Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

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When ever I choose to confront gross, spiritual error head-on, I always take a bit of a risk. Like squirting a water hose up at a big wasp nest hanging on the side of the house. That is just one of the hazards of blogging with any amount of substance and then inviting readers to leave feed back: the conspiracy trolls become agitated.

My most recent troll encounter involves a post from last week where I linked to an article I wrote addressing the spiritual danger Christians face if they embrace a belief in conspiracy theories. Believe me, there are folks out there in many churches whose lives are fully consumed by conspiracy theories. In a way it is a grievous spiritual bondage that only serves to keep the person ensnared to fear or off balance concerning the things of Christ.

Of course, the conspiracy believer thinks he knows truth and is standing up for truth and warning the people of God about the "truth." Sadly, however, his perception of reality is warped and all the time he spends documenting his chosen conspiracy for those who may listen is really of no spiritual value in the long run. It is merely comprised of wood, hay, and stubble, and it will only be burned up in the end (1 Cor. 3:12-15).

Along with my link to an article I wrote about Christians and conspiracy theories, I linked to a web article written by one of our more unusual John MacArthur/Grace Church critics from over the years named Bob Johnson. Bob is of the opinion - an opinion he formed after one visit - that Grace has succumb to Purpose Driven Life philosophy, Marxist-Hegelian beliefs, and other nefarious church growth ideas.

If you were to force yourself to stumble your way through his deranged document, you will discover he despises small fellowship groups. The leaders of the small groups "brainwashes" all the participants to think like the larger group - think like the "One World Government." Moreover, he is critical of teams of Christians going out on a Saturday to serve a single mother with two kids by helping her around the house and baby-sitting her children so she can have a free day to go shop. Why this is bad is something of a mystery. At any rate, according to Bob, coming together in one accord so as to have unity in Christ, and groups of believers serving those in need within the Body of Christ, are really satanic "change agents" looking to undermine the Church.

Amazing, I know.

Well, Bob has some sycophants who feel it is their sworn duty to defend Bob's charges. So with in just a matter of hours I receive comments from at least two, possibly three, Bob supporters (I think one of them was the Bob in question), adding supplemental material to Bob's article and accusing me of being a "damage controller."

Most of their comments I deleted because they were naming people at my church as being "change agents" of the devil in this grand conspiracy and I refused to allow them to slander their character. However, to give you a bit a flavor of how these folks think, allow me to interact with a comment left by "Charles."

After naming one of our elders at Grace, he accuses him of, "[sitting] on the board of Leadership Resources International, a church growth org. THIS IS A FACT!" Hmmm...? And what exactly is sinful about church growth exactly? Particularly if it is biblically based church growth? If you check out the website of the group in question, it is pretty clear to me they have a desire to train leaders to be biblical and to impact their communities for the gospel. Why this is a bad thing is never explained. I guess it is because the group may employ some secular ideas of management to help with the practical implications of some of their goals.

Commenters aside, what strikes me as most predictable about a conspiracy troll like "Charles" is the anonymity. As soon as I read a wacky conspiracy comment I know, with almost absolute certainty, that when I click the blogger profile it will be "Not Found" or "Not Available." No personal information on the person exists. If there is a profile, the person has created some user name like 'truthseeker" or "benotdeceived." Never is there any information about who the person really is, what he or she does, perhaps where they attend church.

When pressed for this basic information, the usual excuse is "I don't put personal information on the web." That is a bogus response, because no one is asking for anything personal like a house address. An even lamer excuse is, "It doesn't matter who I am, you need to deal with my arguments." Come on, we just want to know a bit about who you are so as to gain some insight as to why you have chosen to fixate on the conspiracy under discussion. If the person claims to be a Christian, well then certainly he attends a church somewhere. I would like to know what church it is and whether or not the pastor knows one of his congregants adheres to such bizarre views of the world. If he is married, does his wife care that he has wrapped himself in these alternative histories of the world?

Honestly, I personally think the cloak of anonymity is cowardly, if not also lazy. If the troll is genuinely concerned about exposing the transformation of Grace, they will come out and put a face on their profile. At least Bob has the guts to come and protest at our Shepherd's Conference.

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Blogger Fred Butler said...

OK Trolls,
You can leave your comments, but be warned that if you slander any of my friends by name, your comment will be deleted immediately.

10:31 AM, March 17, 2009  
Blogger JOYce ~♥~ said...

Be praying for you, Fred. No-see-ums(kindas sortas), too.

Thanks for sharing the street smarts ~ I've certainly led a very sheltered life. Until the blogosphere and www in general, had a bit of but not the bigger view of the plethora of perspectives that have been roaming around. Spot on and not. Sifting. Sorting.

Good day to you ~*~

11:12 AM, March 17, 2009  
Blogger Shinar Squirrel said...

Oh, Fred, so very, very true!

