23 September 2008

Stone-Cold Liar

A real(?)-life moral tale with some poignant lessons for our post-evangelical friends.
by Phil Johnson



ongtime readers will remember a character who posted in our comment-threads for several months as "Touchstone." He's one of only half a dozen people or so who in three years' time have managed to get permanently banned from commenting here. He was banned for (among other things) repeated acts of recreational profanity. I hated banning him, because he was more interesting than the typical miscreant who invades our meta. But it seemed he wanted to get banned, because his rule violations were deliberate—and they escalated in intensity after he was warned.

I first encountered Touchstone at the Pulpit Live blog, where he showed up to take a swipe at me for suggesting that Brian McLaren "despises" certainty. Of course, Brian McLaren badmouths certainty at practically every opportunity—saying things like "Certainty is overrated," and fulminating about how irritated he gets when he hears preachers on the radio who sound more sure than he is about their biblical convictions.

Has Mclaren ever actually used those precise words: "I despise certainty?" Huh? No? Then—sez Touchstone—"I don't think an honest reviewer could say that McLaren 'despises' certainty."

Wow.

Touchstone was a master of that kind of nitpicky, pointless deconstruction, highly skilled in the use of hyperbole and evasion—but the strictest of literalists when it came to parsing his critics' words. You know: a classic postmodern post-evangelical. Naturally, Touchstone himself didn't seem to think much of certainty either (except when it came to his own unshakable conviction that his personal opinion is more authoritative than the Bible).

Nevertheless, in his early interaction with me, Touchstone deliberately implied that he considered himself a Christian, writing at one point, "I tell people who ask for a starting point that I unreservedly affirm and support with *certainty* the Nicene Creed and the Apostle's Creed. I can quote them here, but I'm sure you're familiar."

Careful scrutiny (employing Touchstone's own preferred style of deconstruction) will show that this is no profession of faith at all. He "tell[s] people who ask . . ." that he affirms the basic creeds of Christendom. But did he really embrace the truths set forth in those creeds? I never once saw him profess actual belief in any vital point of Christian doctrine. His specialties were denial and deconstruction, and his attitude toward Scripture was overtly and consistently hostile. That was evident from the start of our interaction (almost two years ago now).

The ambiguous and minimalistic way he tried to imply that he was a Christian was not the only reason to distrust him. In our earliest exchange, he demanded evidence—"at least a token footnote reference"—demonstrating that there is increasing uncertainty among professing evangelicals regarding whether absolute truth even exists.

My first-ever message to him started by giving him the documentation he had asked for, in the form of statistics from a Barna survey. He ignored that part of my comment and continued to insist the original point needed documentation. When I suggested that he had overlooked the link I gave, he said he'd seen it, but it wasn't the kind of documentation he wanted.

That basically defined his style of discourse. When anyone refuted him he moved the goalposts. He was relentless. Practically every comment he ever made was dripping with smug postmodern skepticism and infused with a tone of ridicule. But he was sometimes amusingly clever, occasionally somewhat articulate, and always tirelessly verbose. So I answered as many of his comments as time permitted. I can't recall any time that he ever conceded a point on anything, no matter how insignificant.

He generally weighed in on threads dealing with the Emerging Church, postmodernism, or the authority of Scripture. Several of the post-evangelical critics who hang out in our combox used to tag-team with him, high-fiving and echoing his dismissive remarks. I almost said "arguments," but he had just one argument: that we had misunderstood or were misrepresenting post-evangelical opinions.

Still, his actual agenda always seemed to be a little deeper than merely defending postmodernity. His own blog showed little interest in Emerging/Emergent Christianity; it was basically a rationalistic attack on the Genesis account of creation. Though he never brought that issue up here, he hammered the theme in the combox at Triablogue (and on his own blog). It was clear, if you read his comments here and there, that the presupposition underlying all his opinions was a belief that science and theology are mutually exclusive. Science is rational; theology belongs to the realm of the imagination. That, of course, is modern atheism's main tenet.

I began to wonder if he was really an apologist for atheism, posing as some kind of Christian.

Everything he ever posted was consistent with that hypothesis. Virtually all his comments on our blog found a way to promote skepticism, attack some vital Christian truth-claim, or question the plain meaning of Scripture. He sounded like one of those de-converted former pastors who spreads the gospel of atheism with more zeal than he ever had for the faith. He clearly had a close familiarity with evangelicalism. His carefully-guarded anonymity and his finesse as a writer and polemicist made me wonder if he was someone we'd all be familiar with if we knew his real name.

Here's a typical sample of one of my replies to him, from this thread:

Touchstone illustrates precisely what I've said about why a postmodern attitude toward "truth" undermines the authority and perspicuity of Scripture.

If you grant a radical redefinition of terms like true and authoritative (in effect making those concepts infinitely relative), there's ultimately no level of unbelief you couldn't label "faith"; and there's no heresy you couldn't teach while simultaneously professing to hold an orthodox opinion on whatever doctrine you're actually denying. If you can also get people to swallow the claim that your radically redefined view of Scripture and the Christian faith is nothing more than a difference in "interpretation," you can put anything on the table for discussion.

That's precisely what's happening as Emerging/Postmoderns gain influence among evangelicals.

And that's also why I wouldn't necessarily take any postmodernist's profession of confidence in the "truth" and "authority" of the Bible at face value.

Touchstone: "So Phil can contend that I'm simply a liar, I suppose."

Let's be clear: That's exactly what I contend. Whether it's deliberate on Touchstone's part or he's self-deceived, I don't pretend to know. But we are obliged to "let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4)—and Touchstone usually sounds more cynical than serious. Do the math.

If the charge is that I have a very high view of Scripture, I plead guilty. Christ likewise had a high view of Scripture. To suggest that a high view of Scripture constitutes a kind of "idolatry" is a lie that strongly echoes the father of lies himself.

On the other hand, someone who thinks the Bible is a human work, full of errors, and subject to an infinite number of possible interpretations, doesn't really believe in the truthfulness, authority, and perspicuity of Scripture in any meaningful sense.

Redefining terms like truth and authority and then claiming you affirm those things doesn't really make your unbelief any more "orthodox"; it just makes your error more subtle.

Incidentally, anyone tempted to be sympathetic to Touchstone's complaints about my refusal to "engage" him in "dialogue" should note that there's a history to my discussions with him. Read some of our earliest interaction; note how he asks for documentation; ignores it when given; then shifts the whole ground of his complaint. That, in microcosm, is how "dialogue" with him invariably goes. You can judge for yourself whether he sincerely seems to desire a good-faith conversation or merely aspires to be an annoying gadfly. After numerous verbose and cynical comments from him, always negative and usually grounded in a position on Scripture that is contrary to the Protestant confessions, I can't resist the conclusion that it's the latter. I'm not going to waste time or dignify his skepticism by treating it as genuine faith colored by nothing more than a different hermeneutic.

And I'm not going to pretend to take him more seriously than he himself takes the Word of God.


Shortly after we had to ban Touchstone from commenting at PyroManiacs, Peter Pike made a post at Triablogue documenting some of Touchstone's blatant lies. Pike pretty well furnished proof of what I had long suspected: Touchstone was really an atheist pretending to be some sort of believer.

Touchstone made a lengthy but lame comment in the combox under Peter's post. He neither affirmed nor expressly denied Peter's main premise. But in a remarkable instance of the irony that often colored his comments, he accused the Triabloggers of attacking his integrity because they could not answer his arguments.

The next day, Steve Hays banned him from Triablogue. That was 25 August 2007, (NOTE:) more than a year ago.

If Touchstone ever replied further to Peter Pike's post, I didn't see it. He more or less seemed to disappear, and I had nearly forgotten about him—until last Friday, when I followed a link from one of his old comments back to his profile.

Turns out he's now openly promoting atheism. He has dropped any pretense of being a Christian and joined a band of atheistic e-vangelists who have twice the zeal and half the elegance of a Salvation Army tambourine band at Christmastime.

His atheistic "testimony" (posted just last month) is one long bald-faced lie. Touchstone now claims he went from being "a devout Christian" ("a deeply committed, 'sold out' believer for decades") to a full-on atheist just within the past twelve months. He insists (with a straight face) that this all happened to him quite unexpectedly and totally against his will—while he was merely trying to rebuild and fortify his faith.

Touchstone's testimony is instructive on multiple levels. He says he had become disillusioned with evangelicalism, stopped attending church for three years, then decided to become Catholic. (He insists that during his three-year hiatus from church he was still "committed to [his] belief in God and [his] faith in Jesus as [his] redeemer and savior.") But "about a year ago now" (after getting banned here and at Triablogue?) he decided to put everything on the table for reexamination. He became (in his own words) a "provisional atheist," ostensibly as a way of buttressing his faith through some sort of rational process of reinvestigation.

Now, it is patently obvious to anyone who ever read his comments here and at Triablogue that Touchstone was no "devout Christian" a year ago. In fact, he was already an inveterate skeptic almost two years ago. And you've got to assume he didn't get there from his supposed evangelical upbringing overnight. So the veracity of Touchstone's story (especially his imaginary time line) is easily debunked, merely by doing a Google search here and at Triablogue and reading the comments he was making as far back as 2006. Those comments are irrefutable proof in his own words that the story he is now telling is sheer fantasy.

Virtually everything significant about Touchstone's online persona—including his recent "coming-out"—is a charade. Remember: his deep skepticism was evident here from the start. In one way or another agnosticism and contempt for biblical authority infused virtually every comment he ever posted here. We knew he was an atheist more than a year ago.

But what's most fascinating to me is the very high level of synergy between him and the small cadre of post-evangelicals who like to hang around our combox. Many of them use the same style of argument, share some of the same epistemological presuppositions, and hold the same contempt for certainty that he had. He fit in remarkably well with a certain sector of post-conservative, post-evangelical, post-certain commenters here and elsewhere around the blogosphere. It is evidence of something I've been saying for more than a decade: the postmodern perspective on truth and certainty has a dose of atheism built right into it. At the very least the postmodern enshrinement of values like doubt, ambiguity, distrust, demurral, and uncertainty is inherently agnostic.

Furthermore, Touchstone's need to fabricate a bogus "testimony" like this vividly illustrates another principle that ought to be self-evident: those who deny the truth are themselves untruthful. People who scoff at faith are naturally untrustworthy.

Despite the fact that Touchstone's testimony is an obvious lie, some of the emotions described in his account have the ring of bona fide experience. Reading his account made me sick at heart—and profoundly, deeply sad over the inevitable impact of his worldview on his wife and family. Touchstone is a fitting cautionary emblem for people who think postmodern epistemologies are interesting playthings. He is a flesh-and-blood example of the vital truth of Proverbs 4:23: "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." (See the full context of Proverbs 4:23-27, and remember that "evil" includes false ideologies.)

