Sunday, April 26, 2009

A belated response to Tim Challies' article attacking watchblogs

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 [1] 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 [2] 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 [3].

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 [4]. 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. [5]

Phillip R. Johnson [6] and Steven J. Camp [7] 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 [8] 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 [9] 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 [10] 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 [11]. 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.” [12]

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 [13]. 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.

REFERENCES:

[1] 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.

[2] 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

[3] Pickering, pp. 78, 96-97

[4] Tim Challies, Evil as Entertainment, Blog post dated April 6, 2009 (http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/evil-as-entertainment.php)

[5] Steven J. Camp, Blogging, Watchblogging and Ministry, Blog post dated April 8th, 2009 (http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/2009/04/blogging-watchblogging-meta-and.html)

[6] 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)

[7] Steven J. Camp, Blogging, Watchblogging and Ministry.

[8] Tim Challies, Fighting Fire with Fire, Blog post dated April 13, 2009 (http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/fighting-fire-with-fire.php)

[9] 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 )

[10] Frank Turk, Establish Elders (3), Blog post dated April 8, 2009 (http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2009/04/establish-elders-3.html)

[11] 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.

[12] Challies, Fighting Fire with Fire

[13] 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.

44 comments:

Diane R said...

Blogs point out theological errors all the time concerning certain Christian leaders' doctrine. And as you said, there are some that are "attack dogs" and others that are very good (i.e. Camp and Johnson). However, what is totally bizarre about Challies' comments is the fact that he used to do this very same thing. Many of us first learned about "easy believism" and the "emergent conversation" from Challies himself on his very blog. However, recently I've seen a shift in his blog from this type of thing to mostly book reviews, reviews of Calvinistic conferences, and his life in general. And that is certainly OK if that is the direction he wants to go. But to criticise others for the very thing he used to do is rather strange to me.

Lydia said...

I stopped reading Challies about 2 years ago because I kept seeing inconsistencies in his writing. It became frustrating.

M.G. said...

One thing I noticed.

You state that Mr. Challies utilized zero scripture in his post. This is incorrect. He cited scripture three times in his "Evil as Entertainment" post, which happens to be two more citations than you included in your rebuttal.

PuritanReformed said...

Diane:

I agree with you. I have seen the shift in Challies' blog, but I didn't think too much about it initially, since there is diversity within the Body of Christ and not all are called to do discernment work etc. Only when Challies posted those article(s) did I then start to take notice and connect the dots.

PuritanReformed said...

Lydia:

I have not been a very frequent visitor to Challies, but have been going there once in a while to see what's new, especially since in my opinion Challies is not writing stuff that I find interesting enough. After this episode however, I think I will go there even less frequently, and I have removed him from my blogroll.

PuritanReformed said...

M.G.

Thanks for pointing that out. I have added a few words to clarify my position. Challies utilized zero Scripture to prove his point, not that he uses zero Scripture per se. None of the Scriptures he quoted deal with the issue he is addressing, as if exhorting people to dwell on what is good is even remotely linked to the correctness or error of watchblogs.

With regards to my post, if you would count how many verses numerically I have quoted, it is mine 5 to Challies 3. It is not the number of verses hoever that determines truth, but the exegesis of Scripture and logical arguments from Scripture that decides the case.

mikeratliff said...

Dainel,well said brother. Amen!

We must be watchful and obedient in standing for God's Truth. It's all about God and His glory.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

PuritanReformed said...

Mike:

Amen. It's indeed about God and His glory.

BEAST FCD said...

So, Daniel, is this persecution from you, or for the Chaillies guy?

Sorry dude, I am not very good with the persecution thing. You guys seem to be killing off each other before we atheists can step in.

Time to grab a popcorn and start enjoying these silly squabbles.

Beast FCD

PuritanReformed said...

Beast FCD:

this is called debate and disagreement. You atheists should learn how to disagree without resorting to character assassination.

