readers) down with heavy legalistic burdens or something? Isn’t that what a Pharisee did that made them such bad guys?

    I’m just checking the definitions…because it would seem, according to some of your detractors, that “Pharisees” are people who point out concerning trends in Christendom that have to do with high-profile leaders.

    Okay, all snark aside…I GET that it’s easy to “gang up” on the internet, and no, it’s not cool when internet blogs/articles take small facts and turn them into witch hunts. But seriously…the blogger who responded to Challies was exactly right. IF what you ladies say IS incorrect, why didn’t Challies simply make a blog post explaining how and why his connections to SGM should not be viewed in the light TWW views it in?

    Even if he would post something like: “Oh. Wow. I can see how it looks that way, I totally can! You’re just going to have to take my word that it’s not, but I see your point of view.” Even that would be better than indirectly attacking what you’ve said without proving WHY what you said was out of line.

  49. Patrice wrote:

    Mark Driscoll:
    1. Graduated high school in 1989.
    2. Bachelor’s degree in communications from Washington State University[4] with a minor in philosophy
    3. Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary.
    4. Can’t find source of honorary PhD for Driscoll.

    Does he claim a Doctorate? If so, he’s a fraud. (And it wouldn’t be the first time someone inflated their academic record.) If not, we’ve got enough beefs with the guy without needing to add any.

  50. @ Leila:

    What was interesting is that I couldn’t find any reference on the Christ Church website that explained their connection to CREC.

  51. Yeah, since when did MD become a Dr.? Is it supposed to be a pun on the fact that his initials spell M.D. (Medicinae Doctor)? Shrug.

  52. R.C. Was welcomed into the CRAeC and iltayy has ended up being ordained as a “traveling evangelist” in the Covenant Oresbyterian Church denomination.

    http://www.covenant-presbyterian.org/

    If you look Arthur churches and their pastors you will recognize at least two names from those documents you provided about R. C.’s defrocking.

  53. @ Patrice: No, I don’t know – and I agree completely! Which is why I tried to put one of these 🙁 after my comment about Schaeffer.

    I felt *really* uncomfortable when I found out that he didn’t have a Ph.D., for multiple reasons – one of them being that I’d referred to him as “Dr.,” assuming that he had the degree.

  54. @ Patrice: Did you happen to see my replies to you – on another recent thread – re. Schaeffer, Rookmaaker et. al. and modern/contemporary art?

    To this day I’m baffled at Roomaaker’s seeing desolation in the art of Joan Miro, of all people… but I didn’t know how much it troubled me until I was sitting at a Sunday high tea at Swiss L’Abri, mouthing some of his lines and realizing that I didn’t believe them and thought his analysis was off-base.

    But I was very young, and didn’t voice my doubts to the rest of the group. It was a new idea (my own critique of Rookmaaker, that is) and I didn’t have the confidence at that point to be able to go against the tide. (Which was rough that afternoon – a couple of people had it in for Pentecostals and charismatics, and it was all I could do at that point to try and stand up to *that* – particularly since one of the nicest fellow students there was a Swedish Pentecostal. Fortunately, one of the L’Abri workers who was hosting came from that background as well, and she had neither the time nor the patience for attacks on people of “other” religious groups…)

  55. @ Headless Unicorn Guy: It’s been around for decades, but is arguable *much* worse now… sad.

    Agreed on the name, though I think it was thought to be cool back in the day. (Not by kids, but by the people who started it.)

  56. @ Patrice: You do know that Schaeffer was a fundamentalist ack when The Fundamentals of the Faith split the Presby. church, right?

    In fact, that’s how he and his family ended up in Switzerland. The splinter group (still using the name Presbyterian) that they belonged to sent them to a Roman Catholic region of Switzerland in order to evangelize the locals and bring them to the One True Fold.

    In lots of ways, I think his alignment with the Religious Right was a reversion to the beliefs he held as a young man. (See Frank S.’s Crazy for God for more on both things, though really, Edith devoted a lot of pages, in various books, to these things. Frank doesn’t say much that his mom hadn’t already communicated either via conversation or in print, or both…)

  57. @ Beakerj: With P!ink on your iPod while under there, maybe?

    (Seriously – when I 1st skimmed recent comments and saw “Pink,” I thought you guys were talking about her!)

  58. numo wrote:

    Agreed on the name, though I think it was thought to be cool back in the day. (Not by kids, but by the people who started it.)

    Unfortunately, Cutting-Edge KEWL soon becomes Old-Fashioned.

