From time to time this site is drowned in angry messages. If they are rude, crude, or abusive, they do not appear on the blog. Josh and Rev N have challenged me to think about the limits of free speech on private blogs. I’m not sure how wrong I’ve been in my actions, but am willing to change my stance going forward. If you have anything to add to this discussion, your contributions will be most welcome.
- How can we be less like the world in our online speech?
- How can we be faithful to the Word of God, while being kind to one another?
Five examples of people who have been moderated
People don’t like it when their comments are truncated. If you go to the trouble of writing a comment on a blog, you want people to read all of your words exactly as you expressed them. Conflict occurs when what you’ve said goes contrary to the spoken or unspoken rules of the blog-owner.
One error I’ve made is to assume that others share my assumptions of what constitutes proper Christian behavior. Another is my failure to state clearly when and how I will moderate comments.
In a comment thread on another blog Ducky tried to discredit me by revealing my past history of reading tarot cards. This had nothing to do with what was being discussed. Ducky revealed it only to smear me and derail the conversation.
Ducky makes no pretense of being a Christian. He has many valuable things to say, such as his comment on Photographs and memories. It really surprised me that he took such a cheap shot.
2. Dan Trabue
Dan Trabue presents himself as an innocent Christian lamb who only wants to spread peace and love. Yet he’s been banned from many Christian blogs for years behavior to the contrary. When people catch on to his game, he zeroes in with invective and abuse.
On the While it’s yet day version of this website there was a page with extensive documentation about Dan Trabue. He objected that the page might interfere with his ability to get a new job. Out of kindness to him, the page has been removed under the condition that he stops his aggressive behavior against orthodox Biblical Christians. If he crosses my path again, the page About Dan Trabue will go back up.
Some information about him is still availble online here.
3. Rev. N
Rev. N is a retired Lutheran pastor who made many helpful comments. Then one day he submitted a long entry of 190 words unrelated to the subject of the post. The comment was harshly critical of the government. And it brought in the topic of geocentricity.
The resulting email exchange became a character assassination attack on me. This otherwise kind and respectful Christian man suddenly seemed unwilling to give me any benefit of the doubt because I had wrongly misunderstood his comment to be relating to flat earth.
I was wrong for misreading what he said, and have apologized to him.
4. Don Vega
Don Vega left a harsh and abusive comment which showed little evidence of Christian grace. You can see a somewhat less aggressive tone in his comments at Extra Nos.
When his comment did not appear on this blog, he proceeded to slander me online. He also continued to paper me with email messages after 3 separate requests for him not to contact me again. I can’t print the profanity he used.
Here’s my public response:
Don (or Ron) Vega, Since you have chosen to slander me publicly here, let me clarify that all comments on my blog are moderated. Your behavior is an example of why this is the case. Your comment above was never published on my blog, so it could not have been "kilcreased" as you put it. Perhaps I am pompous, but I'm too aware of my own failings, limitations and difficulties to be either uber-pious or sanctimonous. You must be confusing me with others. But that is not my concern. What does concern me is the shame you bring on Christians and Christianity by your rude and aggressive behavior. As I wrote to you privately: Please do not contact me again. We have obviously different ideas about what constitutes Christian behavior and belief. Let's let it go at that. Your comment here is just like the ones you made at Extra Nos. Just because Bobby hit his sister, doesn't mean that you are not wrong for the things you do. Just go.
My respect for Josh has grown through our email interactions this week. He makes the following charges against me:
I call him out for apostasy yet refuse to debate issues
If my theology is so strong, then I must argue my point with him
I believe that “all my readers can’t think for themselves”
I censor posts
Here are my answers to Josh. I am open to critique if I am missing essential points. Josh seems to assume that blogs are free speech zones and that bloggers must allow discussion and debate. I do not agree.
Censorship and personal blogs
A blog is a personal journal - Web-log = blog. Censorship does not apply to personal journals.
I do believe that people can think for themselves. But I’m not going to provide a platform for:
Hatred of the government
Wrath against me and other readers
Argument of the basic tenets of Biblical Christianity as found in the Creeds (Apostles, Nicene, Athanasian) and common to the Book of Concord and Westminster Confession of Faith.
Honest discussion requires a common language. And respect. And a passion for truth.
Some commenters only want to spar. They want to argue for the sport of it. If that’s you, then there are other places you can find that. The purpose of this blog is to provide my understanding of Biblical faith as a Confessional Lutheran. I seek to grow in my knowledge of and obedience to Jesus Christ. I am not interested in pointless acrimonious debate.
There is a Biblical Christian faith, and there are many imposters. It’s not possible to convince people to believe. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit as he works through the Word and the sacraments of baptism and communion. Faith is a gift of God. Christian discussion is only possible when saving faith is present.
When fruitful discussion is not possible
A recent Gallup poll found that 78% of Americans consider themselves Christian. Few of those hundreds of millions of people whould agree that:
All 66 books of the Bible (the Canon), and only those 66 books are the living Word of God and authoritative for life, doctrine and practice.
Scripture is without error
Scripture interprets Scripture.
People who don’t share these basics speak different languages. They will never agree on who God is and what he expects. They will never come to any conclusions. They will only go around and around and become frustrated with each other.
They have nothing to discuss.
An example of commenting rules
In an attempt to address the issues raised in this post, I present Bill Muehlenberg’s commenting rules.
Readers are welcome to post comments on the material posted here, but some simple rules apply. If you are happy to abide by these rules, then by all means, send in your comments. Happy writing!
No trolls allowed.
I reserve the right to edit or refuse comments.
This site is meant to express my point of view. If you are looking for a soapbox to promote your own views, create your own website or blog site.
Comments should be brief (preferably under 100 words), polite, constructive and informed.
Comments which are simply attacks on myself, or are done in bad taste, or use rude language, or are possibly defamatory will not be posted.
You must state your full name to have your comments posted.
I may reply to some of your comments but will not be able to respond to all.
Censorship and online Christian discussion
To each of these men, and to you, I freely admit that I have made mistakes in the area of comment moderation. I am willing to change my stance. But I’m not willing to be distracted by people who reject the authority of the Word.
If you have anything to add to this discussion, your contributions will be most welcome.
How can we be less like the world in our online speech? How can we be faithful to the Word of God, while being kind to one another?