Thursday, November 4, 2010

SI Playing Favorites: Again???

Dear Guests of SI-ITIS:

It is very rare that I will have something beneficial to report on from the pseudo-Fundamentalist Sharper Iron (SI), but today is an exception. I have to go back to August for this article, which was to post then, but I held in reserve to instead focus on other more pressing issues at the time.

On August 26, 2010 SI posted the Central Seminary (Kevin Bauder’s) Ethos Statement on Fundamentalism & Evangelicalism. The thread opened with a comment by an RPittman, whom I am not personally familiar with. At the close of Pittman’s first comment (in the thread) on Central’s ethos statement he asked,
Is this the torpedo that sank the talks between Faith and Central?
Kevin Bauder, who rarely acknowledges any legitimate critical questions or comments, reacted with sarcasm and ad hominem insinuations. Brother Pittman followed with a fair, pointed and balanced reaction to Kevin Bauder. With that a portion of Brother Pittman’s response at SI follows.
Dr. Bauder, I regret that our conversation has to begin with sarcasm. However, I must have missed something. Would you please kindly point out in my post where I questioned your motivation? You are reading something that is not there. I have made no pretense of judging you or your faculty’s motivation. I suppose that I should know my own mind and intentions better than you because I wrote the post. I don’t like this stratagem because it has the effect of putting me in a bad light from the start. Furthermore, I am plain-spoken and candid in my comments....You’ve aired these or similar views previously. I do not, however, think this statement* is representative of Central’s position on separation in the past. Do you think that old-time Fundamentalist Dr. R. V. Clearwaters would have agreed to this statement? Do you think George W. Dollar [would] be [in] agreement with this position? BTW, W. B. Riley made statements that are very close to KJVOism. Perhaps, you ought to broaden your perspective.”
With a growing number of blogs and individuals beginning to publish open criticism of the way in which Kevin Bauder has been trying to redefine, and castigate Fundamentalism, chip away at biblical separatism, plus run interference for the evangelical’s doctrinal aberrations and ecumenical compromises I get the definite impression that he is beginning to find that militancy in Fundamentalism is not a dead as he might like for it to be.

But where does SI playing favorites come in?

I just read a comment (#25) from RPittman (RP)to Aaron Blumer (SI site publisher) that is so emblematic of how things have always worked at SI. RP asked Aaron,
Now, Aaron, why did you fly to the good Doctor's defense? Why didn’t you defend me when Dr. Bauder direct sarcasm toward me?”
The history of SI has always, always been to play favorites; to gang-tackle, bully and/or marginalize anyone who does not toe the SI party line, attack and chide anyone who dares to confront Bauder or one of the stars of evangelicalism. The SI moderators pounce on, malign and impugn others at will with no admonition from Blumer whatsoever.

Blumer, Rogier, Peet, SusanR, et. al., gang-tackle any non-Calvinist, non-LS, non-gusher over the evangelicals who dares raise a legitimate challenge and this has been another glaring example. Bauder, of course, is given free rein to speak down to Brother Pittman with impunity.

This is the history of SI’s bullying those who are not in the SI fold and why so many have quit and/or never joined in the first place. Many remember how the SI team attacked John Himes over Bauder’s unprovoked attack on John R. Rice and Bob Jones, Jr. How the SI moderators and Blumer maligned and scolded Dwight Smith over his clever letter from “Doc” Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder. (See- A Letter from Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder)

Aaron Blumer and his moderators exemplified once again the obvious bias against those who express legitimate concern with Kevin Bauder’s articles, Calvinism, the star personalities of evangelicalism and their fellowships. Playing favorites and political bias is the hallmark and history of SI’s site publisher, admins and moderators.

And Aaron has to conduct surveys to figure why SI is failing, why so many have quit participating; why he has to keep appealing for operating funds from what is left of SI's membership through various means?


LM

*Bauder wrote, “What is surprising is that anyone would think this statement says something new. It is a fair representation of the mainstream Fundamentalism in which I was reared.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Had to Ask: Does This Sharpen Me?

Dear Guests of SI-ITIS:
Last week I posted two articles in regard to Sharper Iron. The first was posted at my this blog blog. The article was composed by Ps. Brian Ernsberger who recently quit SI and explained his departure. Please see, SI’s Deplorable Moderator Actions Run Off Another for details. The second article I posted was a response to Aaron Blumer’s article (9/2) A Few Answers to SI Critics. An article in which he complains about long time, wide spread legitimate criticism of SI. You may read SI Sizzles In & Over the Iron Skillet for a complete reaction to Blumer’s complaints. Today, Aaron is hearing from another former, long time member of SI who shares his experience with SI. An experience, which typifies what is commonplace at SI and why so many have quit SI or would never join in the first place. Let’s now consider why one would ask: Does This Sharpen Me?

I’ve recently come to a decision. It wasn’t earth shattering, and quite honestly, the effect of my decision will likely go unnoticed by the very individuals that necessitated it. In May 2005, I joined the self-identified, fundamentalist website, Sharper Iron. Since that time I posted literally hundreds of times on a variety of topics, some serious and others not. My purpose in joining was to reacquaint myself with some of the current issues in fundamentalism as I approached my ordination some twelve years removed from my graduate work. In those early days, I found much to praise at Sharper Iron. I learned a lot. I solidified a number of positions as I observed, and occasionally partook in, the discussions. I entered the fray decidedly separated in my personal life, as well as, ecclesiastically. I am also convinced of the superiority of the traditional family of Greek texts, and I am a non-Calvinist.