    Nothing gets stale faster than Over-Relevance.

  59. Discernment Blogging – Why R.C. Sproul Jr. Denounces It

    Because only God’s Speshul Elect like R.C.Sproul are permitted to have “discernment”?

    (Never mind that there are “Discernment Ministries” out there that wouldn’t be out-of-place with the Malleus Malefacarium…)

  60. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Teen Mania appeared on Internet Monk last year, as part of a series on “On Fire For The LOORD(TM)” vs just Living Your Life in Christ, with the former related to “Wretched Urgency”.

    I’ll see if I can find those articles on iMonk.

    Regarding – Your comments about the it’s not enough to be a regular Christian for some of these guys, you must be ‘on fire.’

    It reminds me of a discussion Anon1 and I were having on here a couple weeks ago about the preachers, many of whom live in $600,000 homes and have multi million dollar church buildings, who lecture other Christians unless they give up their $50k – $120k home and go live in a shack with no plumbing in Hondorus to hand out Gospel tracts to the unsaved, they’re not a real Christian, or not serious about being one.

    Even the one pastor who did sell his big$$$ home to go live in an inner city broken down home who preaches this stuff, it still bugs me.

    If a Christian really desires to live in a shack and hand out tracts, that is great. But I don’t like preachers trying to shame people into this sort of thing.

    Anyway, that site by the former Teen Mania Honor Academy member was something else. He has lots of stories of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse against teen agers on there.

  61. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    That’s kind of funny. If I have become a “church of one,” it’s not over doctrinal differences but that 99% of the time I speak to other Christians or look to them for support, I get unwanted advice, put downs, blame, or judgement. Or I get frilly, maudlin religious- tinted cliches.

    I have been to some sites that are into discernment. I think discernment sites have a legitimate place among Christians, but, some sites, one in particular (can’t remember what it’s called), lists almost every single well known Christian.

    They didn’t leave hardly anyone off their list. I was only surprised to see they did not include Jesus of Nazareth or Paul the Apostle as heretics too.

  62. sad observer wrote:

    For you guys to be Pharisees, wouldn’t you have to be loading us (your illustrious readers) down with heavy legalistic burdens or something? Isn’t that what a Pharisee did that made them such bad guys?

    First of all, they would have to have some ecclesiastical power making it a sin in their doctrine not to obey them. Have not heard that one here. They would be quoting CJ’s favorite verse Hebrews 13:17. They are women, not Levite women AND going over to the New Covenant they have no Christianese title NOR did we sign anything. We all come here volutarily and even disagree!

    A Pharisee, even metaphorically in attitude, is a “religious leader”. They are adorable blog queens. :o)

  63. Oh no! Not AW Pink! I am having creepy flashbacks. Anyone else read his book, Sovereignty of God?

  64. Jeff S wrote:

    @ VelvetVoice:
    If the topic is abuse, I strongly recomment “A Cry For Justice” by Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood. Crippen will be about as credible as they come from a theological perspective if you are talking to a Reformed guy (Jeff is a Reformed Baptist pastor, but he definitely “gets” abuse).

    Ditto this.

  65. More and more I’m learning it’s a good old boys network. I’m thoroughly disgusted. None of them have the kohones to say word one about Jame Macdonald’s shenanigans or the SGM sex abuse coverups and yet wow, someone does some research on Challies and they are just all over it! Choking on gnats, swallowing camels. Yup, I played the pharisee card there, and rightly.

  66. I have to wonder if R C Sproul Jr. denounces “discernment radio” like oh, Wretched, or hmm “Renewing Your Mind”?

  67. @ numo:
    Arg. I missed your comments about Rookmaaker et al. I’ll catch up 2morrow, if that’s ok—totally exhausted–daughter’s fiance’s parents visiting.

  68. dee wrote:

    Our only rule is to insist everyone buy cute shoes!

    It is a good thing they have started making sensible shoes, cute!

  69. dee wrote:

    Our only rule is to insist everyone buy cute shoes!

    Now that you mention it, I could really use a pair of cute shoes. I’ll tell my husband that my new cult leader insisted. 🙂

  70. Anon1

    I could use your insight. Please see the post on language and see the comment that Reasonable left. Do you know if DDOS always means to send a virus to a site?

  71. Numo

    Please see the comment by Reasonable on the language post. I did not know that DDOS means a hack. Did you? I though it had lots of meanings. Help-I need insight. 

  72. Paula wrote:

    I have to wonder if R C Sproul Jr. denounces “discernment radio” like oh, Wretched, or hmm “Renewing Your Mind”?

