Thursday, June 10, 2010

ODM Frank Turk Calls Out......ODMs??

by Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews

Oh the irony.  The rich, rich irony.  Frank Turk, best known for his blogging at Pyromaniacs, which could most certainly be characterized as being a discernment blog, has taken issue in this post with......discernment bloggers:

"(L)et me say this as clearly as possible: telling someone to stop what they are doing when they are in the wrong is the epitome of love. This (type of thinking) is actually a cornerstone of watchblogger ethic – that the lone Christian has the obligation to tell anyone he meets “U R DOOIN IT RONG”, as if one was Moses Lolcat, because correction (in his view) is the primary way we express love.

Unless, of course, one is talking to the infallible magisterium of watchbloggers. At that point, you had better capitulate to the anonymous league of post-apostolic, post-puritan cardinals, or expect the Spanish Inquisition. Forever.

Saying that, I love watchbloggers, and I’d love it if they all found other hobbies. Today I love them because Christ’s work compells me, and when they finally repent I’ll be overjoyed to love them for the outworking of their repentence, but less sacrificially."

Personally, I will not be repenting anytime soon for being a dreaded discernment blogger, aka ODM.  For those who aren't familiar with this brewing fight inside Christendom, ODM stands for Online Discernment Ministry, and has come to have a very derogatory connotation.  (Are we all familiar by now with Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals? and how these rules can be put into motion quite effectively by anyone - not just Marxists - not wishing to engage with the facts?  This is what Frank Turk is doing here, and somewhat ironically, seeing as how he himself blogs for a, um, Online Discernment Ministry.  This ODM where Frank blogs, Pyromaniacs, is headed up by Phil Johnson, executive director of John MacArthur's very excellent ministry Grace To You.)

The reason I bring John MacArthur into this is because John MacArthur is really the one who has led the way for us rascally "watchbloggers." He models for those of us in discernment the biblical pattern for, in love, naming names and speaking the hard truth about false teaching and false teachers.  So, it has to be asked:  Is Frank Turk calling John MacArthur to repent from, say, instances when MacArthur says, and I quote, "(Joel Osteen) is a mouthpiece for Satan"?

It is accurately noted in the comment thread of Frank's blog post that there are, in fact, a very large number of bad discernment ministries out there, and I will certainly agree with that.  I have stumbled onto sites that seemed okay, but which suddenly took on a Phelpsian tone, causing me to flee, hitting "delete from bookmarks" on my way out the door.  But, at the same time, there are a small percentage of very good discernment sites that do an invaluable service for the body of Christ by providing glimmers of wisdom and, yes, discernment, in today's culture, which is rife with churches busying themselves with Purpose Driven mania, social justice and little sermonettes which have just enough tasty Scripture sprinkling on top for people to think they've been given truth when in fact they have not.  Personally speaking, as a new Christian I literally clung to the few good ODMs I became aware of when my husband and I found ourselves in a seeker-sensitive-church-going-emergent, and didn't have any idea what was going on, we only knew it was bad.  ODMs helped us figure it out, but fast.  All of a sudden, we began to have some idea of what was going on.  And we could put a name on it. And we could trace its roots.  And we could warn others.

Having said that, I do get Frank's point about the "in love" part often missing from discernment blogging:
"What proves that that gospel hermeneutic has captured our hearts is that we are not looking down on other believers but lifting them up.....(H)ow perfect (in our opinion, btw: God didn’t hand you a sheet of orthodoxy litmus paper to test the saints for the appropriate amount of systematic perfection) does someone have to be for you to fellowship with them? Specifically, how “perfect” does their ability to spell out all the consequences of the Gospel have to be? How perfect does their spelling of p-r-o-p-i-t-i-a-t-i-o-n have to be to allow them your fellowship and your brethrenliness in Christ?"

But come on, now.  Really?  Is this really the way Frank sees Christendom right now, as a place where people have to be able to spell propitiation at the door before they get a pass?  I can attest that what my family encountered in our long search for a church home was a very large number of churches where I suspect even the pastors might not be able to pass the p-r-o-p-i-t-i-a-t-i-o-n spelling test, let alone require it of prospective members.  I'm not saying there aren't legalistic, dogmatic, doctrinally-all-buttoned-up-on-the-outside-but-cold-and-frosty-on-the-inside churches out there.  Sure there are.  But the vast majority are this other kind: Purpose Driven, topical, gabby, programs oriented, fun fests where very little, if any, doctrinal teaching is taking place.  Please Frank, hold the artillery fire for the real enemy.

See also

Frank Turk of Pyromaniacs Clarifies His Position on "Watchbloggers"