I rather suspect that Touchstone's account is an Oliver Stone-style blend of modified fact and sheer fantasy—a compressed and romanticized retelling of an experience that stretched across several years. If we take the general contours of his testimony at face value, it should be clear (to those who have eyes to see) that unbelief was the engine giving momentum to his "quest" from the beginning. He decided very early in the process that he would not have the Bible as his authority. Rejecting the very notion of revealed truth out of hand, he chose to make his own rationalistic judgments about what is true, in essence making his own thoughts authoritative over God's Word rather than vice versa. For all the energy he spent defending postmodernism here in our combox, it turns out he fell for the quintessential modernist lie.

Selah.

Phil's signature

139 comments:

Ian Hall said...

An excellent post Phil. It seems that the charge of liar that you made against him has been abundantly proved.

Beng said...

You do, of course, realize what a "touchstone" is. Look it up on wikipedia.

He has basically set out to prove that Christianity is false from the very outset, hence his choice of a handle.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

"a band of atheistic e-vangelists who have twice the zeal and half the elegance of a Salvation Army tambourine band at Christmastime."

That's such an accurate description of many atheists, it's not even funny.

Stefan said...

The deconversion testimonies in the comments on Touchstone's putative testimony make me sad.

Do we have to wonder why some become disillusioned with "Christianity" as it is generally taught and practised, and fall away (if they ever had faith to begin with)?

Considering how pervasive is the tendency among so many churches to either neglect or downplay the Gospel, or pile on secondary teachings, or refuse to intelligently engage a world that claims Christianity is wrong (or at best not exclusively right), is it any wonder that some who grew up or spent time in such churches figure "is that all there is?" and turn to the ECM, Rome, Mount Athos, agnosticism, atheism, or false religions?

Or do we wonder why kids who grew up in churches where intelligent study of Scripture is not taught or their questions are not satisfactorily answered, are totally unequipped to withstand the barrage of secular teachings they encounter when they go to college or even seminary?

Too many of the vice-shepherds of our modern evangelical wasteland are losing the sheep entrusted to them.

luke said...

hmmm, seems eerily similar to Ehrman's constant claims that his scholarship led him to de-convert. In reality it seems it was more theological, epistemic/truth issues (specifically God's sovereignty and theodicy) he always had that led him to doubt his "evangelicalism". Looking back at his pre-apostasy writings they hint he leaned away from a biblical view of revelation, truth, and the gospel. This is not to say that struggling with difficult issues leads to apostasy, but when your worldview presupposes doubt in truth, you are on much shakier grounds than than trusting Christ and on the road to promoting some form of agnosticism.

It is stories like this that give objectivity to the disturbing focus on the deconstruction of certainty within post-evangelical circles. Gracias Phil.

Rick Frueh said...

Demon infiltration most times does not present itself with Linda Blair accoutrements, it comes cloaked in dialogue and headed for its target - truth.

And when boiled down and distilled to its core objective, we will find a strategy to discredit Christ Himself by any means possible. Sometimes abrasive, sometimes humble, sometimes attcking openly, sometimes with disingenous agreeability, assuming false personas, and a thousand other deception methodologies. Like the game of Mousetrap, all the many moving parts have a common goal.

stratagem said...

If you meet me and forget me, you have gained nothing. If you meet an atheist and forget him, you've gained everything.

aboulet.com said...

Phil,

You said, "the postmodern perspective on truth and certainty has a dose of atheism built right into it."

While this may be true in some forms of atheism and post-everything Christianity, don't you think that the modernist strand of evangelicalism (i.e., fundamentalism) also has a dose of atheistic thinking in it (ala Hitchens, Dennett, Dawkins)? I believe that Alaster McGrath points this out in The Dawkins Delusion.

donsands said...

"those who deny the truth are themselves untruthful"

Ain't that the truth. From bold face lies, to minute subtle manipulation, to slander, gossip, and all the rest.

The religious leaders of our Lord's time were told by our Lord Jesus, "Your father is the devil, and he's a liar, and the father of lies. You do the things of your father."

We either have God as our Father, or the devil as our father.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dear Phil Johnson,

One of your very best blog posts ever!

I am blessed to read TeamPyro. And I am blessed that God has chosen and blessed you (DJP and Frank Turk) to bless others through this blog ministry.

With Deep Gratitude.

P.S. I can't wait for PolyCarp's comments on this post. He always has something good to add.

Tim said...

Probably just a coincidence, but here at Texas A&M the local atheists and "progressives" banded together to publish a magazine called Touchstone. The mag was remarkably hostile toward Christianity. I think the magazine is defunct now.

A little later, they launched a radio show (called Touchstone Radio) on the local "alternative" station.

Our combox friend may not be on their commentator list, but it seems he/she is their fellow traveler.

Solameanie said...

Excellent post, and more than heartbreaking. As tempted as I would normally be to make some semi-caustic aside in the direction of those who hold Touchstone's views, I just can't. It really isn't funny.

In fact, it makes you wonder anew just how many atheists we have out there wearing clerical collars (or Birkenstocks, for that matter).

Fred Butler said...

What always blew me away about TS was his ability to carry on simultaneous combox conversations on several different blogs at once. Or at least it appeared that way.

When I got in to a tussle with him at my blog on the nature of apologetics and evidence, he would leave a long, detailed comment to some point I made. I would spend a half hour typing out a response to his comment, post it, and with in 5 minutes after my posting my response, he had another long, response to it. Meanwhile, he was doing the same at Hays' blog, here, and the Pulpit Live blog, and I am sure several others. It was like he was some mutant bot or something.

He was certainly a crackpot, but a talented one for sure.

Matt Gumm said...

Phil: in its own way, this seems like a fitting epilogue to the sermon you recently gave "No Lie Is of the Truth."

Tim Bertolet said...

To suggest that a high view of Scripture constitutes a kind of "idolatry" is a lie that strongly echoes the father of lies himself.

What a powerful image. I was just reading Psalm 119 a while ago and it struck me that some of the things the Psalmist confess are what some label Bibliolatry.

v.42 "I trust your word."
v.66 "I believe in your commandments"
v70 et al"I delight in your law"
v74 "I have hoped in your word"
v.81 "I hope in your word" (cf. v146)
v.97, 113 et al"I love your law."
v.111 "they are the joy of my heart"
v.131 "I long for your commandments."
v.162 "I rejoice at your word"
v. 172 "Psalm 119:172 My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right." (These last two reminded me of Helen's combox post here)

It is amazing how the one who deeply trusts God is able to attribute those same actions to what God speaks: trusting His word, rejoice in His word, delighting in His word. Sadly, we are too often given the false dichotomy of trusting/delighting/ rejoicing in God the person vs. trusting/delighting/ rejoicing in His Word. We are told if we do the latter we cannot do the former. We should respond that those who do the former will only be those who also do the latter.

The Psalmist is definetely the original pyromaniac: Psalm 119:139 "My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words. "

Phil, thanks for displaying the spirit of Psalm 119:157-158 in this post.

Fred Butler said...

By the way, does anyone know who this person really is? I am curious if it is someone more well known than what is portrayed by his anonymity.

stratagem said...

Yes: It is Calvin, from the comic strip.

BJ Irvin said...

Philippians 3:17-21

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Any one that declares that there is no God, has only one god, and that is themselves. In truth wanting to exalt themselves above Him who is true, and will suffer and end that should make us shudder.

But as Phil appropriately pointed out: "let God be found true, though every man be found a liar".

Thanks Phil.

~Mark said...

It seems that the people who say they "once believed" truly do become agents for Satan rather than merely disinterested former adherents.

Conviction seems to bring out the best/worst in people. I used to be puzzled that one of the comments I would most often receive both online and in person when discussing Christ is that I seemed so certain of what I talked about. So convinced and sure.

Suddenly Hebrews 11:1 comes to mind:

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

BJ Irvin said...

That should have read:
and will suffer an end that should make us shudder.

Silly fingers. :)

Rick Frueh said...

Criticizing a high view of Scripture reveals a low view of Scripture. What view is too high of perfection?

One day in eternity we will probably see that our "high view" wan't nearly high enough.

LeeC said...

How sad. :(

It makes me think of hebrews 10:26-31. The scariest passages in the Bible IMHO.

26For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.


I wonder how many "Christians" told him to be comfortable with his doubt, feeding the little flames until they burend up his last vestige of hope rather than working out his salvation witrh fear and trembling.

December Sun Blog said...

As a casual reader of Pyromaniacs, I think it's unfortunate that this Touchstone guy had to take up so much of your time an energy, time that could have otherwise been devoted to teaching.

For characters like this, it's best to just remove them and move on.

BJ Irvin said...

Leec

Well put!

Carl said...

Good post, Phil. I've encountered plenty of "Touchstone"'s on various discussion boards over the years. It's really nothing new.

Also, for whatever it's worth, a quote that fits one of Touchstone's M.O. is from pro-wrestler Roddy Piper:

"Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions."

Touchstone said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Rudd said...

this is sad.

DJP said...

Policy reminder:

When you're banned, you're banned. You don't undo a ban by violating the ban. Our email addresses are easily and globally available. Appeals may be made directly to the banning administrator via email.

Not by means of violating the ban.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Fred Butler: "By the way, does anyone know who this person really is?"

Ummmmm, I would affirm and support efforts to answer Fred Butler's question, provided that it would not be an undue burden.

Rick Frueh said...

So if Phil decides your claims of being a one time outwardly committed Christian are genuine, then what? Attention hogs are time thieves. Asking for help is not the same as asking for more attention, as if being a one time Christian vindicates "enlightened" apostacy.

Atheistic narcissism.

solagravitas said...

Funny, I thought this was one of the most "educational," if you will, posts I've ever read. I can only hope Phil wastes his time like this more often.

solagravitas said...

Um, feel free to disregard my above comment entirely. I obviously entirely misread the comment I thought I was replying to. My bad.

Strong Tower said...

Phil launches into investigative journalism- bravo!

I was wondering too how it is that one person could seeming simultaneously post on various blogs. It could be an occult occurance, but perhaps it was a team effort utilizing a local network and posting as a single sign on. The college organization and the radio station made me think that this might be the case. The zeal of some atheist blogs and their expense is amazing. They do blog-surf looking for prey. It seems that the enemy indeed roams around like a lion seeking whom he might devour. And it is curious. Just what interest is there if indeed there is no reason? How can it matter to the atheist if one believes in God or not?

Thank you Phil. And we all need to take it as a warning that there are those that visit com boxes not necessarily to undo the blog owners but to lure weaker believers and prospects away.

Another thing that came out of this for me was the issue of implicit faith and why it is a danger to have faith in faith. A mere intellectual attachment or an emotional one has no power to keep.

stratagem said...

Atheists are zealous. One good thing you can say about the Devil, is that he's a hard worker.

John W. Loftus said...

All we ever see are professing Christians, you know. And as far as that goes Touchstone was a professing Christian. To someone who says I was never a professing Christian, all I say to them is that this is just one of the delusions you have--there are many others.

