documenting deletions

Bob Bixby is at it again. In his article, among other things, he says this:

Go to an FBF meeting and look at their leaders beginning with the president and do a study of their adult children. (The last one I attended in 2009 it was obvious that most of the attendees were old enough to have adult children.) You will find that the second-generation of Fundamentalism results very frequently, if they are graced by God, in abandonment of their fathers’ ideology while retaining true fundamentals (thankfully) or, sadly, a whole-hearted plunge into antinomianism.

To which I responded with this:

Don Johnson, on August 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm Said:

Bob, your shot at fundamentalists and their children is really unkind. Do you think that fundamentalists are the only ones who have problems with their adult children? Do you think adult children is what Jesus meant when he said you can judge a tree by its fruit?

Your ranting once again vents spleen and speaks more about you than about those you attack.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jeremiah 33.3

Immediately afterward, another commenter added this:

Hope said on Legalism is the Slippery Slope

August 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm

In response to Bob Bixby on August 19, 2010 at 10:50 am:

The man who today forbids what God allows, tomorrow will allow what God forbids. ~ R.B. Kuiper I want to push back. A Fundamental Baptist pastor has alerted his people to the dangers of Bob Bixby, saying that I am a New Evangelical and have opened the door to compromise and worldliness. I think a […]

Amen to what Don said!

You will look in vain for this comment. Apparently Bob doesn’t want you to see it. Bob replied to me:

Bob Bixby, on August 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm Said:

Don, in the interest of Christian civility I deleted my longer response and will stick to this:

You are the one that is inconsiderately derailing the conversation by your ad hominem argument. You know as well as I do that biblically these teachers are open to scrutiny and, yes, it is right to look at a man’s adult children to consider the long-term effect of his teaching. It is not an wild attack to raise the question when some scholars even believe (though I do not think I can fully agree) that a man is potentially disqualified from ministry if his adult children are not believers. My point is that my invitation to check these men out is not outside of the God-given parameters.

Please do not post on my blog again. Your modus operandi with me is never discussion but an immediate attempt to discolor the whole thing so that people miss the point because you actually have no substantive argument in response. This is typical of fundamentalism.

To this comment, I offered these words:

Bob, do you think that Jesus meant adult children when he said, "by their fruit ye shall know them"?

As for your request, you are free to delete anything I write. It does seem somewhat contrary to the spirit of the blogosphere which you have espoused in the past. I am not anonymous, your site is not moderated, and I don’t think I have said anything untrue.

And you haven’t dealt with the heart of my question.

BTW, if it is right to attack a man for his adult children, then you will have a field day with many of your evangelical friends.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jeremiah 33.3

You won’t find this comment either. I don’t know how long it was up, but Bob soon deleted it.

You may make your own conclusions, but my opinion is that it is at best unkind of Bob to make personal attacks in trying to make his point, however dubious. Please note, I am not concerned with Bob’s opinion of me, or anything he has said of me. I am referring to the personal attacks he is making in his post, attempting to demean fundamentalism by mud-slinging against some of those with whom he disagrees.

The fact is, I have often agreed with Bob in the past on various points and have commended him for those points, both on his blog and in private correspondence. I do think Bob is often intemperate in his speech and I don’t mind saying so. He cheapens his own arguments by such intemperance.

Now, is Bob correct about some of the problems that he says are in fundamentalism? Certainly. There are problems of all sorts, including abusive pastors, legalistic churches, shallow preaching and the like. Are there none in fundamentalism addressing these problems, or tying to hold to a higher standard? Of course not. There are a lot of good men who try to model biblical ministry within fundamentalism.

But really, read Bob’s post again. His first paragraph tells you what it is all about. Someone called him a New Evangelical. So Bob reacts with a diatribe against all fundamentalism. Why the vehemence, Bob? Why not the grace to turn the other cheek? What does it matter what others say, are you answerable to them? And why do you so easily and willingly resort to personal attacks in trying to defend yourself?

don_sig2

P.S. In my comments section, a reminder that I won’t tolerate abusive speech or those who simply want to distract with sneers and jibes. You know who you are.

Comments

  1. I am not sure what bran of Fundamentalism we are speaking of, and there are several, nevertheless, all pastors and their families will have some of their children who are saved and some will never be saved.

    Children are not saved or lost because of my behavior or what Fellowship I belong to. I could be the worst pastor in the world, and have children who will be saved and love the Lord.

