I have been writing for quite some time and am now polishing up my article on New Evangelical Calvinism or the "New Calvinism", after receiving constructive feedback from my friend Stephen Macasil.
Anyway, I thought I would post my belated response to Tim Challies' horrible posts attacking watchblogs. For those who have no clue as to what has happened, the "world's most famous Christian blogger" Tim Challies has decided to post an attack article attacking watchblogs as presenting Evil as Entertainment (presumably he is exempted from his own charge?). Both Steve Camp in his post Blogging, Watchblogging and Ministry, and Phil R. Johnson in his post Turning a Blind Eye to Evil is Evil Too have responded to the outrageous attack launched by Challies against fellow Christians. Challies responded to the outrage with a follow-up article Fighting Fire with Fire, in which he made some cosmetic changes but maintained his fundamental stance with regards to the issue.
Previously, I have decided to respond to Challies in the context of my larger article on New Evangelical Calvinism, for otherwise it may be harder to substantiate my refutations since they deal with an issue not normaly seen as errant, New Evangelicalism with its infatuation with positivity. However, it seems that such may not be a good idea after all, so I would be presenting my full rebuttal here first.
The idea of being positive or seen as positive was one aspect of the New Evangelical movement  which is however not as easily recognized as demarcating New Evangelicalism per se. The New Evangelical/ Fundamentalist divide is remembered more for the divide over the doctrine of separation, if it is remembered at all. The apostatizing mainstream "evangelicals" in our day have long since jettisoned treasuring and proclaiming the truth, and therefore the New Calvinists do not seem to be New Evangelical in the aspect of truth as compared to the "Evangelicals" nowadays. However, this has not been the case. The early New Evangelicals like Harold Ockenga and Edward Carnell treasure the truth  and desire that biblical Christianity experience a revival in the land. Trying to have their cake and eat it however, the New Evangelical strategy of infiltration backfired and it was the world that turned the church upside down instead of the other way round. But it must be remembered that the early New Evangelicals do treasure the truth and were appalled by the fruit of their compromise .
The desire to be loving and positive, both New Evangelical traits, have never been repudiated by the New Calvinist movement, a successor of the conservative wing of New Evangelicalism. In fact, these twin related traits manifests themselves in the blogosphere in New Calvinist Tim Challies' blog post attacking so-called watchbloggers . In his highly inflammatory post, Challies utilizes zero Scripture to support his case and through analogy with the secular world accuses watchblogs or discernment blogs as utilizing evil as entertainment, merely because such watchblogs act as watchmen in portraying the errors within the professing visible Church. The irony that Challies is, in this one post of his, doing exactly what he accuses the watchblogs as doing (portraying the errors within the professing visible Church) is seemingly lost on him, as it has been written:
Take note of the irony here: what we just read was a blogger concerned about watchbloggers watchblogging, issuing a very pointed criticism against watchbloggers in general, but in point of fact was watchblogging about other watchbloggers on his own blog. 
Phillip R. Johnson  and Steven J. Camp  have both responded to Challies' article rather well, and it is not our desire to repeat their good arguments against Challies. What is more of concern here is to note that Challies' article betrays his New Evangelical tendency, in his desire to be loving and positive. In his initial attack piece, Challies labeled all Discernment ministries without any distinction and attacked all of them. Being taken to task especially by Phil Johnson, Challies in his follow-up article Fighting Fire with Fire  softens his absolutist stance and says that there is "a time and place to expose sin and even to expose sin publicly", but this as we shall see is mere cosmetic change.