Why do you even feel the need to discredit the testimony of someone like Touchstone? You don't need to do that. People believe and then change their beliefs about a host of issues throughout their lives.

Some time back skeptic Peter Kirby changed his mind and became a Catholic. I never berated him for leaving the skeptical community. There was no need to discredit him. Again, people believe and then change their beliefs about a host of issue throughout their lives. Just like he's changed his mind again and now affirms atheism.

What are the chances that Touchstone will return to the fold if you berated him. The ugliness in this post will only send him and others away. Good luck with that.

Cheers.

Rick Frueh said...

Strong Tower - I wonder if his health is bad. I am 57 years old, two heart attacks, full blown diabetes, and I spent two months of the last four in 2007 in Tampa General Hospital with some exotic infection. I do work at home and cannot roam as I once did, and that is why I can post on about 5 blogs.

I wonder if he is sick as well?

Jmv7000 said...

This is a wonderful picture of Hebrews 6:4-6. The man (though in this case a critic) probably enjoyed the fellowship and debates. He at one point might have been a part of a church and enjoyed his time with them. He claimed to love Christ and did taste the Word, but all the while, habitually, consistently, and characteristically denied the Savior.

Time and truth go hand in hand, in time, the truth will come out. This is not an enigma to us. It is exactly as the Lord said it would be. We should pray for him and warn those who have not sanctified Christ in their hearts.

DJP said...

JohnWhy do you even feel the need to discredit the testimony of someone like Touchstone?

It's related, I think, John, to the "need" to say a snowball appears white. It's a truth-thing.

If (A) a white snowball were to speak, and claim to have been orange up to an hour ago, at which time it suddenly became white, and if (B) I had actually somehow seen that same snowball sitting there, as white as... well, as white as snow, for many hours....

I might "feel the need to discredit" it.

Increase the importance of the issues involved, and the urgency of the sense of "need" would increase.

Not to speak in Phil's stead, of course.

Mesa Mike said...

> Yes: It is Calvin, from the comic
> strip.

I'd think it more likely Hobbes.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

John W. Loftus: "To someone who says I was never a professing Christian, all I say to them is that this is just one of the delusions you have--there are many others."

Fair enough. John, you've tangled with the Triabloggers, and you, of course, know that the Calvinistic Triabloggers have long argued with you over whether you were ever a regenerate Christian.

Incidentally, I left the following comment at another blog:

"From another perspective, this is actually a double blessing when George and other “de-converters” like him [Touchstone and John Loftus] leave the Church. It’s a blessing to the Church. And it’s a blessing to George! No more pretense!

Whether he’s an ex-Christian or a never-was-Christian, it doesn’t matter, because the bottom line is that George can state that he’s NOT a Christian.

This refreshing honesty removes self-deception from where he stands in relationship to God and to himself. And if his heart hasn’t already been too hardened, then perhaps one day the True Gospel will penetrate George’s soul and he will be genuinely regenerated.

Therefore, no need for excessive handwringing by Christians when never-was-Christians announce they are not Christians. It is a blessing in disguise, or arguably, an overt blessing for all concerned."

Rick Frueh said...

There are a growing number of people like Touchstone that are now active in a church and outwardly exhibiting a religious veneer, however they are incubating apostacy which, as jmv7000 rightly observed, will one day be hatched for all to see.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.

Solameanie said...

I think those who are objecting to Phil taking this on are missing the point, or at least a key one.

These guys often masquerade as believers and do a whole lot of damage, especially with the unwary. And there are plenty of unwary people in churches these days.

When you have people like this within the church, we are commanded by Scripture to expose and deal with them. In clucking your tongues at those of us who do expose stuff like this, you're also clucking your tongues at clear Scriptural admonitions.

stratagem said...

Right. Seems like Touchstone didn't 'fess up to being an atheist, except to other atheists on other boards. I just read his "conversion story" online and it's pretty clear he knows what being religious is, but it's also clear he doesn't know what being a Christian believer is, either. No wonder he "converted" !

Carl said...

Well, Touchstone has proven himself to be intentionally deceitful as well. Typical.

Respectabiggle said...

Probably just a coincidence, but here at Texas A&M the local atheists and "progressives" banded together to publish a magazine called Touchstone.

But I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from the name. Touchstone (the real Touchstone ) is a marvelous Christian publication, and is delightfully pre-modern.

Barbara said...

Well. People can "profess" to be a lot of things. I like what RC Sproul said: trying to explain regeneration to a natural man is like trying to describe a rainbow to a blind man.

And it seems that only the natural man has trouble grasping the idea that one can actually be a professing Christian without being a genuine convert. I seem to recall a false disciple from among the twelve, but he no doubt professed all that the others did too...fooled everybody but was still unchanged, and even though he was so intimately involved in the life of Christ, he still missed the boat completely, choosing instead to follow his own way of thinking - and who he really was did come out at the end.

Happens all the time. And, ultimately, it only serves as an example illustrated by many of Christ's parables. The fruit of seed borne on rocks or choked by thistles. Wheat vs. Tares.
Wise Virgins vs. Foolish Virgins.
House on Rock vs. House on Sand.

Rather than discredit the Holy Scripture, in the end it appears that such individuals serve only to prove our Savior's points. I thank and praise God for that, as I pray for the gentleman's repentance and forgiveness. He's still on this earth, and so even as with Saul, not yet beyond the grasp of Grace.

Daniel said...

Reading touchstone's very brief, (Nov 2006) biography - a snapshot from not quite two years past - he describes himself as an "...evangelical Christian" who is, "...committed to the authority of the Bible as God’s special revelation to man." and holds as, "...axiomatic that all truth is God’s truth, and because of this, truth in religion and truth in science cannot be in conflict."

All of which sounds quite orthodox and even commendably so.

Yet, in the same short biography he also says that it is because he is committed to truth, and a proponent and student of science that he is a "theistic evolutionist".

Here is a man with two competing professions - one that affirms the truth of scripture, the other that denies it; his struggle, I think was genuine - as he seems to have genuinely wanted to find an intellectually honest way to embrace both professions without compromising either.

But being honest, he soon discovered that there is no intellectually honest way to discredit one portion of scripture while embracing another - you either accept it all as true, or you accept the whole as flawed; any middling position is dishonest.

Thus, when push came to shove, he had to give up one profession or the other - either evolution is wrong, or the bible is false (and therefore God is false), and given the choice he was unwilling, (and I would even argue unable) to give up his faith in evolution.

His story is told by Christ, having built his house upon the sand. It is tragic only in that, as far as he is concerned and convinced, he probably believes himself to have been a genuine believer - having really misunderstood what faith is.

I pity him, because Hebrews 6:4-6 is written about him, and people like him. People who have every opportunity to get it right, who see it all first hand, and even benefit from God's grace, but ultimately reject God because they love creation more than the Creator. God help him.

Strong Tower said...

Rick-

Yeah that could be so. I am sick of being 56 and that's enough to drive me to Blog-a-Plenty. I was just thinking of the time proximity and not the numbers of posts so much. I've tried writting and keyboarding simultaneously and I know I couldn't double up on keyboard. Though it might make more sense at times...

Used to live in Tampa just down from Kennedy off Mabry. Great town!

CharlieontheT said...

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Barbara said...

I don't know about being so quick to ascribe Touchpoint to a Hebrew 6 position. Intellectual assent (or intellectual debate) and fellowship is hardly the same thing as having "tasted the heavenly gift and been made partakers of the Holy Spirit". Only God knows for sure, according to His purposes.

How strange it must be to have a whole group of people sitting around and talking about you and your spiritual condition.

CharlieontheT said...

Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him... No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

Daniel said...

Barbara said, Intellectual assent (or intellectual debate) and fellowship is hardly the same thing as having "tasted the heavenly gift and been made partakers of the Holy Spirit".

Conviction of sin and of righteousness is the ministry of the Holy Spirit - a ministry that we cannot arbitrarily limit to believers.

Likewise, while it is tempting to interpret the phrase "tasting the heavenly gift" to be a reference to "being saved" - I think "tasting" is better understand as though one were holding it against the idea of eating the whole enchilada - a taste rather than the whole meal.

That is to say, anyone who grafts himself, however falsely, into Christianity, is going to taste the heavenly gift - they will see first hand the grace of God in people's lives - they will become by virtue of "sampling before they buy", partakers of the heavenly gift.

So while intellectual assent, in and of itself, is not on par with "tasting the heavenly gifts and partaking of the Holy Spirit" - an empty profession of faith that brings a false convert into a genuine assembly and into real conviction of sin, and into a real sampling of grace - has, I believe, qualified for Hebrews 6:4-6.

Piper's series on this passage is beneficial.

Carl said...

Titus 3:10,11
Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

donsands said...

I always think of Judas Iscariot, when I read Hebrews 6.

Phil Johnson said...

Touchstone:

I had several meetings this morning that kept me away from my office. Before I left, I noticed the linkback below which took me to your blog, in which you wrote: "Here's the comment I left for Phil on his blog earlier. It's not likely to show up in the comment stream there."

So I came back here. No such comment had been posted. I looked in my in-box. Nothing from you. I hit "reload." Nothing. Finally, I had to go to my meeting.

Now my meetings are over, and I see that you actually posted that comment here sometime after you made the post at your own blog, and Dan (for the reasons he explained above) removed it. Anyone curious about what it said may follow the linkback below to the "Debunking Christianity" blog to see what it said.

In answer to your comment:

1. I would be more than happy--delighted, actually--to speak to your former pastor, friends, or whoever you think might set me straight about your spiritual journey over the past two years. In fact, I'd be happy to speak to you personally in a venue where you don't get to hide behind a veil of anonymity. My contact info is easily attainable. Give me a call.

2. I'm curious to know what sort of evidence you think you, your former pastor, or your Christian friends might bring to "prove" that you were "a deeply committed, 'sold out' believer" during the time you were posting unrelentingly skeptical arguments here, at the Pulpit blog, and at Triablogue. Your claim that you were "committed to . . . belief in God and . . . faith in Jesus as . . . redeemer and savior" during the past two years is so patently a lie, I can't imagine how you and your atheist friends can suggest it is cruel of me to point it out.

3. The evidence for my charge that you are lying is still online for anyone wanting to follow the links I gave. The "evidence" for your insistence (even now?) that you were indeed a "committed," "devout," authentic believer just about a year ago is only your protest that this claim is true despite what your own words were saying in every public venue where you posted opinions at the time.

I leave it to more objective readers to decide whether I have been cruel to you, or you have been deceptive with all of us.

John W. Loftus: "All we ever see are professing Christians, you know. And as far as that goes Touchstone was a professing Christian. To someone who says I was never a professing Christian, all I say to them is that this is just one of the delusions you have--there are many others."

I never said Touchstone wasn't "a professing Christian." I believe he is indeed someone who sincerely accepted the general contours of what he had been taught about Christianity. I'll happily stipulate that he probably was a professing Christian for several years. As I said above, he clearly has had an extensive exposure to the evangelical subculture. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if his dad was a fundamentalist preacher or something.

