So here we are. Below are some of the letters I have received, along with my responses. Pardon our dust and all that. The comments are enabled for this post only, and so feel free to interact. Consider this Open Thread Tuesday, with perhaps the occasional Troll Tuesday. But please mind your Ps and Qs, My responses are indented and italicized, and will conclude with DJW. I am publishing the first name of the letter writer, unless the letter makes it obvious that I ought not to. If this works out, I can also turn the Content Cluster that runs on Thursday into an open thread as well. DJW
No, no, no. Part of the education here has been the followup conversation, comment and even fellowship that has taken place in the comment section. Unless your blog readers are asking for a change, don’t make one. Who is complaining about the trolls? Are you attempting to leave the world in order to avoid them? If you find monitoring this comment section a burden, find someone who knows what they are doing to monitor and manage the comments and followup conversations with gladness. Much of the encouragement I have received has come by other people’s interaction in the comments with your articles. You are not always able to respond personally to the concerns and questions – or the fears of those who read your blog. But the commenters have and I have valued their input. I have also valued the ease with which I could make my thoughts known and they could reply. The trolls brought us so much joy, so much vindication and so many examples of the problems you have described in this blog. Has this become a holy place that we must shut them out? You will always have the trolls among you. We are not threatened, we are not deterred, and we are not afraid. The whole point of the gospel was to make access easy to Truth and Grace. If Jesus was willing to suffer the inconvenience of flesh shouldn’t we suffer the inconvenience of trolls who live in the flesh? In attempting to remove the trolls, you may also remove or dislodge some of the Fellowship we have enjoyed as believers. Go back to using Disqus – please – and stop your nonsense, Doug :-)
David, yes, I was asked to consider shutting off comments by people who read my blog regularly. And the responses after the fact have divided pretty clearly down the middle. Some feel as you do, while others, as you will see below, were most grateful. DJW
Re: Farewell, Comments, Hello Letters Comments allow interaction. Please don’t disable. Yes, some of the commenters are trolls. Please get a moderator instead.
Steve, if we take into account the wages I would be able to pay, the moderator would have to be a drunk chimpanzee, which would not help us in elevating the tone. DJW
Probably wise move to disable comments.
Atticus, thanks. Yes, I think so. But I hope to have an available open thread a time or two every week, and we will see how that goes. If we figure out how to turn on the comments for one post at a time, as I believe we have done, that will start today. And as for these published letters, as I post them, this will increase my ability to interact with readers, not decrease it.
Yay, a means of asking a question without posting it publicly! I’ve read Bahnsen’s argumentative works (Theonomy in Christian Ethics, By This Standard, No Other Standard), but don’t know of any works that deal with the present-day applications of OT Law. I.e., what would a Romans 13-type minister advocate as case law principles in our day and age as a “Theonomist.” Or, how does a Theonomist “engage” the culture and political arena today? If you (Doug) or your screener could point me to 2-3 works that address that, I’d be most thankful!
Name Withheld for Obvious Reasons
I would start with Richard Baxter’s Christian Directory (as a resource). I would also read Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law. Other works of Protestant casuistry like Davis’s Evangelical Ethics are good. DJW.
Obviously this is your forum and I am confident in you to lead as you see fit. I will say that I have found the comments section to be infuriating/boring but also really helpful to see the faithful dispose objections that you would never have the ime to do. So I would vote for at least some open comment threads.
Yes, we are going to try to have open comment threads. See above. DJW
Doug, I don’t know if it would be used much, but you might consider weekly, or biweekly, open threads. Over the years I have had some very interesting conversations here that were only marginally related to the original post, and it would be nice to keep a forum for that. Also, you should throw caution to the wind and list your “25 or so” favorite commenters so they will know that their voice is requested. I, for one, appreciate your continued work maintaining this blog. So… thanks! P.S for those of us squeamish about having our meatspace identity all over the web, you might make it clear whether anonymous/screen named letters are approved
Demo, the problem I have with listing the 25 or so commenters is that I know I would live someone important out, and then I would be sad. DJW
Well, a man’s blog is his castle, so let the dissenters cry.
Blake, thanks. Everyone should keep in mind that it is still possible for you all to repost something I write on Facebook, and have your discussion there. Or if you don’t want to post on Facebook, I usually do. But when an obnoxious thread breaks out on Facebook, it is not the kind of thing that people then attribute to my tolerances or sentiments. It is not happening in my living room, in other words. DJW
Doug, I understand your decision, but disagree with it. Similar to others I come to your blog both to read your posts and to read the discussion that follows. The discussion is edifying because of the high number of thoughtful commenters on the site. And although I very rarely comment here (or anywhere else), I look forward to reading those commenters as much as I do your posts. The opportunity to write letters to you will certainly keep you in touch with some of them, but will cut many of us off from their wit and wisdom. I hope you reconsider or consider an alternative. Best regards
James, thanks. I hope this will suffice for an alternative. DJW
I think this is a great idea. You write great posts and then the stupid threads start and it gets boring trying to find a comment worth reading.
