The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry has busy discussion boards, and they are becoming busier. The purpose of the boards is to allow discussion on various theological and secular topics, help unbelievers to find the truth in Jesus Christ, and equip Christians how to properly defend the Christian faith.
As is always the case when dealing with unbelievers (and believers, too), rules are necessary to prevent things from getting out of hand. These rules are intended to enable proper discussion. Unfortunately, the variety of problems we encounter make it difficult to prescribe a sufficient set of rules, and we don't want to have rules ad infinitum. Another problem arises when trying to enforce the rules. It has become difficult at times to do this equitably and quickly. But that is the way things are. After all, we get thousands of posts everyday, and with a handful of moderators, it is difficult to watch everything. Nevertheless, the moderators do what they can as they try to implement the rules that I have decided should govern the boards. So, they are, hopefully, carrying out my intentions. Does that mean they will do it properly all the time? Of course not. But, since I'm the author, director of CARM, the buck must stop with me.
Of course, there will always be people who complain that the boards are not run the way they think they should be run, that Diane S. is a tyrant and out of control, and that the moderators' actions should be reviewed and voted on by a committee. To this end a grievance letter with several signatories has been forwarded to this ministry. At the risk of sounding rude, my polite suggestion is that if they don't like the way CARM is run, they're free to leave. It's that simple.
Following are some things that need to be made clear
- There is no democracy on these boards. They are not run by vote or consensus. I am the one who decides how they will be run and what their goals are, and I leave the implementation of my vision about them to Diane S.
- There will be no public cross-examination of rule-enforcement. There will be no examination committee. If you don't like it, too bad.
- If you come to me without having first gone to Diane S., you'll probably have your account suspended.
- Diane S has my complete trust in how to run the boards. She's earned it over many years of faithful service to this ministry. I'm in contact with her almost daily, and she tries to implement my instructions on the authority structure, infraction system, Instant Messages system (which the Admins have access to), and application of the rules as she tries to guide the moderators. As far as I'm concerned, she does a great job, and when people raise complaints against her, I'm automatically doubtful that those complaints are valid.
What about the false teachers?
There are board participants who don't like that unbelievers are allowed to teach their false doctrines. They complain that I am aiding and abetting the enemy. I have two responses for this. First, if you don't like it, you're free to go elsewhere. Second, this is an apologetics ministry, and we don't censor someone for an opinion, for not being honest, for believing something false, etc. People are entitled to their opinions even if those opinions contradict Scripture.
Christians should take up the slack, learn to defend the truth, and confront the enemies of the gospel. You accomplish this by actual encounters with actual unbelievers and false teachers. You don't learn how to do this by banning them because they weren't honest, didn't respond to a post, or avoided answering difficult questions. Apologetics in the real world is often messy, and CARM has no intention of providing apron strings for people to hang onto while they dip their toes in the cold waters of anti-Christian discussion.
CARM will not babysit anyone. If you can't handle the heavy lifting of apologetics, then don't get involved. It takes time and practice to learn to answer properly. It isn't always easy to do, and they don't always respond properly.
Nevertheless, if you think someone is saying something that's dishonest, then call him (or her) on it but do so with documentation and proof. If someone isn't answering direct questions, then point it out. If they aren't seeing sound reason, point it out and get over it. Do what you can but don't expect unbelievers to behave Biblically and don't expect CARM to legislate your brand of "fairness." It isn't going to happen.
Are you an "anti"
Don't get bent out of shape if someone calls you an anti-Catholic, an anti-Mormon, a papist, a romanist, an unbeliever, an evolutionist, a pelagian, etc., unless it is apparent that the labels are purposefully incendiary and insulting to which the Moderators will respond if need be. If someone labels you, politely address it. Don't expect wonderful responses (though they are encouraged from everyone). After all, we are dealing with sinners and saints who have different values, different emotional states, different intellectual abilities, different education levels, etc. It isn't going to be easy or perfect.
So, get out there and do your best.
By way of reminder:
- People are entitled to their opinions whether you like them or not and whether or not they are valid.
- Just because you don't like what someone says, it has no bearing on the validity or invalidity of your argument or theirs.
- If you think someone is wrong, address them logically, factually, and Biblically. Don't whine and say, "They aren't fair." Life isn't fair. Tackle them appropriately and do so within the confines of the rules.
- I am not interested in whether or not people think we Admins have too much power. I don't care. These are my boards. That's the way it is, and if you don't like it (I mean this politely), you can leave.
- Finally, we have access to people's Instant Messages. If you don't like it, leave. This is yet another notification that we have access to people's instant messages. If you are not comfortable with that, then don't use the IM system. If you don't think it's ethical, you're entitled to your opinion, and you're free to go voice it by leaving.
I'm not trying to be rude, but the facts are simple: These are my boards, and I run them as I see fit according to how I believe the Lord has directed me. We intend these boards to be fair for all. But please understand, implementing this goal is sometimes very difficult, so please be patient.