But I already demonstrated that he wasn't a devout and committed Christian this time last year as he claims he was. I don't know why that's hard for you to grasp, except that in these postmodern times, when doubt is often canonized as faith, and faith is demonized as arrogance, it would be easy for someone who doesn't really care about truth to get confused. And I've read enough of your material, Mr. Loftus, to know that you are a person who is easily confused. So there's no need to belabor that, except to say that I think you missed the whole point if you think I'm claiming Touchstone never actually thought of himself as a Christian. I'm quite certain he did.

But both of you are textbook cases of a phony brand of faith Jesus constantly warned about, which is really nothing more than an insincere self-deception. It's a sincere kind of blind credulity that doesn't stand up to any serious challenge. It's what theologians sometimes call "temporary faith," or mere intellectual assent without trust. It is devoid of true love for Christ and (by Christ's own description) bereft of any true knowledge of Him. See Matthew 7:15-27; 1 John 2:19.

Finally, no one has "berated" Touchstone "for leaving the fold." I've simply pointed out that he is clearly lying about the timeline and circumstances under which that happened. Given the way he nitpicks insignificant and irrelevant details when he is deconstructing others' words, I'd think he would at least want to make a credible effort to make his timelines believable on big-picture issues like when he first began to doubt (not to mention "little" things like whether he really sent a comment to our blog before or after he claimed the Internet that he had already done it). If you're going to get caught in lies such as that, it's probably not a good idea to use the sort of argumentation that analyzes the literal meaning of your opponents' figures of speech in order suggest that they are being dishonest.

But have I "berated him" for leaving the fold? No. I'm sad that Touchstone turned against Christianity after having been exposed the gospel enough to understand it, but I'd much rather he not keep up any pretense of being a "devout" believer when he's clearly not.

John W. Loftus said...

Phil, no it's YOU who refuses to understand. I didn't take the time to follow all of your links, mind you, but I can say that when someone is in doubt he will say and think one thing and then a day later say and think another thing. Even James says a man who doubts is double minded. That's the nature of doubt, and there are many preachers and Christians who are in doubt. They stay in the church because they don't know yet where their doubt will take them. After all, maybe they will eventually resolve their doubts. So to uncharitably call him a "liar" when the most charitable thing to say is that he just hadn't settled yet on what he really did believe, is, well, uncharitable.

CharlieontheT said...

John:

This isn't an argument. Your own testimony doesn't agree with itself. And God's own word says that someone who acts explicitly like you act is a liar. There simply isn't any... oh wait, not my conversation.

Mark Pendray said...

"I never once saw him profess actual belief in any vital point of Christian doctrine."

T-Stone did endorse some Christian beliefs (if we can believe him):
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/05/disingenuous-orthodoxy.html
"What are your beliefs regarding hell? Is it eternal conscious torment?
Yes, eternal conscious torment, were the fire is not quenched, and the worm turneth not."

Also he said:
"Do you go to church? Have you been excommunicated from a church in the past?
Yes, I go to church, and am involved in a weekly (or more) small group/Bible study group as part of it. The church I attend is a Baptist General Conference church.

I've never been excommunicated, or asked to leave a congregation, or disciplined for my theological positions.

I was turned down as a helper for the "AWANA" events on Wednesday nights at another nearby church once because I was unwilling to state my support for pre-millenial rapture in writing.

That's as close as I've come to running afoul of the churches I've been in."

The bit about him being turned down for not stating his support "in writing" for the rapture, sounds like he may have made it up.

It wouldn't surprise me if T-Stone has been doing some atheistic 'astroturfing'.

Barbara said...

Okie dokie. One word on Hebrews 6 and then I'm going back to my little hole...

...actually one word IN Hebrews 6: again.

For it is impossible to bring again to repentance....

So, anyone's claim that he truly was once a genuine Christian and has now fallen away would, if the situation were true in reality and not just in man's estimation, would indeed make him an unredeemable apostate, bound hopelessly for Hell.

But if he were just a liar and a false convert, even a noisy one, and never actually redeemed then hope remains that he could be brought to genuine repentance through the kindness and grace of God. As long as he has breath, he has hope.

Like Saul/Paul. Like Simon Peter.

Like me.

That's all I was trying to say.

Phil Johnson said...

John W. Loftus: "I didn't take the time to follow all of your links, mind you, but I can say that when someone is in doubt he will say and think one thing and then a day later say and think another thing. . . After all, maybe they will eventually resolve their doubts. So to uncharitably call him a 'liar' when the most charitable thing to say is that he just hadn't settled yet on what he really did believe, is, well, uncharitable."

Uh, perhaps you should follow those links and read them before labeling me "uncharitable." I didn't say he was lying when he expressed his doubts eighteen months ago. I said he's lying now when he claims he was a committed, devout believer eighteen months ago while he was crusading here in our meta against belief in what the Bible says.

This really isn't complex, John.

Also, I'm curious: Are you planning to scold the commenters at your blog for being "uncharitable" in the things they've said today? Please send me a link when you've done that.

Phil Johnson said...

donsands: "I always think of Judas Iscariot, when I read Hebrews 6."

Yes, I've made that same connection. In fact, just recently (before I knew anything about Touchstone's "testimony") I made a 3-part series of sermons on the unpardonable sin, and they have uncanny relevance to this subject. That series is free for anyone who wants to download it or get it on CD. See here to ask for it.

Daniel said...

I don't think anyone would argue that touchstone wasn't a devout subscriber to the Christian faith. What is argued is that he was a devout believer, perhaps the distinction is too subtle?

Stephen Thomas said...

After having read all this, and especially your last comment (which I suppose will be the one right before mine here), I must say,

"Phil, I like you."

I looked for you when John MacArthur was in the DFW, TX area back in April, but alas, you were off on your own speaking engagement.

You don't know me because I've only left a few comments in all these years of reading the blog. But I just wanted to say "I like you."

Carl said...

The more of T-stone's past information and behavior are revealed here the more I notice the similarities with a well known anti-Christian poster on various Usenet newsgroups. Not only is T-stone's style similar to this person on Usenet but a lot of the content is remarkably similar as well. Makes me wonder.

Rick Frueh said...

If indeed TS was a professing Christian and now denies the faith, discussion is futile. He must be rejected outright according to the Word.

And with great sadness and with an inherant warning to us all.

Carl said...

Why is it that the extreme atheists and Christian haters like T-stone and Loftus exhibit such disingenuousness?

Rhetorical question.

Little Shepherd said...

Whoah, this is just too trippy! When you said "He sounded like one of those de-converted former pastors who spreads the gospel of atheism with more zeal than he ever had for the faith." I immediately thought of TheologyWeb's good friend John Loftus, aka Doubting John.

Then Loftus himself shows up in the comments!

Then I see a link confirming that this Touchstone guy is a contributor at Debunking Christianity, which is run by . . . John Loftus!

Then Loftus, as usual, got owned. This is too trippy, but I'm glad I got to see it.

Jmv7000 said...

Rick, could you please clarify how you see evangelism playing out in this scenario toward TS or others who were never really believers?

DJP said...

My response-questions would be:

1. Why wouldn't they?
2. Why would we expect otherwise?

DJP said...

(My last was to Carl)

Carl said...

Dan, as I said, rhetorical question. LOL!

DJP said...

I answered your one rhetorical with two rhetoricals.

No extra charge!

Rick Frueh said...

jmv7000 - That is a good question. If a person commits apostcy there remains no space for repentance. I guess your question is what if he wasn't a genuine believer and now denies Christianity? No one can know that, just like no one knew the status of the man at Corinth. But when the church obeyed Paul and dis-fellowshipped with him, the Spirit led him to repentance.

Evangelism in the case of these outright deniers of the faith must be in the prayer closet, because only God knows their true situation. Most of the time they desire dialogue and discourse and argumentation, not about points of Christian doctrine, but openly disparaging the mPerson of the Lord Jesus.

TS is not a dispassionate sinner who says things off the cuff, he is an organized and passionate enemy of the cross. He must be rejected so perhaps God may grant him repentance. All our words at this point just delay what God has told us about informed heretics who count the blood of the covenant as an unholy thing.

Most common sinners are not that doctrinally spohisticated, but with men like TS they are energized enemies of Christ.

Carl said...

What a bargain, Dan!

---

Some passages come to mind:

Psalm 14:1
The fool says in his heart,
"There is no God."
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.


Psalm 74:18
Remember how the enemy has mocked you, O LORD,
how foolish people have reviled your name.


1 John 2:4
The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

1 John 2:22
Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.

God warned us.

Polycarp said...

A most excellent post today Phil...and some fine-tuned exchanges on your end with Touchstone himself!

As the host and creator of a respectable blog, and in your role as a knowlegable & Godly pastor, I can undersatnd why you are absolutely and ever-so-patiently committed to objectively hearing every argument that comes your way and providing solid, thorough answers to even the most absurd charges against truth and/or the Christian faith--the rubbish embraced by guys like "touchtone," Mclaren, and Pagitt. In your good discernment, there is no doubt that when you make the call to ban a critic or call them out for what they are, that you have absolutely made an accurate call.

I'm sure you would agree that for those of us who are not pastors or hosts of such significant blogs as teampyro, our need to call a duck a duck when it quacks like one (i.e. is clearly unbiblical) can and should be done swiftly and without necessarily entangling ourselves in the postmodern wordplay they spread out like a black widow's web, calling it a conversation. Years ago, I was in a junior lifeguard program; one of the first things we were taught about rescuing a person who is drowning is that they will do anything, including drowning you, in their attempt to survive...on their terms. Hence, we were instructed on the need to be forceful and determined in a rescue so that it occurs on our terms.

I wish unsuspecting believers out there (not at teampyro, of course) would become more aware of the postmodern rhetorical wordplay and not fall into their trap by negotiating, even with the kindest of intentions, with emergent liberals who have long abandoned every shred of truth, and mask their lies in a word that denotes the very thing they are not doing: conversing. They are drowning, and they will do anything, or say anything, to maintain (even unto themselves) an appearance that they are not in such a predicament. They are thrilled when they can get people to operate on their terms, literally.

For example, I cannot--for the life of me--figure out why any believer, with even a general knowlege of the bible and/or the NT in particular, is still so slow to recognize the obvious fact that someone like Mc***** is not a believer in any stretch of the imagination. That he is among the company of characters like Judas Iscariot and Voltaire. The bible, in contrast to his ramblings of rebellion, makes this fact abundantly clear! Yet, there are still believers out there, even pastors, who would say to such a declaration: "let's not be too hasty now....". c'mon please.

Thank God for men like Phil and John MacArthur!

CR said...

I've read a couple of comments suggesting that apostasy might be the unpardonable sin. I don't believe that's what the latter part of Hebrews 5 and early part of Hebrews 6 teaches. I realize these passages are very difficult and not everyone is in agreement.