While I rarely dealt with threads on Calvinism or the text issue, I derived much personal edification from the interactions of men like Scott and Christian Markle, Jon Gleason, Lou Martuneac, John R. Himes, and others. These men represented a brand of fundamentalism with which I identify. It is a thoughtful, church-centered fundamentalism, but not one that easily tolerates error or compromise. It is also a loving fundamentalism, although you would never know that by listening to its detractors. (I have more than a few anecdotal stories to prove my point here, however). Unfortunately, those men, and effectively this whole segment of fundamentalism, are gone from the threads and pages at Sharper Iron.

Increasingly, the threads are filled with intimations of “serious doctrinal error” hurled toward fellow fundamentalists, while the compromise and errors of Conservative Evangelical personalities are glossed over as praise is lavished on their ministries, as in a recent series of articles by Dr. Kevin Bauder.

When a concerned member recently posted a thoughtful response to one of Dr. Bauder’s articles, his response A Letter from Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder was sharply criticized by SI moderators (Rogier, JayC and Linscott) and ultimately removed by Aaron Blumer. A few days later, an SI Filing/thread was posted by Sharper Iron leadership (Jim Peet, Aaron Blumer) introducing and eagerly promoting a website that was nothing more than a vicious personal attack on Lou Martuneac.

Just last week an SI filing referencing a blog post by Dave Doran provided an illustration of some of the concerns I am articulating in this article. It was one of the clearest examples in a long line of the double standards that exist at Sharper Iron. Doran hurled an ad hominem attack at an unnamed fundamentalist(s) using the phrase “pathetic and disingenuous” to describe those who opposed or were relieved the merger of Faith and Central had not gone through. When one commenter called SI to the carpet over this filing he was firmly rebuked. It appears there is a lot of “respecting of persons” going on over there, and now I suspected and have confirmed yet another conservative fundamentalist has left the SI ranks.

If homogeneity was their goal at SI, they have very nearly accomplished it.

It seems serious concerns brought in from the “right end” of the fundamentalist spectrum are scrutinized far more closely at SI than the attacks thrown back the other way. I find that disheartening at best. My alma mater has been a regular source of ridicule, yet such ridicule is rarely hurled at Conservative Evangelical institutions. It smacks of a bias away from the southern brand of fundamentalists and away, it seems, from me.

I’ve watched over the years as non-Calvinists, traditional text men, and those who hold to a certain standard of personal separation were repeatedly shouted down by SI moderators and other members. Of course, a vigorous debate is desirable in many cases; however, on the internet, such debates often become a numerical dog-pile where reasoned arguments carry less weight than the shear number of responses. The result is that the admittedly minority viewpoints eventually “wore out” and stopped posting.

Today SI is a place where Calvinism is the settled opinion of the overwhelming majority of posters. The traditional text family is seen as inferior and those who hold to it are routinely labeled obscurantist or ignorant. Personal separatism to a degree held by our parents and grandparents is regularly declared legalism and almost anything now appears acceptable under an understanding of Romans 14 that puts the perceived rights of the “strong” over concern for the weak.

I find that SI is not a place that welcomes my viewpoint, nor is it a place that holds the Conservative Evangelical camp to the same standard it holds my “camp.” 

 Well, I, for one, am tired. The old caricature of the angry, fightin’ fundy, so repudiated by the SI majority is quickly becoming the new face of that very site (moderators and remaining membership), only in reverse. It’s a strange, almost surreal thing to realize that you’ve become the very thing you’ve opposed. Unfortunately, I am almost sure the SI leadership does not even recognize the shift.

I am sure there will be those who believe my assessment is wrong, but I know that I am not alone in this opinion. When a number of different individuals with no connection to one another outside of this website bring the same concerns to light, it should raise the concerns of the site leadership. As for me, I wish them no ill, but I had to ask, “Does this sharpen me?” So, I’ve chosen to leave Sharper Iron for good. As I said, in the beginning, I doubt they even noticed.

(Disclaimer: I have submitted this article anonymously. I am obligated to do so by my current ministry situation.)

Site Publisher’s Addendum:
The author is one of many in a long line who have quit SI because of its obvious bias. Many of these raised and tried to resolve genuine concerns with SI’s leadership prior to departing, but without success. Aaron Blumer claims he wants to hear from critics, but when wide spread legitimate concerns with SI were posted in his (9/2) thread by a fundamentalist pastor (Marc Monte) SI moderators immediately set upon him. Blumer responded with, “It’s not like everybody has to like SI. If a few dozen or a few hundred don’t see much value in it (or worse yet, think it’s toxic) that’s OK. They have no obligation to even care about what happens here. But if they do, the contact form is there. I have nothing more to say than that…. And we’ve given folks lots of opportunities to communicate. Until they do, the whole matter is moot. I’m not going to chase ghosts

That reaction typified why the pseudo-fundamentalist SI has hemorrhaged so many members over the last several years. Typifies why SI will never be able to win back the departed. Typifies why SI is not a welcome place for fundamentalist preachers like Marc Monte, Brian Ernsberger and the author of this article. SI is a place whose leadership eagerly welcomes those who wish to heap lavish praise on the star personalities of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals, welcomes those who will tolerate and excuse the aberrant theology and ecumenism of conservative evangelicals, welcomes those who castigate fundamentalism with the broad brush and line up against any who dare to offer legitimate criticism of conservative evangelicalism, defend fundamentalism or question SI’s obvious bias.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

