Discernment sites and slander

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by arapahoepark, Sep 2, 2019.

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  1. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Maybe its me but, I have seen a big influx of 'discernment' sites that specialize not only in warning of heretics but seem bent on 'exposing' every little allegation made against someone. Christian news sites seem,to give them a lot of creedance. I am sure we could name all sorts of sites that post private emails, alleged testimonies, and I am increasingly troubled that it is nothing more than slander. This seems especially true when they call out those suspicious of them or those willing to stand up for a reputation of someone who they have known for years, or a friend, (like there is anything wrong sticking by a friend guilty or not of things) as actual abetment. Or if you express an uninformed opinion, or heaven forbid a more nuanced one, on a statement or an allegation, they post all your responses in an,effort to shame you and 'make you repent' of your supposed involvement in a conspiratorial cover up. Because apparently if you rub elbows with someone charged you are just as guilt,,right?
    Surely we all want truth exposed so to speak but when does this amateur journalism and 'discernment' become scandalously slanderous in and of itself?
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
  2. Susan777

    Susan777 Puritan Board Freshman

    It’s the internet.
  3. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I generally find "discernment ministries" effeminate, hysterical, and gossipy, though there are some exceptions. Those who run them sometimes take an all-or-nothing approach to things - thinking that because a person is wrong on something, they are wrong on everything. Pardon the pun, but be discerning about such ministries of discernment.
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    You can almost always ignore them. Even when they report the facts correctly, the analysis is shrill and hysterical. They are the Westboro Baptist Church of the Internet.
  5. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think a good discerner should highlight the teaching, the funding source and what is tolerated. Not the individual and not his personal life.
    An example would be Al Mohler, he is dead set against critical theory and social justice but he has a few professors on his faculty that are big promoters and teachers of these ideologies. If you want to be a high profile celebrity of the faith you have to be willing to stand up to scrutiny or be labeled somewhat double minded. I’m not going to do such labeling but I appreciate those people willing to point out some inconsistencies.

    The Aquila Report is good


    Machen pointed out error but never personalized it
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
  6. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Indeed. Too many people want to be the next Machen, but fail to pay attention to how he defended the faith. Or they invoke his name when claiming it's good to launch personal attacks. I doubt Machen would agree.
  7. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

  8. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    I think most of us would agree that most discernment ministries ironically lack discernment when it comes to who they choose to attack and for the so-called offenses they choose to focus on. That being said, the sad truth is that discernment ministries are popular because the evangelical industrial complex mostly functions as a self-congratulatory echo chamber whereby it’s members will never dare to criticize each other. The solution is for godly men to stand up to error when they see it without feeling the need to demonize or anathematize every one with whom we disagree.
  9. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think multiple seminaries have professors that are subtly promoting critical theory. I don’t want to derail this thread but I’m assuming it gets tricky as far as how you manage that. Same with having pastors who endorse gay Christianity. So if these men have been somewhere for a long time and it becomes obvious that they are entering shady territory doctrinally, I guess it can become complicated how it’s managed. So I think discerners should continue to respectfully debate and stand by their position. I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned Al Mohler by name (the situation was just an example of more of a need to know scenario of public interest). I’m assuming he’s in a tough spot. But I would be interested in how any seminary president responds to questions on these matters. If it’s something that is out of their control as far as addressing it with the powers that be (board of directors) then I think asking for transparency of that fact would still be reasonable.

    Back to the topic, I still skim Pulpit and Pen and about 40% of what they posts is of interest. I don’t care what some internet preacher or mega church pastor is up to. But they do bring some important matters to light. I should probably stick to the Christian Post or a site which is a bit more balanced in their report, but even they get a bit too tabloidish. It’s probably best to worry about our own denominations if they are keeping everyone in the loop.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  10. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    It is way too easy to attack discernment sites (and some discernment sites do do it badly). But the origin of many discernment sites is persistent sin within the church.

    We don't call Luther's 95 Theses and its subsequent mass printing for the masses a discernment site, but it played much of the same role. He was over-ruled by the religious authorities and so went outside the established order and took the issue to the masses. No wonder the peasants thought he was on their side and were later disappointed when they revolted and Luther rebuked them as well.

    One example is sexual abuse within the Church. The Churches have not been policing themselves from the inside. And so many discernment sites have done a good job of exposing these sins and pushing for justice.

    Do they get 100% of the info accurate...well no, and one reason is that the churches ARE NOT TELLING the info, and so sometimes these sites must dig up what they can.

    As to the case of Tchividjian, many discernment sites had it more right than many churches, who keep welcoming him back with open arms.

    As to the case of Tom Chantry, many folks in Reformed Baptist churches were misled by their own pastors that it was "all just a case of spankings" and not felony abuse and molestation. Several bloggers have shown otherwise.

    Even the Pulpit and Pen gets a lot of things correct. You can dislike their tone and some of the conclusions, but they often back up their facts with documentation.

    And so my hesitant conclusion is this: Praise God for watchdogs and Discernment Sites.

    p.s. isn't it also slander when pastors paint all discernment bloggers in the same light?
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
  12. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Regarding Dr. Clark's blog post, he strangely writes this:

    "In this regard, the mob is quite like the so-called “Pizzagate” matter. Add Speculation to conspiracy theories, which are impervious to evidence, to the internet mob and before long someone is firing rounds into a business. In other words, innocent people can get hurt."

    And we all KNOW for certain that it is all just a conspiracy theory that Washington D.C. is filled with rich folks involved in an elite pedophile ring who traffic the under-aged. The shame of it all, innocent people ending up suiciding themselves in jail (and then all charges are dropped) when we believe these wild rumors.
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  13. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    That’s for us to know, let the pastor be about his business, a higher calling.

