Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Does Sharper Iron Allow for the Name of Christ to be Sullied?

Bob Jones University (BJU) has posted a position paper under the title, The Position of Bob Jones University Regarding the Membership of Dr. Chuck Phelps on Its Cooperating Board of Trustees.

Today we will consider excerpted portions of the BJU position statement. From these excerpts we will demonstrate a pattern of disconcerting actions of Sharper Iron (SI) site publisher Aaron Blumer, SI administrator Jim Peet and the SI team for what has been to date their allowing for and participating in an Internet lynching of a Christian brother. My commentary will follow the excerpts.
Bible-believing Christians frequently face the question of how to respond biblically to criticism when it comes at them or when it is directed toward a Christian brother…. In the last few weeks, an environment has been created on the internet in which BJU is being criticized by some people unhappy with the University for having Dr. Chuck Phelps on our Cooperating Board of Trustees. Because of the increasing attention the criticism is receiving, we believe an answer is now prudent….. We believe that the biblical way to approach this information is to get all the facts before judging Dr. Phelps or his actions, including going directly to him for answers to questions…. Bloggers have been quick to judge and condemn Dr. Phelps. But a biblical approach would be an attitude of forbearance toward a Christian brother—not recklessly making accusations of crime or cover up against a man of good reputation before gathering the facts. The biblical principle is to go to the person directly and get facts before reaching a judgment. Dr. Phelps has offered to talk to several of his critics and even shared his phone number, but not one has called to talk with him directly…. The internet posts criticizing Dr. Phelps are a great reminder of the consequences of the negative use of social media—how it can be used to tear down a person’s reputation with little verification of fact…. In conclusion, we cannot overlook the human side in all of this.
•A teenage girl was raped—this is a tragedy.
•A rapist is in jail—this is justice.
•A faithful pastor is being pummeled in social media and his family maligned—this is unjust.
•Our God is being grieved.

(The Position of Bob Jones University Regarding the Membership of Dr. Chuck Phelps on Its Cooperating Board of Trustees)
This week I confirmed that no one from SI has ever called Dr. Phelps to ask for his take on the issues. Instead, Aaron Blumer and Jim Peet have repeatedly provided the venue, allowed for, encouraged and participated in what has often been a high tech lynching of Dr. Phelps. While certain SI site managers may have come to Dr. Phelps’ defense on occasion, they continue to manage a medium that is far from edifying.

Yesterday, SI opened a Filing on the BJU statement. There is no wrong in reporting a significant and newsworthy statement. The problem, however, is that the thread has been opened for what predictably would be a rehash of the same sort of innuendo and hurtful gossip SI has been allowing for many months. At the outset of the thread Aaron posted this statement.
This thread would be a really weird place to post all the old accusations again. Every possible accusation has already been made many, many times. All the reasons for and reasons against have been aired innumerable times. So whatever there might be to discuss (if anything) repeating accusations again would certainly be pointless.”
Aaron Blumer is not so na├»ve to think that because of his statement there would be no repeat of “every possible accusation,” is he? At the time of this writing there are 30 comments in the thread and of course some are a rehash of the same accusations that have been “aired innumerable times.” BJU also came under critical attack. If Aaron were serious about holding back accusations and that repeating accusations would be pointless he would have kept the thread closed to comments or remove any that repeat accusations.

Aaron Blumer has been derelict as a Christian publisher and sinful in his approach to addressing the entire tragic situation. There has been no “attitude of forbearance” whatsoever. Aaron has shown no inclination of forebearance. Aaron (and Jim Peet) have repeatedly allowed for the publication of “reckless accusations of crime or cover up,” which as SI site publisher and owner makes him complicit in the doing of it.
Aaron Blumer and Jim Peet have been enablers of sinful gossip, hurtful innuendo and rumor mongering.
Numerous times Aaron Blumer has acted in disingenuous ways suggesting that there should be no more discussion of the matter, that threads should be closed. Yet, he and Jim Peet repeatedly would not close a thread and/or would simply open a new article/thread to allow for a continuation of calling into question the motives, intent, honesty and integrity of Dr. Phelps. SI is a primary Internet conduit for, “a faithful pastor…being pummeled in social media and his family maligned—this is unjust.