The first warning sign that Challies has not in fact changed his view on positivity, on having an infatuation with being positive, comes from the title of the blog post itself "Fighting fire with fire". Taking the example of a forest fire, Challies likened doctrinal error to a forest fire, and the actions of watchbloggers as smaller fires started with the intention of preventing the creation of larger fires. While this may seem to convey his stated point that "negative watchblogging" is sin and cause destruction probably on par with the spreading of doctrinal error, what it also conveys is that both are destructive in the exact same way and degree. That such a bold claim is made is nothing short of astonishing. Does Challies know even one bit of Church history? The most "negative watchblogging", which focus on persons, can do is destroy individuals, which is highly unlikely in the first place. Heresy however attacks the truth and thus permanently destroys individual souls, churches, and denominations, and that destruction continues through time. The former deals with people, the latter with the Truth! It is a symptom indeed of Challies' view on positivity and his myopic view of reality that both are to be regarded as equally bad.
Having sullied the idea of discernment by his inappropriate analogy, Challies continued by poisoning the well. Challies opined on the type of feedback he has received and phrased it in such a way that the impression is given that he has received a lot of hatemail confirming the correctness of his first post, through the use of the phrase "learned more about those watchblogs than I have wanted". Challies is a good writer, and he skillfully uses his words to give the impression that the hatemail he received confirmed that many "watchbloggers" are indeed people who regard evil as entertainment. Even if the majority of emails rebuking Challies are harsh, it is logically fallacious to infer that therefore these same people are treating evil as entertainment. There is simply no causative relationships between the two, unless of course one believe in the principle of positivity as an axiom.
To support his so-far non-existent argument, Challies placed up a couple of links. The first one links to an article by James McDonald  about the idea of the gift of discernment used in the flesh. The whole argument is suspect however, for the very issue at hand is taking criticism from other Christians. Are we to suppose that any and ALL criticism equates to the use of discernment? Is McDonald, and Challies by extension, saying that criticism from others equals the use of the gift of discernment albeit in the flesh? It seems that one does not have to be a Christian in order to have this gift! Whether rightly or wrongly, criticism comes to all of us, and to attack the act of discernment and discernment ministries themselves because criticism occurs is utterly fallacious. In fact, since Challies is discerning the watchblogs here, why isn't this act of his done in the flesh?
The second links to New Evangelical Frank Turk's article  that discernment is to be exercised within the local church. Since discernment ministries are meant to inform people of error and in so doing contributing to the Great Commission by warning the flock of possible soul-destroying error, Turk's peculiar ecclesia localis centrism logically leads to the conclusion that evangelism is to be done only within the Local Church! This is simply untenable, and therefore Turk's view of the Local Church is in error. The early church came together for worship, prayer, fellowship and sacraments, and went out to reach the world for Christ. The focus always was outward. No doubt we should treasure the Local Church, but ministry is not limited to the Local Church: Evangelism for example should be always done without to reach lost souls for Christ. The early church in Acts also did not know of Turk's peculiar emphasis on the Local Church, and there never was a situation whereby Christians refuse to minister together or to accept each other's ministry because they were not of the same Local Church! Last of all, it will suffice that Turk is violating his own advice since this article of his is not posted within the context of the Local Church anyway, not to mention Turk is not a pastor or elder so he has disqualified himself on his own principles!
Challies finished by basically repeating the essence of his initial post. In his own words:
But a blog that has as its bread and butter exposing error in the church, and especially error that is completely decontextualized and irrelevant to any of its readers, is a blog I think we ought to avoid . A Christian’s thoughts ought to be dominated by “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). As I said last Monday, “Do I really need to read and to know about the seedy underbelly of the church, when such things happen thousands of miles away, among people I will never meet and in places I will never be? Such news is plenty entertaining, but it is useless to me. It does nothing to further my faith or to cause me to grow in godliness.” 
The problem with Challies which can be seen here is that he has attacked the idea of discernment ministries in general, in his bid to be positive. This has nothing to do whatsoever with the responsibility of the readership, an issue which must be kept totally separate.
