Thursday, August 18, 2011

SI and New Evangelical Reasoning

In a brand new series of articles in the Iron Skillet we have been demonstrating that SI, contrary to its claims, does NOT exist on behalf of or for the advancement of authentic Fundamentalism. Instead SI (the majority of its leadership) has primarily operated the site and directed their personal efforts to the advancement of so-called “conservative” evangelicalism.

In a series of new comments at SI one poster named DonP is insisting that authentic, historic fundamentalism is embodied in the current day so-called “conservative” evangelical movement. If that is true then we are to accept that John Piper’s embrace of Rick Warren and Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration exemplify what contemporary fundamentalism has become.

SI has, furthermore, begun to allow for elements of raw “New” evangelical thinking to be voiced from its front page. (See the controversial article from August 5, Church Planting Thirty Years Later by Pastor Steve Davis.)

The SI moderators and site publisher (Aaron Blumer) have consistently taken hostile stances against those at the site whom identify with Fundamentalism that have tried to represent and/or defend authentic Fundamentalism from the many redefinitions of or assaults on Fundamentalism’s legacy and/or personalities. That hostility reared its ugly head once again in the Steve Davis article discussion thread.

Several pastors who took exception to elements of the articles content were set upon by Pastor Davis and several SI leaders (Jim Peet, SusanR, JayC and Aaron Blumer). Yet, not one word of caution (I am aware of to date) by SI moderators about or opposition to the new evangelical themes in the article. No voiced concern by SI leadership over the author’s position that in addition to the Genesis account of a literal six-day creation other valid theories exist to explain the existence of all life we see today around us. Again, no one I am aware of from the SI leadership raised objection to that position by Steve Davis. No SI leader took any exception to the author suggesting the possibility that certain Charismatic sign gifts (tongues, prophecy, plus dreams and visions) "non-cessationism" may be in existence and in practice today. Can Steve Davis state, without qualification, those gifts are NOT in existence, are NOT for the church today, should NOT be encouraged or sought after?

With all of that in clear view SI’s publisher Aaron Blumer insists that he, and by extension the SI site are “proud” to be counted as Fundamental.  See, Is That The Voice of a “Proud” [SI] Fundamentalist?

In a previous article on SI (at my IDOTG blog) Alex G. noted what is the common practice of SI moderators. A pattern of hostility that has existed from SI’s inception. He wrote,
Articles that are sympathetic to any form of non-cessationism depart fundamentalism and the failure to scrutinize its errors by those publishing such articles at their own blog is at the least, tacit approval and at best, disingenuous to the claims of their own fundamentalism. And I am quite familiar with the double standard at SI. I have been gang tackled often and threatened with expulsion, but usually because I point out someone’s hypocrisy or dare use a polemic style in disagreeing.” (Comment #1)
Let’s turn our attention to an extended reaction to the controversial Steve Davis article. This time we again read from Bob Topartzer who wrote,

Aaron [Blumer], let’s keep our attention focused. My response to SusanR on this thread was to her obvious rebuke to church leaders. On this thread she was the first one to post against another poster or posters regarding conduct and not about the thread subject. I posted regarding her rebuke because she is an SI administrator and moderator. I raised the gender issue because it was and is appropriate because she was attempting to rebuke church leaders and was doing so because she wrongly perceived this as a situation one where appropriate compassion was not in view.

Now please focus and understand this. I have not, to my remembrance, complained of being mistreated on SI by any unless it was in response to a poster having gone off topic and first posted against me in a personal attack. I am not offended by personal attack except that it is off subject and usually by someone who has little else to say to the issues so attacks a poster. My posts on this thread regarding SI, the Internet, etc., were because you opened the door for general remarks and opinion. I do not view my post on that as overly negative but also a thanks and recognizing SI for the good, but that it also has flaws.

In my opinion there is a definite bias on SI and some who have left off posting on SI had some valid observations. Why are you now addressing me? I have called no names such as Jim Peet did me! I have not rebuked anyone on here but only called Susan’s attention to the errors of her judgment regarding the situation here. My telling Steve Davis to not let the door hit him in the back was harsh, but not overly or unduly harsh when compared to some of his responses on this thread and others with nasty remarks made to others (not me).

Steve has been standing in the door way leading from Fundamentalism and/or IFB for some time and calling our attention to look at him and his leaving and continually complaining about the attitudes of those he is leaving while giving classic New Evangelical reasons, and some double speak. Example of Steve doublespeak is trying to repeatedly convince me and others that he has not rejected literal 6 day creation, but that he sees it as valid but also sees another theory (Revelatory day) theory as also valid. Oh, OK. So when Robert Schuller states that he believes in literal salvation thru Christ as valid but also believes that salvation may be possible thru other faiths, it is also valid. He has not really rejected Christ, but just believes he is not the only way. That’s OK if God will accept that. Of course he will not as that attitude lacks the sole reliance of real faith.