That man will not look towards men but towards Jesus! said...

Thank you for this post.

It lays out very clearly what was so seriously wrong with Mr. Challes' two posts.

I dont think that many people really understood how dangerous and damaging to the cause of Christ Mr. Challes' articles truly were!

God Bless you!

PuritanReformed said...

John:

you're very welcome, and I agree with you.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

A tour-de-force. Your post gives support to the adage, "Better late than never."

Your rebukes of both Challies and Turk are spot-on. And I say this as one who genuinely learns and enjoys both of their writings and thoughts most of the time.

Thanks again for thinking upon this and writing down your thoughts.

PuritanReformed said...

Truth:

You're very welcome. I do think both of them do write good posts now and then, but generally speaking, I prefer to read posts by Phl Johnson himself.

M.G. said...

I'm confused. You accuse Mr. Challies, in his critique of watchblogs, of falling prey to some error of positivity.

But then you claim that exhorting people to dwell on good is not even "remotely linked" to the issue at hand?

Huh? It seems like the scripture quoted by Mr. Challies cuts to the heart of the matter?

How do you reconcile an entire ministry based on pointing out everyone's flaws with specific commands from God to let our minds dwell on that which is good, as opposed to that which is evil?

Just because you say Challies doesn't utilize scripture doesn't make it so. You have to actually address what he said.

PuritanReformed said...

M.G.:

Who decides what to read and the motive of reading watchblogs, the writers or the readers? As an analogy, salt is good and necessary for our bodies. But if a person only consumes salt without intake of other nutrients and thus suffer severe malnutrition, whose fault is it: the salt's fault for "not being nutritious enough", or the person who has an unhealthy diet? Similarly, whose fault is it if certain people have an unhealthy fascination with bad news: the watchblogs (salt) or the people who have unhealthy motives and reading habits (people who eat only salt)?

Do the watchblogs ask their readers to read them only, and focus only on how bad the state of the Visible Church is? If not, why attack the messengers for the fault of the readers?

The Bible's command to dwell on what is good does not preclude reading and knowing what is bad. It is an exhortation for all Christians as to their motives and focus in life. Just because a watchblog may focus only on what is negative does not necessarily imply that the motives of these watchbloggerss are negative, an assumption which presupposes that we can judge the motives of others based upon their visible actions (cf Mt. 7:1). How do we know whether they are busy offline ministering to God's people and building them up in the faith? Are we judgmental in attacking them based upon their [online] appearances?

Consider Chris Rosebrough and his Museum of Idolatry. While I do not know Chris personally, his other blog and radio show have a good mix of "positive" exhoration, and "negative" refutation of errors followed by the "positive" expounding of biblical truth. So is it ever justified to attack Chris just because one of his blogs is totally "negative"?

I think it has been said before by others, and I wil say it again: Nobody is asking anyone to read the watchblogs, or be a watchblog. Tim may have a different passion and focus than the watchblogs, and that is fine. What is not ok however is when Tim decided that he knows the exact motives and judges all watchblogs based upon the evil motives Tim imputes to them, all without proof.

terriergal said...

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. [5]
See that's because Tim does it so much NICER than everyone else, because he doesn't name names, and so it implicates EVERYONE ... except himself! Genius!

(yes, I am being sarcastic)

M.G. said...

PuritanReformed:

I doubt your lack of concern over making people stumble extends to all areas of your life.

I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do all sort of things so as to prevent a brother from stumbling. Included in that is I also refrain from streaming evil deeds 24/7 under the guise of "discernment."

I'm amazed at how people twist the keeping a brother from stumbling standard just to avoid whatever action they secretly think is intrinsically wrong.

But if they have no problem with the action, then our brothers can stumble away.

PuritanReformed said...

M.G.

>I doubt your lack of concern over making people stumble extends to all areas of your life.

Upon what basis can you make such a judgment? Do you know me, or how I interact with my Christian friends?