What SI has been a party to is wholly unjust. I am hopeful Aaron will have his senses awakened to what he has done again. I am hopeful that he will, this one time, set aside personal bias of his site, forget about trying to keep a struggling site afloat and instead do the right thing, which would be to pull the many instances at SI where Dr. Phelps’s reputation and his family has been maligned. I am hopeful, but in reality, SI under Aaron Blumer (and Jason Janz before him) has never shown any attitude of forbearance toward or correction of injustice that SI has committed against persons, sites or institutions. Instead, SI is a culture of bias, censorship by omission and playing favorites, which is well documented.

God’s Word (1 Cor. 6:1-8) challenges us that we are not to go to court before the gentiles and lets us know that we will one day “judge angels.” Why is that important to our discussion? Because the open-court communication that SI allows on sensitive matters will only give way for the name of Christ to be sullied. Honestly, SI becomes another 20/20 and the participants share rumor, innuendo and gossip without consideration of the need to confront, restore or edify. How much different would the current situation facing Dr. Phelps have been had the people involved done the right thing and contacted him before contacting the press and/or going on line?

A Personal Appeal
Have you ever wondered whether or not you should be participating at SI? If ever there was ample reason to quit participating in comments threads and/or contributing to it through advertising funds this is it. This incident is just another in SI’s history of its leadership’s bias, playing favorites, besmirching non-favored persons, fellowships and doctrines as well as badgering dissenting SI members. Beginning with its first site publisher, Jason Janz, and continuing through today with Aaron Blumer, SI has been a platform for castigating Fundamentalism with the broad-brush and propping up a compromising, non-separatist evangelicalism. I urge you to consider ceasing from participating at or supporting the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron.


LM

26 comments:

  1. To all those who recognize SI's long time broad-brushed bias against and hostility towards Fundamentalism, who have some form of close connection to any of the advertisers at SI:

    I encourage you to contact those institutions and ask if propping up a site that castigates Fundamentalism, while heaping lavish praise on and promoting a compromised, non-separatist evangelicalism is the best venue to be directing the Lord's resources.

    IMO, after six years it's obvious SI never intended and will never be brought into a balanced frame of mind toward authentic, historic and biblically balanced Fundamentalism.

    It is time for Independent Fundamental Baptist men and institutions to cease from keeping afloat a site that is promoting a hybrid form of a "NEW" New Evangelicalism.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lou, it might be fair to say that there is hostility toward certain segments of fundamentalism. I think you broadbrush by implying they are hostile toward all of fundamentalism.

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  3. Michael:

    It is Kevin Bauder at SI who castigates Fundamentalism with the broad-brush. He is often derelict to draw the distinctions within Fundamentalism to instead brush all of Fundamentalism with his criticism, some legitimate that should be directed with precision. I think the words of Dr. Gerald Priest need repeating,

    "Kevin [Bauder] has been quite lavish in his praise of conservative evangelicals while castigating so-called fundamentalists. Yet he has spent very little time warning us about the pitfalls and problems of conservative evangelicalism…. What I fear is that we may be allowing a Trojan horse into the fundamentalist camp. And after a while, if we keep going down this track, any significant difference between conservative evangelical and the fundamentalist institutions may disappear."


    LM


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  4. So Dr. Bauder does it but you don't? I think Dr. Bauder claims to be a fundamentalist. Is he crazy too for condemning himself if he truly broad brushes it all?

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  5. Michael:

    Two specific responses to address your concern-

    1) My long standing open challenge to SI site publisher Aaron Blumer, which he for months ignored and then in one failed attempt, still has not been able to answer satisfactorily is to produce even one article from SI's Front page, a main page article, that is 100% positive toward Fundamentalism and edifying for Fundamentalists. Aaron can't provide that example because in the 6+ years of SI's existence it has never been done.

