Most of my readers are familiar with BaptistFire.com, the conservative Baptist website that is, sadly, likewise rabidly anti-Reformed, grossly one-sided, and anonymous as to who is involved in promulgating its articles. Well, a number of folks have gotten together to launch www.StrangeBaptistFire.com, a website which will debunk the constantly misleading, imbalanced, and often easily refuted materials posted on BaptistFire.com.
Now, one of the key arguments you will find against Calvinism on BaptistFire is Adrian Rogers’ sermon on Romans 9. I reviewed this sermon August 31 and September 14, 2002 on The Dividing Line.
I wasn’t asked to submit anything to StrangeBaptistFire.com, but, if I had been, this is what I would have sent in:
I suppose, in some very rare instances, there is a reason for men to be anonymous in their writing. I suppose if a fatwah was proclaimed upon someone so that for the safety of one’s family one had to remain anonymous, that would be perfectly acceptable. But in the vast majority of instances, there is only one reason for anonymity when writing upon theological subjects: refusal to be held accountable for what one says.
Whoever is behind BaptistFire.com chooses to present the most horrifically one-sided materials. It is not that they do not know there is another side. They just refuse to acknowledge it or deal with that it says. This makes for “easy” theology: by remaining anonymous and refusing to do the work required of a sound theologian, you can say what you want and ignore its utter decimation in the marketplace of ideas. Who cares if the other side shreds your arguments with regularity? You just have to live on the “margin” of folks who either 1) do not know how to find out what the other side is saying, or 2) have such a strong desire to continue believing what you are teaching that they will join you in willfully ignoring the refutation of their own beliefs. And there is an amazingly large audience to be had under those two heads.
Refusing to hide behind the cloak of anonymity requires one to be held accountable for what you say and how you say it. If you engage in the use of double standards, that will be made clear through the examination of your known writings. But if you hide your identity, you can speak out of both sides of your mouth with impugnity.
There is no room for Christian cowardice in “speaking the truth in love” and even in addressing things which are difficult and divisive. No one is persecuting the folks at BaptistFire.com; they do not need to hide for the safety of their wives and kids. The only reasons they could possibly have would be 1) they know they cannot defend their positions and hence avoid all challenges by remaining unknown; 2) they could lose financially if their one-sided, often grossly erroneous, writings were exposed, or 3) they are double-minded and double-tongued in that they act/say one thing in “real life,” but write/speak otherwise on their website. In any case, none of these constitute a meaningful defense for Christian anonymity in the promulgation of falsehoods, which is what BaptistFire.com is all about.
I have written to BaptistFire a number of times, challenging them to come out of the closet, come into the light of the truth, and engage the issues. They have consistently refused to do so. It is my prayer that eventually one of their number will be convicted about their behavior, leave the group, and “spill the beans” so that real accountability can be brought to bear upon the horrifically flawed materials posted on that website with regularity.
Till then, I will rejoice that I do not have to hide my face in shame when I proclaim God’s truth. I do not have to blush knowing that I am hiding the truth, presenting only a lopsided argument against my own views. And I will not hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, either. My name is James White. I’m the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, www.aomin.org. And every person behind BaptistFire.com knows one thing: not a one of them would ever be caught dead standing before a live audience in a debate against me on the very central issues upon which they pontificate with regularity on their website. That doesn’t make me special: it does, however, reflect very, very badly upon them.