>Included in that is I also refrain from streaming evil deeds 24/7 under the guise of "discernment."

You are presupposing your conclusion. It is a logical fallacy called petitio principii or begging the question. How do you know that watchblogs are 'streaming evil deeds 24/7 under the guise of "discernment" '? Didn't Scripture tell us not to judge based on apperances (Jn. 7:24a)?

>I'm amazed at how people twist the keeping a brother from stumbling standard just to avoid whatever action they secretly think is intrinsically wrong.

Of course, if such people exist, I would join with you in saying they are in the wrong. However, how do you know that watchblogs are "twist the keeping a brother from stumbling standard just to avoid whatever action they secretly think is intrinsically wrong"? Are you privy to my motives or those of the watchblogs?

M.G. said...

Puritan Reformed:

I didn't beg the question. I made a claim, not an argument.

My claim was simple. There are blogs that are devoted to bad news.

You basically said, "so what?"

I said, "well, what if people stumble?"

If there are people out there with an unhealthy fixation on bad news, which I think there are, then the blogs that could feed into that should change.

M.G. said...

PuritanReformed:

Also, I think you misunderstood my initial comment. I said that you probably have a firm commitment to ensuring your brothers don't stumble... with the one exception of your attitude towards negative blogging and its effect on the Christian blogosphere.

In other words, I was assuming *the best* about you. Not the worst.

PuritanReformed said...

M.G.

I see your point now, sorry for missing it previously.

If you have indeed read my post, I have written this:

===

The proper biblical response to inappropriate "discernment" ministries is to lovingly reach them and call upon them to be loving as well as discerning. ...

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.
===

If there are indeed such blogs that cause others to stumble, the proper response is not to attack discernment, but to lovingly, biblically and specifically show why and how such blogs are wrong. If you or Challies thinks that there are such errant blogs and people, say it, name them and prove it. Why hide in ambiguity and attack ALL watchblogs in general?

PuritanReformed said...

Paula:

=)

M.G. said...

PuritanReformed:

I would take your response more seriously had you not written this:

"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."

Which blogs are *you* talking about?

I think that the individuals who screamed loudest about ambiguity are the ones who knew, in their heart of hearts, that Challies was talking about them (e.g. Slice of Laodicea).

PuritanReformed said...

M.G.:

>Which blogs are *you* talking about?

You want an example? How about Paul Proctor (http://www.newswithviews.com/PaulProctor/proctorA.htm)? While what he says is probably true, his way of doing so is not one I would like to be associated with.

On the opposite side, why don't you try out CRN.(mis)info or Richard Abanes especially with his group of AODMers (http://huntingheresyhunters.wordpress.com/)? Regardless of whether they are correct or wrong, I would not even want to go there due to the toxic environment they exude.

These facts however does not make me want to write an article like Challies in attacking discernment!


>I think that the individuals who screamed loudest about ambiguity are the ones who knew, in their heart of hearts, that Challies was talking about them (e.g. Slice of Laodicea).

Ingrid did not scream at all. In her attempted comment reposted on Slice (http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/announcement/tim-challies-time-to-clarify), she asked Tim for clarification, and did not denounce him. I reject this spin you place on Ingrid's response. If you or Challies have something against Ingrid and Slice, why not mention it plainly and show from Scripture your disagreement, instead of making sweeping statements attacking discernment?

PuritanReformed said...

Also, the silence from Challies regarding the AODM blogs is defeaning. If he is really against negativity, why only one side is attacked, not the other?

PuritanReformed said...

M.G.:

Just FYI, when I do take such people to task, I address the flaws in their positions, not them as person or discernment per se. An example can be seen in my review of Tamara Hartzell's book which you access here (http://www.angelfire.com/falcon/ddd_chc82/articles/inthenameofpurpose_review.html). Why can't Challies do the same instead of attacking watchblogs indiscriminately?

M.G. said...