SI Sizzles In & Over the Iron Skillet

Aaron Blumer, site publisher of the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron (SI) has reacted to articles at my obscure blog SI: In the Iron Skillet and criticism of SI various threads at this blog. See this commentary, and this commentary and for example consider the following edited excerpt,
Last night a preacher sent me an e-mail advising me of this recent quote at SI, from one of its leadership, “SI is not trying to redefine Fundamentalism or doctrine.” Is he kidding or incredibly na├»ve? Since its inception SI has been trying to castigate and redefine Fundamentalism (with Kevin Bauder taking SI’s lead in these efforts) and furthermore make fundamentalism compatible and tasteful for the evangelicals whom SI heaps lavish praise on. One guest at my blog asked, “Even if SI gang tackles certain people, aren’t they just acting like so many have in the past?” SI moderators have historically and certainly do gang tackle participants with whom they have issues. The fiasco with Dwight Smith over the “Doc” Clearwaters Letter to Kevin Bauder being among the most recent. From 2009 SI moderators and Blumer piling on John Himes who tried to address Kevin Bauder’s unprovoked attacks on John R. Rice and Bob Jones, Jr. So, YES they act like so many in the past the very attitudes they denounce. The problem is: SI does not even realize that they (moderators and some vocal members) have become the very thing they decry and detest from Fundamentalism’s past.
Aaron Blumer has reacted to the legitimate criticism coming from various sources to the obvious bias and other verifiable issues with SI. Not unexpectedly he does not disclose vital facts that would be problematic to his team and site. Nevertheless, I have two articles, among many more, that detail with archived material from SI, verifying legitimate criticism that Aaron understandably does not want to fully disclose to what is left of SI’s membership and advertisers. I encourage you to, among other examples, carefully read,

Blowing the Whistle on the SI “Referees”

SI May Fit the Description of Pseudo- Fundamentalist

In 2009 Aaron Blumer misrepresented the membership numbers to his advertisers when he opened SI 3.0. Aaron was claiming “4,000 members, with several hundred active,” that he knew he did not have and could not produce in June 2009. Only after I contacted him, drove home the point that he was misrepresenting the true membership count did he reluctantly revise his claims to a more accurate number. Blumer, in his words, “updated the page with more precise wording,” after I explained to him that his misrepresentation of the membership count is commonly known as “cooking the books.” His update was not “more precise wording,” it was more honest wording.

You will also note that Aaron did describe SI as site, “with 4,000 members who identify with conservative evangelicalism of the fundamentalist variety.” The “little switcheroo misquote” obviously is his own and I am happy to be able to refresh his memory of how he did describe SI. That was verbatim how he defined SI, but again responded to me and changed the wording when I pointed out to him that the statement was accurate and verified who and what SI is for, which is conservative evangelicalism.

Incidentally, in his complaint piece he states, “‘3.0’ does not have members and never will.” Well, I'm happy to refresh his memory again. The quote above about his “4,000 members,” those are his words that he posted at the current SI 3.0! Plus, in the comment threads under the name of every participant is an icon. Go to SI and hold your cursor over any of those check mark icons and you will see this word appear, “MEMBER.” Furthermore, when a member quits SI, his icon (half moon) is changed to “former member.” Aaron, SI 2.0 and 3.0 have always had “members!”

I would encourage the few current or potential advertisers who feel strongly about Fundamentalism to consider if SI is the best place to invest the resources God has entrusted to you. SI is a site that frequently allows for, promotes, and its leadership happily joins in on, the redefining, castigation and besmirchment of fundamentalism. SI, furthermore, heaps lavish praise on the so-called “conservative” evangelicals and can barely tolerate legitimate criticism of it’s star personalities or fellowships. Is the kind of site that deserves to be sustained with financial support from fundamentalist institutions?

To any fundamentalists who still has their membership with or participates at SI: I understand that you feel you may be posting for the lurkers, posting to represent what the best of fundamentalism has to offer. That is very noble and primarily why myself and others used to participate at SI putting up with the moderator’s bias, shrill complaints and gang-tackling. There comes a time, however, when you have to consider whether or not you can post at a site that does not cherish the fundamentalism you do and instead of building up fundamentalism redefines and besmirches it with impunity. Pastor Brian Ernsberger finally had enough of SI and publicly quit last week. See, SI’s Deplorable Moderator Actions Run Off Another for details.

If it were not for a few of you left at SI their discussion threads would nearly grind to a halt. Presently if it were not for Blumer and a few of his moderators staying very active in the threads, SI’s threads would surely grind to a halt. So, to those of you who have considered, but not yet quit SI: Is commenting there, keeping its threads active the best use of your time; is that the best way to redeem the time?

Here is the real irony in Blumer’s current complaint piece about the legitimate criticism of SI. In virtually every issue I’ve raised with Aaron, some of which he references in his complaint piece, his reaction to my addressing him resulted in his making changes to the site or its descriptions.

FWIW, twice I offered to buy SI from Aaron. Once when he was trying to raise operating funds in 2009, the first offer was right after I quit SI in June 2009. I offered to give him everything he paid Jason Janz for it. My offer was declined. Too bad, I had a solid business plan for SI.