    2) For a recent and classic example of Bauder, who is the star contributor at SI, condemning himself occurred at the recent Evangelical Theological Society meeting. Read, at least, Part Four of Kent Brandenburg’s field trip to ETS for stark details of Bauder’s compromise and betrayal of biblical separation.

    Did you know that 7th Day Adventists were official and approved vendors at the ETS conference? Deadly enemies of the gospel and the cross of Christ. And Kevin Bauder has the nerve to castigate Fundamentalists while heaping “lavish praise” on and defending his new friends in “evangelicalism” who hobnob with heretics.

    Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan and the culture at SI is to tolerate, allow for, ignore and/or excuse virtually every doctrinal aberration, worldliness and ecumenical compromise of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. This is irrefutable, which has been documented over-and-over again.

    Frankly, I don’t care what label Bauder wants to identify himself with. His actions define him as increasingly non-separatist, ignoring the biblical mandates for the sake of growing a fellowship and cooperate ministry with compromisers in the T4G, Gospel Coalition camp. He is leading a movement of his own making toward a “NEW” New Evangelicalism and SI is his happy enabler and primary conduit for it.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  6. I read the post by Kent B. and found that his charges against Bauder have more to do with consistency. He admits Bauder is right about many things, just not the application of it.

    Also, I know the ETS is a theological society. It isn't a church, a seminary, or anything else. It is a society of theologians/pastors who post doctrinal material. I seriously doubt everyone in there things everyone else is saved and grant Christian recognition to them. I saw where another blogger posted about how you gave Christian recognition to the most liberal person in Bauder's book: Roger Olson.

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  7. Michael:

    This one more and done with this subject line.

    1) That’s the point! Bauder is increasingly being found to show a huge disconnect between what he says/writes and why he does in practice. Just like John Piper and look where he (Piper) has wound up. The Bibkle gives some clear specific for the believer in regard to the unsaved and disobedient among us. Bauder knows these things yet is willfully disobeying God's mandates to have is fellowship with the likes of Mohler and now 7th Day Adventists are on his ignore list. Why? Because if he did raise any form of legitimate protest to the inclusion of these rank heretics, his invitation would be revoked and he would have another platform that he is nit welcome to. I really think a case can be made that Kevin Bauder is showing mixed loyalties. Is he going to live in absolute fidelity to God and His Word or do what he must to have his fellowship and cooperative ministry with non-separatist, compromising evangelicals? What just transpired at ETS makes the answer pretty obvious, IMHO.

    2) Your stating ETS is not a church- that is the new mantra to legitimize their fellowships with compromising believers. It’s a way of twisting biblical separatism into a neutered form to legitimize what are sure to be increasingly unholy alliances. See- Dave Doran: Is There a Second Definition for “Separation” for Academic Contexts?

    3) On giving Roger Olson Christian recognition. First, all I did was say I am buying his book the refute Calvinism and this has been twisted into a political weapon by Dave Doran because he won't answer for his own drift away from authentic biblical separation. Second, if Olson were an unsaved man, then I surely would withdraw any sort of endorsement of the man or his ministry. Do you know him to be unsaved?

    Now, on the other hand we have Al Mohler who has irrefutably given Christian recognition to the deadly enemies of the cross of Christ and compromised the Gospel when he signed the Manhattan Declaration alongside Roman Catholic priests and apostates. That was excused away by both Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran. Of course, SI gives Mohler and both the self-defined militant separatists Bauder/Doran a pass.

    Here are the links to my comments to Roger Olson.

    Link 1

    Link 2

    This one to Olson is what Doran twisted into a political tool.

    I will be purchasing your new book, “Against Calvinism.” Thanks for taking on stand on this important debate and divide. Lord willing, your polemic will slow and stem the tide of the resurgence of Calvinism.