    I can tell you this, Paula. He did not denounce his buddy, Kevin Swanson, who on his radio broadcast spewed rhetoric about women on birth control having thousands of dead embedded babies in their womb. Kevin and RC are friends.

  73. dee wrote:

    Anon1

    I could use your insight. Please see the post on language and see the comment that Reasonable left. Do you know if DDOS always means to send a virus to a site?

    Not A virus but a Distributed Denial of Service attack-basically overwhelm a website with too much traffic

  74. @ dee: Yikes – I spoke wrongly, because i did not read your comment closely enough.

    My bad – and my apologies!

  75. http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/distributed-denial-of-service-attack

    might be helpful in explaining…

    Symantec is about internet security, which is much more than viruses. But I’m definitely *not* someone who has enough of a handle on this to explain it clearly. (I do believe that one of my old laptops – which went to the OS in the Sky – was hijacked for some bad purposes via malware infections that I wasn’t aware of until it was too late.)

  76. @ Deb:

    Ha! too funny.

    But seriously it probably is coincidence, because loads of people do this just as Chandler says. He did touch on this at Code Orange last year too. Rick Warren is another one that also misuses the David/Goliath metaphor so it’s easy for him to use this as an example of how we try to make the Scriptures about US instead of about Jesus.

  77. @ Julie Anne:
    Well, without straying too far afield I’d have to listen to how he said it — but there is evidence that hormonal forms of birth control does not always prevent ovulation but in the cases when it doesn’t, it prevents implantation. That’s one reason why I stopped using it. I didn’t want to take that chance. Besides, it isn’t very good for you either. Used Catholic NFP (which does work if you use it correctly – it is fairly detailed) combined with a barrier method.

  78. With reference to Ken, I had a rather unfriendly run-in with him many years ago, and last year watched him go to town on someone I respected – *on their blog* – informing him that he was utterly in error and needed to repent. From what I can tell, it was because the guy’s not a Calvinist.

    This is honestly the first time that I’ve heard anyone have something good to say about Ken, so maybe there is more to him than meets the eye.

  79. Paula wrote:

    @ Julie Anne:
    Well, without straying too far afield I’d have to listen to how he said it — but there is evidence that hormonal forms of birth control does not always prevent ovulation but in the cases when it doesn’t, it prevents implantation.

    Never fear, Paula. I’ve got the scoop right here, including a transcribed paragraph and also the audo (on YouTube). http://goo.gl/mWczf I did a number of follow-up posts on it, too. This guy got my panties in a wad. It’s not good to do that because then I just get all worked up into a twitter/blogging frenzy.

  80. @ Warwick:

    “From what I can tell, it was because the guy’s not a Calvinist.”

    Well, it was the anti-Emergent bloggers (not just Silva) who pointed me to the Neo-Calvinists – they were presented as the preachers of the “real” Gospel in the face of Emergent “compromise.” If they’re still pointing people in that direction, they need to seriously re-examine that IMO. I’ve never seen what Silva does on other people’s blogs, but does he allow comments on his? I can’t remember and in any case I never read them.

  81. Daisy wrote:

    Anyway, that site by the former Teen Mania Honor Academy member was something else.

    Teen Mania Honor Academy or Teen Mania HORROR Academy?

  82. Eagle wrote:

    Adrain Warnokc did the first blog post of Margaret Thatcher. Interesting read….though I don’t know what to make about Thatcher stepping down causing his Nany’s death.

    Eagle, thanks for linking to this blog post about Thatcher. Personally I admired her tremendously: she was an incredibly strong and gifted leader. What do the complementarians make of her I wonder?

  83. Warwick wrote:

    he was utterly in error and needed to repent. From what I can tell, it was because the guy’s not a Calvinist.

    LOL. I’m not a Calvinist. I don’t even agree with the watered down, 2-, 3-, or 4- star variety of it.

    (I don’t consider myself Arminian, either, though most Calvinists I’ve run into badly want to categorize all people as either Calvinist or Arminian.)

    I recognize that two believers can have differing opinions on some of these things and still be Christian. I wouldn’t dream of telling a Calvinist to “repent” just for being a Calvinist. That’s arrogant.

  84. @ numo
    Yes, we were so newly entered into the world and stlll learning to think/sort. So we just took it all in and spent most of our time wondering.

    Ach, I wish I could go sit in a bar with you and Beakerj for a good art talk. It is hard to write in a comment section!

