***All PB Members: Please Read

Discussion in 'FAQ & Rules' started by Prufrock, Jul 29, 2009.

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  1. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Just a general reminder to all PBers about some Basic Rules of the PB that we all agreed to when we signed up, especially regarding a few key topics which arise fairly frequently:

    1.) Second Commandment -- According to the standards of this board, purported images of Christ fall under the prohibitions of the second commandment. They are not to be argued for.

    2.) RPW -- We do not all agree as to the application of the Regulative Principle of Worship, but the principle itself still stands. We are not a Lutheran board. Arguments against the RPW are not allowed.

    3.) Sabbath -- Again, our standards are clear: arguments against the abiding command to observe the Sabbath are not allowed.

    4.) Charismatic gifts -- Arguments for the charismatic position are not allowed.

    5.) Puritans and the Confessions -- This one should be common-sense, but looking down upon the puritans as "old fuddy-duddies," legalists, ignorant, etc., is not the best move. Also, disrespect to confessionalism is not allowed.

    6.) Do remember that one of the first rules of the board is that you note your confession, and also any exceptions which you claim to your confession. Read them carefully -- those things to which you take exception are not to be argued. ***Questions to help understand confessional issues are more than welcome, as is discussion of any point or aspect of the confessions: it is simply that opposing positions cannot be advocated.
    Examples of acceptable threads are:
    1. I'm confused about Particular Atonement -- can someone help explain to me the following aspects of it from the confessional point of view?
    2. What are Antinomianism and Neonomism? Why are they so bad, and how do they differ from the confessions?
    3. I hear the Westminster theologians were divided on the lapsarian question -- can both sides be explained; or why is one better than the other?
    In other words, if you are sure the confessional position is wrong then there are other venues to discuss your thoughts; if you're just learning about something, and don't know how the confessions address it, or you don't understand the confessional position, feel free to ask, discuss, clarify, etc. Also remember that there are several issues left open by the confessions, and fraternal debate and discussion within these boundaries is welcome.

    Remember, these rules are not so that we can be mean and controlling; rather, this board is run by folks who firmly believe that the confessions hold forth the content of scripture, and as such provide a forum for like minded individuals to discuss matters within these confines. The last thing desired is for someone to come here, find the confessions argued against by someone they have come to respect and so begin to doubt the accuracy of the confessions and the truths they hold forth. This is not to happen in this environment, and therefore there are strict guidelines and boundaries -- not to stifle freedom of thought, but to guide and direct, and provide a safe haven for new, growing and mature Christians alike.
  2. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    To the moderators - There is an apparent contradiction between the above statement and the bolded section of the following forum rule.

    d. Confessional Requirements: One must hold to either the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity, the Second Helvetic Confession, or the LBCF to be approved for membership without a waiver. This does not mean that the these confessions are viewed as the "Word of God." Rather, these confessions and creeds are taken to accurately summarize the key doctrines of the Bible and allow mutual, like-minded fellowship (Amos 3:3, "Can two walk together unless they be agreed?"). The adherence to any orthodox historical documents assure that the board will be kept "like-minded" in most of the basic points of salvation history and that the fellowship "exhortive and encouraging." Those who seek to modify, depart from, change or disprove the doctrines found in the Confessions will bear the burden of proof to support their claim.

    Announcing that those who seek to "modify... or disprove doctrines found in the Confessions will bear the burden of proof to support their claim" is not the same thing as saying that "oppsing positions [to the confessions] cannot be advocated" since the former implies that limited discussion of non or even contra confessional positions is tolerated on the board, not the zero tolerance policy Prufrock has stated. And such "limited discussion" has been the past practice of the board with regard to certain non-confessional views.

    If Prufrock has correctly represented board policy, then may I suggest that some attention be paid to revising or eliminating the bolded section in above the above rule: the juxtaposition of Prufrock's statement with that part of the rule as interpreted by the past practice of the moderators is confusing.
  3. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Hey, sometimes I like being an old fuddy-duddy! :wink:
  4. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    We'll take it under advisement. The sentence provides us the means to permit some flexibility here. Even with "perfect" rules some human judgment is going to be involved as to what is inside the bounds of propriety. A reasonable man would not require the modification of that sentence simply because a man wants to present a Biblical case for homosexuality.

    What is in view here is that there is a corpus of a Reformed approach to the Scriptures that seeks to remain grounded in the principle that the Church, together, confesses the Scriptures. Typically the line is drawn when a modernist approach controls the issue. We certainly allow vigorous interaction on certain Confessional issues because individual autonomy and a flagrant disregard for Confession is sensed. We also have the (yes, unpublished) general rule that we don't have to give people a platform when we know others are reading just like you don't let a guy come into your Sunday School and start propagating error for all to hear.

