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This Blog Does Have Rules

Yes, it is time again to remind our audience of the way we do things here at Parchment and Pen. We do have rules of engagement and there is a proper way for people to conduct themselves.

One thing that I want to make sure of is that the conversations here move in a meaningful way. It is very difficult to moderate the question “What is meaningful?” but I will take liberties to do so nonetheless.

What is Meaningful?

1. Not closed minded. If you already know everything, this is probably not the place for you. Hundreds of people together who already know everything yet differ about what they know can quickly detract from meaning. (My wife and I do this all the time.) In other words, if you have an agenda to use the blog comment area as a visible teaching venue to promote your teachings without intending to learn, this is not the place for you.

2. Not self-promoting. We don’t mind you letting others know about how smart you are, but do so sparingly. I will often allow links to other places so long as it does not look like you are stopping by just to tell others about your site or blog. And yes, I will be the judge as to whether this is taking place.

3. Not characterized by mass amounts of cut-and-paste proof-texting. We all love the Bible, but just posting Scriptures one after the other quickly becomes counter-productive and detractive. Use the Scriptures, but understand that even the cults can proof-text.

4. Irenic. Oh, there is that word. Just so there is no confusion, here is what we mean: To be irenic means that you are kind, gentle, respectful, and understanding, accurately representing opposing parties, even when you disagree. As hard as that seems, buffet your tongue (or keyboard) here.

5. Not slanderous. All slanderous content naturally violates #4. You will be quickly and eternally (relatively speaking) banned from the site for slander. Don’t slander the author or others who post here. Besides, slander just shows the weakness of your thinking and does nothing to promote the truth.

6. No Spamming. Spamming is starting multiple posts one after the other.  We limit the size of the comments so your comment is cut off when in violation. However, some people think themselves wise to just post another and another and another to make up for the limited space. If you do this, your posts will be deleted without warning.

Please note: You will not get banned for bad theology. Everyone is welcome to be wrong. Hopefully our community will be able to engage the bad theology meaningfully.

For a complete guide to perfect theology consult someone of the post-mortem variety. If none are available, please realize that you are limited in your understanding. If you don’t realize this, please start your own site.

Welcome and may God be glorified in how we conduct ourselves.

For more, see the blog post: “What if God Read Your Posts.”

26 Responses to “This Blog Does Have Rules”

  1. I agree with all the points, but my favorite is Irenic!

  2. Michael:

    As you may recall, I choke on “irenic” every time I come across it.

    It’s not that I want to provoke others or promote discord; it’s that there are times for rhetorical devices – most of which appear in Scripture as narrative, poetry, or instruction – that are often the most effective way to demonstrate the error or bad behavior of another.

    But now you have promoted “playing nice with others” to a greater position than sound theology:

    You will not get banned for bad theology.

    According to this principle and that of being irenic, I can get away with saying that Jesus was a homosexual pedophile but not with saying that you are. Does that seem right to you? That you can assassinate God’s character but not yours?

    I’m all for being respectful but to make disrespect grounds for excommunication from the site when heresy is not seems a gross distortion. Do you recall anywhere in Scripture that God denounced his people for not being nice but was OK with false teaching? I can’t.

    Ban people – including me, if you like – for being disrespectful but for Christ’s sake take a stand on truth, especially when it comes to the person and work of Jesus the Christ.

  3. 4. Irenic. Oh, there is that word. Just so there is no confusion, here is what we mean: To be irenic means that you are kind, gentle, respectful, and understanding, accurately representing opposing parties, even when you disagree. As hard as that seems, buffet your tongue (or keyboard) here.

    You just banned Tertullian.* :D

    (And possibly irenic’s namesake, Irenaeus.)

    * As well as most of the OT Prophets and the Apostle Paul, and Jesus in His angry moments. Oh, well….

  4. Ah, the old “Jesus was a Jerk too” argument!

  5. 4. Wonders for Oyarsa on 03 Aug 2009 at 9:45 am #

    Ah, the old “Jesus was a Jerk too” argument!

    If you’re referring to my statement that Jesus at times wasn’t irenic, then you are misconstruing and misrepresenting what I wrote. I.e., your statement might be a violation of Rule 5. :)

  6. Dr. Mike,

    If the blog was only intended for believers I might agree with your position on banning bad theology, but one of the main purposes of the site is to engage people of different beliefs and theological backgrounds. It certainly seems impossible to do that if you ban them from expressing their bad theology.