    Naturally, Doran must meet any criticism of Calvinism with the inclusion of attempts at character assassination. FWIW, I had no idea until afterward that Olson believes in Open Theism, which I thoroughly reject.

    With that I am returning this thread to a discussion of SI.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  8. To Anonymous who submitted a comment that began with, "While SI is wrong in many of its ways."

    With rare exceptions I do not allow for anonymous posting. Some who do are known to me personally. If you want your comment posted here you need to sign off with your full name at the end of your comment.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm a bit intimidated by the BJU people who surround me so I am not able to tell you the full name. As long as you were willing to post it then you are fair minded and not like SI.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fair enough.

    If you're a student, keep to the books and course work. Reading and/or participating in the blogs can become an unwise distraction from God's first desire for you at this time of your life.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  11. Question shouldn't doing right come before anything? (Even before academic endeavors? I man studying biology is good, but to honor God is better.)

    But to do Justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This seems as good a place as any to express some things regarding the Chuck Phelps situation. I've been reading here and there since last spring but after the 20/20 story the whole story went completely off my radar screen until last week and the DoRightBJU hoopla. So, in reading again I discover that the trial was at the end of May. In the course of the trial, under oath, it is revealed that Pastor Phelps had indeed contacted the police and the children and youth services. So, 6.5 months later, there are still people saying that Phelps "covered up a rape" at his church. You cannot get any more public than having a church member standing before the church and confessing to adultery! Tina Anderson was able to craft her statement to the church and she appears to have not cried rape at the time but instead 13 years later. This was undoubtedly a mess that confronted Pastor Phelps. It looks to me like he rejected the abortion option as that would have added sin to sin and would have made everything so much worse. He got Tina away from the shame of having to face everyone. That seems more like an act of compassion than anything else. I guess this is a case of no good deed goes unpunished. I feel far more sympathy for Pastor Phelps than Tina Anderson because she had exploited the crime against her and has allowed others to use her as a hammer against many good people. The whole BJU episode was disinformation given to students to get them involved in a good cause against the wrong people and aligned with the wrong people also This whole guilt by association can be used both ways. I'm sure that some of these ladies that have spent hours of their time defaming everyone and everything fundamental are probably related to someone who has stolen, become drunken or murdered someone...I guess that makes all of them thieves, drunkards and murderers.

    ReplyDelete
  13. David:

    Thanks for that, especially for what appears to be getting it right.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  14. When I consider what the Bible says regarding this event, the passage I Timothy 5:19-20 comes to mind. "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. This whole Tina Anderson saga is based on the word of one witness, Tina herself, who's story is contradicted by two other witnesses close to the event and that was Mr. Willis and Tina's mother. The whole 20/20 episode and the blogs that currently are targeting Dr. Chuck Phelps have skipped past the two or three witnesses part of scripture and are rebuking before all without it being completely established that this elder committed any sin.

    ReplyDelete
  15. David:

    Again you have raised a valid discussion point. I am going to be speaking of Sharper Iron in particular in the following commentary.

    The answer to why SI would allow for and it's leadership participate in the Internet lynching if Dr. Phelps is really quite simple.

    1) SI is a for profit business. It has struggled financially for years. Aaron Blumer is not about to let a Scriptural principle stand in the way of using a controversy to create controversy and thereby attract readers to boost the numbers he can claim to potential advertisers. Not long ago he cooked the SI books, in membership count, to inflate the size of the audience advertisers could expect to reach.

    2) SI is not about to let a Scriptural principle get in the way of allowing for and participating in demonizing and besmirching a Fundamentalist pastor. One must remember that SI is all about the defense and advancement of the so-called "conservative" evangelicalism.

    It's just that simple. The passage you reference above is treated at SI as an inconvenient truth to be brushed aside.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  16. I know that many go to Sharper Iron to watch the nasty exchanges, and weep over watching “the group of talking heads” do onto others that they claim to despise, but I would like to suggest that we have a solution. Stop going there, or at least limit your visit to once a week. I know that they have a timely sidebar that covers the news, and some of the articles are worth reading, but keep in mind that the web site contains a counter. Each time someone visits the site; they are counted and are used to bolster their numbers to the advertisers. Dad use to say about the rats in the barn, “ if you can’t kill them, starve them out”.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Friend:

    Each time someone visits the site; they are counted and are used to bolster their numbers to the advertisers.