Incidentally, on Tuesday, September 7th, there will be a new article appearing at my primary blog In Defense of the Gospel. The article is from another pastor who recently quit SI and he will detail, with examples, why he quietly left. They are irrefutable examples of the bias and gamesmanship that is routine at SI and has been from its inception.

If there are any readers who have also quit SI and would like to share your experience you may e-mail your story to me at indefense06@gmail.com. Or if it is brief you may post it in this thread.

Kind regards,


LM

Monday, August 30, 2010

SI’s Deplorable Moderator Actions Run Off Another

With Pastor Brian Ernsberger’s permission and desire that it be reproduced publicly I present his resignation from the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron.
Dear Aaron Blumer,

I have reached the end of the road as far as commenting at SI is concerned. It has become abundantly clear over the past week that it is time to leave. I fully understand that SI is your site and you may run it as you desire. With that said, though, the way in which ad hominem attacks have been leveled against individuals who would challenge the claims of an article published is just deplorable. It is one thing for other members to attack this way, but to see moderators get into the melee is just beyond the pale. This truly sickens me.

Whether it was Jim Peet or someone else (it doesn’t really matter who) who pulled my response to Peet’s delineating the comment policy (along with post #13) on the SIfiling of Dave Doran’s comments, this was a cheap shot, to leave the thread with the “public” chiding. I do not remember who posted #13 but I do recall that theirs was not worthy of censure. I do not recall seeing in the comment policy that rhetorical questions were unacceptable commenting, yet my response to bring my side of the policy issue was pulled along with an innocent bystander. Again, the actions by SI make me sick.

I ask you to promptly remove my subscription from SI. I will trouble you no more.

Brian Ernsberger
(Sent to Aaron Blumer on Sunday, August 29, 2010)
Nothing more for Aaron to know and has not heard from others who have quit SI, often for similar abuses by its moderators.

Within minutes of Aaron receiving that resignation from Brian the thread was cut down again. All trace of the abuses by Jim Peet, which Brian detailed in his resignation, were deleted and buried from view. No explanation, no apology to any offended parties. Just move quickly so that Jim Peet’s offenses were covered-up and removed from sight.

In his resignation pastor Ernsberger articulates the double-standards, bias and deplorable moderating behavior that has been SI’s history. SI moderators have from its inception taken up the their war clubs against members who reject Calvinism, Lordship Salvation, offer legitimate criticism of the star personalities of evangelicalism and question Kevin Bauder’s castigating Fundamentalism. Aaron himself has joined the gang-tackling with his moderators. His taking sides and actions against former member John Himes being fresh in mind.

For a detailed look at how SI moderators do NOT moderate, but instead have a pack dog mentality, take sides to get into the meele see, Blowing the Whistle on the SI “Referees”


LM

Friday, May 14, 2010

SI’s “Smaller Sample” Survey Is In

Dear Guests of SIITIS:

In the Iron Skillet today Aaron Blumer, site publisher of the Sharper Iron site has posted the results of their 2009-2010 survey. In December 2009 he posted an initial reaction with excerpts from the then not yet complete survey. I posted an article on the midway report from Blumer. See

SI, SURVEY “SAYS…”

For this review I will simply quote a few excerpts from Aaron’s new report on the SI survey and offer some commentary.
704 people took the survey; 643 of these completed it. While this is a smaller sample than I’d hoped, it’s large enough to be interesting.
Smaller sample” for an obvious reason that Aaron apparently does not want to accept or come to grips with. SI lost the majority of its membership and participation because of the historic bent and bias of SI. It is a pseudo- fundamentalist site that historically exists for the advancement and defense of the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism, its star personalities and its conferences. Not long ago Blumer described SI as a site for those,

who identify with conservative evangelicalism of the fundamentalist variety.”

Blumer has since edited that statement, which blurs the factual nature of it. That statement was and still is the most accurate depiction of what type of membership and message SI was created for.

SI, furthermore, has from its inception been strongly biased toward the propagation and defense of Calvinism. It is also the home for men like Kevin Bauder and likeminded angry YF’s to heap “lavish praise” on the evangelicals and malign/trash Fundamentalism with the broad brush.

The SI Blogroll promotes and links to sites such as, Paleoevangelical and the Glory & Grace blogs that are to varying degrees openly hostile toward Fundamentalism. If Aaron ever becomes transparent about the obvious bias of SI and its moderators it will be a welcome admission.

