In my career at Pirate Christian Radio there have been a few instances where I have been raked over the internet coals and people have called for my head on a platter because I have refused to agree with a blogger or a radio talk show host in their call to damn this person or that person. Each time that has happened it has exposed that the person that I was refusing to agree with was on a witch hunt and was not interested in the truth. They had made themselves judge, jury and executioner and any who would dare to disagree with their verdict found their personal reputations destroyed and their salvation questioned, no matter how dubious and one-sided the “facts”.
One particular example of this was back in November of 2010. At that time I had been conducting research on the Emergent Church Movement. One of the visible leaders of that movement, Dan Kimball had privately reached out to me and requested to meet with me so that I can interview him. The reason he reached out to me was because he was being misrepresented on several notable discernment blogs and he felt that I was someone more interested in the truth than in being right.
I agreed to meet with Dan and we had a very productive day. No questions were off the table and we spent the day walking around Fairmount, Indiana visiting the grave of James Dean, checking out the Indian Motorcycle Shop while we discussed doctrine and theology. In the course of our time together it became patently clear that what certain bloggers were saying about Kimball’s theology was not even close to what he actually believed, taught and confessed. Unlike other leaders in the Emergent Movement Dan was not denying the core doctrines of the faith. What I had learned was explosive. I made the decision to interview Dan on the air and knew when that program went out onto the internet air-waves that I was going to be made to suffer for daring to speak to Dan and allowing him, in his own voice to contradict what these discernment bloggers and radio talk show host had said about Dan’s theology.
Photos by Chris Rosebrough ©2010
I was right. November 15, 2010 began several weeks of hell. Sadly, the bloggers and radio talk show host who misjudged Dan Kimball did not repent for publishing false information about him. They dug in and hunkered down and launched a series of blog posts and radio shows dedicated to discrediting me. Several of the readers of these discernment blogs decided to take it upon themselves to go to war against me on social media. My FaceBook blew up. My Twitter melted down. People were calling for my resignation. People were claiming I had betrayed Christ. Some were saying I had joined the Emergent Church. Many financial supporters canceled their support. I was accused of siding with my new friend Dan Kimball while betraying my brothers in Christ and I was accused of being grossly inconsistent. I was being damned for not damning.
The experience was painful and exhausting but well worth it.
It was then that I learned the difference between discernment and witch hunts, between journalism and propaganda. I also learned that primary source evidence trumps all other evidence. But most importantly I learned that lies are the native language of the devil (John 8:44) and they can never be employed in service to Christ, the Gospel or His Kingdom no matter how well meaning the person is who employed them.
This past week, yet again the internet has exploded this time regarding Tullian Tchividjian and Dan Price. Both men have been the subject of recently launched “discernment” witch hunts. Both of them are having their character’s murdered by a bunch of half-truths, suppressed evidence, and skewed narratives. How do I know? Because of primary source evidence.
This has prompted me to publicly stand up for these men even though they are known (repentant and absolved) sinners. The reward for doing this has been people claiming I’ve betrayed Christ, insisting that I support spiritual and sexual abusers, claims that I am inconsistent in how I treat my friends, and the canceling of financial support. Bloggers have taken it upon themselves to destroy my reputation. In short, once again I am being damned for not damning.
The experience has been painful and exhausting but well worth it.
It is one thing to have a theological discussion about someone’s theology, their view of sanctification or debate whether or not someone can or should be restored to ministry after a serious moral failing. But, it is something completely different to set out to murder the reputation of a fellow believer in Christ by launching a scorched earth campaign against their very person and then damn anyone who speaks out against the “verdict” of the arsonists.
But, be it known, I have not nor will I ever participate in a witch hunt, internet mob lynching or a scorched earth campaign against someone’s person. These do not serve the cause of the gospel, they do not build or protect the body of Christ. Instead, they only tear her apart.
I am far more interested in the truth than I am about being right.