    My thoughts re Rookmaaker, Schaeffer and 20th century art. I think they were unable to transfer away from essential realism. (They could go with symbolism but that kind of visuality is based in language, which I suspect is why they found it acceptable.)

    It seems to me that they felt like 20thcen art was a rejection of physical reality. And for someone like Kandinsky, for eg, whose pursuit of “the spiritual in art” led him eventually into geometric abstraction, they had a point. Because Kandinsky was essentially dualistic in the Platonic kind of way.

    It seems to me that Rookmaaker/Schaeffer’s fear was that if they lost “realism” altogether, they also lost the rules of creation, the very structure of the universe. And there were 20th century artists who were about that, so it also wasn’t without basis.

    I suspect they also felt horror about the Abstract Expressionist movement, with its open goals to “destroy art”. That it was followed by minimalism/conceptualism merely proved it to them. And they had a point, there too.

    I suspect they also were disgusted by the loss of technical skill, which they saw everywhere declining in the artist’s education.

    But I suspect their deepest problem was that 20th century art left broader society. It started talking to itself, one artist to another, one group to another, stacked on top of the other, until they became thoroughly irrelevant to their culture. And again, they had a point.

    But fear never gets people anywhere. At bottom, I think because of their fear of “things going wrong” (because they focused on the essential incapability of humanity–in this they agreed with a strain in 20thcen art), they forgot that the earth is God’s and that He/She maintains it. I think they didn’t understand that the line of evil goes through every human’s heart but that it is not a complete broad rot of black. Because of their fear, they couldn’t let go control.

    It’s sad because so much innovation occurred. The 20th century is a vast encyclopedia of fascinating experimentation.

    Yet Christians today do not revel in the variety and wealth of it, either. It seems they suffer problems similar to Schaeffer/Rookmaaker: huge control problems based in fear. We are children of God and we are so very afraid. Makes me deeply sad.

    What do you think? Do you think I have a point or two?

  85. @ Patrice: Oh, I think that Rookmaaker and Schaeffer both had valid points, but they were (maybe) just unable to pull back and see that there really was identifiable structure, rhythm – even imagery – in Ab. Ex. art and in much other abstraction.

    It really baffles me that both of them seemed to have it in for painters like Kandinsky and Miro – Rookmaaker’s fear (I think you got that right!) of Miro was always puzzling to me, since so much of Miro’s work is so light-hearted and playful. and Kandinsky’s work being so tied to music (in some ways) – I mean, ??? Music is not representational, but it has form, structure, etc., no matter whether it’s Bach or free jazz improv.

    to put it another way (as an analogy, not as a 1:1 equivalent): if you or I – or anyone – hears someone speaking a language that’s unintelligible to the hearer, does that mean that the language being spoken is gibberish? imo, more than likely not – but it takes the development of certain skills in order to be able to recognize words in that language, and how ideas are expressed in that other language (whether it’s Mandarin Chinese or Armenian or Finnish)- in order to be able to carry on a conversation with the speaker of the “gibberish” (at 1st hearing) language.

    Equally, I think abstract art is intelligible (well, most of it!) if one takes the time to develop the skills needed to “read” it – though maybe I’m somewhat prejudiced by my own early fascination with East Asian calligraphy and some of the less “representational” types of E. Asian art? I really don’t know… except to say that we’re all biased in certain ways, and that we all tend to think that *our* paradigms are the “right” ones, until we start exploring a bit.

    I don’t know if that makes much sense (kind of hard to do without visual examples!), but hey – if Sister Wendy Beckett, whose art appreciations skills have been learned mainly from looking at museum postcards, can see value in abstraction, well, then… I think others can too. (I love Sr. Wendy, btw, and wish there were more people like her in education, and just generally, because I think she radiates the love of Christ and a delight in creation and creativity that’s sadly lacking in education – and the world in general.)

    Also, I think both Schaeffer and Rookmaaker were too closely tied to seeing Western (read: European) representational art as the standard by which all else should be measured. I can’t help wondering how – or if – their views might have changed if they’d had a chance to spend time looking at art, architecture and calligraphy from, say the Muslim world? (Where there’s a lot of “abstraction” going on, though it’s firmly based in real-world “things,” like calligraphy and natural forms…) At any rate, I do think they were blinded by the Renaissance; Rookmaaker more by Dutch 17th c. art 9which I happen to LOVE with a real passion).

    To finish this long and very rambling comment, much Abstract Expressionism makes sense to me in a way that most Minimalism and conceptual never have and likely never will. It’s as if a lot of artists in the US retreated into caves where they sat and muttered mostly to themselves, but sometimes to each other… 😉

  86. @ Patrice:

    It’s sad because so much innovation occurred. The 20th century is a vast encyclopedia of fascinating experimentation.