Puritan Reformed:

I think you are exaggerating Mr. Challies's post. He didn't get personal. He didn't use names. He wasn't insulting.

And the one thing he certainly did not do is "attack discernment."

He simply stated that there is a wiser path than to have a blog *dedicated* to reporting bad news no matter the source or the context.

There are all sorts of discernment ministries that this would most certainly *not* apply to. Most professional apologists who actually delve into issues, explore arguments, and present a solid case for Christ, for instance.

But if you have a website that presents context-free bits of bad news, often in a demeaning or sarcastic fashion, then I think you are doing the body of Christ no service.

It's just a Christian version of tabloid magazines, honestly.

How is that an attack against discernment?

M.G. said...

I'm confused again.

You state, Puritan Reformed, that Mr. Challies attacked only the discernment side, but not the anti-discernment side.

But I thought he didn't name names?

So how do you know that he was only critiquing blogs like Slice of Laodicea, and not CRN.info?

In the end, I really think the lady doth protest too much.

PuritanReformed said...

M.G.:

This is what Challies himself said in his first article:

"I want to say a word today about watchblogs or discernment blogs or whatever you want to call them. I am referring to blogs that specialize in sharing bad news."

Notice the phrase "discernment blogs"? Or are you going to (re-)define all "good" blogs to be non-discernment blogs, and "bad" blogs to be non-discernment blogs by fiat? How can you maintain the following assertion in contradiction to Challies' express claim?

You: There are all sorts of discernment ministries that this would most certainly *not* apply to.

Challies: I want to say a word today about watchblogs or discernment blogs or whatever you want to call them. I am referring to blogs that specialize in sharing bad news.

Most certainly the blogs of discernent ministries, if they have a blog, would be called discernment blogs. You are defending the indefensible, my friend.


>But if you have a website that presents context-free bits of bad news, often in a demeaning or sarcastic fashion, then I think you are doing the body of Christ no service.

I agree. Such websites/blogs are NOT discernnment blogs or watchblogs.

PuritanReformed said...

>You state, Puritan Reformed, that Mr. Challies attacked only the discernment side, but not the anti-discernment side.

The anti-discernment camp has never called themselves discernment blogs or watchblogs. They call themselves the "watcher of the watchdogs" or something to that effect. None of them will think Challies' post apply to them in any fashion. Just look at the meta of Challies's first post and you will notice Warren apologist Richard Abanes and Chris Lyons (Chris L.) gloating and congratulating Challies for attacking the watchblogs.

M.G. said...

His point was about blogs that specialize in sharing bad news.

He could have been referring to Slice of Laodicea, he could have been referring to CRN.info, he could have been referring to anyone in his own mind.

But he was not dismissing the power of discernment, or using the internet to warn.

I think you need him to do that, so then you can "aha! but aren't you using discernment? Aren't you condemning yourself?"

Not so much. He was saying, "if you specialize in bad news, this is for you."

That simply does not apply to all blogs that use discernment.

Funniest of all, is that you conclude by saying "I agree. Such websites/blogs are NOT discernnment blogs or watchblogs."

So who is redefining terms by fiat?

M.G. said...

In the end, Puritan Reformed, it seems like you have a *very* good idea of who Mr. Challies was referring to.

In which case, the complaint about vagueness is just smoke and mirrors.

At the end of the day, Slice of Laodicea and CRN were upset because it was pretty evident that Mr. Challies were talking about them, and pretty much no one else.

Period.

PuritanReformed said...

M.G.:

>But he was not dismissing the power of discernment, or using the internet to warn

That is your mere assertion contrary to the plain facts presented.


>Funniest of all, is that you conclude by saying "I agree. Such websites/blogs are NOT discernnment blogs or watchblogs."
So who is redefining terms by fiat?

I have already asked the same question over and over again, but it seems you New Evangelicals plainly refuse to answer the question. Do non-Christians possess the gift of discernment, since they clearly do critize others including Christians? If not, then you have no grounds to complain of redefinition.