Melody, others have felt the same. DJW
I understand the idea. I think it probably will have the effect of reducing readership. Being able to comment on a piece of media has become an essential part of our culture’s consumption of media and when that is taken away (e.g. CNN.com), it has the effect of driving readership to places where they can interact. I have noticed myself doing this. Never as a boycott…. only as part of the habitual way that I interact online. I go where I can enjoy commenting, adding my two cents, and interacting. But I wish you the best. I have enjoyed this blog almost as long as it has existed and definitely do plan to keep up. And I hope I am wrong because I think your voice is an important one that the world needs to hear.
Will, one of the things I will be monitoring is what this will do to my traffic. Because this was a judgment call, and not a matter of biblical principle, the practical impact should be taken into consideration. DJW
Dear Doug. I understand the decision, and it certainly declutters your site/blog. It is a repellent feature of modern life that so many individuals find it within themselves to spew unhelpful, and often profoundly disagreeable comment. I often scan straight to the comments in order to determine how a given article is being received. That, in turn is an indicator of whether or not to repost an item. But then, I think that there is a value in this. The comments are a window onto worldviews. It is possible for Christians to see how they really ought not to be interacting with others. And hopefully, perhaps without too much mindless optimism, it is an opportunity for unbelievers to look in and see how Christians engage with each other. Yes, I know. There’s always the possibility that your own side will let you down. That’s the risk. I respect your decision, but I think there was value here. Other than that, God bless what you’re doing, and please keep doing it. Bests,
Kevin, thanks. I do want to protect that which was of value. We will see how that part of it goes. DJW.
In response to “Farewell, Comments, Hello Letters”: Thank you very much. I eventually had to leave the comments alone since there was so little fear of God in sight. This is a very helpful change.
Keith, thank you. DJW
Mr. Wilson (not of Dennis the Menace fame):
Your post regarding Dr. Throckmorton is timely for our family–having just last weekend visited GCC with our homeschooled, senior son. I was not aware of Dr. Throckmorton or his efforts to thread homosexuality through the Christian needle. But I do question whether a committed reformed Christian should simply avoid GCC. Here are a few facts (at least as I understand them) as a preface to:
GCC is far from unified in its support of Dr. Throckmorton. In fact many oppose his theological “insights”.
GCC has an excellent mechanical engineering program, the major our son desires to study.
Despite the tares who might support Dr. Throckmorton, I believe there is still vital, orthodox Christian wheat at GCC. Thus, it would have some advantages over a fully secular school with a good engineering program.
In summary, I am thinking of the part of the Confession where even the church acknowledges that she will always be subject to “mixture and error.” How much more can we expect affiliated Christian “ministries” to be subject to such mixture and error? I am not suggesting your assessment of Dr. Throckmorton is wrong–in fact I agree with your assessment. I am not sure that I share your broad diagnosis of avoiding GCC. Study psychology there? Perhaps not. But why would anyone study that pseudo-science in the first place. ;-)
I am open to your response and willing to hear why you might think I am wrong or too lax in viewing this matter.
Best to you,
Doug, I know there are good people at Grove City, and I wrote what I did to strengthen their hand, not weaken it. I hope it does so. But you have to understand that colleges will only respond to two fundamental pressure points—money that comes from enrollment and money that comes from donors. And the downward trajectory of so many Christian colleges shows that the lag time between the first obvious signs of apostasy and the subsequent crisis in enrollment and donations is far too long. And students at a secular school know that their instructors are hostile to true biblical faith. At a Christian school, they often don’t know, and don’t have their guard up. If the corruption has set in, as it is starting to a Grove City, a Christian college can do far more damage than a land grant Behemoth U. DJW
So, Pastor Wilson, I noticed this review on your Facebook page: “4/5: Michael Bull is at his best on Twitter, and this collection is fantastic. Even when he is exasperatingly wrong (e.g. on the covenant), he remains edifying.” You can say that even though one part of Michael Bull can be wrong, that the remainder of him, as reflected in a book that I presume you actually read, is still worthwhile. But you can take one college professor, say he’s wrong—on which I agree with you—and then absolutely trash the rest of the college, a college I suspect you have no first-hand knowledge of (please correct me if I’m wrong about that). Yes, “Conservative Colleges That Don’t Conserve” certainly looks a tad bit self-serving.
Tracy, the problem is not simply that one professor is off the chain. That could happen anywhere, and probably will. The problem is that the administration of the college hasn’t dealt with it yet. And it is that decision that reflects on the college as a whole. DJW
Pastor Doug, My husband and I were looking for seminaries a few years ago and had a very hard time trying to find out just which ones were “really conserving.” Statements of Faith on websites, and really even anything on websites were mostly unhelpful. We ended up testing each one we were interested in by the topics where the church is under pressure: do they advocate ordaining women? Do they believe in evolution? We ended up at Westminster Theological Seminary (east), which has been very strong in its conservation of the Westminster Confession. We appreciate that but have found that we wanted a teaching style that was less indoctrinational. However, by our selection process we thought schools like Gordon Conwell and Southeastern were “conserving,” when now I find not so much. How can you really find out what the good schools are? Sincerely, Jessica P.S. Thank you for what you do with this blog. You write well and you stand up for the truth in a strong yet winsome way. You have been an encouragement to me. I am currently an east coaster but I have family in Moscow so maybe I’ll have occasion to visit your church someday.
