by Phil Johnson
I had a couple dozen points to make when I set out to write this post. But I can't deal with all those issues at once without writing a screed that would be ten times longer than the average PyroManiacs post. So I'm going to start with a single, relatively short, post that summarizes my bottom-line stance. Then I'll follow up in several future posts by addressing some of the specific complaints Slice's critics have enumerated.
For example, some of the replies to my post on "Guilt by Association" (GBA) have raised the specter of "legalism"; called the writers at Slice hatemongers; and made other angry pronouncements about the motives underlying Slice and other "watchblogs." I intend to address those charges one at a time in a series of future posts, but here I'm going to narrow my focus a bit and simply explain why I do not intend to kowtow to those who insist I must deliver Slice's head to the post-evangelical bogosphere on a silver platter.
hen I posted on the subject of guilt by association a couple of weeks ago, one or two commenters immediately castigated me for not singling out Slice of Laodicea, arguably the most popular and prolific of the so-called "watchblog" sites devoted to exposing the many disturbing and dangerous influences under the ever-broadening circus tent of evangelical Christianity.
As a matter of fact, I've been taunted on numerous occasions over the past year for having a link to Slice in my blogroll, so I made it a point to explain that my remarks in the GBA post were neither prompted by nor aimed at anything recently posted at Slice.
The port side of the evangelical blogosphere hasn't stopped complaining.
Let me reply to those complaints: Have the contributors to Slice ever been guilty of the guilt-by-association fallacy? Probably. But as I said, what prompted my comments about guilt by association had nothing whatsoever to do with Slice. Did I have some moral duty to go through Slice's archives looking for an egregious example of GBA? One private e-mail admonished me quite severely for not doing so, in the interests of "objectivity."
Because there is a link to Slice in my sidebar, and therefore, ironically, some who claim to deplore the GBA fallacy insist I am ethically and morally responsible for anything they post at Slice. If they commit a fallacy, I share their guilt. By association.
Well, here are five reasons I'm not jumping on the anti-Slice bandwagon:
- The "evangelical movement" as most people would identify it today is shot through with worldliness, serious doctrinal error, gospel-compromise, and rank apostasyand I'm glad for courageous people willing to point out that fact.
- "Evangelicals" willing to wink at practically any kind of compromise or worldliness in order to avoid conflict at all costs are a dime a dozen. Anyone who refuses to cave into that temptation ought to be encouraged.
- Most of the abominations highlighted at Slice really deserve a healthy dose of righteous indignation. Personally, I'm embarrassed that evangelical outrage is so easily mustered against the "tone" and "tenor" of a Slice post decrying youth ministry modeled after a circus sideshow while so few are outraged by the common practice of making a burlesque of evangelistic ministry.
- In other words, I happen to agree with Slice more often than not. It's exasperating to see how worldly and shallow the evangelical movement has become, and it's flat-out terrifying to think how far some evangelical leaders might go if they had no critics.
- We're commanded to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Is anyone seriously going to argue that Slice poses more of a threat to sound doctrine than the multitude of blogs on the post-evangelical fringe who deliberately blur or ambiguate every truth and who would like the church to conform to the world as much as possible?
That said, I'm eager to explore the problem of legalism (which I deplore as much as libertinism). I agree that important distinctions must be made between discernment and disagreeableness, criticism and censoriousness. I also hasten to add that my evaluation of some of Slice's commentors would not be altogether positive. But (trying to avoid the GBA fallacy) I refuse to blame the writers at Slice for everything their commentors say.
One last thing: Almost without exception, Slice's most outspoken critics have been guilty of the very same transgressions they complain most bitterly about. If anyone seriously doubts that, I'm prepared to cite some examples.