    I'm not sure how we'll address it but the bottom line is that we're ultimately stuck with who we are as fallible moderators. The board has a distinctive "feel" based on the personalities and convictions of the Moderators. You can't "fix" that problem by spelling everything out and it's best, in any environment when dealing with authority, to not poke the bear too much. It doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to figure out the hot button items with a Reformed board. It's one thing to re-arrange furniture in another man's house and it's another to start jackhammering at the foundational ideas (RPW, cessationism, etc) and then wondering why the homeowner is perturbed.
  5. AltogetherLovely

    AltogetherLovely Puritan Board Freshman

    I had a question similar to Mr. Pussycat above, and this answers it quite well. Thanks.
  6. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    I can attest to that completely!

    (Now where is the "grinning, ducking, running" emoticon?)
  7. RevZach

    RevZach Puritan Board Freshman

    This is all very foreign to me. All the other boards to which I have belonged have had basic rules, "Be civil," "No taking God's name in vain," etc. I've never even heard of a board that says, "Don't debate this," "don't make a case for that," "don't even talk about the other thing." Obviously, no one is making anyone use this board and it is entirely up to the moderators how they want to run things, but it does come off (to a relative outsider) as a little bit frightened of dissent and diversity of opinions on nonessentials (even those nonessentials that are well within the bounds of Reformation theology).

    I shall, of course, follow the rules in my posts, as I am finding the users of this board to be incredibly helpful in my own learning and maturing in faith. And I have to admit that it is somewhat refreshing to see that every topic hasn't been taken over by proponents of heterodox positions (as is the case on many boards.) But still... I am just wondering, was their some incident(s) wherein arguments took over the board all together, and you had to put your collective foot down and say, "That's it! No more discussing this at all!" or was it the position from the get-go? Considering that the early English Puritan Separatists and the earliest Baptist (both in England and America) very much valued spirited public debate, it strikes me as somewhat unusual.:think:
  8. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I've profited much from knowing there's a place to come where the views *promoted* will be confessional. I think the intent was at least in some part to keep such a resource very useful and helpful as regards what is confessional for laypeople like me.
  9. RevZach

    RevZach Puritan Board Freshman

    I have to admit that, if none of the positions that were "forbidden" were my own, I'd be nodding vigorously. Perhaps I'm just seeing an inferred charge of heresy in my direction where there isn't one.
  10. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    :) I think it is more of a straightforward issue of some views not being confessional, so inappropriate for a board whose limited scope is to promote discussion of confessional views -- at least, that is how I've always viewed it.
  11. RevZach

    RevZach Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm certainly not trying to start some sort of uprising :p. I just wondered if there was an interesting story behind the terms of service.

  12. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    You mean you aren't going to lead us against our oppressors?

    I truly didn't mean to imply any such ungenerous thought of you; I just thought I would chip in as to why it's useful for an unlearned lay-person to have the limitations. I too would be interested in the history -- I know it's been a 'confessional' board since I joined.
  13. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    Dear Zachary (my troll neighbor),

    There is a history behind this board that has resulted in it being taken to where it is. And, as one who has witnessed the changes, I can assure you that it has been for the better. It's not that we have to agree with everything the WCF says, especially for us credos. It's that we agree that discussion will be in line with the profession of the Christian faith as it is represented in the confession. If one of us steps out of line then it is civil and quite easy to simply state, "that does not conform to the rules of this discussion board brother." That settles it, even if we disagree, which has been very beneficial.
    For perspective, we have had some excellent and sometimes heated discussions on the Sabbath, the second commandment and the RPW, among other things. They have been profitable, but restrained by the rules of the board so as to not lead to a host of problems that can easily arise if unrestrained. In this, for the most part, the moderators here have done an outstanding job and should be appreciated for their efforts.
    So, be encouraged brother. I doubt there is another public discussion board on the planet that is as well moderated and successful and honoring Christ as the PB. May the rules set in place keep it so without stifling the truth.


  14. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, the problem with not having such terms of service is that we'd have every sort of evangelical belief, even the most absurd, propagated here. In other words, it wouldn't be the Puritan Board, just a forum where everybody disagrees with everybody else and orthodox Christianity is not protected from awful hermeneutics or false sheep. In many ways that would be worthless and redundant considering the many other forums where people can do that.
  15. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    Let me chime in as well. What Joe posted is very true. This board is an excellent example of positive change. I've been a member since almost the beginning. In the past there were some real donnybrooks. They served no real purpose other than stifling understanding.
  16. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    While I haven't been around as long as some of the others, I have to agree that it's wonderful to have a place where we have some common understanding. Otherwise, we'd probably be dealing with the same issues over and over.
  17. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Though several have already provided some very good information for you, I'll just throw a few quick points out there.