The writer of Hebrews is saying that he is now going to leave the elementary doctrine of Christ (see Heb 5:11-14 for the reasons why) and the writer does issue a warning of apostasy but it's a warning in this sense: he is telling the Hebrew church when they encounter apostates do not go back to the elementary doctrines, i.e., don't waste your time going back to the basics about the gospel because it will be impossible for us to restore people like this especially by going back to the basics with people who have tasted the truth.

In fact, if we try that, as the writer expounds on, we will cause them to crucify Christ even more. What does that mean? I've encountered this before, we encounter an apostate, and we try to tell them about the gospel and we say, "hey, why are you doing this, remember Christ, and what he did, and the cross?" What's their response? They get more angrier and hostile, or they are like, yeah, whatever, I once believed that, and they even become more earnest in their apostate.

And what the writer is saying, don't waste your time going over the elementary doctrines of Christ with these apostates. Move on. The more you try to go over the basics with these people the more you'll cause them to outright deny Christ. Move on...proclaim the gospel with others and disciple others.

Don't bother with these people because it is impossible for us to restore them again, but...that doesn't mean it is impossible for the Lord. Certainly, we can pray for them and for those that the Lord chooses to save and deliever from their apostasy, we can give praise and glory to God.

SolaMommy said...

"those who deny the truth are themselves untruthful. People who scoff at faith are naturally untrustworthy."

You nailed it.

Solameanie said...

DJP: "Banning administrator."

Wow! What a deliciously Lewisian Screwtapian, even Orwellian title! I love it. It should come with its own coat of arms and seal of office, maybe even its own cool podium.

I can see it now. When a cell full of banned miscreants accumulates, Dan or Frank will come in, pick one out and say "Room 101."

One problem. Phil is too dignified to be "Big Brother." I'd volunteer, but I'm too short and not nearly menacing enough.

Strong Tower said...

That was an interesting thought CR

"Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation."

Hebrews 6 has this statement. Along with the statement that Jesus is our anchor seated in the Holy of Hollies where he remains: "we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."

The importance of this is that what it means to be devout as a Christian clings to perseverence. If Jesus could come down from his throne, we could lose our salvation, a salvation that is called eternal.

In Hebrews 6, the impossible situation is described. If someone says that they had been saved, but that they walked away, wouldn't it be impossible to restore them to repentance seeing that the blood of Christ was not effectual in the first case? If Christ has been once crucified, with what would one be restored if his blood which had sanctified was not eternally efficacious? Christ cannot be offered again, with what then would one be restored? What is greater than his blood and if it has been treated as an unclean thing; then what would be clean? Would that blood that did not suffice now suffice?

In the case of Touchstone, it is obvious that he does not comprehend the Christian Faith and its unbreakable promise of satisfaction that is not held in the hands of man but upheld by two things which cannot be denied, God and the promise that he has made. Lofton makes the same mistake. Both believe that Christian Faith is something which can be walked away from as if it were merely a humanistic machination of choosing the best of two propositions, rather than the indelible seal of God on the soul of his redeemed.

Hebrews' author's desire is that none who here this message come up short of the understanding that salvation is not transitory, it is perfect and complete in its application. For those who think it transient, it has either not happened or their understanding has been interfered with in some way such as that which was happening with the circumcision party. The author's instruction is if that is a settle thing, then we can move to a deeper Spiritual understanding of the person of Christ. But until one understands that we sit in the heavenlies with Christ as the Melchizadek having once for all entered into the Holy of Hollies, never to exit. there simply is no evidence of the persevering faith of one who has been born again. He must be settled in the knowledge of salvation and the author is convinced of these better signs that accompany salvation.

Why is it legitimate to call one a liar about devoutness even without the timeline that Phil exposes? Because devoutness in the Christian sense is perseverence, the fruit of faith and a faith that is grounded in the perfected knowledge of the infinite, all overcoming value and efficacy of the blood of Christ. This is a gift, not a choice between two opinions.

So to uncharitably call him a "liar" when the most charitable thing to say is that he just hadn't settled yet on what he really did believe, is, well, uncharitable.

He is a liar because he asserted that he knew what he did not know. A person who doubts but is saved does not fall away, though God will not permit them to advance. The person who has not been justified, however, can experience the enlightenment of the word, but has no anchor behind the veil to keep him drifting away. And having gone back the Lord has no pleasure in his soul, no interest vested in it and they none in him. The proving of our salvation then is as James would say that when trials come, when temptations assail it does not set the believe adrift, rather, it purifies, produces the character of Christ and works perseverence which has been secured by his blood, having been perfected for all time by the One who sanctifies.

So it is greatly charitable, for the call to return still goes out and his kindness still leads his children to repentance: I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Phil's call for Touchstone to repent may register as harsh, but the measures that are required are determined by the depth of the pit the pig has fallen in.

Rick Frueh said...

Your average, run of the mill, sinner must be shown much patience and love. Even the goth types and the motor cycle gang types and all the various models of sinners should be shown the gosple and even a "turn the other cheek" attitude as we attempt to be used of the Spirit to lift up Christ to them

But those who have a designed purpose to obstruct the gospel, like the deputy against Paul, should be rebuked in no uncertain terms. We cannot show love to the spirit of anti-christ.

donsands said...

Thanks Phil. Looking forward to hearing the CD.

Strong Tower said...

You're right of course Rick we do not love the spirit of anti-Christ. But there is nothing wrong with showing love for the soul of Touchstone even if it is beating him out of his mind.

I think we have got to rememer that is was Paul who said: For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ...

For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it...

Yet he was, in his estimation: a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless...

Though we might hate what he is doing we must also: love our enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

And oh how evil and ungrateful we are at times and forget those who are forgiven much love much.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Strong Tower: "Phil's call for Touchstone to repent may register as harsh, but the measures that are required are determined by the depth of the pit the pig has fallen in."

Good one.

In this case, there's a hellishly deep pit awaiting this, um, "pig". Therefore, .... sterner measures (circumstances?) required!!

Speaking of pigs and prodigals...

the Father came running to embrace the younger son when he chose to come home.

bossmanham said...

Great post. It's amazing how some people build their own fantasy world here on the net.

Stefan said...

Strong Tower:

You are a gifted expositor.

Stefan said...

And I don't mean in a high-fivey kind of way, but God used the Letter to the Hebrews to bring me closer to Himself before I was saved—it has a special place in my heart—and there are precious passages in there that can be mined endlessly for rich treasures.

Roger said...

Heya all.

I'm an unknown, so take what I say with a grain of salt. But I just wanted to add - Touchstone really is a liar. He plies his story about being an ever so devout christian who against his will became an atheist, but it's obvious and considerable bull. He's as sincere as a commercial testimonial for Life Alert, and I strongly suspect his entire act has more to do with making atheism seem more palatable/inevitable than anything else.

Glad to see yet more exposure of this guy, first here, then on Triablogue. Rank dishonesty of this kind should be tracked and exposed, and if the Debunkers had any respect, they'd eschew him and his song-and-dance.

chrish said...

Sometimes I find it difficult to understand what Phil really means, because he so regularly minces his words, speaks without conviction, and generalises far to widely.

/sarcasm

Annemarie said...

There was a home school forum that I used to frequent where about 4 men would make their kingly presence known by posting the most absurd opinions....at least they were absurd to me. Sadly, many of the women there began to look on these men as absolute authority on all sorts of issues (family life, church life, biblical doctrine, how women should dress, etc.). One man in particular was revered, you guessed it, Touchstone. He posed as a Christian, thus giving "validity" to some of his wacko advice.

He outed himself as an atheist there about 3 months ago. Your title hit the nail on the head. Stone-Cold liar.

~Annemarie

Grigs said...

Don't these atheist loosers have a life? If they really believed what they do then they would just live and let live. It makes no logical sense to try to convert and destroy Christian's faith.

DJP said...

Grigs, for such atheists, it's tempting to misuse the word "evangelistic" as the media do. But it's a bad use of a fine word, because their whole package is far from "good news."

Hence the term I coined, "dyspel."

Former_Fundy said...

Phil,

I don't know if Touchstone was lying as you claim nor do I really care. However, I would like to point out from my own experience that faith does not disappear overnight. It took probably about 3 years for my faith to evaporate completely. I am a Ph.D. graduate of a very conservative school and taught in a Bible college for 9 years. I am sure that according to you and your friends, I was never saved to begin with. That is fine because I understand your need to make everything fit into a nice, neat little box.

DJP said...

So you have the need to make people like Phil fit into the nice, neat little box of people who need to make everything fit into a nice, neat little box.

Nice. And neat.

Definitely little.

Strong Tower said...

The problem DJP is you don't understand you're not supposed to believe: They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

See, what you have done is fail to realize the truth. What truth? There is no spoon.

Except of course for my spoon. In that case there is a spoon, but you can't have it!

Bill Honsberger said...

Why would anyone be surprised that someone within the pomo swamp is dishonest? Lying is a problem for some when their absolute ethic comes against their personal gain - but when you have no absolute ethic and all is "multiple - layers - of variation - and - interpretations - at - play", (thoughts are always much more profound when you have a fixation for the hyphen key don't you know dude?!) then it should be seen as basically normative. Kind of a "what do you mean by 'is' " sort of thing. Long before I ever heard the word emerging/emergent - I was in a philosophy dept in grad school and teaching at an "alleged" evangelical Christian University in Denver, when one of the philosophy profs at the Christian school went off to a conference at Wheaton, circa 1994 or so. He later told me how this was the direction the church HAD to go, or it would die. To be honest I had been in a philosophy program for years and never once heard the word "postmodern" before our conversation. Over the next two years the prof repeatedly berated and underminded the doctrinal statement, and heres the fun part, lied repeatedly to me and others about it. Personal integrity went right out the window when it came to keeping a job. Not that this was a new problem at Christian schools, but it certainly was a new version of dealing with doctrinal committments and mental reservations and all that. "I am not lying-its just that all these words have so many possible interpretations" yada yada yada...
I dutifully talked with the professor, the dean and three times with different Presidents. Guess who got the heave ho?
I also have this problem with the emergents (are they the theological equivelents of the Kos kids? - just wondering...) who claim that they are still some sort of Christian because they allegedly hold to the creeds. Hiding behind the skirts of the creeds while you decimate substitutionary atonement, the exclusive claims about Jesus himself, biblical norms concerning sex and so on, is a farce. If we don't really know what the Bible says 2000 years ago, because of all the usual pomo claims, then how can you say you know what the authors of the creeds were saying? They too were from a different language game, culture and sitz im leben. How does one parse Tony Jones and others when they play these types of games? For that matter how do you know what Derrida or Foucoult were saying? Gross intellectual dishonesty runs thick through the whole swamp.
There, now I can breath better.
To Tony et al, This author is not dead and you can actually know what I am saying. You are not "free" to write your own personal story into my text.
It is still my Father's world, and apostasy is not new, but it is never fun to watch.
Bill

Mesa Mike said...