    I have learned not to criticize a pastor for the behavior of his adult children. When sons and daughters become adults they are responsible for their life style.

    Some of the worst parents can have children who become wonderful godly adult Christians.

    I believe God by His power and grace and mercy saves His children.

    All four of my adult children, now say, “Dad, we are responsible for our decisions.”

    Sneers and jibes are par for many, but really, it should be grace and thankfulness for God’s wonderful grace and mercy.

  2. Ibn Warraq says:

    He became “uncorked”. I left that comment on his website, and he moderated me out!

  3. Roger Carlson says:

    Don,
    Thank you for drawing attention to the article. I had not been to Bob’s blog in a long time.

    I understand your concern over what you commented on. But why not interact with the entire thrust of the article? There was alot there to interact with – in other words Bob made several valid points that you did not even bother address. I don’t understand. Why not address both the pos and neg of his posts if you are going to interact with it at all?

    • Good question, Roger.

      I accept some of the criticisms Bob makes. It is true that there are fundamentalists who go too far in the areas he mentions. However, his unChristian attitude towards Dr. Vaughn in particular is completely uncalled for. It doesn’t advance his point at all. Even Jeff Straub, a man I have had run-ins with since seminary days, agrees with my point. If Bob would repent of his unjustified slur, then we could deal with the rest of his article.

      And further, even though some of Bob’s criticisms are justified, his reasoning is false. Evangelicalism today is having just as much trouble retaining its young people as fundamentalism is. Bob can blame the loss of young people in fundamentalism on ‘legalism’ as he defines it, but since evangelicalism is having the same problem, it is highly unlikely that legalism is the cause.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jeremiah 33.3

  4. Roger Carlson says:

    Again, I did acknowledge your concern. At this point, I agree with Jeff and you. But Bob did also say legalism was an Evangelical problem as well. I do want to see what Bob writes on the matter further.

    I must have missed it, but I did not see Dr. Vaughn listed by name in the article, just Brad Smith and jack Schaap.

    I think the reason why our movement is in trouble is complictated. But I think Bob is hitting on part of the answer. We are unwilling as a movement (and individually) to deal with out own sins. In fact, we would rather cover them for “the sake of the ministry.”

    Add to that extra-biblical things that the early Fundamentalists would not have considered as such, its no wonder there is a sucking vacuum sound.

  5. James says:

    How petty is it to “document deletions”? And are you really one that should be condemning somebody else for “intemperate speech”?

    • Roger, Bob specifically referred to Dr. Vaughn in this line:

      Go to an FBF meeting and look at their leaders beginning with the president and do a study of their adult children.

      See???

      James:

      Petty? You could be right. Intemperate? I think that is a matter of opinion.

      However, the real question is, am I right or wrong? I think Jeff Straub is doing a good job of showing that I am right.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jeremiah 33.3

  6. Roger Carlson says:

    Don,
    I did say that I agree with you and Jeff. But it seems to be that you are using as a reason to dismiss the substance of the argument. The hard truth is that many in our movement are legalistic and many in our movement want to point fingers at the CE’s but have no real interest in dealing with our own sins.

    When the one’s that leaving our movement do so because of strong stands on doctrine, we can take solace in that. But many leave, because of shallow preaching, authoritarian pastors, and arbitrary legalism we have to pause. I know the latter happens more than we care to admit. And it may be that it happens more than the former.

  7. Keith says:

    It seems to me that on your blog you regularly exercise the freedom to delete comments as you see fit, but it bothers you when Bob does the same?

    I’m sure you’ll tell me I’m missing some truly significant difference. What is it?

    Keith

    • Roger,

      What do you propose should be done to combat legalism in our movement? Here is what I am trying to do: develop a ministry based on sound expository sermons, teach that sanctification is about living by faith with a heart given to God – that life might look the same as the life of someone who is trying to keep a list of externals, but it isn’t achieved by simply keeping externals. And when I get a chance to preach in a wider context than my own ministry (say an FBF regional meeting), I try to give the same kind of message. In personal contacts with other men, I may try to influence them to a more biblical approach if I have the opportunity.

      Beyond that, what do you suggest we do?

      I don’t believe that those who are leaving fundamentalism are mostly leaving because of legalism. Those who cite it as a cause are often full of bitterness and are likely not to stop in the ‘safe havens’ they now ensconce themselves in. That is not to say that legalism isn’t a problem.