    Indeed (on both points). I think that both Schaeffer and Rookmaaker were, to a greater or lesser extent, thinking in somewhat apocalyptic terms, and no wonder – Rookmaaker had (i think) lived through two world wars and vast social changes; Schaeffer, through the Depression and one world war (though I believe he wasn’t in the military during WWII)… Huge cultural changes were taking place in many parts of the world.

    Which makes people – i think – want to cling to what they had and be fearful of newer things, lest they be swept away in an unceasing flood… and lose all that they hold dear.

  87. @ Rafiki: I *hope* it airs on either PBS or BBC America – thanks for the heads up + link!

    Russian art and culture has fascinated me since I was 16-ish, due to my having taken an elective (essentially an AP course) in Russian history during my senior year in HS.

  88. @ Numo, Patrice & Rafiki:

    “Also, I think both Schaeffer and Rookmaaker were too closely tied to seeing Western (read: European) representational art as the standard by which all else should be measured.”

    Yes yes yes yes yes!!! Glad I’m not the only one who’s encountered this, though I’ve never read any Schaeffer and I’d never even heard Rookmaaker before this thread. I’ve never understood the fear of abstract art – they seem to always tie it back to “God is a God of order.” What’s funny is that I learned in a music history course that in the 17th century, the Alps were described as “hideous” and “disorderly” because they didn’t conform to mathematical, geometric standards. So I suspect the definition of “order” has changed over time.

    I actually think Christians’ standards are more arbitrary when it comes to music (since music is inherently abstract and there isn’t as much of a convenient demarcation like representational vs. abstract). They’re terrified of twelve-tone, serialist and atonal music, which all occurred in the 20th century, so they basically place an anathema on everything after 1900, based on the (erroneous) assumption that all music in that time period was twelve-tone/serialist/atonal. (The exception to this rule, of course, is all their CCM.)

    You are correct, though, that the arts seem to have become more “ivory tower” and eggheaded in the 20th century. I don’t know about art but I know this happened with serialist music – composers wrote music for each other only and lost touch with the general public. But whether this makes that music inherently bad is another question.

  89. @ numo:
    Numo, last night I was tired and left out important part. Duh

    The above-mentioned points that Rook/Schaeffer (perhaps) made about 20thcen art didn’t define everything within it. Some art did some of what they criticized. All of it contained a smidge of one or two of their points. But they used their analysis to reject the complete century! It’s as if they thought that because they could dig out a few philosophical flaws, they could reject it all.

    And really, that’s what Rook/Schaeffer did with “humanism” too, (which is ironic because much 20thcen art was also a rejection of humanism). They were unable to endure flaws in the larger world. Because of it they missed large swaths of marvelous and wonderful truths. And that basic attitude, which is the essential spirit of fundamentalism, was also turned onto the church.

    Challies et al have the same spirit. They reject discernment blogs for being discernment blogs because they see potential flaws in it. So a sin sticker is smugly slapped on, hands are dusted off, and all done! And there goes the potential for their own growth and for healing many wounded people. Down the drain.

    Anyway, this needed to be stated before I went into the bit about their fear of loss of control. I hope it now makes better sense. Because I agree with your response. Sr Wendy totally gets it. She can find the truth wherever she wanders and it is delightful. And enjoying abstraction because of Eastern calligraphy is a treasure.

    FWIW, Kandinsky is my favorite 20th cen artist. I love his middle period, when he was able to hold in tension the spirit of form/context while trouncing the old strictures. I look at that stuff at least once a month. And Miro is lovely.

  90. @ Hester:
    “…they seem to always tie it back to “God is a God of order.”” Yep, what order they’ve found in their time/system becomes the be-all of truth, and because they are petrified by the fear of losing control, that order petrifies them. blech

    “…the arts seem to have become more “ivory tower” and eggheaded in the 20th century…But whether this makes that music inherently bad is another question.” Right, not at all inherently bad. Every field needs a few people who do the esoteric work for those inside the field. It only becomes problematic when the ratio goes too high. And it was too high in the art field. Became too high in academia, too.

  91. @ numo:
    “Also, I think both Schaeffer and Rookmaaker were too closely tied to seeing Western (read: European) representational art as the standard by which all else should be measured. I can’t help wondering how – or if – their views might have changed if they’d had a chance to spend time looking at art, architecture and calligraphy from, say the Muslim world?”