    I have been saying that for nearly all of the 2+ years since I forever quit SI. My original professional background is in the media, on air and marketing. My wife grew up on a dairy farm. Your dad was exactly right and the analogy is perfect for media outlets.

    Some of the well-meaning men who still post there are not accomplishing what they hope to, which is to be a voice for a balanced Fundamentalism. What happens instead is that they keep the threads alive and people reading. If they were to quit SI, then SI would nearly grind to halt because all they have talking to each other are the admins, moderators, site publisher and a few die hard, the ce wanna-be's,

    Thanks for the sound advice.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  18. I realize this is an old post, but it seems to me, Lou, that you are guilty of what you are condemning in this post. You claim that Aaron Blumer cooked the books to get more advertising money, which is a serious charge, but you provided no evidence that that occurred. I am not an SI reader or contributor (simply because I see little value in Internet debating and I value my sleep at night), but I know Aaron very well. In spite of my experiential bias in his favor, I would like to know the basis for your claim. How do you know that SI has struggled financially for years? The fact is that keeping a website open costs no more than $10 to $20 per month. How can that be a struggle?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was at work yesterday for 14 hours and unable to upload your comments then. Got home and forgot to check back here. I appreciate your concern.

      There is no doubt that Aaron cooked the membership books. An electronic migration did bring an alleged 4,000 members from SI 3.0 to SI 4.0. Yet, he claimed those 4,000 members with several hundred active, which again by any objective observation was not true or accurate.

      My background and education was in Tele-communications including telecomm law. There is no question in the media community that was Aaron alleged about the status of members, active members were NOT true or accurate. Anyone could look at the membership count, as it as growing at 4.0 and see there as nowhere near the alleged 4,000 members. As for advertising the Internet site/blog that seeks advertisers can charge fees based on how many site visitors to the site an advertiser can expect to reach. In radio there are the Arbitron sweeps. Aaron at SI was claiming to readers and in the Advertising section of SI 4,000 members with several hundred active, which was NOT true at the time or any time since. Furthermore, if it as true why did Aaron finally relent and revise the membership statement to what I have to call a less dishonest accounting. If it as true and accurate I would have NEVER revised it downward.

      Struggled financially was reported to me from a person who claimed intimate knowledge. Furthermore, why has Aaron more than once put out appeals for financial aid if all is financially sound?

      I will reply to your next. If you want to respond further I will allow it ONLY if you sign off with your real name.


      LM

      Delete
  19. Well, I just did some more investigating and found Aaron's answer to your cooking the books accusation. The fact is that I helped Aaron some with his software transition. I am an engineer with two post-graduate degrees in computer engineering, and what Aaron says is completely accurate. He had 4000 registrants before the switch, and he had 4000 registrants after the switch. The *only* difference was that the new system could not use that user database directly. If I had known you would have made such a fuss about it, I would have offered to help him transition them all. I can do SQL programming.

    Anyway, my wife keeps up with Sharper Iron periodically, and she does say the ganging up on conservative fundamentalists is pretty bad, so I feel for you there. I refuse to get involved with it, though, because I've tried to get into Internet debates before. Waste of time.

    I appreciate your periodic updates about Northland on your other blog, though. It's sad to see schools decline like that.

    Just had a thought: It could be that Aaron has treated you wrongly on the SI site. I don't know, but perhaps you have done enough to him to make him as bitter toward you as you are obviously toward him. What you continue to say about him really is slanderous. But I suspect you haven't read this far enough to see that.

    Anyway, keep defending the faith! We need defenders!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anyway, my wife keeps up with Sharper Iron periodically, and she does say the ganging up on conservative fundamentalists is pretty bad, so I feel for you there.”