    Secondly, your example seems to be more of one of slander not bad theology and according to Michael’s list that would be liable for banning. I have never seen anyone here at this site slander Christ or God in the manner which you describe so I’m not sure that is a realistic concern.

  7. I’m not slandering you, Eric. I don’t know you well enough to do that properly! But I’m not a fan of people casting themselves as Jesus against the Pharisees or Elijah against the prophets of Baal to justify their own abrasive behavior on an internet blog site. People do this, and they use exactly the argument you give.

  8. Secondly, your example seems to be more of one of slander not bad theology and according to Michael’s list that would be liable for banning. I have never seen anyone here at this site slander Christ or God in the manner which you describe so I’m not sure that is a realistic concern.

    5. Not slanderous. …Don’t slander the author or others who post here.

    I read the “Do Not Slander” rule as only applying to slandering post authors or other posters, not to saying things about Jesus or God that conservative Christians would consider slanderous.

  9. Okay.

    Libel, perhaps? :D

    (just kidding, of course)

  10. Eric, by calling my comments slander or libel, you are showing callous disrespect to the hard work millions of people do each year in actual defamation of the character of their neighbors. I, for one, do not want to cheapen their efforts by having my comments named as such. As you and I grow to know each other better, perhaps we may raise the level of our discussion to actual slander (though not on this site, of course).

  11. Eric W.

    I think most liberal Christians, Muslims, B’ahai, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. would consider calling Jesus a “homosexueal pedophile” slanderous. In fact I can’t think of very many non-believers who wouldn’t consider it salnderous without evidence.

  12. Jim wrote:

    Dr. Mike,

    If the blog was only intended for believers I might agree with your position on banning bad theology, but one of the main purposes of the site is to engage people of different beliefs and theological backgrounds. It certainly seems impossible to do that if you ban them from expressing their bad theology.

    Secondly, your example seems to be more of one of slander not bad theology and according to Michael’s list that would be liable for banning. I have never seen anyone here at this site slander Christ or God in the manner which you describe so I’m not sure that is a realistic concern.

    Thank you for your irenic response! ;)

    A few things to note:

    First, if it is true that this site is meant for believers and non-believers alike, are you sure it is sending the right message? As it stands, to be nice is more important than the truth. Is that really what we want to communicate, i.e., that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re nice? I’m sure you do not believe that.

    Second, in response to your “slander-not-bad-theology” comment, I think anytime one slanders the person or work of Christ they are guilty of bad theology. And I think the latter is far more egregious than the former. Again, I suspect you agree.

    Finally, as for your observation that my example was not realistic, I will say two things: it may have been hyperbolic; I don’t think it was hyperbolic. The main problem with most non-Christians is not that they say bad things about Jesus but that they do not go far enough in their understanding of who he is. Jesus to them is a “great teacher” or “wonderful example.” Yada, yada, yada. Either is dangerous and heretical – and to return to my point – and far more serious than “not being nice.”

    Personally, I am not so concerned about getting high grades in the “plays well with others” category of my report card. I am very concerned about speaking the truth in love. And sometimes love has a sharp and blunt edge.

    At any rate, I stand by what I said. Being irenic has been promoted here (and at Theologica, too) as the greater good. I couldn’t disagree more strongly.

  13. While I agree that truth is important, I’d rather have posters be requested to err on the side of irenicism and politeness/respect than be given license to fire away with all the sharp-tongued defenses we (sometimes? often?) see people make when they’re defending their theology and/or the Lord. There is no quicker way to cause a discussion to devolve into name-calling and sharp retorts than to take the bit out of the horse’s mouth, so to speak. I think that one can disrespect a deserves-to-be-disrespected comment or theological statement in a polite or irenic way. And if things get into blasphemy and rudeness, CMP can shut off comments and/or rebuke/warn the posters.

  14. EricW:

    You’ve created a false dilemma. It’s not irenic vs.caustic or polite vs. rude. There are middle pathways.

    As has been pointed out by others, Jesus, Paul, the prophets, and others were not always irenic. But were they therefore rude?

    You decide.

  15. Dr. Mike, I think there is a difference between the importance of an issue and the appropriateness for being banned on a blog site. For instance, imagine that I said “I really do think I am being called to sacrifice my daughter to the goat god in my backyard this tuesday”, this is far more serious than “I think Dr. Mike is a poopy head”. Nevertheless, the appropriate and fitting way of dealing with the former is discussion and persuasion (and perhaps even intervention), while the latter deserves warning and banning.