Wow, "former fundy." By your own admission you neither know the truth (though it's readily accessible), nor do you care to know. How are we to take you seriously?

Did you have the same low regard for knowledge in your studies leading to a Ph.D. from a conservative Christian university? Or in your 9 years of teaching Bible college?

DJP said...

Bill Honsberger, you remind me of the observation (by Machen?) that liberals do what they do, not to kill Christianity, but to save it.

That's how they kill it.

Chris said...

Great post.

donsands said...

"It took probably about 3 years for my faith to evaporate completely."

At the beginning of these three years, did you love Jesus? I mean really love Him Himself?

Former_Fundy said...

"At the beginning of these three years, did you love Jesus? I mean really love Him Himself?"

As much as you do now.

DJP said...

What a surprise response. Never saw THAT one coming.

Morris Brooks said...

I John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they were not of us.

Sometimes the tares just can't keep up the charade anymore...just like Demas. In the verse quoted above the reason given for their leaving is that it might be made known that they were never one of us. Their leaving is the evidence of the unbelief they possessed the whole time.

Maybe there is something to the "Perserverance of the Saints" after all.

Morris

Jmv7000 said...

Former Fundy,

You leave us to either accept your interpretation of your life or the clarity of Scripture. . .

donsands said...

"As much as you do now."

Do you have anyone in your life that you love? And if so, did you love Jesus with the same affection, and even greater affection?

I surely don't love your loved ones as much as you do then. or now.

So perhaps this will help you focus.

Unless you're saying my love for Christ is in vain. Which of course is absurd. But everyone is entitled to his own opinion.

Here's what the Apostle Peter said to his brethren about loving Jesus Christ:

"..for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen YOU LOVE. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory". 1 Peter 1:8-9

Dan, you crack me up. Thanks.

Daniel said...

Former Fundy

Given that we are talking about liars and lying, I checked the email address on your profile (telesys[at]mail.com), googled it, to find a page where you describe yourself as "Ken" and after googling your full name, I found a rather stilted and unimpressive record of your education (a 27 year old bachelor of arts degree from the Baptist University of America? (check out your own bio...

Perhaps this is just a case of mistaken identity? You probably put the wrong email address in your profile... and it is just a coincidence that everything else in your profile lines up with this Ken except for the education...

But I suspect that you are a lying fraud attempting to fortify your "faith credibility" by inflating your rather meager education...

Tsk tsk.

I couldn't take you seriously when you were a confused atheist, how much less now that you're a liar and a fraud?

Patrick said...

Hi Phil -

When are you going to write a book? Your writing style is both salt and light. At times they sting when we need to be stung by the truth and at the same time they shed much very much light.

Seriously.. write a book!

donsands said...

Thanks for being the web-sleuth Daniel.
That's great stuff to know. Time to shake off the dust.

Daniel said...

Donsands - it's like the old saying goes, the emptier the barrel, the more noise it makes.

Everyday Mommy said...

May I just say...a goat will never become a sheep and a sheep will never become a goat.

Mike Odlyzko said...

Daniel (and others):
There's an 18-year gap between the B.A. degree and the first experience mentioned on Ken's resume -- space enough for his claims about getting a PhD and teaching at a Bible college to hold up. Taking his word about his background, sobered by it and humbly grateful to God for the precious grace of redemption through faith in Christ, would seem a more fitting response than throwing out an accusation of lying (which, frankly, didn't seem to add up, and came across rash and juvenile). I'm not saying you're not sobered by hearing about Ken, or grateful for the lavish grace of God, but ignorantly hacking at what may be a true story was off the mark. Correct me if you were certain about Ken's being a "liar and a fraud." Otherwise, the rebuke stands.

Daniel said...

Mike, thank you for your concern, and your gentle rebuke.

You may be mistaken on one point: I don't think this was an ignorant hacking at what may be a true story so much as it was a reasonable checking of the facts in what sounded suspciously like a very false story.

What I found, I shared - allowing others to gauge whether my conclusions were shrill and hysterical, poor tempered, or mean spirited - or whether they seemed reasonable. Personally, I think my conclusions are reasonable, and not necessarily rash or juvenille, you may be reading that into my post. I admit though, as I said, I should have preferred in hindsight to only remark that Ken seemed to be a liar and a fraud - and my error was that I wanted to express the irony of appealing to inflated credentials for credibility, and in doing so used a more definitive form of expression than I felt - for I am certainly willing to be shown wrong in the matter.

I caution you, however, that while I am genuinely touched by your rebuke, I am a bit concerned that you may imagine there to be something pious about being gullible. There isn't. Christ doesn't call us to gullibility, but to test all things.

It is good to give everyone the benefit of doubt, and you are correct that I should have restrained my remarks to saying that he only seems, according to the presented evidence, to be a liar and a fraud, as opposed to making it more concrete than was called for -- I really should have left it at "you seem a liar".

Thanks Mike.

Strong Tower said...

Otherwise, the rebuke stands.


I suppose? But doesn't a rebuke require that someone be spiritual for it to have authority? I am not sure from your profile that you qualifiy.

From Ken's profile at LinkedIn: January 2008 — Present (9 months)

His profile has been in this service since ???? and he just failed to update it? I don't think so. His education was entered by him within this last year, I am reckoning, if by "present" he means September, the nineth month. Most likely, this profile is quite new. Say this month? That is quite a slip for someone whose ego drips from his posts.

I may be wrong, and if this is the same Former Fundy, perhaps he could explain why he didn't represent himself as a PhD when he joined LinkedIn. But then he didn't give the name of the school he got his degree from. BUA doesn't offer a PhD. Maybe the vague description of a very conservative school was just a slip also. But then he slipped twice, because he didn't list them in his Blogger profile either.

My guess is this guy "seems" to be pushing somebodies leg and he does it for nefarious ends.

Tristan724 said...

First let me say that I am reformed believer and long-time "lurker" at TeamPyro and appreciate most of what I read, but I have to strongly echo Mike's words to Daniel and the others. I would in no way consider myself an 'internet guru' (as is evident by my ignorance when it comes to linking - sorry), but I can use Google just like everyone else and a few simple searches including Former Fundy's full name and "dr" or "phd" resulted in this link:
(http://members.aol.com/kpublish/Bloodbook/BLBKDOCComments.html)

which refers to a man with the same name as in the resume, has a PhD, and is a professor at a Bible College in Tempe, Arizona. Remarkably, the company that Former Fundy is now the president of is located in Mesa, Arizona. Not a huge stretch.

I also found discussions on the Greek language involving a PhD with the same name and an Arizona address at these links:

http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/archives/greek-3/msg01148.html

http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/archives/greek-3/msg01156.html

All of these references fit within the timeframe of the aforementioned resume. Is it really that unfathomable that a man who has renounced his faith and now works in the secular arena would exclude his degree from a theological institution? Considering that he is now so adamantly opposed to Christianity, I don't think it is. Either way, it should be enough to cause us to pause before we cast someone as a "liar" and a "fraud" and throw around a couple Tsk Tsk's.

I would hope that we are better than to disparage someone based on an incomplete Google search just because we don't agree with their theology (or lack thereof). Mike's call to sober, humble gratitude certainly seems more fitting. And unfortunately, I think the whole "gullible" thing is a two-way street.

Strong Tower said...

Is it really that unfathomable that a man who has renounced his faith and now works in the secular arena would exclude his degree from a theological institution?

Well yes seeing as he posted the reference here, and that it is at least partially disclosed at LinkedIn. That he might hide it elsewhere is, well, nefarious. What need of deception. Why not honesty.

You are right that we really don't know alot, which is why I didn't make a direct connection with the name. It may well be true that this man has what he has claimed.

Dr. Ken Pulliam doesn't teach at IBC, though he may have in 1995 as an adjunct when he was a professor at Arizona St, approximately the same period of time. Pulliam doesn't appear to be employed at ASU now. That coikadink means nothing. They may be two distinct persons.

Here's the deal sparky, Pulliam is a common name in Arizona, and the name is likely found many times with Ken. And Former Fundy might well be one dem. It still doesn't figure. If it is the Ken who was accused of heresy in the controversy over the Blood Book, then I can see why he might have become embittered and want to shelter himself. I have no idea where that ended or really why he would be ashamed of his defense of orthodoxy against the Fundies who held to the heresy of the divine blood.

Still, the fact remains that there is no reason for this Ken to hide information about that or any past affilliation with Christianity. I mean, here he is on a public blog exposing himself as an atheist apologist saving the planet from Christians and he is concerned about his anonymity? It just as likely that he has stolen the profile information and uses it as a cover having no moral basis upon which to not do so. Who knows if he is this mystery professor. From his presentation, it sure doesn't appear that he is. I mean, from reading what he has written elsewhere his response here was not very schlolarly. Pretty much, it was sophomoric. All could be cleared up if he would give more information so that his credentials could be verified. There in is the skepticism. There is no reason to hide anything from anyone. And, as I said, he didn't hide the fact that he had degree from a Fundy College and if he is the same Dr. Ken Pulliam in the Blood Book controversy, he is really Fundy because his PhD came from Bob Jones. You see, if we can find this, he is not hiding anyway. Then again, why would he hide? He is not some lower employed schlep, but President and CEO of his own company. No need to hide with that resume' and that level of income, is there?

No, who ever Former Fundy is, he is seemingly a liar simply in the fact that he has chosen to hide certain information for no good reason.

There's an 18-year gap between the B.A. degree

Another thing, both Ken's, if we assume there were two, were teaching as early as 1988. Professor Ken, would have gotten his PhD between 1981 and then. Though time to do so it would have been quite the busy schedule teaching in two places, either corresponence school or traveling back to SC, raising a family and gaining a Masters and PhD during the same period of time. Fundamentally incredible.

Former_Fundy said...

You guys crack me up. You must have lots of free time on your hands.

Yes, I am Ken Pulliam. I have a B.A. from Baptist Univ. of America (1981), an M.A. from Bob Jones Univ (1982) and a Ph.D. from Bob Jones (1986). All done in residency. My dissertation was on the Evolution of Bernard Ramm's Views of Inerrancy. Dissertation was completed under the supervision of Stewart Custer.

I taught at International Baptist College in Tempe, AZ from 1986 to 1995. I was assistant Pastor at Beth Haven Baptist Church from 1995 to 1997. I started my own recruiting business in Arizona in Jan of 1997. I moved back to my home state of Georgia in 2000 and worked for a recruiting firm until January of this year when I started my own firm again.

The reason I did not put my education from BJU in my Linkedin profile is because "its not good for business." In the business world, people with a Ph.D. are typically looked down upon as academic book worms who do not know much about running a business. In addition, Bob Jones is a controversial institution and I did not want that reputation hurting my business.

BTW, Phil knows me. We met in 1995 in his office near Six Flags Magic Mountain. At the time, he and I were on an internet discussion group relative to theology.

So there you have it. Am I a liar? Well, think whatever you want.