PuritanReformed said...

>In the end, Puritan Reformed, it seems like you have a *very* good idea of who Mr. Challies was referring to.

If you mean I can through use of logical deductions make an educated guess who Challies is probably critizing, then yes, anybody with half a brain can do it.

>At the end of the day, Slice of Laodicea and CRN were upset because it was pretty evident that Mr. Challies were talking about them, and pretty much no one else.

If that is indeed true, which Challies has neither affirmed and denied, then those who say so are guilty of slander and libel, and thus violating the 9th commandment. I challenge anyone to prove that either Slice or CRN is providing "evil as entertainment".

Munchy said...

Thanks, an insightful analysis of a damaging post by Challies

I especially do not understand his local church - elder - discernment thingy. Its utter rubbish.

Not only do I believe Christians are called to be discerning of everything they encounter in church and out of church... but many elders also lack the gift of discernment themselves, we would all be doomed then if its all left to them alone

PuritanReformed said...

Marn Chi:

I agree. The tragedy IMO is that the churches in general do not follow biblical guidelines on choosing elders. We should be using the pastoral epistles (1 Tim. 3: 1-7; Titus 1: 5-9) to choose pastors and elders (and deacons too). Instead, pastors and elders (and pastoral staff too) are chosen according to how godly they appear to be, how dedicated to the church they are, how many years of service they have done in the church ad infinitum ad nauseum. All of such have absolutely no bearing at all on whether a man is qualified to be an elder. A person can be godly and mature in the faith, but still disqualified for the office of an elder because he does not have the qualifications to be one.

rick said...

I wanted to stay out of this because I didn't read the whole post closely and therefore felt no right to comment ... but I somehow feel compelled.

Challies wrote a post (and then two) in this topic. He occasionally confronts error of various sorts in his blog. In this post he spoke about "blogs that specialize in sharing bad news." Reading through his blog I fail to see his as having a pattern of sharing bad news.

This critique of Challies is (or at least leads with) "in this one post of his, doing exactly what he accuses the watchblogs as doing," That combined with charged language such as "outrageous attack launched" made it impossible for me to read on to determine if there were some valid points here.

Based on your history, I'm sure there are great points but the opener on this one made me not want carry on to find them.

PuritanReformed said...

Rick:

I sure hope you feel the same way toward Challies' inflammatory language in his article.

rick said...

I honestly didn't see it that way ... but I accept that others may have. The issue here is that there was this language combined with false accusation ... he was speaking to those who are chronically negative yet he is accused of doing the same with his post. So it was the tone plus a starting contradiction that kept me from reading on.

I identified with him. I think there is need to confront but at some point, when that is the essence of one's being, whether it discernment blogging or anti-discernment blogging, it does not represent the King we serve.

Beng said...

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." - Matt 7:1-6

Just happened to be reading Matthew Henry's commentary on Matt 7:1-6 a couple of days ago. I find it is quite applicable. Do read it for yourself. It is too long to quote in full:

http://www.studylight.org/com/mhc-com/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=007

Short summary:

The passage is about how we are to conduct ourselves with reference to the faults of others.

1. We should not be judgmental in the sense of being holier-than-thou, lest we be found to be hypocrites. There is a place for judgment by those who have been appointed by God to be judges.

2. Yet we have a duty to reprove others when we see their faults. This should be done while being very mindful of our own faults - again, lest we be found to be hypocrites.

3. We are relieved of the duty to reprove those who are unrepentant, yet we must be careful not to be too quick to judge someone as unrepentant, but must always be charitable.

PuritanReformed said...

SB:

Amen.

Ken said...

Challies is wrong! I haven't agreed with everything you've written that's impossible with anyone anyway. But there needs to be people who watch. It's part of who we are as a Body of Christ and there isn't than we are descending back into the middle ages!

PuritanReformed said...

Ken,

and this is?