    First, don't worry -- there is plenty of vigorous debate here. But all the debate is intra-confessional Reformed debate: it is a place to debate within the limits of orthodoxy; not a place where one has to consistently debate the points of orthodoxy itself. The confessional points are assumed when we sign up. It would be like joining a weekly discussion group at your library for people who like tea. There might be vigorous debate as to why tea is so good; which tea you prefer; how you like your tea; whether tea tastes better in the morning or evening, etc. But whether tea is good...that point is already settled, and serves as the foundation of the discussion group. We are self-consciously a Reformed board, and not a Lutheran board -- so there are many beliefs held by other reformational (i.e., Lutheran) churches which our confessions rule out.

    For the record, I'm not sure of any topics regarding which there is a "no talking about" rule. We're free to discuss the RPW, and vigorously debate its application; but not to argue against its validity.

    Anyway, hope that helps out.
  18. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Everyone,

    When I joined this board it was very clear what the expectations were. I was happy then and am happy today to submit to those expectations. With that said, I do see an inconsistency regarding why there are discussion topic limitations. Paul said this in the initial post of this thread...

    If one stated purpose for these rules is to guard against anything that would result in people bringing into “doubt the accuracy of the confessions and the truths they hold forth,” then I believe the PB board failed to do this the day it decided to go beyond the WCF as the standard and accept other positions like the LBCF 1689. Because of the allowance of other confessional positions, a PB member who wants to be consistent in their thinking must “doubt the accuracy of the confessions” to the degree that these various confessions contradict each other.

    So, on the one hand one purpose of this board is to maintain the integrity of the confessions by disallowing topics that might bring into question certain confessional positions; yet, on the other hand this is undermined by allowing different confessional standards that potentially contradict each other. To accept debate and discussion around contradictory doctrinal views at precisely those points where there is disagreement between the confessions, yet at the same time disallowing other topics cannot be consistently done on the so called “bring into doubt” basis. So, it still is not exactly clear to me why I cannot start a discussion, say, around cessationism. The board rules say I can’t; so, I won’t. I just think the reasons given for why I can’t are not very consistent.

    LBCF 1689
  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    There's a reason we require Confessional subscription when you joined the board. I would have thought your "sense of the unusual" would have been piqued when you clicked "I Agree" to the forum rules, which clearly spell out why we require a basic agreement on some definitional aspects of theology.
  20. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I'm willing to live with being considered inconsistent. Personally, I prefer the terms arbitrary or tyrannical.
  21. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    I agree wholeheartedly. We honor God the MOST, all the time. In fact, I heartell there's a special clubhouse in heaven for PB members, because we're so awesome.

    (I'm kidding and being self-depricating :). I think we all know what you mean, but I couldn't resist.)

    -----Added 7/31/2009 at 06:07:14 EST-----

    If it's any consolation, that's how I describe you. I'm taking suggestions for other adjectives. I had been wondering if despotical was permissable.
  22. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I am glad for inconsistancy if it allows babdists on this board.

    We have to remember that this is ONLY a discussion board not an ecclesiastical court. What is more, it is a PRIVATELY OWNED theological board, so the owners can push their peculiar view of what is confessional and what is not.

    Also, one of its purposes is tying us together in fellowship and letting us know one another, not solving ages old theological issues.

    If we keep these limitations in mind, this place is a rockin' place to be!!! So, let's not take this too seriously but let's vigorously appreciate this place for what it is!

    Vive La PB!
  23. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

  24. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Think of it like this. For Christians, the authority of Scripture is unquestionable. What Scripture in fact teaches is not always equally unquestionable, confused as we are by sin.

    But in agreeing that Scripture teaches certain things, we subscribe, so to speak, to a confession of faith (formally or informally: the confession may also be explicit and precise or vague). And people like to go to a church that has the same confession they do, at least in the main. (We recognize that there are primary differences and secondary differences.)

    Now on here we have agreed that for the purposes of this board, if a position is expressed in the WCF, in the LBCF, in the 3FU, it is a confessional position, and may be held (with the WCF being given ultimacy); so differences between the Confessions are automatically secondary differences, while points whereon the Confessions are unanimous are more likely to be primary.
    But only more likely, not certainly. Why? Well, for one thing, those charged with enforcement of the rules of the discussion board may not all have identical understandings of the Confessions; while we accept the principle of confessionalism, our understandings are also limited and dark.

    With regard to the adoption of a confession, the will and understanding of the adopting body must be taken into account, as well as the text of the document (this is called the animus imponentis and the classic example is the Church of Scotland's reception of the WCF with the understanding that certain statements about the civil magistrate's relation to the church were to be understood of when the church was in troublous times, not as an ordinary method of procedure).