I also am not an atheist but an agnostic. YOu can say I was never saved. I did not really love the Lord, did not have real faith or whatever else you want to say. All I know is that I was sincere as anyone could be. I believed with all of my heart. I committed over 20 years of my life to the Lord's service. If I wasn't saved, then you guys don't know if you are really saved now or not. For all you know, your faith may not be genuine and you may fall away in the future.

If anyone wants to email me, feel free to write me at telesys@mail.com

Daniel said...

I deleted my last comment - too many spelling mistakes, and I wanted to change a couple of words around (I am fussy that way).

I don't think the rebuke was out of order. Mike had a point - It wasn't right, as a representative of Christ, to judge FF guilty of being a liar and a fraud unless/until it could be shown indisputably. My quick and less than thorough check was sufficient, I think, to warrant some doubt as to his credentials. Given the results of this search, there seemed a genuine possibility that this fellow was being somewhat deceitful about his education - and given that he appealed to his education almost immediately (less than fifty words into his first comment) it struck me as ironic and worthy of mention.

Yet I was wrong to have ended my post with the judgmental conclusion I did. Mike's rebuke was fair, and for that reason I accepted it.

Given Tristan's latest effort, it seems Ken may well be the same "Doctor" Ken that Tristan unearthed. Even if this is not the same fellow, it does illustrate that Mike's rebuke is not capricious or superfluous.

As to FF - if it is the same guy, his failure to mention his Christian education on other sites may only because doing so would paint an image that is counter-productive to what he is trying to do there.

Either way, whether Ken is a doctor or not is not really germaine to his "street cred" - for ignorance is easily overlooked in someone who is ignorant, but ill fitting attire on one who is well informed.

Daniel said...

I have to laugh, because as I correcting my spelling and what not, I did have the thought - what if FF posts before I comment, and demonstrates my folly?

Thank you Lord, for the lesson.

Former_Fundy said...

Daniel,

I guess it would be asking too much for an apology for calling me a liar and a fraud?

donsands said...

I think Daniel has apologized, former fundy: Unless I missed something.

I'd like to ask one straight forward question, and look for an honest answer, if you don't mind.

Did you love Jesus Christ of Nazareth?

And by love, I mean a love that is the same manner of affection you have for your wife, and children.

I love the Lord Jesus. Not because of me, but because He first loved me, and died for me, and for my filthy sins.
He has come to abide in me, and will never leave me, nor can anyone pluck me away from His grip upon my heart, mind, and soul.

I have days when my love becomes numb and is less than it should be, and yet I am convicted by this, and as King David said, "It's against You alone who I have sinned", I feel the same.

The reason I ask, and share all this is because loving, and trusting Christ is a serious thing indeed. Nothing more serious for a human soul than knowing and loving Christ.

However, there is a time when one needs to call it quits. I thought that was what had happened with you, but since you have come back, and Daniel made a mistake, then I thought I'd engage you once again with a simple question.

John W. Loftus said...

Ken, glad to see you comment. Sorry that you were outted like this, and for their disrespect. Had they known you as their teacher they would hang on your every word, but simply because you now think otherwise they feel the need to call you a liar. What's strange is that you still have the knowledge that could teach them a few things and yet they aren't interested in listening.

For people who may want to read about Ken's story see here.

I still don't really understand why Christians here feel the need to discredit us former believers. It really does your cause no good. People believe and then disbelieve for a number of reasons, and that's all there is to it.

I received an email from a Christian scholar yesterday who he said he appreciated my first comment and is sorry that he is associated by faith with Christian people like those who are represented here.

Daniel said...

Ken, it's not to much. I suggested to others that you were a fraud and a liar in a public forum, and it is fitting that should I recant in the same forum.

Doctor Pulliam, please accept my apology, I am sorry for publicly concluding that you were a liar and a fraud. It was a mistake in judgment on my part, and one I hope I shall learn from.

Thank you for your graciousness in the matter.

Former_Fundy said...

"Did you love Jesus Christ of Nazareth?"

As much as anyone could I think. I believed with all my heart that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and that he had borne my sins on the cross. I put my trust in him and him alone for my salvation. Was I serious? I think far more serious than most people I have encountered in churches over the years. My whole life was consumed by the Lord's work. I spent hours daily studying and teaching the Scriptures. I prayed and wept over lost souls. I did personal evangelism on at least a weekly basis. There are a number of people right now who are "saved" and serving the Lord because I led them to the Lord and taught them.

There are dozens and dozens of Pastors right now who are pastoring evangelical churches whom I taught.

So was my love genuine? I certainly thought so and everyone who knew me in those days would have said so.

Anyway why are you so hung up on "loving" the Lord as some definite proof of salvation? Salvation is not dependent upon my efforts (according to your theology)but is wholly dependent upon the Lord.

In addition love is a very difficult term to define. Its intangible. Its subjective. If you are basing your assurance on a subjective emotion, then your assurance is on very shaky grounds.

Former_Fundy said...

Dan--no problem. I appreciate your apology.

John W. Loftus said...

Christians here should realize that Ken and I are not the only Christian professors who had serious doubts at one time. There are many others who entertain them. Some of us just could not longer believe. Think of it this way, if the Christians I just linked to end up disbelieving, what will you say of them? How should you regard them now?

As to whether or not we we Christians read this.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

For people who may want to read about Ken's story see here.

Thanks for the link. I did a quick-read. Simply confirms that Satan is a relentless Adversary. (I realize, of course, that you don't believe in Satan.)

I still don't really understand why Christians here feel the need to discredit us former believers.

John, I know that you've been discredited numerous times over at Triablogue. But here's some things that you might consider to improve your lack of understanding:

(1) You're not being discredited as much as what you're trying to propagate is being discredited. You're just taking it personally.

(2) And if it is personal...
(a) There are Scriptural examples of evil people being called out as evil people.

(b) If someone makes a lying statement and is called a liar, well then ...? Likewise, if someone bears false witness and is called a false accuser, well then ...?

It really does your cause no good.

Most assuredly it does. If someone is saying that God does not exist, then followers of Christ will contend otherwise ... for the Glory of God and for the remnant He has chosen.

People believe and then disbelieve for a number of reasons, and that's all there is to it.

The Holy Spirit regenerates and that's all there is to it.

I received an email from a Christian scholar yesterday who he said he appreciated my first comment and is sorry that he is associated by faith with Christian people like those who are represented here.

Please consider the flip side. There may be Christian people here who are sorry to be associated by faith with the "Christian scholar" who e-mailed you.

John W. Loftus said...

Please consider the flip side. There may be Christian people here who are sorry to be associated by faith with the "Christian scholar" who e-mailed you.

Hmmmm. I do not think you would say that if you knew who he is.

donsands said...

"Anyway why are you so hung up on "loving" the Lord as some definite proof of salvation?" -former fundy

Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love Me?", three times, and Peter answered, "lord You know all things You know I love You!"

Love is essential to the new heart that trusts in Christ. I'm not saying love saves a soul, Christ saves a soul by His mercy and grace, and our heart trusts in His death, and in His rising from the dead.
He loved us first, and the greatest love is displayed for all to see at the Cross, where Jesus drank the cup from his Father. This was God's wrath for sin, for our sin.

The Father loved Jesus, His Son, with a perfect love, and yet He gave Him up for filthy rebels like us.
Our sin has to be judged, and God judged our sin in Himself, so that we could have eternal life with Him!
Amazing grace saves us, not love, and not even faith.
But faith and love must be fruit in a believers life.
Love for Christ is essential, I'm not hung up on it as you say.

Here's a quote I borrowed from the link John gave us, which for me shows that you never understood the love of Christ:

"..lets just say that the major stumbling block was the whole concept of the atonement. How could someone else be punished in my place and I go free. That strikes against any sense of fairness. We would not allow that in any court of law. Punishment is only valid if it is the guilty person being punished. I have read every major theologian's discussion of the atonement and I have never been satisfied by the various answers."

Strong Tower said...

I guess it would be asking too much for an apology for calling me a liar and a fraud?

Well, let's see. You shelter your identity for business purposes. But you post it elsewhere supposing that no one would look? So you would also not mind that we do not call you Dr., seeing that you are ashamed of the title, right? Or maybe just call you Dr. NoYesNo Wen Itprofits. And profits is really what you're all about and that is why you deceive others concerning you past, as you have testified against yourself.

You also know that there are no true athiests, only agnostics, if indeed their honest, but you support the athiest apologetic in your skepticism, nonetheless.

My question is why you would post as part of your profile that you were a BA graduate of a Fundie school in one place, but not expose it in another, and not expose your further credentials, and not expect that your business contacts are smart enough to check you out further? Do you really think that others are so stupid? Are you elitist?

Your seeking to mask your past is inexcusable. You owe it to your business contacts to be honest. Unless of course your view of honesty has also slowly faded from existence. Incomplete knowledge actually denies others the right of choice, doesn't it? In other words, you do defraud your customers, much in the way that Fundies do in their anti-intellecutalism and obscurantism and their free-will theology that was really the seedbed of your apostasy. You try to gain credibility by posting part of your educational background and at the same time protect it by hiding part, simply to keep your customers and peers in the dark as to who you are so that you might profit by deceit.

As the Ken of both schools, that still is a fundamentally incredible feat. You are no schlep, and apparently quite gifted. Your previous defense of orthodoxy is to be commended. Which leads me to another question. Is you angst against Christianity against all? Or, is it tied to your experience in the Fundie circles and projected at the rest? And perhaps you can tell us if you are the Ken of ASU, why would you give up such a distinguished career? Money? Or, was there some other reason that you no longer teach there? You see what you have done in your practice of deceit is to open up all kinds of questions about your motives and your past and your credibility.

I would encourage you in the future to be more forth-coming concerning your past. Dishonesty breeds contempt even if you have some economic purpose for it, even if there is some noble cause. You, and you alone fuel the speculation and skepticism concerning your past.

Daniel is not all wrong, is he? But, he is humble enough to apologize for over-reaching in his conclusions, the same could be said about me and others. But you also owe an apology. For it is you and the masks you put on that leads others astray.

We await it.

I still don't really understand why Christians here feel the need to discredit us former believers. It really does your cause no good. People believe and then disbelieve for a number of reasons, and that's all there is to it.

The discredit is deserved, especially when someone misrepresents themselves. And seeing as you do the same in your crusade against Christians, isn't that a dissonant thing to say, seeing that is what this is all about. And by saying that people believe and disbelieve all the time, are you saying that you are open to accepting the Gospel and are not settled upon your apologetic? And if so, why so adamant in persuing the conversion of the world to your transitory opinion? And again, since you know so much, then you also know that the belief of the disobedient is different than the belief of those in Christ, isn't it? I mean, you know that there is a qualitative differnce between the belief of devils, which is a true knowledge, and the faith of the saints as defined by Christian orthodoxy, even if you disagree with it. So, don't be elitist. Your system of beliefs attempts the same as Christianity, to define every system not within its orthodoxy as opposed to it, and you know it. Discrediting the opponent is what we and you are all about.

