When we review some of the antics at the chookwatcher sites, we are generally fairly tongue in cheek about it, but there are occasions when their inept fact checking and lack of sophisticated journalism or Biblical merit compels us to adopt a more serious approach towards stern criticism of their methodology and claims.
An article which was critical of Dr Caroline Leaf, a recognised Neuroscientist who recently spoke at C3, carried so many elementary journalistic errors that it was important to note a few down.
But we’ll start this post with a potentially defamatory claim the chookwatchers made, where they wrote the following:
‘Jesus does not tolerate those who are false teachers in his kingdom – he calls them thieves and says that people like Phil Pringle, Chris Pringle and Caroline Leaf are here to kill, steal and destroy.’*
That is a very heavy statement to make on a public site, in the courtroom of blogdom, which demands, from the accusers, a full and accurate explanation, evidence and witnesses, because they are accusing recognised Christian elders. By this we do not mean that they produce anonymous testimony or opinion, but facts from people who are willing to name themselves and face the scrutiny their accusations deserve.
In an attempt to emphasise their point, the chookwatchers add scripture from John 10 which, it is generally understood, is actually referring to and exposing the adversary, satan, not people, as the thief who comes to kill, steal and destroy.
We are told by Paul that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, that is, people, but against spiritual darkness led by the evil one who is the enemy of God. The devil himself is identified as the stranger who attempts to enter the wrong way, whose voice Jesus’ sheep do not recognise. Not only this, but Jesus defeated the devil at the cross, and stripped him of all authority over believers.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who guards and keeps us, whose voice the sheep know and trust. That is the analogy.
Thus the chookwatcher entity anonymously takes scripture completely out of context to name and falsely accuse three wonderful people of being here to kill, steal and destroy.
No only this, but they erroneously claim that it is Jesus who has accused these ministers of God of being here to kill, steal and destroy, even though Jesus assures us he did not come to condemn the world, but that the world, through him, might be saved. Jesus is not the accuser. He is the Deliverer.
Further to this, chookwatcher makes the assertion that Dr Leaf is a fraud, and unqualified.
‘According to Christ, His Apostles and God’s Holy Word – Dr Caroline Leaf is a fraud.’
This is a disgraceful claim, and completely without substance. Dr Leaf is recognised in her field of neuroscience as not only accredited, credentialed and highly qualified but is an authority.
Then there is an even greater stinger to the story, because, in a very frank and telling admission, chookwatcher makes the following statement (our emphasis):
‘WE DO NOT KNOW what Caroline Leaf actually taught at C3′s Every Woman’s Conference. However, her instagram teachings may give us a clue.’
Did you get that? They do not know what Dr Leaf actually taught at the C3 Women’s Conference. They state that instagrams may give a clue. May? You mean you don’t know? May give a clue? A clue? Not an answer? Nothing concrete, factual or actual, but a clue? A possible clue? A maybe clue?
So there is nothing at all conclusive about anything in their post that the chookwatchers say. Nothing in their misguided article, where they claim three innocent people are here to kill, steal and destroy, has an ounce of substance, evidence or proof, but is all built on maybes and speculation out of snippets from tweets and Instagram clips.
They did not hear a single word she said at the conference they are highlighting, or take note of anything Dr Leaf ministered, but, incredibly, the chookwatchers relied for their journalism and accusations on a few headlines sent out by Dr Leaf to her followers via Instagram.
Even though Dr Leaf has a Phd in cognitive neuroscience, is recognised by her peers, and has a good reputation in her field, they call her a fraud, and refuse to call her Doctor, even though she has an earned doctorate, preferring to diminish her title in their article to “Dr”, adding the inverted commas in a demonstration of complete disrespect.
They do not know a single sentence she spoke in the meetings, but these anonymous, uncredentialled, unauthorised, faceless, nameless critics consider themselves authentic, knowledgable and expert enough to level completely false accusations against a minister of God who is invited to speak to women about issues affecting them from a perspective of her recognised field of science and the Word of God.
Woman speaks at women’s conference
Yet they have the gall to claim that Dr Leaf is fraudulent and rebellious. Yes, they also claim her to be rebellious because, being a woman, she spoke at a women’s conference. I kid you not.
They claim that a woman speaking at a women’s conference is rebellious because she is teaching publicly. They misrepresent scripture, claiming women shouldn’t speak in public settings, even at women’s conferences. For this she is labelled rebellious.
These people have no credibility, nor do they have the decency to at least attempt to find out what was taught in these meetings before making such wild claims. But it is the epitome of wilful ignorance to make the claim that a woman shouldn’t address other women in a women’s conference, even with the public endorsement of the senior ministers and her husband.
I did take the time to find out what Dr Leaf’s ministry was like, and what she was asked to teach, because I had not heard of her ministry, and, in putting together this critique of the chookwatcher’s errant journalism, I felt it best to discover what her ministry was about.
It took a few minutes of searching to discover that there was material available from the weekend she was at C3, so I watched a message and read a concise outline and notes of her message. I found it very interesting.