Now, Steve’s view of the creation account is a lesser issue, but with the same approach. If the Genesis literal day creation is valid, but also other views are also valid, then that’s also OK if God will accept that. The problem is He won’t. He [God] doesn’t intend to teach both. He wrote a clear account as part of a historical statement and expects us to accept it. Or was God having fun and being unclear and expecting us to have fun guessing as to what He really meant. Most all Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals dogmatically believe there are no valid reasons for doubt of the normal meaning. The issue is not salvation, but is an issue of how we approach scripture and truth. A former professor at Biola University wrote a book titled; “God Did It But How?” His conclusion was we just don’t know. His reasons were that we need to fit the Genesis account to the time line of uniformitarian Geology and the “overwhelming evidence of Evolution.” This of course is a classic principle of New Evangelicalism popularized in the fifties by Bernard Ramm. We must accommodate scripture to science. Steve Davis has done this, but IMHO is behind the curve.

Uniformitarianism has been shattered by solid science and evolution has fallen apart as its foundations have been doubted by even evolutionary science itself. New alternate theories are now set forth. Creation science is advocated by scientists with highly regarded credentials. On this one issue alone Steve advocates theory, approach and doubt, that is an unacceptable compromise of scripture.

Then there is his advocacy of present visions and dreams, which he calls “soft,” but which has the same foundation as the signs and wonder evangelism espoused at Fuller and the Charismatic movement. These issues are now decades old, but here on SI they have been presented as a new enlightenment indicative of a more accepting, spiritual, and loving Christianity. They are in fact as dangerous as when first advocated by the likes of Bernard Ramm, Russell Mixture, Daniel Fuller, Sanford La Sor, Oral Roberts, C. Peter Wagner, John Wimber, and Benny Hinn, among many.

There probably should be no objection to SI publishing these papers of Steve Davis. It was interesting information and worthy of debate. But I think there should great and serious objection to the accusations that those posting against Steve were overly harsh. There should be great question regarding the posting by some SI moderators.

I also did not now or at any time complain that I was offended by younger posters. I have not felt mistreated by them. The reality is that I am a lawyer still involved in constant debate and contest. I am also involved in ministry. SI is an occasional bump in the road. My approach is that people should stop trying to correct or call attention to ones wording unless it is very extreme or is name calling. I would also recommend a reassessment of not only the words of Christ, but of the Apostles in Acts and epistles before calling something too harsh.

That fact that this SI thread has degenerated from the serious issues to discuss posters is somewhat pathetic. The leadership of the moderators into opinions of how the debate was worded, or perceived attitudes of posters, is a perfect example of fireman discussing how a caller of 911 spoke or sounded when they called to report a fire instead of recognizing that the fire is the issue and it needs to be seen, assessed, and handled.
This new series will continue in the days ahead. In the meantime, please refer back to the previous offerings in the series:

“SI is a Fundamentalist Place?” The Facade & Veneer Is Stripped Away

“SI May Fit the Description of Being ‘PSEUDO- FUNDAMENTALIST’”

For related reading see my answer to Aaron Blumer’s (Sept. 2010) on line reaction to the Iron Skillet blog. See, SI: Sizzles In and Over the Iron Skillet


Site Publisher’s Addendum:
For those who identify with or simply appreciate the best of fundamentalism and still participate at SI I would encourage you to consider ending your active participation there. Your participation is somewhat of a lifeline for SI to continue its crusade on behalf the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism (ce), promoting a convergence with the star personalities and fellowships of the ce camp, and positioning against what we find to be the best of fundamentalism’s history, legacy, leaders and practices today. Your participation feeds the SI threads and fuels SI moderators and certain other participants to promote pro-evangelical personalities, doctrines and agendas at the expense of fundamentalism.

I would also encourage the few current or potential advertisers who feel strongly about fundamentalism to consider this: Is Sharper Iron the best place to invest the resources God has entrusted to you? Do you want to reach and/or attract the kind of persons to your college or ministry who frequent and support SI? SI is a site that frequently allows for, promotes, and its leadership happily joins in on, the redefining, castigation and besmirching of fundamentalism. SI, furthermore, heaps lavish praise on the so-called “conservative” evangelicals.  SI does not tolerate legitimate criticism of it’s star personalities, preferred doctrinal positions or fellowships. Should those kind of messages from SI be sustained by financial support from fundamentalist institutions?

1 comment:

  1. To Steve Davis:

    Your comment will not appear here. You can disagree with elements of this article, but you will not be allowed to post here with vitriol and what I felt was an off-color remark.

    At SI your demeaning remarks toward other participants who took exception to your views on creation and "soft-cessationism" were allowed for by SI moderators some of whom joined you in that to gang tackle them. I do NOT allow it here, no exceptions.

    If you want to post here- clean it up, meditate on Colossians 4:6 resubmit and I will reconsider publishing your comment. If you can't do better than your previous attempt then post at your own blog.

    Furthermore, if you do return to post here be ready to answer in clear, concise unvarnished terms some direct questions about creation and cessation of the Charismatic sign gifts.