This henpecking development limits discussion to their own point of view. But, look, if a site has an approval rating for commenters, it must be based on some kind of identifiable standard.
So what is the key doctrine being utilised down in the chook-pen?
We should remind you, before continuing, of two things.
First… the controlling entity ‘chookwatcher‘ is not just one chook, but is a generic term for all of their moderators. This way they believe they can criticise people, ministries and leaders without revealing their true identity. Several critics can anonymously hide behind a single nom-de-plume. This is a kind of corporate identity concealment exercise.
To date they have revealed no Biblical precedent for their anonymity as judges of Christian character, virtue and theology, despite the fact that Christ firmly told us not to hide our light under a bushel, and that we who preach the truth would suffer persecution just as He did.
Was Christ anonymous? No! Were His disciples anonymous? No! Were the Apostles anonymous? No! Were they persecuted for their faith, message and vocation? Yes! Did everyone know who they were? Yes!
So, when assessing doctrine, are we supposed to be anonymous as we name others? Do we claim potential persecution for ourselves or our loved ones as an excuse for anonymity when it comes to our witness? Not according to Christ. And our families, if they are believers, are in this with us, surely. Rather, we should expect persecution for the gospel’s sake, and it is, in fact, a crown to us.
Second… chookwatchers have, for some time, claimed that they hold a number of different doctrinal views. There is even a disclaimer to this effect.
Recently, however, whilst they remain anonymous, there has been a clear progression into Reformed doctrine.
1 Reformed theology Recommended
Reformed theology, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing, and it is not our desire to claim it is right or wrong, but it means that chookwatcher sites are firmly aligned with ministries they champion, such as John McArthur, a Reformed preacher, R C Sproul, said to be the foremost Reformed theologian today, Justin Peters, a Reformed apologist, all of whom also have cessationist tendencies, and Apprising Ministries, whose articles are often quoted in full in posts, and a number of other Reformed/cessationist sources.
Throughout their commentary and criticism there is reference to Reformed theology and practices. Entire posts are entered using Reformed sources and articles.
2 Reformed Churches Recommended
Alongside this, chookwatchers have begun listing chookwatcher-approved churches, the vast majority of which are Reformed. Even the single charismatic church cited in their list of recommended churches is part of a growing movement headed up by a charismatic Calvinist.
Again, there is nothing particularly controversial about these churches, unless you are not a 5 Point Calvinist, but the listing places the chookwatcher sites firmly in the Reformed camp.
3 Reformed Resources Recommended
Then there is the chookwatcher recommended resource list, placed in the sidebars of all four chookwatcher sites, which are predominantly Reformed and cessationist in nature.
Again, this, in itself, is not necessarily wrong or unusual in the Body. Many believers are Calvinists or Reformed, but it places chookwatcher sites at the very heart of Reformed doctrine, and, although some contributors would regard themselves as non-cessationist, it nevertheless recommends cessationist doctrine, churches, resources and theology.
One of the few exceptions to the out and out Reformed theology rule is Chris Rosebrough, to whom they often refer, who is a Lutheran, but, in line with other chookwatcher-recommended ministries, he has messages which clearly indicate a cessationist tendency.
Basis of chookwatcher theology and criticism
What does this mean for Hillsong and C3 as far as the critical input at the chookwatcher sites? It means that chookwatcher articles and commentary will be approached from a Reformed, cessationist perspective, akin to John McArthur’s Strange Fire conference hypothesises.
Strange Fire, which chookwatcher heavily promoted and featured, was a series of meetings which promoted Reformed, cessationist theology, but, more crucially, came directly against charismatic and, to an extent, recent Pentecostal teaching which promotes the gifts of the Spirit, miracles, healing, deliverance, speaking in tongues, prophecy and operations of the Spirit as current and not ended, the complete opposite to cessationist teaching.
Chookwatcher has gradually drawn closer to the Reformed position, and actively utilises Reformed, cessationist resources and theology to underpin their criticism of movements, churches and ministries which teach that the gifts, ministry and power of the Holy Spirit have not ended.
Typical responses from chookwatchers to any criticism of the chookwatcher Reformed position
Anyone, it seems, who comments on their site and doesn’t comply with their generally stated Reformed doctrine will receive one or all of three responses, especially if they approach the criticism with anything like a non-Reformed argument, or an alternative view to a claimed exegesis of a passage of scripture.
One… *dissenters will be opposed, often in the strongest terms, by the chookwatcher clan, sometimes accompanied by ridicule and severe questioning of not just the commenter’s doctrine, theology and faith, but their very salvation is often called into question. The chookwatcher approach can only be described as very condescending on many issues. They justify their confrontational style by claiming that they are imitators of Jesus.
Two… dissenters’ doctrine will be heavily scrutinised and measured against the generally accepted Reformed theology. This is becoming the prevailing theology at the chookwatcher sites.
Often there will be a dismissive comment in response to dissent which cannot satisfy any Biblical qualification, such as, ‘so-and-so is not a pastor’, or ‘it is a cult’, or ‘they are not a brother’, and the like, which is an opinionated and lazy way of saying they can’t be bothered to defend their position with any kind of merit or accuracy. It is one of their great weaknesses when it comes to what they consider discernment.
(The exception, for them, would be if a regular commenter were to decry all that C3 or Hillsong stand for and then raise a non-Reformed argument, which will be tolerated, but receive a pro-Reformed response, nevertheless.)
Three… if dissenters persist with their argument, they will be assessed by the highly secretive chookwatcher moderation board, and, if not considered acceptable, will be stamped with disapproval and ostracised. This generally takes place when a dissenter persists with a strong argument or a Biblical standard which demonstrates Christlikeness and points out the chookwatcher inadequacies.
In short, the chookwatcher moderation collective will publicly state that they are not approved.
This means that discussion over theology is effectively reduced to the opinion and doctrinal stance of the chookwatcher moderation collective, whether their theology is shown to be right or wrong.
As these are ostensibly anonymous people, there is no internal comeback on them if they are wrong, they are not answerable to anyone known or declared publicly to be in oversight of them or their theology, and no statement of faith is revealed anywhere on their site to define their theological position or orthodoxy.
On this very important point, the ministries they oppose, being mainly C3 and Hillsong, are streets ahead of the chookwatcher sites, because they do have orthodox statements of belief clearly revealed on their primary sites.
If any eagles are thinking of swooping down and making a comment at the chookwatcher sites, it would behove them to bear in mind that they are entering a hostile and exclusive environment which doesn’t tolerate dissent or an opposing argument, regardless of how Biblically sound your comments might be.
*By dissent, I don’t necessarily mean an aggressive or forceful argument, although it can be, albeit without being inciteful, but, rather, a Biblical apologetic or scriptural point of view which counters others’ beliefs, whether as a soft answer which turns away wrath, or as a firm rebuke, correction, or instruction to virtuous living. Giving offence by means of the gospel is not unacceptable.