Demographics
A little over half of those who took the survey were SI members, with the other two quarters divided about evenly between readers who were once members (but did not re-register in June of 2009 when the site migrated to new software), and readers who have never been members.
Here we find that half of the survey participants were once members who quit SI such as myself or never joined in the first place. The parenthetical note is IMO damage control. It appears Aaron can’t bring himself to accept and acknowledge what became of the SI membership. These people he says, “did not register,” had quit participating at SI. They did not want to be part of SI prior to the new version 3.0 being opened in June 2009. They had already stopped participating and therefore did not want to be part of SI, the original or the new 3.0.
But SharperIron ought to be a place for keeping an eye on what’s happening in Fundamentalism.
The truth is that SI is keeping an eye on Fundamentalism almost solely for opportunities to trash it on the home page or through its Blogroll. When is the last time SI had any home page article on Fundamentalism with an exclusively positive spin? I can’t say with 100% certainty that such an article does not exist. I’d like to give benefit of the doubt, but I do not recall any such article in the last four years that I have been looking at SI. I’m challenging Aaron to produce any main page article since his taking the reins of SI that has positive and exclusively complimentary spin toward Fundamentalism.
One strong response under “changes you would welcome” is noteworthy as well: “structured debates between selected participants.” This is a long time dream of mine. We just haven’t figured out how to do it yet!
Too late! It is not a matter of “how to do it.” SI’s problem is that it can’t get two participants from opposite sides of a major topic to do that debate. From its inception SI moderators took sides against, would hound and run off any who take an opposing view to Calvinism, Lordship Salvation or will not embrace the star personalities of conservative evangelicalism and tolerate their aberrant theology and ecumenical compromises.
There’s no disputing that SI has a Calvinist tilt in the forums…. But the survey results reveal that the Calvinist tilt at SI has been overestimated by some of our critics and is not as large as it may seem when reading randomly in the forums.
Really? “Overestimated?” Why can you NEVER find any home page article that is critical of and/or rejects Calvinism at SI? Is Blumer trying to cloud the obvious bias toward Calvinism by limiting his comments to “reading randomly in the [SI] Forums?”

SI has never been a friend of a balanced Fundamentalism. SI has masqueraded (and not very well) as a site for Fundamentalism, but the facts are obvious. SI has been about the promotion of conservative evangelicalism. SI does what it can to propagate and draw whom they can to embrace conservative evangelicalism, its star personalities and their conferences.

SI members and/or moderators pounce on any participant who raises legitimate concerns and/or rejects Calvinism, Lordship Salvation and the stars of evangelicalism. SI allows for men like Kevin Bauder to malign and trash Fundamentalism with impunity. To suggest that this has not been SI’s history and pattern is patently dishonest by any measure or incredibly naive.


LM

Thursday, April 15, 2010

SI Equates Dr. Al Mohler to Apostle Paul

Dear Guests of SIITIS:

Today (4/15/10) pseudo-fundamentalist SI posted an article that within the first paragraphs equates Dr. Al Mohler to the Apostle Paul. The article attempts to portray Al Mohler as a suffering martyr whose reputation is being impugned today just as the Apostle Paul was in the first century church.

The SI writer discusses how the Apostle Paul reputation was impugned and equates Al Mohler to Paul’s issues.
Speaking their hearts but lacking or ignoring the truth about the other person, they claim the servant of God to be what he is not—guilty of some imagined sin or error. From Athanasius to Al Mohler, God’s dear servants have been the subjects of gossip, smear campaigns, character assassinations, rumors, backbiting, and generally poor treatment...
Is this a legitimate comparison? Mohler’s track record of ecumenical compromise is well-documented public record in secular and Christian media outlets.

See, Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration: Was This a First Foray Toward Ecumenism?

I produced a series of articles that began with Al Mohler, along with Ligon Duncan, having signed the Manhattan Declaration. Their action gave the deadly “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18) Christian recognition and compromised the Gospel. That was only the latest in a series of egregious ecumenical compromises in Mohler’s resume.

Let’s compare the “generally poor treatment” resumes of the Apostle Paul and Dr. Mohler.

Apostle Paul:
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. (2 Cor. 11:23-28).
Dr. Mohler:
*Names the SBTS School of Missions and Evangelism for Billy Graham, the high priest of new evangelicalism.
*Honors liberal theologian (former SBTS president) Duke McCall and names another wing of SBTS after him.
*Chaired the 2001 Billy Graham Crusade in Louisville.
*Signs the Manhattan Declaration.
*Board member Focus on the Family.
*Projecting he (Mohler) will embrace Rick Warren at Desiring God.
The SI author is woefully unaware of or is purposely ignoring these facts in Mohler’s resume to provide cover for Mohler. In any event, to utter the name “Mohler” in the same breath as “Paul” as though they share an equal experience is irresponsible at best.

One might recognize the obvious bias of SI with this latest attempt to legitimize and run interference for the so-called conservative evangelicalism stars, which has been SI’s pattern from its inception.

There appears to be another installment coming in the SI series. Will the next provide a veneer of martyrdom for new evangelical John Piper after his (Piper’s) *invitation to Rick Warren to speak at desiring God? We’ll watch.


LM

*John Piper to Feature Rick Warren at 2010 Desiring God

UPDATE: I just received e-mails from two pastors who read that Paul/Mohler article at SI. They are in the thread for your consideration.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Aaron Blumer: Learned it From Fundamentalists

Today, (3/15/10) SI site publisher posted and article titled I Learned it From Fundamentalists. It is a genuine well written and heart felt depiction of his life’s journey in and around historic Fundamentalism. I commend him for this article and his expression of it. It does, however, raise some legitimate questions and comments that I would put to Aaron in his capacity as SI site publisher.

We can appreciate many of the sentiments Blumer expresses for Fundamentalism. It is, however, irrefutable that Aaron presides over a site that has been-
A conduit for inflicting great harm to the legacy and men of Fundamentalism.
Harm to those men and elements that would not be identified with what Blumer defined as “alot of fundamentalist ugliness.”

