Which part of “Your e-mail never got to me, stop acting like a child” is difficult to understand? I’m not sure. But instead of simply moving forward, Greg Stafford continues to play childish games. As this is grossly distasteful for me to even respond to, I will cut this here and only those who are concerned need go past the “read more” link. I respond simply because Stafford is falsely accusing me without the slightest foundation for doing so, and his behavior in this matter is utterly out of bounds.
Mark Bainter runs the infrastructure of our website. He has written the following:
On your blog you have accused Dr. White of meddling with his website, and have, I believe, misunderstood his point. The fact that an address exists — even on the website — does not necessarily reflect its usage or its availability.
The ministry is small, and there are a lot of pages that do not get touched or reviewed all the time. AOMin is not a large organization with a team of web folks who studiously review and update content on a daily, monthly, or even yearly basis. Fixes and changes are made when we can, and when volunteers (like myself) are made aware of them and we have time to address them.
In this case, we made a major change to the backend infrastructure in late August of last year. The mail alias was not in use at that time and would have bounced back. After the change, it was available by default, but went nowhere. It would not bounce, but nobody would see it either.
This was not known to be an issue, as nobody remembered there was an email address on the site. It was believed all email addresses had been removed, in an effort to combat the ever-present spam problem that we all face.
When this issue brought it to my attention, I fixed it. I removed the address to prevent any further confusion, and fixed the default alias so that any further emails will bounce. This was not deception, it was not cover-up, it was an effort to ensure that such unfortunate situations do not recur in the future. Surely this does not strike you as an unreasonable or even unusual action for a website to take.
I hope this puts this issue to rest. I’m sure you sent the email, and I know for certain it is undisputably impossible for Dr White to have ever seen or received it. I also know you speak truthfully when you say you never received a failed delivery message. So, now that the mixup is fully known, and the information is all out in the open we can move past all this.
There is further evidence of Stafford’s error in pressing this charge of dishonesty. I have had the same primary e-mail address for many years. Unfortunately, it has been sold so many times in e-mail lists, and is so short and easy to identify, it is a massive spam magnet. A few years ago, after Greg Stafford used it to contact me on 12/5/03, I began using a service called Spam Arrest. It is a challenge system, which sends a challenge e-mail to the sender to make sure they have a valid e-mail address. Anyone who has written to me since somewhere in 2005 or so knows what I am referring to, and have received such a challenge e-mail. Since I began using this service, the system has “trapped” 75.5% of all the e-mails sent to me as spam. Currently, that’s around 90,000 e-mails. Yes, 90k. Stafford would not have received such a challenge e-mail because firstname.lastname@example.org does not come to me. Period. End of discussion.
Now, I confess I do not know what has happened in Mr. Stafford’s life to not only cause him to resurface in a rather forceful fashion, but to adopt such a distastefully accusative, boastful attitude. It is beyond me how anyone can send a single e-mail to a different e-mail address than they have used in the past and, on the basis of this, accuse someone of dishonesty. Every person active on the Internet knows that at times, even when you are completely certain of an address and write to someone frequently, emails get lost. Systems hiccup. IP’s blow up. Outages occur. Considerate people recognize this, and, when you don’t get a respond, you send a second copy and put something like “second attempt” to indicate you already sent this. If that doesn’t work, you try another means of communication.
For example, right now I am attempting to get hold of a brother in Australia who has written to me about coming to Australia to minister. He wrote in October, and I responded the same day, but he has written again, just recently, indicating he never heard from me. I’ve sent another e-mail, as I only have that means of contacting him, but it seems that somewhere along the line my e-mail is being blocked so that he is not getting my replies. This is very frustrating, as I simply have no other way of getting hold of him (and if that brother is reading this, please find another way of contacting me!), but it is part of how we communicate in this modern age. You do not assume dishonesty on the part of someone especially when a perfectly valid and obvious reason has been presented. Well, serious people don’t, anyway.
Now, I have received two e-mails regarding hosting a debate with Mr. Stafford during the summer. I will follow up with them when I return home. But let me make something clear. Our normal procedure is to fly my opponents in, put them up, provide for them while they are there. Sometimes an honorarium is included, sometimes it is not, depending on the venue and finances. Our reason for doing this is to provide the best debates for the widest audience we can. Yes, it is costly for us to do this, but we believe the topics are weighty and important, making the effort worthwhile. Sometimes the people we debate are very easy to work with. Sometimes they are very nice, despite their aberrant theology. Other times, they are difficult to work with, and less than friendly.
In the situation regarding Mr. Stafford and his attack upon Reformed theology, he is clearly the one challenging me. Fine. I’ll be happy to demonstrate his errors from Scripture in formal debate. However, his behavior has, so far, been so reprehensible, that in most situations, especially if we had not debated already in the past, I would consider him below the “minimum behavioral standards” that I try to maintain. Only rarely (as in my declined challenge to Art Sippo) do I willingly agree to engage someone who has proven himself willing to engage in such behavior as falsely accusing me of dishonesty without the slightest logical or rational reason for so doing. No one with the slightest touch of common sense is going to believe I am “afraid” of a debate challenge. Sixty one moderated debates prove otherwise. But I will make this very clear right now: if Mr. Stafford wants to do this debate, fine. But we are not spending a thin dime for his flight, his hotel, or his food. While we normally do this, we will not do so in light of his behavior. He’s making the challenge, he can pay his own way. I do it all the time. I’d ask him to pay half the video-taping costs, too, but that would raise far too many questions regarding documentation and the like, so we will still provide him a master copy free of charge, as we did in 2003.
So, as I said yesterday, when I return from this speaking trip, I will follow up on some of the contacts we have had regarding a location for this debate, and then contact Mr. Stafford. I will bcc a list of folks in my ministry so that there will be no grounds for any of the childishness that has, so far, marked this affair. If Mr. Stafford wishes to debate, I invite him to cease and desist from the false accusations and the conspiracy-laden behavior he has so far demonstrated, admit he was in error in sending an e-mail to an address other than the one he used in the past, and start acting like a serious commentator upon weighty issues.