We know the reasonableness of exposing frauds like Ken, who indeed has fraudulently represented himself by his own admission though negation. He had to fess up, because he was found out. You on the other hand make it your business to discredit others. But dare level charges of hypocrisy here, posh.

Anyway why are you so hung up on "loving" the Lord as some definite proof of salvation? Salvation is not dependent upon my efforts (according to your theology)but is wholly dependent upon the Lord.

This is bogus, and you know it? The love of God is shed abroad in the hearts of his children, so loving the Lord is not distinctly self-effort, and you caricature, is immature, juvenile, sophomoric. You also know that the evidence of faith is perseverence in it. It could hardly be otherwise, what eternal life is granted by faith if it does not persevere? Which is why you cannot claim that you ever loved the Lord. Because you are not persevering. Again, you have shown you're dishonest. Daniel is justified, so is donsands and anyone else who wants to say so. You say you loved the Lord but he himself said that that was only true if you abide, persevere. What he has said himself is that those he draws will endure and will be raised up on the last day. You deny his word and him, yet say you loved him? Impossible.

Praise God for you donsands. You're right, and so is Daniel. It does pay to check the facts. And, I do thank Mr. Pulliam for taking of the disquise long enough to know him better and to confirm that his faith, if he persists in this vein, was always false.

Polycarp said...

Donsands and TUAD: Spot-on! Well said.



Former Fundy and John Loftus: I concur with Daniel's apology, since I applauded him for making the comments...only because you have taken them personally. As TUAD explained, it is your message that is the lie--a lie authored by satan that you two believe and are now committed to propigating. It is Satan's original lie, of which I understand you need no theological explanation, given your very much legitiimate background/credentials. As a sidebar to your experience, I've been thinking for about the last month or so that is is within Christian colleges that perhaps the absolute worst deception and destruction of the faith is occurring, not in the secular institutions, as I once thought. I can speak on this matter, having earned my BA and MA in a public university and my doctorate in a private school that, at some remote date in its history, was a solid, bible-believing institution. It now prides itself on its ethics and conservatism, as somehow these subsitute a commitment to sound Christian doctrine. I've taught in secular colleges for the past decade, and now I'm at a Christian institution; frankly, I find it to be a surreal and strange environment, as it was much clearer to know where and what my faith was in contrast to pagans; what I see now is an odd blurring of faith and paganism (especially in my division, the liberal arts).

So, what I really want to say to you both is that my heart breaks over your rejection of the gospel--the truth that perhaps the institutions you devoted so much of your life to may have seriously distorted in your mind first, then in your heart. I believe it is here, at the heart, that your issues reside as you have processed for years the strange mixing of academics and Christianity. When you look at the websites for various "Christian" colleges, one gets the impression that faith and higher ed are inextricably aligned with one another, and that somehow they should be. I disagree. However, I'm not advocating the idea that Christians should not be educated; to the contrary, they should use the minds God has given them and respond to whatever call He gives them, and that oftentimes means formal study at a university. On the other hand, I'm not advocating they should do so either because higher education is overrrated in my opinion, as it applies to all of society. For Christians who pursue an education, I think it far better for them to test their faith in an environment where lines are clearly drawn in the sand as they hold fast to their faith. It is in this environment, when accompanied by prayer, fellowship, and dependence upon God's word, that their faith will be strengthened amidst direct assaults against it. The "Christian college" experience, I think, is nothing but layer upon layer of compromise and hypocracy, affecting the spiritual lives of both students and faculty, the latter being impacted much more significantly. If Paul was here in the 21st century, in light of the way he debated with the philosophers of his day with such accuracy and clear declarations of gospel truth against the foolishness of men, I think he would agree with my position.

I will pray for the salvation of both of you, and that your past experiences might be erased from your minds.

Polycarp said...

I should add the fact that I think there is one exception to what I've said about the "Christian college" experience in the previous comment: The Master's College/Seminary!

It seems to be an oasis in the desert of Christian Colleges, as it knows nothing of compromise...from all I've heard and read about it. I wish I could have gone there, had I an opportunity to do it all over again.

GeneMBridges said...

Ken, glad to see you comment. Sorry that you were outted like this, and for their disrespect.

This is funny. Note how Loftus comes running to defend his honor and the honor of his compatriots but we have yet to see him issue any reprimands to men like Daniel Floriend over in this thread:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/09/stone-cold-liar.html

The double standard could not be greater.

And lest he make the claim that he doesn't peruse the comment streams on his own blog, one would have to wonder why he peruses a combox over over 100 comments on this blog without reviewing one less than 25 commments long on his own blog.

I still don't really understand why Christians here feel the need to discredit us former believers.

Again, a double standard. Here's some of what John has written recently:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/09/paul-manata-is-not-serious-thinker.html

Note carefully that, laced throughout this little essay/rant is the claim that Loftus is a "serious" thinker and Manata is not. Isn't that an attempt to "discredit" an opponent? Loftus is, in so many words, accusing Manata of being a liar, yet what does Loftus have a problem with over here on this blog - Christians calling members of Loftus' team "liars."

Thanks for the crocodile tears, John. One of Loftus' interminable problems, as we've pointed out more than once on Tblog is that Loftus hasn't really left Christianity behind. Sure, he professes disbelief, but he's not yet left Christian ethics behind him. He's afraid, and deeply so, of following his atheism to the logical end, as we've explained to him more than once, to eliminative materialism. Loftus has no principled basis for defending his honor or anyone else's for atheism has no principled basis for concepts such as objective right and wrong. There is no honor to defend, for we're just blobs of protoplasm. If we win, Loftus loses. If Loftus wins, he still loses. In the grand scheme of atheist ethics, there is no need for ethical truth and ethical falsehood.

Stefan said...

Ah, the existential dilemma.

From a purely evolutionary perspective, our only purpose in living is to propagate the species. That's it. End of story.

Sad story.

Stefan said...

Reminds me of the darkest night of my soul, back in the mid 90s, when God seemed like nothing more than an intellectual construct, and the Bible the work of mere men.

Former_Fundy said...

Strongtower,

I really don't understand why you think I have lied. In my Linkedin profile, I don't list my graduate degrees because they are not relevant to what I do. I list the Bachelors because in the business world you need a bachelors.

If you want to continue to think that I am a liar and fraud, be my guest. I am too busy to worry about you think.

Dan was a gentlemen in apologizing and I appreciate his spirit and tone.

I know you guys don't like me because I am a seen as a turncoat. Much like the Dem's hate Lieberman now because he has endorsed a Republican.

But my intellectual journey has led me to this point and I have to be intellectually honest with myself. It would have been a lot easier financially and emotionally to have continued in the ministry but as a matter of principle, I could not.

Strong Tower said...

I really don't understand why you think I have lied. In my Linkedin profile, I don't list my graduate degrees because they are not relevant to what I do. I list the Bachelors because in the business world you need a bachelors.

If you want to continue to think that I am a liar and fraud, be my guest. I am too busy to worry about you think.


So, you take the time to respond?

Right. A Bachelors of what? Your Bachelors Degree is more impressive than a Doctorate? I don't care what field a PhD is in, it establishes a level of intellectual acuity that towers above any Bachelors. It is a plus even if it is a diverse as a Bachelors in CIS and a PhD in Philosophy. But, maybe, you're not quite upon on what "impressive" means, in academic and the business world, eh?

Nice try though.

Seriously, if you have executive rank and are engaging in business with likeminded, wily, business minds, I would suspect that they go to greater lengths than just to examine your profile. Unless of course the cost/benefit risk is so low it doesn't matter. Then I guess it is rather silly to call your self President and CEO when at such a low level of risk, you're better titled a business manger. I have no idea of what your assets are or the level of cash flow, so I am just speculating. And with the way the economy is going it could be that it has been run by people who just don't care to investigate who they do business with and take high risks anyway. In either case, whether out of carelessness, which undermines your credibility, or out of deceit, the appeal to authority that you make seems like a shell. What is relevant here is truth, what is relevant in the business world is pizzazz and credentials, you know, credence, credibility, verifiability, knowing your enemy in a survival of the fittest, amoral world. Deception isn't always the rule out there in the world nor necessary, there are certain attributes, however, that are always trump cards in the hand of the players such as a PhD.

And, yes you do decieve, don't you? You put yourself off as a disaffected Christian, but you weren't one, really. You make the appeal to authority (your PhD) as if by that you know about God, but you do not. You had an intellectual relationship with the things of the Spirit, tasted its goodness, and you know full well what Scripture has to say about that, but are not being honest about it. You caricature Reformed theology, and that is not being honest, either.

You see, the hole you've dug is really deep and just because you cowed one person in to agreeing that you are at least standing on level ground, does not remove your subterranean status.

donsands said...

Strong Tower, what do you just say?

You left me in the dust my brother.

Carl said...

John Loftus wrote:

"I still don't really understand why Christians here feel the need to discredit us former believers."

Funny...if you remember the Scriptures, God has already discredited "former believers" (eg. - apostates) and has instructed believers what to do in the case of "former believers" whether they truly believed or just went through the motions and even deluded themselves into thinking they believed.

Hebrews 10:26-31

26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"[a] and again, "The Lord will judge his people."[b] 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

2 Peter 2:20-22

20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit,"[a]and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."

Titus 3:10,11

10Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. 11You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

John Loftus also wrote:

It really does your cause no good. People believe and then disbelieve for a number of reasons, and that's all there is to it.

Actually since what God has said about those who depart from the faith is clear in Scripture, Christians who point that out are actually doing the Christian cause good. The reasons people give concerning departing from the faith are worldly excuses and are irrelevant in God's sight.

Strong Tower said...

Did I say something?

I still don't agree that Mr Ken is a real straight shooter. Things just don't add up.

Phil Johnson said...

Sorry to be an absentee today. I missed the whole second half of this thread as it was unfolding. I'm going to reply to it in a follow-up post, not merely a comment. So watch the top of the blog.

For the record, however, I do (or at least did) know Ken Pulliam, and he is not lying about his academic background or his friendship with me.

I had lost track of him for several years (since around 1997 or so). He seemed to disappear from sight, and I am sorry to learn the reason why. But everything he has said here about his background and his degree from BJU is true.

Knowing Ken, I wouldn't assume that the reason for his omitting his academic credentials at Facebook or wherever is necessarily motivated by any sinister need to represent himself as something he is not. I wouldn't be quick to accuse him of lying.

To my friends and Pyro regulars: Do me a favor and give me a few hours to make one last post on this issue before we close the blog for October. Until I make that post, I'm going to close this comment-thread, lest things get entirely out of hand with emotions running high.

Incidentally, my own emotions are running very low, after reading my friend's account of his "deconversion." I'll be back with a post about it, Lord willing, before noon tomorrow (or as soon thereafter as posisble).

 
 
 
 
 
Aarrrrrgh!