      Keith,

      Bob is an interesting fellow. I don’t object to his decisions to delete comments, it’s his blog after all. My purpose for my blog is to advance discussion on the topics I raise. If posts don’t advance the discussion or tend to sidetrack us from the discussion I want to have, then I delete them. In this case, I think Bob’s whole argument is defeated by his personal attacks and think it is important to point it out. Jeff Straub has essentially said the same thing.

      And let me point this out: Bob has been trying to justify himself on the point of young people defecting from fundamentalism to less stringent forms of Christianity all in the name of ‘love for the fundamentals’. But that isn’t what the major point of his cheap shot in his ‘Legalism’ post was all about.

      And again: Bob states his reason for his legalism post in the first paragraph. He is mad that someone called him a new evangelical. The whole post that follows is a reaction to that charge. He defends himself by making personal attacks on others. That just isn’t right.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  8. Keith says:

    But calling him a “New Evangelical” is?

    1. The “New Evangelicals” are almost all dead. The movement is over.
    2. Those that still use the term use it as a catch all insult — especially when applying it to one who came from their circles and has begun to question things.
    3. Responding to a public insult is not inappropriate.
    4. Bob thought your comment sidetracked the discussion he wanted to have, so he deleted you. Sounds like the same principle you use.
    5. Bob did not make the 2nd generation defection case very well in the initial post. His follow up clarification reveals better what he was getting at. It seems to have merit.

    Keith

    Keith

    • Keith

      1. Irrelevant
      2. Well, it is true that it is a catch-all insult in some cases. However, if someone exhibits characteristics of New Evangelicalism (not saying that is necessarily true of Bob), it isn’t an insult, is it?
      3. Perhaps, but then again what does it matter? How does it impact him and his ministry, really? We are all called a lot of things. Especially those of us who take positions online. There’s plenty of disagreement to go around.
      4. I am not objecting to Bob deleting me. I just think that it is worth noting for those who are involved in the argument.
      5. That would be a matter of opinion. I don’t think he is right at all. Let’s put it this way: in judges we have the decline of generations noted. There was Joshua. There are those who served with Joshua. Then there was the generation that didn’t know the Lord. (See Josh 2.7 and Josh 2.10-11). Are we to conclude that the failure of the second generation was the failure of Joshua and the elders who outlived him? Or was it the adult choice of people who refused to follow their parent’s God? The Bible doesn’t say. But it certainly doesn’t rebuke Joshua and the elders. They were credited with faithfulness.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  9. Don:

    Your criticism was well placed and intended. Two others have questioned his going after the children.

    I am referring to the personal attacks he is making in his post, attempting to demean fundamentalism by mud-slinging against some of those with whom he disagrees…So Bob reacts with a diatribe against all fundamentalism.

    At his old blog that was the essence of his hit pieces on Fundamentalism. In this article he names the extreme and the more balanced men in IFB circles and broad-brushes them as one and the same. That would be equivalent to naming John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll as one and the same without identifying there is a difference.

    IMO, Bob’s writing indicates an angry, bitter streak about him. Last year he quit blogging, but I told friends that he won’t be able to stay away for long. One criticism and he has become once again the very thing that may have pricked his conscience and lead him to stop this kind of blogging last year.

    LM

  10. Roger Carlson says:

    Don,

    I guess that I have not been clear. The only thing that I would add to what you do (in fact it is what I add) is that I make it clear when someone in our own ranks does wrong I call them on it. In my almost 11 years as a senior pastor in Fundamentalism, I have learned that the good ole boy network is alive and well within Fundamentalism (I am sure it is on CE land as well, but they are not my concern, my movement is). I always thought it was only in the extreme parts of fundamentalism. I was wrong. We need to call out sin on our side, if we do not, we will loose the movement.

    Lou,
    I know it seemed extreme to lump Dr Vaughn and Jack Schaap in the same sentence. But they did share the same conference platform a few months ago. Maybe that is why Bob did that.

  11. Keith says:

    Re: 1-3 — They aren’t irrelevant to why Bob was writing. Good grief.

    The point is that someone was attacking Bob’s church using a scare word.