      I appreciate that recognition. SI has always, from the beginning, gang tackled “conservative fundamentalists.” That is why they lost most of them early on. Today I’d say after Don Johnson, SI has none left. All were driven off by Aaron’s team and the hostility of the evangelical wanna-be’s at SI.

      I stayed on for 3.5 years ONLY for the lurkers and finally quit publicly and in private emails to the SI team, which Aaron has since knowingly lied about claiming I was “banned.” That lie was so blatant and obvious he had to rewrite the rules for SI to legitimatize banning members AFTER they quit. Pathetic! I really don’t care. I feel that being banned by SI is a badge of honor.

      Btw, I offered to Aaron to delete this blog from the Internet if ONLY he would return my status to “former member,” (which is what they at first did when I notified them I had quit) from banned. Aaron refused the deal, fine! Aaron and his team have abused other now former members, who also quit them over it.

      This article on what SI did and allowed for, which I call an Internet lynching of Chuck Phelps is about as reprehensible a behavior as any I’ve seen. Yet, they even today still allow for it. I have done and will do what I can to see SI go away, but they are doing a good job of going off the extremist cliff on their own.


      LM

      Delete
    2. Anyway, I am gratified to know that you appreciate the efforts at my In Defense of the Gospel blog. It is sad and tragic to watch once fine schools unravel and decline. I believe what Matt Olson has brought to NIU will lead to its ultimate demise. Very sad!

      Kind regards,


      LM

      Delete
    3. With your wife's thinking on the bias of SI I thought it might worthwhile for you folks to read SI: Censorship by Omission


      LM

      Delete
  20. We gave up on SI YEARS ago- definitely not walking in the same direction.

    ReplyDelete
  21. "So, 6.5 months later, there are still people saying that Phelps "covered up a rape" at his church. You cannot get any more public than having a church member standing before the church and confessing to adultery!"
    I have been trying to understand more of the Phelps/Anderson issues, and I ended up here.
    I appreciate the perspective here, but the above quotation (left uncorrected) left me chilled.
    While I might not go so far as to say he "covered up a rape" since he did contact the police initially, he did not during that church discipline a) acknowledge or have Willis confess that the sin was with a minor (i.e. rape) b) connect in any way Willis' sin to Anderson's. For a minor to have to repent of wrongdoing, and it not be made transparent on the details of the wrongdoing...God help us.

    I am not familiar with all the ways of SI, but amazingly some of the comments you make and allow are reminiscent of the accusations you make of SI. Nonetheless, I think the dialogue is good whether at SI or your site. Put the information/opinions out there, and let us weight it against Scripture--"proving all things and holding fast that which is good."

    I agree that Don Johnson is the "last" (if not Harding...don't know enough about him yet) that would be considered one of the last "traditional" fundamentalist that chimes in. We are all watching though...watching Don, watching the FBFI, watching you...many of the attitudes and actions and speakers are infiltrating FBFI and their institutions...who will be the leader to stand "in defense of the gospel". Yes anonymous, doing right should be above anything else!

    Andrew

    ReplyDelete
  22. The rumor-mongering will IMO never end. There are folks with an axe to grind and they are not going to let it go no matter what facts come to their attention.

    There are a great many more men in fundamental circles like that of Don Johnson and Mike Harding. Those others, however, choose not to enter into the blogosphere, and wisely in most cases.

    The difference between what goes on here (and my main blog, IDOTG) and what goes on at SI is that I am not the one trying to pretend to be something different than I am. See,

    SI: Censorship by Omission
    http://indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/2012/09/sharper-iron-censorship-by-omission.html

    SI: “You Lie!”
    http://sharperironintheironskillet.blogspot.com/2011/08/si-you-lie.html

    “SI May Fit the Description of ‘Pseudo Fundamentalist’.”
    http://sharperironintheironskillet.blogspot.com/2011/08/si-may-fit-description-of-being-psuedo.html


    LM

    ReplyDelete