In a remarkable defence of chookwatcher on his irate Christian radio program,Chris Rosebrough claims that Ps Juergen Matthesius uses ad hominem to attack the chook-meister.

Juergen is actually pointing out that the chookwatchers are an authority to themselves, and have no recognised oversight to guide or correct them.

This is easily borne out by their anonymity, and the fact that there is more than one chookwatcher encapsulated within the pseudonym. How can an anonymous critic have any authority to criticise a named believer?

There are very clearly explained guidelines for accusation of an elder pointed out in scripture, and the chookwatchers meet none of the criteria.

Disqualified by their anonymity

Rosebrough, however, misses this crucial point, and continues, as ever, to intercede for chookwatcher. Surely, as a critic, he has to see the complete hypocrisy and futility of anonymous criticism.

And, of course, how can a verbal serve against an anonymous critic possibly be considered ad hominem?

Anything said about a pseudonym cannot be said to be against the person because the person has chosen to be a nom-de-plume. They could be anyone. There is no evidence that they are even Christians, or in attendance at a church, let alone authorised to criticise elders.

They have declined the oft made request to declare their credentials and oversight. They have been asked to reveal whether they attend a church and therefore come under the oversight of a recognised leader, but refuse to confirm these important details.

Observation and opinion is not ad hominem

However, it should be pointed out that what Rosebrough calls ad hominem is actually strong criticism of the attitude of the critics. It is the opinion of the person speaking, not strictly ad hominem.

Juergen claims that they are against successful ministries and target them on the basis of their popularity and numerical success, and this, arguably, could be seen to be the case. That is an observation, not an ad hominem attack.

Unverified claims

Rosebrough claims that he knows the chookwatchers‘ oversight, and it is true that some of them may be attending local churches, but it is not definite that all do, nor, of course, that Rosebrough’s claim is verified. Their anonymity excludes them from this scrutiny, yet Rosebrough defends them as if they are innocent in this regard.

He also claims that their authority, despite their anonymity, is scripture itself, quoting Jude’s reference to contending for the faith. Well, the same could be said of anyone who claims to be a Christian.

The JWs would make the same claim. As would the Catholics, or the Orthodox Eastern Church, or even Lutherans, or cessationists, or continuationists, or Adventists. These have a variety of interpretations of scripture, some almost completely opposed to others.

God, on the other hand, has appointed elders and overseers to lead the Body in the name of Jesus.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

The point being raised by Juergen is that being anonymous we cannot know where the chookwatchers‘ authority to criticise elders from other churches comes from in terms of oversight. Who corrects them if they are in error? Who calls them to account?

We cannot know because we do not know who they are, nor do they want their identities to be known.

They are, as he points out, a law unto themselves.