    Well on the board we have several confessions and we have in general a very moderate animus imponentis, so that gives quite a bit of leeway; but on certain points all the moderators and admins are either unanimous or don't value their difference enough to argue about it, so that becomes part of the animus imponentis of the board at large. Discussions about the 2nd and 4th Commandments, for instance, have led to a high degree of unity among the moderators, such that certain views whose advocacy we may once have tolerated are now completely opposed to our receiving will.

    Is that arbitrary and subjective? Sure. My tagline is El Tirano for a reason. But if people are reading the threads and engaging consistently, I doubt that they'll be blindsided by some new development of moderatorial unity and a tightening of the rules, because the direction we head is usually pretty obvious.

    And again, this is a discussion board: people get their feelings hurt, and people have deep needs met, as they do anytime there is human interaction; but the venue itself has as little consequence as it's possible to have. It's no badge of honor to be a PB member, or shameful stigma not to be.

    I'm glad to be here, but if someone else isn't, that's about as important as them preferring Edam to Gouda. And if someone won't abide by the rules, their dismissal is somewhat less tragic than a hyper 2-year old being removed from the nursery.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2009
  25. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    The post above expressed very well what I was trying to drive at above.

    I would also add to the above that the Moderators and Admins make a conscious effort to avoid making this a huge time sink. I'm a Marine, a father of four, and very heavily involved in Church. There are some folks removed or issues put on hiatus simply because we don't have time to moderate the excesses that occur.
  26. Curt

    Curt Puritan Board Graduate

    I'm one of those hybrid types. I'm still Prebyterian in theology, while serving a Babdist congregation. When I joined the board, I stated that I accepted the confessional standards that are the foundation of the board.

    The admins work at keeping things reasonable and within bounds. There may be times when I disagree with a decision, but that's o different from life itself. If it ever gets burdensome, I will opt just as I opted in.

    I have been on a number of boards. While folks here will make their opinions known, sometimes even LOUDLY, but here the important thing is not the polemics, it's dealing with the issues - even the light ones!
  27. Laudante

    Laudante Puritan Board Freshman

    We need to control our polemic minds

    Although polemics and elenctic theology are usually very valuable for teaching, it is also great to have one place where one doesn´t feel always compelled to protest against everything. We, reformed Christians, due to the circmstances of the outer world in our days, are very much accustomed to debate everything. Sometimes we even define ourselves in a negative way: I´m NOT a charismatic, I´m NOT an antinomianist, I´m NOT an arminian, and so on. Our minds start working in a purely polemic fashion. This is fine, when the issue is about drawing a line with unbelievers or heretics, but when we start applying the same way of thought over secondary issues with brethren we should rather be walking with for the sake of the precious unity Christ prayed for, we are erring. Yes, there is a healthy place and time for debate among true Christians, but it should not occupy the frontline, as is the case with the world.

    "But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned." (Titus 3:9-11)

    Sometimes debate is artificially provoked or sparked off as a means of saying: "Hey, I´m here, I exist, too". Debate is usually a good way of highlighting ourselves and our individuality. I´ve done this many times myself, I confess, but when this debate is not really justified for a purity in doctrine or practice, it is a clear denial of self-denial, and a clear schismatic root inside the individual, which can develop to the point of a real schism, one of the greatest sins against the holy body of Christ. On these modern times that worship personal individuality, even we, regenerated Christians, feel usually uncomfortable with the idea of being "corporate" people, but the greatest antidote to this love of oneself is provided to us in 1 Cor. 13.

    Besides, what Prufrock suggests is wise. If someone seems to disagree with some point, isn´t it better to put it in the form of a question? At least, this will show humility and regard to the elder wise men who took so much pains to give us those precious summaries of Christian faith.

    However, I think that a good creed can always be enlarged, though almost never diminished. Think for example of the enlargement of the Apostles´ Creed to the Nicean. It´s not that there was a failure in the former, but only that in the time the latter was composed, many new heresies had arisen, which required to be met with a more precise definition of orthodox faith. The same happens today, for since the time the great reformed Confessions were made, many new "innovators" have appeared, and in this sense the confessions could be insufficient to meet these new problems. One could say, for example: "the confession does not specifically forbid using rock music in Church", or "the confession does not forbid specifically to believe in JN Darby´s inventions", and so on. Or, "I believe in the Nicean Creed, but there is no prohibition in it to worship the Virgin Mary or the Pope", like Catholics (who recite the Creed every week), do. This is the only sense in which I think that debate about modifications in the Creeds and Confessions could be allowed.

    Yours in Christ
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