    • So? He is justified in attacking others, who weren’t a party to the alleged insult? How does that work? As Straub said, his “push back” was just empty rhetoric. He wasn’t defending himself from the charge, he was angry about it and lashing out at ‘fundamentalism’.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  12. Moderating comments is absolutely necessary to ensure a high quality of dialogue. But it can be very tempting to moderate comments like a sculptor removing marble to create exactly the discussion one wants to see.

    IMO, *that* sort of comment deletion is only slightly less reprehensible than the blog owner who *edits* others’ comments. If a blog author is only going to allow comments that say what he wants, then pretending to allow comments is a sham — he’s lying to his readers and using his commenters’ credibility to mask the fact that the “discussion” is all from his own mind.

    Bixby clearly appears to have crossed the line.

    • It is a fine line to walk, moderating comments. I try to allow all I can, unless the comments are degenerating into meaningless insults or the writer is heading off on his own direction and taking over the direction of the thread. But of course it is a judgement call and we don’t like to be told no.

      But as I have said, it isn’t the deletions that bother me most in this squabble.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  13. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Don, appreciate the insight to some in the blogosphere. I must wonder why Bob Bixby would be so upset with being called a New Evangelical (or as it is termed today, evangelical). I have sitting on my desk a copy of an online article put out by TGC (The Gospel Coalition) asking four pastors this question, “Should pastors separate the Christian wedding ceremony from the civil rite?” And who were the four pastors? Steve DeWitt of Bethel Church, Crown Point, IN; Ryan Kelly of Desert Springs Church, Albuquerque, NM; Jay Thomas college pastor of College Church, Wheaton, IL; and Bob Bixby of Morning Star Baptist Church, Rockford, IL. Collin Hansen (the author) makes no recognition of where these men are within the spectrum of Evangelicalism/Fundamentalsim. All he states is, “I surveyed four experienced pastors for a new feature,…” One must ask, where did TGC and Collin Hansen get Bob Bixby’s name and if Bixby still considers himself to be a Fundamentalist, why would he be willing to interact with TGC? TGC is clearly not a Fundamentalist group, not even close.

    If it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, in all likelihood it is a duck. If Bixby interacts with the Evangelicals, blasts Fundamentalists like an Evangelical, then he should go ahead and accept the name.

    It would be nice if those who are so disaffected with Fundamentalism would just move on. They are not interested in correcting the problems, perceived or real.

  14. Keith says:

    Why is it that TGC is clearly not a Fundamentalist group?

    It appears that you are missing Bob’s point. Groups like TGC are closer to what a term like “fundamentalist” denotes than those groups who insist they hold the copyright on the term. Those groups are attached to various conotations and subcultural trappings that are no where near fundamental Christian doctrine.

    Bob’s relinquished the term to the alleged copyright holders, but he’s not willing to be bullied by scare words.

    This doesn’t mean that everything Bob has said is perfect. It doesn’t mean he has no responsibility for hiw words. It just means that some of you really ought to engage the argument instead of parsing words.

    • No, Keith, you are missing the point.

      First, TGC is not a fundamentalist group because they are willing to make coalitions with people who are compromising the gospel in some ways. They are unwilling to separate themselves from them or admonish them. It would be wonderful if they would. And of course, they would deny that they were fundamentalists.

      Fundamentalist doesn’t mean simply orthodoxy. It means orthodoxy plus militancy.

      As far as Bob’s arguments, he has none. It is just mere rhetoric. He writes because someone called him a name. He doesn’t defend himself, he attacks a whole group of people because, he says, this incident is typical of that whole group of people. Then he attacks some individuals personally in an exceedingly egregious way – individuals that had nothing at all to do with the original issue. He doesn’t defend himself against the name he objects to, he doesn’t give us any reasons why he objects to the specific incident. He just uses the incident to spew his antagonism to fundamentalism in general and the FBF in particular. That isn’t an argument.

      So I reject the notion that I am just parsing words. I am objecting to his unwarranted personal attack against men who had nothing to do with his alleged original offense.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  15. Keith says:

    Oh, I see now.

  16. “Fundamentalist doesn’t mean simply orthodoxy. It means orthodoxy plus militancy.”

    Thank you! Why can’t people remember history? There wasn’t a division because the “New Evangelicals” were out there denying the Trinity. They were unwilling to be militant against error choosing dialogue instead of what God calls for: separation. Today’s “Conservative Evangelicals” walk in the same error.