  16. You decide.

    I’ll let C. Michael Patton decide. He makes the rules and defines the terms and conditions if/when further clarity might be needed (and this discussion suggests it might be needed). :?

  17. Dr. Mike says

    “Being irenic has been promoted here (and at Theologica, too) as the greater good.”

    I would disagree, but I don’t follow the blog closely enough so I could be wrong on that. Only CMP could really answer that.

    I still fail to see how you can correct or reprove bad theology if you don’t let it be expressed. That is what I understood you to be saying from your first post. Am I wrong on that?

  18. I am sure that we can handle this like the mature adults we are. Isn’t that right . . . Mr. Poopy Pants!

  19. Just think, Bond, James Bond. The reason why he is calm is because he knows what is up.

    Calm, civil, respectful, even to your “enemies.”

  20. Actually, I think its kind of funny that you guys are disputing over the validity of being irenic. What irony :)

  21. 20. Lisa Robinson: …What irony

    Don’t you mean “What ειρηνη” :D

  22. I don’t mind heated discussions, just the overheated kind that so often get into name calling and religious elitism. I think CMP is right not to ban folks for ‘bad theology’, and don’t see it as putting being irenic above good theology.

    That’s because who knows whether what someone reads here, (spoken irenically of course), might correct some false teaching they may have received, or make them want to look deeper into the word of God to see if what the author of the post has written lines up with scripture. That has certainly happened to me on several blogs. On the other hand, there are some around who know their stuff, but are quick to engage in attack dog blogging, when someone questions them.

    So, in my opinion, keeping it “calm, civil, respectful” (along with coherent, courteous commenting I might add) can be a great learning experience for all concerned in a discussion, whether we agree or disagree with someone else’s theology.

    I particularly enjoyed the thread on creationism, where folks from all different beliefs got a chance to present their opinions in a way that both educated and informed.

  23. Mike,

    “Is that really what we want to communicate, i.e., that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re nice? I’m sure you do not believe that.”

    Mike, you know we don’t believe that. Do you really think that I give the impression that “it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as your nice?”

    We exist to draw people in, no matter what you believe. If you are a seeker of truth, you are welcome here and you won’t be looked down upon or slandered. However, this does not mean that we don’t care what you believe. Just because we allow divergent beliefs does not mean we don’t care about truth. In fact, I would say that if you don’t allow differing belief or “bad theology” you are simply here to confirm beliefs. While there is certainly a place for that, this is a theology blog that seeks to challenge and encourage.

    If this was a place of leadership where if you posted a comment it assumed that you are a leader, representing this site, then bad theology would be less tolerated.

    Hope that makes sense.

  24. Michael:

    It does make sense, although that is not to say that I agree. And I know you don’t believe that, which is why I said that you didn’t.

    Here’s what I think:

    1. I think I will never convince you that your emphasis on being irenic is unbalanced;
    2. I think you will never convince me that my view on this matter is incorrect.

    Having said that, please allow me to continue this exercise in futility.

    I am not advocating blasting anyone who presents false or heretical teaching. Whether they are believers or not, they need to be patiently and lovingly taught how they are in error and what the truth is (in those areas where we can be dogmatic).

    I am advocating dealing firmly, strongly, and decisively with those individuals – whether believers or not – who profess heretical or unorthodox beliefs and then cling to them without warrant. Those who purpose it is to argue and be belligerent do not need to be coddled or treated like China dolls.

    When someone seeks to interact for the apparent purpose of only doing harm or being divisive – think Sanballat and friends – they need to be reprimanded in no uncertain terms. They will likely cry “foul” and take offense, but that does not mean offense was given. Many took offense at what Jesus said but I don’t believe he was giving offense.

    As you know, I am well aware that P&P as well as Theologica are yours and that you have the responsibility to govern them as you see fit. You’ll get no argument from me over your right to make decisions, even if I believe you are wrong. It’s between you and God, of course, and all I can do is tell a young brother when I think he’s off-track about something.

    But I will respect your decisions even while I disagree.

  25. Dr. Mike,

    You are always irenic as far as I can see. I think that the word itself is not being defined the same way as it is abused. When we first started using it ten years ago, it was obscure enough where the definition did not assume, as it sometimes does today, weakness.

    Having said that, I think I agree with everything you have said above. We may be on the same page, but using different calendars.

  26. “We may be on the same page, but using different calendars.”

    Do you have a book of these sayings? because if these are original sayings, I think I’m going to start to keep track of them, just in case you ever become famous. :)
    At any rate, they crack me up. What does that mean????

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