    They saw other art. But they believed Christianity to be the only way to make truthful art. And further, they combed inside the traditional western system for the “only correct version among correct Christian ways”. Thus they had to reject almost everything. I imagine they were loud in condemnation the minute they discovered the impressionists were enchanted by the Asian prints that goods came packed in, and when they saw Gauguin doing totems and Picasso using native African arts/masks. lol

    “I think that both Schaeffer and Rookmaaker were, to a greater or lesser extent, thinking in somewhat apocalyptic terms, and no wonder – Rookmaaker had (i think) lived through two world wars and vast social changes; Schaeffer, through the Depression and one world war (though I believe he wasn’t in the military during WWII)… Huge cultural changes were taking place in many parts of the world.”

    I will not give them a pass on that because every 20thcen person were shadowed by those experiences. The artists who most tried to face the obvious failure of humanity to “progress” were most roundly condemned. If they had an ounce of sense, they would have engaged Dada work, for eg, because recognition of humanity’s failure underlay it: God was no more, and there was no longer any hope that humanity would survive it’s self-destructiveness. I have a great deal of respect for their initial unwavering honesty. Christ is precisely for people like them.

    The lovely idea that all is God’s and therefore we are called to go into all the world, to engage in every field of human endeavor not only because God is there, but because it all needs the salt of true hope—that came out of Reformational thought. But fear made them glance at it and then run. Immensely sad!

    Rafiki, thanks, I’ll look forward to seeing it after tracking it down.

  92. I apologize for hijacking this thread and on a subject different from the post. So, to bring it back around, and end my part…

    The perfectionism that underlies fundamentalism (any form: Sproul’s, Challies’, Rook/Schaeffer’s) does sooo much harm. Perfection cannot be had here. Every human endeavor has flaws, just as every human does. But flaws generally don’t completely destroy the good that is also there. That is where the doctrine of total depravity misses, I think. And ideas of common grace don’t altogether correct it. I think.

    Challies says sin-sniffing can be dangerous; he’s right, when done without the primacy of love and from the spirit of fundamentalist perfectionism combined with a belief in total depravity. The problem is that he has that combo.

    That’s why it’s been great to read the ongoing discussion about discernment and criticism. To be able to see flaws while not rejecting the whole package is where the rubber hits the road. It is only rarely that the flaws in something altogether overwhelm the good that can also be found. Like perhaps with SGM.

    Fundamentalists find it fairly easy to reject almost the whole world, but they find it almost impossible to establish something new/better in its place. I suspect that’s because their spirit of criticism emerges from fear (chaos, annihilation) and fear destroys love and it is only out of love that the world can be understood and new constructions emerge.

    Deb/Dee have carefully/deliberately set up an atmosphere of compassion and respect. That makes discernment as potent with potential as it can get. IMO

    Once again, I apologize. Have to get to my day, too. Thanks.

  93. @ numo:
    Hey Guys,
    So interesting to see this conversation, wish it could be in real life. Fascinating for me, learning to paint in a semi-abstract mode, in the Stables attic at L’Abri, praying & thinking & painting, & doing a lot of talking at lunch tables & with other artists who would climb the ladder up to my eyrie to talk. One of the things I think both Schaeffer & Rookmaker lacked, which changed what they understood & could talk of, was being a practising artist & understanding everything that teaches you about just how structured (in some ways, even in the processes of making) ‘abstract’ art is. I’m not working right now & it makes me feel shut out of some of my understanding. I used to talk about how I would work at any point on the spectrum between photo-realism (becasue God made the world as is) & total abstraction (as he made all the individual elements that we may be abstracting out) depending on what a brief or idea called for…I was often trying to break it down for students (especially American, sorry)who either couldn;t handle abstraction at all, & saw it as mocking them or couldn’t figure out what use it was for evangelism….You should have seen the reaction the day we discussed that ‘not all art is for all people’, i.e that writers are allowed to write books, poems, shopping lists, diary entries, letters & so on, & people don’t expect necessarily expect to understand every word,e especially of things not addressed to them. However, when it comes to art, somehow everything an artist makes is suddenly expected to speak to everyone…unless (shock horror) maybe some of those abstract artists were not painting for you 21st Century christian student, maybe their work was a personal exploration of something or part of a conversation very small group was having about reality, & no-one ever ever thought it would all end up in galleries around the world being viewed by gazillions! I had a great visit to the Tate Modern with a group of teenagers from my church youth group once & we talked about that, how many of the artists would be shocked to see how their work is now known!

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