Blumer close his article by stating,
I don’t know what all this “goes to show,” if anything.
What it shows is that there is a huge gap between the appreciation he expresses for Fundamentalism and what he allows for at SI (including the SI Blogroll) from men like Kevin Bauder and any number of angry YF’s to vilify and besmirch Fundamentalism with impunity. This makes one wonder just who is in charge at SI. Is it the site publisher or SI moderators and remaining members who gush over “conservative” evangelicalism and furthermore vilify Fundamentalism, which is about all SI has left of its membership.

IMO, Blumer is in a tough spot. After 5 years of SI allowing for its moderators and/or members to besmirch and vilify Fundamentalism with impunity, passionately endorse conservative evangelicalism’s star personalities with virtually no cautions whatsoever, Aaron has almost no one left in his membership who have not been driven off that would represent the best of what Fundamentalism is.

If Aaron were to attempt to be transparent about and allow for open criticism of the conservative evangelical camp, and genuinely embrace Fundamentalism most of what is left of SI’s membership would have none of it and they’d leave. Furthermore, the damage done to Fundamentalism through and by SI guarantees that virtually no balanced Fundamentalist would ever come back again even if Aaron did take these steps. It’s too late!

Aaron Blumer had a chance to bring some balance to SI that it never had when he bought SI from Jason Janz. Aaron, however, let the angry YF’s and others hostile toward Fundamentalism have free run of the forums and Blogroll, which ensured SI would never be balanced. Even at the beginning of Aaron’s tenure as site publisher he allowed for and authorized this description of SI.
The site has four thousand members (several hundred active) who identify with conservative evangelicalism of the fundamentalist variety.
That was and still is an accurate depiction of what SI is about and for. Once I raise awareness of that statement’s implications on two levels it was suddenly revised to appear as follows.
The site has over a thousand active* members who identify with Fundamentalism (more than four thousand archived members).
While some might appreciate the revision it is way too little and way too late. A statement buried deep in the site does not change what SI truly and primarily is: A place for the advocacy of conservative evangelicalism’s star personalities and their conferences and furthermore a conduit for the vilification of historic Fundamentalism. There is the rare bone thrown to appease Fundamentalist at SI, but it is merely window-dressing.

If Aaron were truly serious about getting some balance at SI he could start by dealing with his most high profile contributor Kevin Bauder. He could instruct Bauder to cease with the incessant attacks on Fundamentalism. Aaron could refuse to post any more articles from Bauder that take needless potshots at Fundamentalism. He could openly admonish or remove Bauder’s Let’s Get Clear on This article just like he *yanked Dwight Smith’s Richard V. Clearwaters Letter to Kevin Bauder. Aaron can’t do any of that. If he did what is left of SI membership and most of his moderators would pounce on and/or leave him.

These things may seem harsh but, I believe Blumer is in a corner that he inherited. He never tightened his belt to make the difficult decisions to get SI under control, break out of that corner if he ever had it in mind to do in the first place.


LM

*That recent incident exemplifies the obvious two way bias of SI and Aaron Blumer when it comes to the conservative evangelicals and SI's chief apologist for them, Kevin Bauder.

Return to A Letter from Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters

Addendum: This is an excerpt from an e-mail I received that is in regard to the subject matter of this article. The writer is a pastor of a local IFB church.

Lou, regarding Blumer’s post this morning at SI, which you correctly critiqued [here] at the Skillet: I agree with your assessment totally. To me, he was trying to payback those of us who have been run off from SI. Reminds me of a basketball game in which the referees realize they made a bad call, so they call another foul to payback the offended team. In Blumer’s case, it's too little too late.

What surprised me about Blumer’s post is what he didn’t say about what Fundamentalism taught him. My Fundamentalism training taught me to be a separatist, to be militant at it, and to do it for the cause of truth and the glory of God. My training taught me to rightly divide the Word of truth and to guard my associations and alliances lest I besmirch the glory of God. I could go on, but you get my drift.

SI Gang-Tackles “Doc” Clearwaters! Well, Sort Of

Dear Guests of the Iron Skillet:

This is a companion article to A Letter From Richard V. Clearwaters at my primary blog In Defense of the Gospel. Today we’re going to turn the heat up under the skillet just a little.

On March 12 Evangelist Dwight Smith posted an open letter to Dr. Kevin Bauder. Smith was the author, but he posted it as if it had been written by “Doc” R. V. Clearwaters himself; quite clever actually. It was originally posted in a thread at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron site. Today, with Evangelist Smith's permission it was reproduced at my primary blog, In Defense of the Gospel.

The letter and its true author were first vilified by certain SI team members and finally deleted by site publisher Aaron Blumer. Objective, experienced readers of SI expected the bias of SI moderators and Aaron’s decision to delete the letter to Bauder. It is obvious.

In his deletion comments, however, Blumer noted, “He [Smith] did clearly indicate his own authorship of the post at the bottom. No problem there.” Yet, in spite of Blumer’s and any objective readers recognition that full disclosure had been made, Smith’s ethics and honesty were called into question by SI moderator Larry Rogier. It was Rogier who scolded Evangelist Smith for drafting the letter suggesting it was unethical and/or dishonest. Rogier appeared to have been deeply troubled that SI readers needed reassurance that “Doc” Clearwaters had passed on and/or had not resurrected to compose that letter to Bauder.