Now of course, is there nothing to Challies' complaint? Of course there is! There are so-called "discernment" blogs that I personally do not exactly want to be associated with. But to attack "watchblogs" in general and state that the problem is that they are "doing discernment in the flesh", or are using "evil as entertainment" attacks the very actions of discernment itself and is a judgmental statement on the state of people's souls. How does Challies know whether a person is operating a watchblog because he is concerned over others, or because he wants to destroy others or entertain others with evil? He doesn't! Also, we shouldn't confuse the motives of the writers with the motives of the readers. If people read it because they want to be entertained by evil, the blame should be placed on the reader not the sharer of information, unless it can be proven that that was the motive of the sharer in posting it also.
The proper biblical response to inappropriate "discernment" ministries is to lovingly reach them and call upon them to be loving as well as discerning. Most of these people are doing such because they are concerned over what is happening in the churches, not because they delight in entertaining people with evil. Instead of attacking them, they should be given loving guidance. In the case of inappropriate judgments, we should correct them in love and if they reject it, to stand firm in the truth. If rebukes are required, the offending parties are to be named, their errors shown biblically and specifically, and they are to be called to repent. Such people are wrong because they have no love or they make a wrong judgment, not because of their action of discernment.
Challies with his view of being loving and positivity has manifests his New Evangelical convictions and has done damage to the cause of Christ, with legitimate discernment ministries de-legitimized and the enemies of the Truth emboldened . Just like New Evangelicalism historically, such an infatuation with positivity will slowly but surely destroy the Church. Will we reject this infatuation with positivity? Of course, this does not mean that we extol negativity; we should not strive to be either positivist or negativist, but to be biblical and embrace both in antithetical living. As it is written:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim. 4:1-5)
Note the pattern here: Verse 1-2 are "positive" verses, which is followed by a "negative" verses in verses 3-4, and capped with a "positive" statement in verse 5. Such patterns are in fact found throughout the Scripture, and this antithetical teaching and lifestyle should characterize the lives of Christians. We are to be positive and negative; positive towards godliness and truth and negative towards ungodliness and error. New Evangelicalism threw out the need to be negative, while Fundamentalism in general tend to throw out the need to be positive. Biblical Christianity is both, and may we therefore embrace both.
 Earnest D. Pickering, The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism (Greenville, SC, USA: Bob Jones University Press, 1994), p. 8
Early New Evangelical leaders took great pains to emphasize the fact that fundamentalists were too much "again" and not enough "for". Their plea was "Let's be positive and not negative". While this statement has an emotional appeal to many, it is not a biblical philosophy. Scripture is both positive and negative — it is for some things and against others. We must strive for that same balance.
 Iain H. Murray, Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000 (Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), p. 20
 Pickering, pp. 78, 96-97
 Tim Challies, Evil as Entertainment, Blog post dated April 6, 2009 (http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/evil-as-entertainment.php)
 Steven J. Camp, Blogging, Watchblogging and Ministry, Blog post dated April 8th, 2009 (http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/2009/04/blogging-watchblogging-meta-and.html)
 Phil. R Johnson, Turning a Blind Eye to Evil is Evil Too, Blog post dated April 9th, 2009 (http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2009/04/turning-blind-eye-to-evil-is-evil-too.html)
 Steven J. Camp, Blogging, Watchblogging and Ministry.
 Tim Challies, Fighting Fire with Fire, Blog post dated April 13, 2009 (http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/fighting-fire-with-fire.php)
 James McDonald, Great Damage: The Use of the Gift of Discernment Used in the Flesh, Blog post dated March 2, 2009 (http://blog.harvestbiblefellowship.org/?p=1527 )
 Frank Turk, Establish Elders (3), Blog post dated April 8, 2009 (http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2009/04/establish-elders-3.html)
 Note that Challies' positivity criteria would function to throw a watchblog like Chris Rosebrough's Museum of Idolatry (http://www.alittleleaven.com/) under the bus, a blog site which Phil Johnson defended as serving a valid function.
 Challies, Fighting Fire with Fire
 One just need to glance at the meta of Challies' two posts to see Warren apologist Richard Abanes and Chris Lyons of the anti-Christian watchblog CRN.info praising Challies and attacking the watchblogs, to see the damage Challies has done.