It’s a funny thing – I don’t consider myself a “discernment blogger” or this site a discernment site.
I did, however, originally come to read Tim Challies back when he was writing pieces on Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven materials…which always made me think of him as a “discernment blogger.” (Mr. Challies has written many articles about Rick Warren. Here is a more recent one.)
Indeed, Tim Challies’ first book was entitled The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment.
But today we learn that Tim Challies no longer “has room” for discernment bloggers. Why? Well, because some weeks back, the Wartburg Watch ladies did a piece on Mr. Challies’ joint publishing venture with someone who was a longtime employee and member of Sovereign Grace Ministries…and made the (to me, logical) connection between that business relationship and Mr. Challies’ pretty obvious desire to give C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries every benefit of the doubt.
Reading Mr. Challies’ post today was a sort of surreal experience. He throws a lot of words out there, many of which seem to accuse the people who discussed his business venture with the SGM guy of misrepresenting him. He says,
Then they wrote about me. They wrote about my financial situation. They wrote “shocking” exposes and went rummaging through the digital trash to dig up the smoking guns. They did not just report (supposed) facts but also interpreted them. And then other blogs picked up the stories and carried them as well. And this clarified the situation for me. I wish my teacher here had been something nobler than personal attack, but sadly, and perhaps ironically, it was when I was in their crosshairs that they themselves came into sharper focus.
Because here’s the reality: So much of what they wrote about me had so little basis in reality. These bloggers misinterpreted even what is obvious, stretched what is true, assumed what is dubious, and fabricated the rest. They shared all of this with their readers as if it was based on verifiable facts, as if they were privy to details, as if it was anything more than conjecture.
But what’s interesting to me is that nowhere does Tim Challies actually explain what was inaccurate about what was written about him and his business venture. I know he complains that people didn’t just report facts but also interpreted them…but since when are bloggers solely reporters? Since when is it not OK to state an opinion, or make an inference based on facts and point out what seems obvious?
Unless Tim Challies specifies and explains otherwise, it is still no less certain that he was caught shading the truth. The disclaimer with which he prefaced the article he wrote telling his audience how to “think biblically” about SGM – the disclaimer in which he asserted his total lack of relationship with C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries – conveniently neglected to mention that while he may not be bosom buddies with C.J., he actually does co-own a publishing house (Cruciform Press) with Kevin Meath. Kevin Meath’s biography, as listed on the Cruciform Press site and quoted at Wartburg, clearly shows connections with SGM, SGM leaders, and other ministries closely associated with SGM:
Kevin has more than 25 years professional experience as an editor, including eleven years as chief editor for Sovereign Grace Ministries. He has worked on more than 40 book projects for the Christian market, and has edited for C.J. Mahaney, Paul Tripp, John Piper, Jerry Bridges, Joel Beeke, Richard D. Phillips, Scotty Smith, Dave Harvey, and many others. He has worked with Multnomah, Crossway, Reformation Trust, Shepherd Press, New Growth Press, Founders Press, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Revive Our Hearts, Focus on the Family, Desiring God, and others.
Instead of railing against “discernment bloggers,” it would have been much more effective for Mr. Challies to explain how it is that having a business partner with longstanding relationships with SGM would NOT have affected his own impartiality when it comes to what he tells people to think about SGM. How, precisely, did the scorned “watchbloggers” misrepresent the facts?
I’d really like to know. Mr. Challies, if you’d care to respond, I’d love to post your explanation. Were the Wartburg ladies wrong in saying that you co-own Cruciform Press with Kevin Meath? Is Mr. Meath’s biographical information on the Cruciform Press website inaccurate?
And can you truly not see how it looks to those of us outside the cozy world of conservative Christian publishing? Can you truly not understand why it would make total sense for someone to connect the dots and say that if you’re trying to make it as a publisher of Christian books, you’re probably going to try much harder not to offend the guys who author many of those books?
Or were you just trying, again, to cloud matters for your readers?
If what the Wartburg people posted is not true, how was it inaccurate?