Cesnur knocks CARM

by Matt Slick

From time to time various people attempt to refute some of the things written on CARM.  Whenever I discover a new website that mentions CARM in a derogatory manner, I am greatly encouraged to know that CARM is having an affect on others.  In fact, there are several websites that are directed either in majority or in part to refuting this ministry.  All I can say is praise God that CARM is being noticed.

There is a secular organization called "Cesnur."  Cesnur stands for the Center for Studies on New Religions and is "an international network of associations of scholars working in the field of new religious movements."  As an organization, it is "independent from any religious group, Church, denomination or association."  It was "established in 1988 by a group of religious scholars from leading universities in Europe and the Americas."  Finally, "CESNUR's yearly annual conference is the largest world gathering of those active in the field of studies on new religions."

Douglas E. Cowan holds a Ph.D in Religious Studies from the University of Calgary, and is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Missouri.  Dr. Cowan presented a paper, "From Parchment to Pixels:  The Christian Countercult on the Internet," at the 2001 Cesnur Conference in the London School of Economics, April 19-22, 2001.  To my pleasant surprise, CARM was mentioned though not favorably.

A Quote from Dr. Cowan's Paper

"Like the countercult in print, the Countercult on the Net is a carefully managed presentation of selected truths, half-truths, spun truths, and untruths. Its library is designed not to inform the visitor about the group in question, but to confirm for the visitor why that group is heterodox, why it should be avoided, and why conservative Christianity is the only viable option in place of it . . .
"One example of the library function-and its inherent problems-is CARM, the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. Begun originally as little more than the Internet project of an interested layperson, CARM is now a 501(c)3 countercult ministry run almost entirely on the Web. The site operator is now an ordained fundamentalist minister who is currently in search of a pastorate, and he writes that "CARM is simply one man, me, Matt Slick. I write all the articles on the site-except for the testimonies and archived debates on the evolution board." In his definition of "cult," Slick cleaves fairly close to the Countercult party line: "Generally, [a cult] is a group that is unorthodox, esoteric, and has a devotion to a person, object, or a set of new ideas." Numerous other Countercult sites link to his, many with laudatory comments on the "objectivity" of the information Slick presents. And, unless one looks specifically for Slick's personal information, CARM's web presentation could easily deceive a visitor into thinking it is a multi-staff, professional research organization."

CARM

Dr. Cowan is certainly entitled to his opinion, and I defend his right to express his views.  However, in the above paragraph about CARM, he is guilty of at least two errors: disrespect and misrepresentation.  He opens by labeling CARM as a problem.  Well, it is a problem to those on whose toes I step.  Jesus said people would persecute us for our faithfulness in representing Him.  I expect this.  Dr. Cowan further mentions that I am a "fundamentalist minister."  Of course, the term "fundamentalist," of late, has taken on a negative connotation since it is repeatedly used in a derogatory fashion by the media.  I cannot say if Dr. Cowan is aware of this slant--if it exists; but if he is aware of it and used it for that reason, then he is not being objective.  Of course, some may complain that it is I who lacks objectivity and shouldn't throw stones at a scholar.  Perhaps, but I claim no objectivity.  I claim to present sufficient biblical truth and, therefore, write about groups that deviate from the orthodox, biblical perspective.

Dr. Cowan repeatedly shows me a lack of respect by referring to me as "Slick" not "Mr. Slick" four times in the second paragraph quoted above.  Whether or not I am degreed (I have a Masters of Divinity), a teacher, a mechanic, or a janitor should make no difference.  Basic courtesy is certainly something that should be shown to anyone--even someone with whom he disagrees.

Finally, I think his last comment is the most revealing.  He said,

"Numerous other countercult sites link to his, many with laudatory comments on the "objectivity" of the information Slick presents. And, unless one looks specifically for Slick's personal information, CARM's web presentation could easily deceive a visitor into thinking it is a multi-staff, professional research organization."

This is most interesting since I have clearly stated on my website, in the about CARM link on the home page, that CARM is written, designed, and run by one person: me.1 So, why would Dr. Cowan say that " . . . CARM's web presentation could easily deceive a visitor into thinking it is a multi-staff, professional research organization?"  Notice the use of the word "deceive."  Does Dr. Cowan actually think I am trying to be deceptive?  Is Dr. Cowan implying that I am attempting to deceive people by trying to make my website look professional and well organized?  Such inference would reveal a lack of sound logic on his part and would further demonstrate the insertion of his bias into any objective analysis of his social commentary.  I can't help wondering if any of those in attendance picked up on these subtle errors of Dr. Cowan.

I do not know Dr. Cowan's spiritual state or his presuppositional base.  All I can say is that I stand on the word of God found both in the Bible and in the person of Jesus, God in flesh, risen Lord, Savior.  It is from this basis that I present my analysis of "cults" and declare the Lordship of Jesus.  May Christ Himself touch Dr. Cowan and reveal Himself to him as He has to me.

Finally, it is humorous

What I honestly find most humorous about this whole thing is that a guy, whose last name is Slick, who has a full-time job fixing computers, and who writes and researches "anti-cult" material from a spare bedroom, can be taken seriously enough to be ridiculed at the 2001 Cesnur Conference in London, England.  I am honestly tickled and overjoyed to know that my website is having such an impact to deserve a "dishonorable" mention at a conference of scholars in London, England.  I am honestly and sincerely thrilled and thankful for being validated.

  • 1. At the time this article was written, Matt Slick was the only author of the site. Due to expansion, CARM now has other writers.

 

 

 

 
 
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