Sites like the CWs, including their Facebook site, claim to be doing the Church and public a favour because they are exercising discernment, but is it enough to make the claim? Does self-titling entitle them to either authenticity or credibility?
Most of those who read their sites see opinion, bad reports, innuendo, gossip, tweet deconstruction, suggestion, conspiracy theories, and attempted guilt by association, which is one of their primary claims to discernment.
Let’s consider the advice and opinion of one of CW’s own recommended teachers. John McArthur actually lists guilt by association as a no-no when it comes to discernment, which should be based on what is being taught and lived, not on what someone else says or does.
We are not personally accountable to or for the opinions or theology of our friends and acquaintances. We are responsible for what we believe, say and do under Christ. Judge a person on their own words and deeds, not on the actions and preaching of people they may know.
Jesus hung out with crude fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, beggars, drinkers and losers. Are you going to judge him, as the Pharisees did, to be guilty by association? As Jesus says, “The physician comes for the sick, not for the well, for the sinner, not the righteous.” He mixed with a variety of people, all of whom were sinners. Did this mean he was guilty of the same transgressions? Of course not. That is a ridiculous assumption to make about anyone.
As McArthur intimates, guilt by association is not a basis for discernment. On the contrary, it is a false claim.
But what about the CW basis for discernment? Do they have one? What is their theology? I agree that we must be discerning. We need to be able to assess what is right or wrong when it comes to theology, doctrine, Bible interpretation and prophecy. However, there has to be a basis for this. There must be a foundation for discernment.
I agree, in some instances, with John McArthur, who says that to be discerning we must have a fixed theology – we must know the Word of God and stick to it as the basis for all belief and, therefore, discernment.
However, CW sites do not have a statement of beliefs. No fixed theology. In fact, they have a disclaimer on every site they run which states that “The opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the views of all contributors.” In other words, there could be any number of theological standpoints on which they base their articles, comments and arguments. According to McArthur, that is not a sound basis for discernment.
As we have seen in other posts, it is clear that CW heavily promotes Reformed theology in their recommended resources, sites and churches.
Yet, when they are challenged on this, they invariably claim that there are a number of points of view expressed on their site. In fact, when commenter ‘Q’ recently put up a very succinct, organised and persistent argument on this very subject, they not only banned him from commenting further, they removed every comment he made on the subject.
That’s not discernment. It’s control and manipulation of an argument. It’s also censorship.
John McArthur puts it this way, *“Discernment will only thrive in an environment of confrontation. Discernment will only thrive when you understand that there is antithesis and thesis, there is black and white, there is true and false, there is right and wrong, and you not only have a responsibility to proclaim the right, but to expose the wrong. That’s part of our responsibility as guardians of the truth.”
However, it’s plain to see that CW doesn’t allow confrontation. Well, let’s revise that. CW is confrontational when it comes to the ministries and individuals it criticises, but is averse to any confrontation to do with its own theology, or lack thereof.
It cannot accept that any of what it says may be proven to be inaccurate, unproven, or short on fact, either intentionally or unintentionally.
They claim to be guardians of the truth, but are afraid of truth when it is directed at their own opinion.
If someone seriously challenges their theology, opinion, perspective or motives, CW is more likely to remove their comments or heavily moderate any confrontation to their own point of view to take it out of the equation.
They manipulate, and, therefore, distort and falsify the conversation in the threads. They don’t like being exposed. They are happy to offend but refuse to be offended. They call well written and expressed opposition to their views the work of trolls. In short, they fear being shown to be wrong.
McArthur says, on this, *“Discernment cannot survive in an environment where people refuse to be polemical, where they refuse to debate or argue or test things or disagree or say something’s wrong. Discernment cannot survive in an environment where everybody’s concerned about somehow wiping out all that offends.”
So we would have to conclude from this that CW doesn’t have an expressed basis on which to process discernment.
They have a number of people using the same pseudonym, ‘chookwatcher’ – each, apparently, with a different theology. However, being hidden and secretive as they are, there is no way of determining whose doctrine we are reading unless we are familiar with their various writing styles, which is a ridiculous state of affairs, and wholly without credibility.
We are advised to be ‘Berean’ in attitude about everything that CW criticises, but not about what CW opines. This is an unacceptable double-standard displayed by all CW sites.
Again, this disqualifies them as an authentic discernment ministry.
At least, when reading someone like John McArthur, we know what his doctrine is, and what his perspective will be on any given Biblical subject. He is Reformed. He shouts it loud and clear and puts his actual name to it, and for this he must be respected regardless of whether we agree with him on everything or not.
This doesn’t make him a good or bad person or always right or wrong, but it does locate him so that we can discuss scripture with him at an adult level without censorship or of being afraid to be shown to be wrong. Surely we all want to learn. We all want to be teachable.
I also believe that we need to be open enough to be shown that we may be wrong about some things, and if someone can accurately show us this from the Bible we should be happy to be put right. No one but God knows it all. But we must believe something and be prepared to declare it, especially if we are going to claim to be ‘discernment ministries’.
As McArthur says, to be discerning we must have a fixed conviction. There is none expressed at CW sites, only assorted opinion. The only agreement they have is that they despise certain ministries.
They ask, often, what is the gospel, but can’t express it themselves because they have a number of undefined views. We could equally ask, ‘what is your theology, CW?’ ‘What is the basis for claiming to be a discernment blog?’
Increasingly, CW has been utilising secular media, news reports and gossip columns as sources for articles in their posts. They are using the opinions and claims of unsaved journalists who tend towards sensationalism. Is this discernment? Or is it spreading of gossip, discord and innuendo?
Knowing the Word
John McArthur tells us that we must base discernment on sound theology and understanding of the Word of God. We need to be able to articulate well why a certain theology is right or wrong. For this to be in any way accurate we must show that we are well established in Biblical theology ourselves.
We are all called to discernment, so we are all called to know the Word of God. There is no specific ‘discernment ministry’. It is not an office in the Body. The gift of discerning of spirits is not a blog ‘discernment ministry’ based on gossip, innuendo and tweet deconstruction. It is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit given as He wills when He wills. It is not a blog ministry!
We are equipped to discern right doctrine from wrong through the diligent study of the Word of God.
It would be better for CW to come out of their shell and reveal themselves, tell us what their theology is and show us the basis for their claims to be a discernment ministry. What do they have to lose? Nothing, in reality. That is, if, as they claim, they are true to the Word.
If God be for us, who can be against us!
*John McArthur info from the series on ‘Rules for Discernment’.