Jessica, this is a huge question, but in the current climate I would ask the recruitment office what public statement the institution has made with regard to all the various aspects of the unfolding sexual revolution. That is the current battle. If the college hasn’t been to court yet, a reasonable question is why not? If they do not have faculty or board members with skin in the game, out in the public square, then I would stay away. You don’t learn cultural warfare from functional pacifists. DJW
I know you didn’t make the list exclusive, but it’s my tendency to wonder why some schools didn’t make the cut. I’d be particularly interested in knowing if you think Reformation Bible College is not bending the knee to Baal. It would be the one college not on your list that I’d feel confident is walking the line. And I hope my confidence is not misplaced.
Bill, my knowledge of other colleges is not exhaustive and so I simply mentioned some of the faithful ones that I do know about. The mere fact that I didn’t mention one should not be taken as anything in itself. DJW.
Conservative Colleges That Don’t Conserve Doug, thanks for calling attention to kinks in the armor of some of these places. What an amazing war we’re in! Please keep up all the thinking out loud you’re doing on the gender issues. Besides being just plain winsome, funny and engaging, it’s helpful and reassuring to us who don’t have loads of time to come up with careful responses to these acts coming on the stage every day.
Eric, thanks very much. DJW
More on Roy Moore
New Testament statements about leading children into sin. For the benefit of those who support Roy Moore based upon his “Christian” religiosity. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:5-6 Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. Mark 9:42 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Luke 17:2
Donald, yes, exactly. But the issue for many of us is actually whether Moore really did those things. If he did, then all the passages you cite are relevant. But if he did not molest that 14-year-old, then all the millstone passages would actually apply to the one who is bearing false witness against him now (Dt. 19:18-19). A charge is made credible by biblical process, and not by random respected people simply saying that they find them “credible.” To give a recent instance of this, Jonah Goldberg—a man I respect—finds the charges against Moore credible. But here’s the thing. I recently wrote something that Goldberg retweeted, and someone else hustled up to let him know that I was not among the Approved. Goldberg said something like “jeepers,” and promptly sidled away. In other words, I happen to know how much work he does on stuff like this. We should hear from more witnesses who know what the world looks like from within the concerted smear vortex. Now it is possible that Moore is guilty. But it is also possible, and I think more than likely, that this is the kind of hit that I have seen multiple times. And we are likely to see more and more of it. DJW
Thank you for your willingness to call out TGC. I really appreciate their work tremendously, in all honesty, but they have swallowed the leftist narrative about race hook, line, and sinker. Highlighting their double standard on this is spot-on. We will see if they really do have convictions or if they are playing PR games to placate secularists.
BJ, yes. I believe that the Sexual Harassment Apocalypse has ushered in a new set of standards that nobody on the Left or the evangelical soft left will be able to abide. They have pulled down Deep Heaven on their heads. DJW.
Not to mention King’s less than orthodox positions on serious theological issues. They can’t find an orthodox civil rights icon to celebrate or is this MLK50 conference what I suspect it is, simple virtue signal pandering? Given that they are The ***Gospel*** Coalition, one would think that the Gospel would matter to them but based on their recent writings and their tendency to block on social media anyone who engages in wrong-think, I am not sure what their actual focus is these days. Gagnon raised an important question and tipped one of the most untouchable of sacred cows and for that he is to be commended.
Yes. I believe that Gagnon has revealed himself to be a man of courage, if nothing else. DJW.
Where are you getting your information that MLK was adulterous? I have heard one unsubstantiated rumor to this effect and I have never heard that he was with three women the night before his death.
Robert, as I understand it, the basic facts are not disputed at all, and Gagnon summarizes them well. I only have one of these volumes (and haven’t read it yet), but I think this would be a good place to start. DJW
Mr. Wilson, I understand some of your reluctance to believe the accusers, though I don’t agree with you and tend to believe Moore’s accusers. What I wanted to write about, however, was your comparison between Roy Moore and MLK Jr. While what MLK did was certainly wrong, your post seems to put MLK on the same standing of Moore when there’s a great difference between their two sins. Sexual assault and molesting a child is worse than committing adultery, and putting these sins on the same more level trivializes what Moore has done. The difference of heinousness between these two sins also explains why it may be appropriate to honor MLK where it would not be appropriate to Moore; certain sins disqualify someone more than others. Putting molestation & assault at the same moral level as adultery does not helpfully deal with this issue.
Josiah, the actual comparison is between alleged child abuse and confirmed serial adulteries. Read through Gagnon’s summaries again. With King, we are talking about hookers, groupies, orgies, abusive behavior, and blasphemy. DJW