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.


*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?