Fully endorsed ministry
Up front, though it was public meeting, she was introduced by the senior pastors of the church, which means she was endorsed and not usurping the authority of anyone. Secondly, she was further introduced by her husband, who was present, so she was also authorised by the head of her household under Christ.
Her message was rich with reference to scripture and glorified God. She pointed people to Christ. She admonished people to be led by the Spirit. She encouraged her audience to study the Word of God and check everything against it.
Entering her specialist subject, she spoke of issues to do with how the mind and brain functions and how our actions and reactions are governed by our spiritual connection with God and His Word. She was articulate, inspirational, clear and spoke with the authority of both her field of science and understanding of the Word of God.
If the chookwatchers would spend more time listening to this kind of helpful message rather than pulling people down they have no business attacking, without even taking the time or having the decency of listening to what they have to say, they would be able to get their minds and thinking in line with the Word of God rather than making false claims about godly people.
Then there was the snide attack on Dr Leaf because of her name. This was connected with a few tweets made by Ps Chris Pringle, who is known as a wonderful, Jesus-loving, motherly, praying, caring, colourful, loving, feminine person with a big heart for souls, and compassion for people in general, which is why so many people view her with such a high degree of love, trust and affection.
She spoke, in a couple of tweets, to followers, of ‘growing healthy tree thoughts’, which, to anyone who is familiar with the Word of God, or knows Ps Chris, is clearly referring to being planted by the rivers of living water, and flourishing in the House of God.
The Psalmist spoke of trees, leaves and health. Proverbs speaks of trees, leaves and health. Jesus talked about trees, fruit and healthy living based on the Word and Spirit. They are analogies. Clearly, her reference was to this, and only a very unknowledgeable or wilfully cynical person would not acknowledge this.
Yet the chookwatchers completely ignored the references in the Bible and mocked these women of God for telling people to be joined to Vine and remain healthy branches producing fruit for the kingdom. They publicly cajoled them for encouraging women to be planted by the rivers of living water where where they would flourish and produce good fruit and their leaves would be green and healthy. It is a call to holiness, submission and continuance in Christ.
Telling Psalm exposes the scoffers
So let’s look at one of the references to trees, leaves and health, from the very first Psalm. It tells us all we need to know about these chookwatchers and about those who prefer to stay away from their false claims and accusations.
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
The analogy is clear, and repeated throughout scripture.
But the scoffers at the chookwatcher sites have no clue about what the Word of God says or how it should be applied in the Spirit. They are consumed by the letter of the law, and not the Spirit of the Word. The commentary on the thread linked to their article is filled with strange, unconnected references to ministries that have nothing to do with C3 or Dr Leaf as the chookwatcher clan extends the narrative they contrive.
Here’s how they conclude their fake journalistic attempt with yet another error of judgment and false claim against Phil and Chris Pringle and Dr Leaf. ‘It’s only a matter of time before the pit swallows them’ they boasted, as if their shonky journalistic investigation has any credence with anyone but the handful of meme-driven followers who frequent their sites. As if anyone in their right mind would not see through the complete inadequacy of their journalistic attempt at discrediting godly people.
No, the truth is that it is the scoffers who are the chaff that will be judged, and it is those who are planted by the rivers of water who will thrive.
The chookwatchers claim on their sites that they judge people righteously and are empowered by Jesus to do so. They claim that their love is made evident by their judgment, yet they produce scurrilous false journalism like this article which has no basis in fact, no evidence, and where they even admit that they did not hear a single word spoken at the C3 Women’s Conference. It was all just speculation, like so many of their articles and claims.
There is no love in the articles against Dr Leaf. There is no righteous judgment. There is speculation and innuendo. There are false accusations and defamatory claims.
If they want to show righteous judgment in love let them look at the plank in their eye and see their need of repentance from this line of attack and set themselves before God to ask forgiveness for their lack of sincerity and willingness to give offence to others.
Most of their recent articles are based on social media clips, on tweets, on promotions for books or conferences, on instagrams, on snippets of information. They do not do any homework, no investigative journalism, never approach the people they falsely accuse for an explanation, or a qualification, or a response.
They write many words based on their opinion, but nothing of substance. They use scripture out of context. They hide behind a pretext. Yet they believe they have the authority, despite their anonymity, to publicly state that innocent people are being accused by Jesus Christ the Saviour, which is an affront to Jesus.
Many of the recent chookwatcher articles have been attacks on women in ministry. It’s time they looked at what they are doing and seek God for the love they lack. What they are doing is not love. It’s not Christian. It has nothing to do with Christ.
May God forgive them and open their eyes.
There was much more we could point out about this article that was speculative and short of fact or based solely on opinion not substance, but we’ve hit the main points of controversy.
The best thing we can do is stay fixed to the Vine, allow the Vinedresser to prune us, nurture and nourish us, so that we will flourish in the courts of our God, planted by the rivers of living water, where our leaves will not lose their freshness, and our fruit will be of the Vine, and remain.
This is where walking in love is really put to the test.
* screen grab 19/11/2014