After Blumer’s deletion one pastor said,
One irony is that, while Kevin Bauder may not have liked the content, I’d think he had to appreciate Dwight’s clever means of delivering his message since, from what I can tell, KB takes a fancy to things literary. Even those on the other side of the fence would have to admit it was a creative, well-written, and insightful critique.”
The content of the Clearwaters letter was spot on in much of its argumentation. Anyone with objective experience at SI knew SI’s leadership would never let it stand. Kill the message and/or messenger is SI’s MO when Bauder or the conservative and New Evangelicals that he (Bauder) and SI advocate on behalf of are called down and justifiably so.

At SI Kevin Bauder is free to malign, demonize and besmirch Fundamentalism’s heritage, history and any number of its personalities past and present with impunity. He is congratulated for and encouraged in it by SI leadership. Examples of his incendiary cogitations have in the past been dismissed as “Bauderian hyperbole.” The SI team runs interference for Bauder when his inflammatory rhetoric is challenged. Those who dare to raise legitimate concerns are gang-tackled by SI team members/moderators. Evangelist Smith was targeted and tackled by Greg Linscott (SI Good Cop) and Larry Rogier (SI Bad Cop), which Smith dealt with admirably.

In Aaron’s explanation for deleting the Clearwaters letter, he wrote,
However, the post contained a mixture of allowable opinion but also some of what I deemed to be personal attacks... in addition to straying a bit widely from the topic…. I’m inviting Dwight and those sympathetic to his point of view to post again, but let’s try to avoid anything that calls a man’s character, genuineness as a Christian or motivations into question.”
Straying off topic is a favorite catch-phrase of SI moderators to stifle conversation that they deem, in this instance for example, harmful to its advocacy of conservative evangelicalism, its star personalities and Kevin Bauder who is the evangelical’s chief apologist at SI.

Aaron invited Dwight to post again, but “fool me once...” appears to be the best response. We might applaud Aaron for asking folks to, “avoid anything that calls a man’s character, genuineness as a Christian or motivations into question.” Commendable indeed, until, of course, you recognize:
  1. SI will be at the ready to chop anything that comes to close to and is a blunt challenge to Bauder’s obvious biases…
  2. Exceptions are allowed for Bauder’s incessant attacks on and deriding the “vices” of Fundamental Baptists
  3. When SI moderators call into question a guest’s ethics and honesty this is, of course, perfectly acceptable behavior.
The SI team gang-tackle of Evangelist Smith (and Missionary John Himes in Summer 2009 during the last Bauderian fiasco) exemplifies just one of the reasons why so many have quit or would never participate at SI in the first place. SI’s history of bias against, suspicion of and contempt for those who reject Calvinism, Lordship Salvation, the rush to embrace and endorse conservative evangelicalism is irrefutable.

For many who have quit or refuse to get involved at the pseudo- fundamentalist SI there appears to be one recurring primary common denominator. The theme that many have articulated is that posting at SI, contrary to SI team personal biases, will get you set upon, surrounded and suffocated by SI moderators and/or admins.

In a recent e-mail one preacher, who is among those who quit participating at SI, noted the following after witnessing what just transpired at SI:
The CE wannabe’s tend to “bum rush” the more conservative fundamentalist viewpoints. It goes beyond civil debate into what appears to be an all-out attempt to silence them. I’ve chosen to allow SI to marginalize itself as it drives more and more good men away.
And Aaron Blumer has to conduct surveys to figure out why so many have quit participating at SI?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gratifying Responsiveness of SI

Never have I posted two articles in two days, but there is a first for everything. This offering is essentially an extension of the previous article, Blowing the Whistle on the SI “Referees,” ReDux: Who are SI’s Most Active Members?

Happily I want to recognize that the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron (SI) site has and continues to tweak and revise its claims to potential advertisers and membership. SI has added a new * qualifier in the FAQ to its “one thousand active members” statement. The latest qualifier states,
* “‘Active’ here means members who have logged in at the site within the last 12 months.”
While the adjustment is appreciated the problem, a minor problem, with that qualifier is that SI 3.0 has not been open 12 months for members to log in. SI has been open since early June 2009. That is just over 8 months. I am hopeful the 12 months will be revised to eight months or, if I might suggest,
“Active” here means members who have logged in at the site since it reopened in June 2009.
Nevertheless, it is gratifying to see that SI is responsive and moving toward genuine reporting to its membership and potential advertisers.

The evolving current statement represents significant revision from the original statement at SI 3.0, which claimed,
The site has four thousand members (several hundred active) who identify with conservative evangelicalism of the fundamentalist variety.
SI 3.0 never had four thousand members, therefore, the long awaited removal of that claim was most welcome.

In 2009 I had several discussions with Aaron Blumer sharing with him how it was highly unethical to claim “four thousand” (4,000) members at SI 3.0 when SI clearly did not, and does not today, have that membership level to produce to its advertisers.

Having been a working professional in the media I understand how, with SI struggling to meet its financial obligations, needs to attract advertising revenue. However, to make claims of a numerical target audience and set advertising fees based on those numbers that cannot be produced or delivered to an advertiser, i.e., that do NOT exist is highly unethical.

I demonstrated to Aaron how the 4,000 members claim is the first cousin of “cooking the books,” which is a serious federal offense. He at first rejected these things, trying to legitimize the claim. Obviously and thankfully Aaron has come to realize that he could not in good conscience stand by a claim of 4,000 members at SI 3.0 and therefore made correction.

