The Silencing Of The Lambs

Where the situation becomes sinister is when one group attempts to police the activities of another, or where one Christian organization or leader uses their personal power or share of the market to prevent others, with whom they are not formally connected, from speaking freely and asking the hard questions. At that point, things take a very sinister turn indeed.

Some years ago (another time, another webpage), someone I know made thinly veiled criticisms of a powerful evangelical organization. The response was swift: First, he received a series of personal pleas from people at the organization, telling him to stop; then he later discovered that his boss had come under direct pressure from head office at the other organization to remove him. The truth of what he had said was not (as far as I am aware) challenged at any point. It was simply that his comments were very inconvenient from a public relations perspective. Thankfully, the boss sided with his writer, not with the external critics.

That is why the health of the Christian subcultures in our society depends to an important extent upon the freedom of the Christian press; and that in turn depends upon having plenty of public voices and different groups presenting their different perspectives without the threat of being silenced by those with power and money. I need voices that criticize me and so does everyone else who operates in the public Christian sphere. Of course, I do not like being criticized; but it is necessary for the health of public life that it be so. It would be a disaster for us all if one or two organizations or individuals came to wield such influence that dissenting voices were eliminated. If that were to happen, there would less accountability for public figures, the news would be very carefully stage-managed, and we would all be impoverished. That is one reason why the Caner case is so incredibly important and, depending on the reason for the removal of the material, why the Mefferd controversy might yet prove to be very significant indeed.

As John Milton said regarding truth: “Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing.” I am with Milton here: The freer the press, the less the innocent have to fear and the more the guilty need to be worried.

—Carl Trueman, “Areopagitica

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  1. One has to wonder to what extent Caner is being defended his supporters think hes right and to what extent they are defending him because he has been a cats paw in their war on Calvinism.

  2. Interesting how people of a particular church polity (I am not sure if this applies to Driscoll, but definitely to Caner and his fellow Southern Baptist supporters) claim independence from ecclesiastical authorities outside local churches, but are not hesitant to use the power of the state to intrude into other churches or Christian lives.

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