I've also noted that they will never tell you what they believe to be true, only how much what you believe is false. They are glad to attack you, while avoiding totally the need to defend their own beliefs, or to stand for examination of any kind.

Take care, and keep your head down! :-)

The Squirrel

12:48 PM, March 17, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

That's a good point I should have brought out. Rarely, if ever, do I hear these guys provide any positive defense of the truth they do believe. It is all just criticism of what is suppose to be a lie.


1:30 PM, March 17, 2009  
Blogger Charles E. Whisnant said...


Can you address what by Kent Brandenburg has address over on his blog? On this issue of secondary Biblical separation. Since you are close and in the church, I thought you would have a closeup comment. To save me I can't figure out why there is such an issue.

4:13 PM, March 17, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Are you talking about his weird rant against "facebook?" I guess I was thinking he was saying something against Grace and John? Is there a specific point he is making you have a question about?

I think his views on facebook are just odd. I have never encountered the type of problem he is describing from anyone of my friends or their friends. Maybe KJV onlyists have problems with facebook. Beats me.

4:39 PM, March 17, 2009  
Blogger charles said...

Many Christians know the truth about Grace Church and its transformational leadership. But most will never read this blog.

The title above this box says "Leave your comment." Blogger is a forum for comments. It's a place where facts and truths can be proclaimed and debated. It's not about "who" blogs but "what" is blogged. It's perfectly OK for bloggers to remain anonymous if they wish. And I believe it is wrong and presumptuous for you, Fred, to label an anonymous blogger a coward. Blogger even allows an opportunity for Grace Church employees to speak truth about their leadership without reprisal. Furthermore, it is time consuming to create new blogger identities.

3:16 AM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger donsands said...

"It's not about "who" blogs but "what" is blogged."

However, "what" doesn't have authority really, unless we know "who". Or at the least, it would have more to say, if we know "who" said it.

If I'm discussing the Scriptures, and truth, with a Mormon, it would be helpful for me if I knew he was a Mormon. It helps me a lot to know who I am speaking with, and where they are coming from.

I really don't get the Anonymous people like you charles. there's a place for being Anonymous, like support groups, but it doesn't seem to apply here on blogs.

4:51 AM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Blogger even allows an opportunity for Grace Church employees to speak truth about their leadership without reprisal. Furthermore, it is time consuming to create new blogger identities.

(Fred) Charles, Don said it well: If you are going to bring severe accusations against a body of believers, in this case, Grace Community Church, it is imperative we know who you are. In fact, it is biblical. The Bible has no instance of being "anonymous" when confronting serious error in a church.

However, what you wrote in your last paragraph is troubling. Are you saying you are a current employee of Grace? That you are fomenting these types of accusations against your own employer? In the comments under my original post on this subject from last week, you berated me for not wanting to speak the truth against Grace by saying I choose the security of my job and friends over the well being of the Church. Are you not doing the exact same thing?

If you are an employee, Charles, of Grace, this is pretty serious of you to be speaking evil against them in this way.


5:48 AM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger DJP said...



7:30 AM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger Greg said...

"Furthermore, it is time consuming to create new blogger identities."

It took me less than two minutes.

8:54 AM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I love your "about me" section of your profile.

9:08 AM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger Greg said...

Thanks, Fred. If there's one thing I learned in life it's to get straight to the point.

11:01 AM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger charles said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:37 AM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Charles, you broke my stipulation I made with the first comment. You don't name anyone. I am not trying to "damage control" or what ever you may wish to believe, but the person in question is being innocently implicated in a conspiratorial plot that is just pure fantasy, and such an implication is slander.

More directly to your comment, however, you stated,

Fred, you make a mistake by saying I speak "evil" of Grace Church. Since when are facts evil? Facts are facts.

Facts have to be interpreted, Charles, and in the discussion at hand, the interpretation you and others are bringing to these facts by spinning them with lies and drawing the conclusions your are from them about people who attend my church is simply sinful.

Of course, you are ignoring what I raised with your previous comment. That being, are you employed by Grace?


12:10 PM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger charles said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:33 PM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Again charles, I don't know what it is with you and your insistence with breaking my simple request. You have absolutely no tact at all.

Go back up and deal with the substance of what I have asked you. It may be a fact a person is involved with a particular group. The issue is that you are assigning sinful activities to that group and that person when such is not warranted. Remember, it is not facts in and of themselves, but the interpretation of facts. I believe your interpretation of the facts is wrong headed and misguided and because of that, you implicating an elder at Grace in some conspiracy is sinful. Are you getting what I am saying?


10:17 PM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger charles said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:16 PM, March 19, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Okay Charles,
You had your opportunity at least three times and I find it sadly pathetic you can't abide by a simple request to leave personal names out of the discussion.

So, that was your last shot. Because there is absolutely no profit in continuing this discussion, I am closing the comments.

5:38 AM, March 20, 2009  

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