The latter portion “who identify with conservative evangelicalism” has, however, been dropped, but should not have been, which will be the subject of a future discussion.

And Still Another Revision at SI:
SI has revised its What to Expect from SI Moderators section. No longer does the following appear,
So Moderators can and do join in the “game,” but mostly do a lot of watching.
The revised portion now reads as follows (note the underlined),
So Moderators can and do join in the “game,” but are not just “players.”
As I have documented in Blowing the Whistle on the SI “Referees” and in Who are SI’s “Most Active Members”, SI admins and moderators step way beyond the bounds of observers or referees. That they do not settle for “the role of referee” in a “game of pick up basketball,” they become the game and dominate the threads because if they did not participate aggressively most would be void of any commentary or discussion whatsoever.

There is nothing inherently wrong with SI moderators taking very active roles in the threads. To have portrayed their role, however, as that of a “referee” and then let them interject personal biases, choosing sides, playing favorites with impunity was inconsistent with SI’s stated role for its moderators. If on the rare occasion someone from what is left of the membership were to take an opposing view to any one of the SI moderator’s personal biases, including, but not limited to Calvinism and especially conservative evangelicalism, at least they will no longer react under the facade of “mostly doing a lot of watching.”

It is again gratifying to recognize the responsiveness of SI.
Responsive when obvious inconsistencies are demonstrated between what SI claims to be and do with the reality of what SI is and does.

I am pleased to recognize that nearly every time legitimate issues with SI’s claims or practices are disclosed, here or in private to the site administrator, the site responds with modest adjustments.


LM

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blowing the Whistle on SI “Referees,” Redux: Who are SI's “Most Active Members?”

In October 2009 I posted Blowing the Whistle on the SI “Referees”
For example:
At Sharper Iron (SI) under the heading Volunteer Staff the following appears: SharperIron has a volunteer crew of Moderators who work to keep discussions respectful and edifying.

Then under What to expect from SI Moderators… (excerpt)
The Moderator role is not a “spiritual advisor” role, teacher role, or disciple-making role. These functions are far better supplied by your local church. When it comes to rules and moderating, the forums should work like a game of pick up basketball (or maybe a Chess tournament) where someone has the job of stepping into the role of referee when the need arises. So Moderators can and do join in the “game,” but mostly do a lot of watching.
The conclusion was:
In summation: It is obvious to any objective observer that far and away the most active voices in the discussion threads are coming from SI’s moderators. In many cases these men and women do not settle for “the role of referee” in a “game of pick up basketballl,” they become the game.

There is nothing inherently wrong with SI moderators taking very active roles in the threads. To portray their role, however, as that of a “referee” and then let them control the game, its direction and interject personal bias with impunity is inconsistent with SI’s stated role for its moderators.
Today I’d like to update on that issue with some current data from SI’s Foundry page. I’m doing so partially because one SI team leader contacted me to suggest that SI team members do not dominate the discussion threads. To suggest that SI team leaders are not the most “active members.”

Following are two recent samples from the pseudo- fundamentalist SI’s Foundry, under “Most Active Members” heading.
Most Active Members
Most active in the last week (accessed, 2/11/2010)
Jim Peet (40) Moderator
Aaron Blumer (22) Site Publisher
Jay C (15) SI Registrations
Anne Sokol (13)
RPittman (12)
Susan R (8) Moderator
Bob T. (7)
Larry (5) Moderator
Charlie (6)
Joseph (5)
90 of 133 total entries were posted by SI personnel. That is 68% of submitted comments coming from the SI admins and/or moderators.
Most Active Members
Most active in the last week (accessed, 2/17/10)
Jim Peet (50) Moderator
Aaron Blumer (25) Site Publisher
Jay C (19) SI Registrations
Larry (18) Moderator
Susan R (14) Moderator
RPittman (13)
Anne Sokol (10)
Charlie (8)
Joel Tetreau (7)
Ed Vasicek (6)

Of 170 comments- 126 were posted by SI personnel. That is 74% of submitted comments coming from the SI admins and/or moderators.

From SI’s own tracking data any objective observer will recognize:

1) On SI’s FAQ page to advertisers the claim of “over a thousand active members” is a hyper-inflated overstatement.

2) Apart from SI moderators populating the discussion threads- most would have almost no activity whatsoever.
The conclusion is simple: Claims of what to expect from SI’s moderators is window dressing. Do SI moderators, as claimed for them “mostly do a lot of watching?” Do they operate primarily as “referees?” Of course not!

That the SI team are the top posters and the most “active members” is understandable. With SI staff’s personal and/or site biases having alienated or driven off most every non-Calvinistic fundamentalist and/or person who does not embrace the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism there is virtually no one left at SI for what is left of *SI’s membership to engage in a reasonable discussion or debate.

In closing: SI intends to publish results from its recently concluded survey. A few weeks ago a sample of the results was published by site publisher Aaron Blumer. You can read samples at SI “Survey SAYS…”


LM

*SI (2.0) once claimed 4,000 registered members. Today, SI (3.0) claims just over 1,000 members, quite obviously with very few “active members outside its admins and moderators.

UPDATE:
SI is responding to the revelation of the issues being raised here. SI is revising it claims to members and potential advertisers that are detailed above. Please continue to, Gratifying Responsiveness of SI