    Let the pedo code words stand and pray that justice is served in this life or the next.

    ....Man, he quoted the Post? Ouch! CIA owned rag. Ok, that hurt.

    I’ll give him a pass, but that was kinda unnecessary as far as his overall message was concerned.
  14. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    As I said on Facebook recently, another day is another opportunity to learn that Alex Jones has been right all along. I remember when Facebook and YouTube banned Alex and Infowars, Dr Clark defended his right to speak but described him as "huckster." Granted, Infowars is hardly mainstream, respectable opinion but the problem with Bourgeoise Reformed thinking is that it appropriates too much of mainstream opinion without critical discernment.
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Alex Jones ought to do a program about self-appointed gatekeepers of who actually gets to call themselves Reformed.
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  16. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Those willing to name names of those in high places in the evangelical establishment who are pursuing an anti-Christian agenda and to detail where their funding is coming from should be applauded.
  17. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

  18. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

  19. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I am not going to name names, but his initials are George Soros. :stirpot:
  20. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    When do sites become a gossipy echo chamber?
  21. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think we almost have to be more specific and the discernment sites should also be more specific in their mission. JD Hall, who I email links to once in a while(along with many others), gets a little creepy sometimes. I can’t remember the full name of the one guy he was obsessing over with the last name Jennings but it was very TMI. So he may want to narrow his polemic focus quite a bit; we can find sin under any rock. I think James White is one of the best as far as polemics, apologetics, and new developments.

    What’s the instance that made you upset?
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
  22. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    See that little "x" at the top of the screen? Click it. Or the little trash can. Tap! Unfollow. Change the channel. Unfriend. No audience means no platform to rant. And if it doesn't get rid of the nonsense, at least you don't have to see or hear it.

    (Now for the problems cropping up within the denominations or seminaries, we can work within our authority or sphere of influence. Wish I could help you there.)
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    That's not the problem. It's Pulpit and Pen's nigh-incompetence in accurately citing sources.
  24. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think transparency is important. Shouldn’t church members know where there pastors are coming from, who are the benefactors, who are on the boards? Same with general assemblies and the like. Who is calling the shots?

    We shouldn’t have to rely on discernment sites if transparency is practiced when it should be. Some matters require that the courts run their course. But the agenda of seminary boards may be quite different than a professor of sound doctrine and theology. These are areas polemic sites believe transparency is sometimes lacking, for better or worse. If I was a member in the PCA or SBC I would be highly troubled and probably would have left if a better option was available just on principle (and I ain’t no saint, lol)
  25. Kinghezy

    Kinghezy Puritan Board Freshman

    95 theses were a notice for a scholarly debate (why they were written in Latin and not vernicular). People other than Luther translated and distributed.


    What was the point of nailing something to the Wittenberg door? Was this a common practice?

    It was simply a convenient public place to advertise a debate, and not an unusual or uncommon practice. In itself, it was no more radical than putting up an announcement on a public notice board.


    Ordinarily, Luther’s theses would have been of interest only to professional theologians, but various political and religious situations of the time, and the fact that printing had been invented, combined to make the theses known throughout Germany within a few weeks. Luther did not give them to the people, although he did send copies to the Archbishop of Mainz and to the Bishop of Brandenburg. Others, however, translated them into German and had them printed and circulated.
  26. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Unfortunately, in many cases it is abetting. While we should always use as a starting point "defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging talebearers, flatterers, and slanderers;" that is too often used by pastors to defend their friends at the expense of truth or justice.
  27. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Trying to be as discreet as I can so I am not like them but, I am sick of seeing stuff about Tullian, other abusers, etc. It literally depresses me. Don't get me wrong the world should know and churches be a safe place for victims to speak up, and some but not all churches have failed.
    But on some of these sites for instance, they throw every one under the bus charging them with conspiracy if you were somehow connected with the accused. For instance, I typed a name recently alluded to and near the top of the Google search all these sites are over it with little more than he rubbed elbows with a person charged and apparently didn't disassociate publicly or to their satisfaction and "Ha! He's in on a conspiracy! An enabler!" Its so routine any more which is why Dr. Clark got slammed for the article, he wasn't hysterical like them trying to turn over every rock.
    While many of these accusations may indeed be true, cover ups, conspiracy and all, it seems many more are publicly accused merely because of the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon.
    Or another is that is you don't agree with their exact wording of a statement or your own statement doesn't match theirs on abuse, you are publicly shamed and called an enabler.
    Another well known and used site has blacklisted nearly every accredited seminary and Christian college (not that all seminaries are good obviously) because they website was scoured and 'meditation' was mentioned irrespective of the context.

    Does this not strike you as wrong? We are not the jury.

    I am all for calling out unorthodox teaching and practice but, the internet takes it too far.
  28. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Sure. I am not talking about actual cases of abatement like in the roman church or the SBC, the installing of known abusers, etc. But even with the whole Mahaney thing, many of his friends stood up for his reputation believing he wasn't what he was charged with, but they weren't covering for him in his non denominational denomination. Yet anybody who doubted was seen just as guilty by these sites and their readers.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
  29. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    You are absolutely right. Churches are very vulnerable. We are a soft target.

    I believe everything you said is 100% valid. The truth is, and this is sad, but I think there is a cheap thrill associated with digging dirt and exposing wrongdoing whether legit, fabricated or exaggerated. There are some that don’t want these things to die cause it gets them attention and hits/clicks. That is the sad reality of the internet. The outrage/shock culture/righteous indignation it generates on all sides.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  30. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    The standard should be "knew or should have known". Willful ignorance isn't a valid defense.

    When the accusations start flying, one should investigate or hold their peace.
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