October 23, 2017

The Most Discussed Posts on IM in 2010

By Chaplain Mike

Looking back on 2010, our first full year of writing on Internet Monk, I am humbled and grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to explore topics of interest and discuss them together. And I’m more convinced than ever:

You make Internet Monk the great conversation that it has become.

I remember talking with a friend who is a prominent blogger and he observed that what makes our blog unique and special is the participation of its readers. After we post something, I can tell you we eagerly look forward to getting your responses so that we can get feedback and have a thought-provoking discussion.

Of course, not every post gets a lot of comments. Some are written primarily as meditations or studies, and we hope that those articles are read carefully and turn out to be an encouragement to those who digest them. But what we really live for are those posts that provoke conversations in which we are able to have lively dialogue, debate, and agreeable disagreement; conversations which can help us discern how to think more clearly and develop a better understanding of some aspect of life and faith.

Today, at the ending of the year, I present a review of the ten Internet Monk posts that prompted the most discussion in 2010.

We begin back in February . . .

Feb 25, 2010. What Have We Wrought? (Chaplain Mike, 204 comments)

This Open Mic post featured a video from the BioLogos Foundation with Os Guiness called, “Science and Faith in the Front Lines of the Culture Wars.” In this provocative piece, Guinness argues,

“In many ways, the new atheists are partly created by the Religious Right. You can see that in America there is no vehement repudiation of religion until recently. In Europe, the atheism is a reaction to corrupt state churches. Here, you’ve never had that until the rise of the Religious Right.”

Part of the reaction against religion, he argues, stems from the poor ways people of faith think about science.

TIE. June 9, 2010—The Archbishop Strikes Back (Chaplain Mike, 206 comments), and Sept 27, 2010—I Have to Admit, I Don’t Get It (Chaplain Mike, 206 comments)

Two posts tied for ninth place. The first post discussed a letter from Archbishop Rowan Williams and a decision by the worldwide Anglican communion to bar the U.S. Episcopal Church from participating and having any decision-making power in ecumenical dialogues in which the Anglican Communion is involved. This disciplinary step was seen as appropriate by Dr. Williams because of the Episcopal Church’s rejection of three moratoria suggested at the last Lambeth Conference, putting on hold: (1) any further actions on the blessing of same-sex unions, (2) the ordination to the episcopate of people in same-sex relationships, and (3) cross-border interventions regarding these matters. Of course, this brought up the subject of homosexuality as well, and how the church should deal with the issue.

The second was an “impromptu rant” off the top of my head, pondering the following:

I don’t see why we need big churches.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a big church. It’s not a right vs. wrong issue. I’m not saying it’s bad to have a big church. It’s not a matter of good or bad. In most cases, I just don’t see the point.

I need someone to convince me otherwise. Because right now, I just don’t get it.

TIE. March 18. 2010—Bruce Waltke on Staying in the Discussion (Chaplain Mike, 218 comments), and April 22, 2010—The Book I Can’t Review (Jeff Dunn, 218 comments)

Two posts generated 218 comments. The first was another controversial video from BioLogos, this time by Bruce Waltke. The video was so troublesome to certain people that it contributed to Waltke losing his job at Reformed Theological Seminary, and BioLogos made the video private (which means you can no longer view it on iMonk). What was Waltke’s point?

In this video he appeals to the church to stay in the discussion when it comes to issues of contemporary science, particularly the issue of evolution. Waltke cautions:

“If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult…some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.”

The second post generating this high number of comments was Jeff Dunn’s “non-review” of Sara Miles book, Jesus Freak. Why did he feel he could not review it for a Christian audience? Because Miles is a homosexual, and the Christian community would focus on that and not hear the good things she has to say. Jeff comments,

“Can we possibly receive anything good from one who is a practicing homosexual? Is it possible that we can read a book like Sara Miles’ Jesus Freak and focus on what is good–the feeding of the poor and outcast and forgotten–and ignore what makes us uncomfortable? Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is for the friends I asked about the book.”

Sept 10, 2010. Why I Am an Egalitarian (Chaplain Mike, 222 comments)

In this post I set forth a basic Biblical overview of my position on gender roles for men and women, contrasting my interpretation and view with those known as “complementarians.”

My own position has been called “egalitarian” (though I dislike the term). I believe the ideal situation is full partnership of men and women in the service of God’s Kingdom. I do not believe that strong role distinctions were part of God’s creative plan. Though men and women certainly do complement each other in many ways, are not identical, and do have some different tasks unique to their respective sexes that they are to fulfill in life, these differences do not indicate universal hard and fast “authority” and “role” structures.

March 9, 2010. Michael Spencer Update (Denise Spencer, 251 comments)

During the first quarter of the year, our prayers stormed heaven on behalf of Michael Spencer, our beloved Internet Monk. We kept in touch with Denise and the children and watched for updates from them on his condition. Unfortunately, the cancer was winning. In early March, Denise sent me the following to communicate with our iMonk community. The outpouring of support in response was extremely gratifying.

It is with a heavy heart that I bring my latest update on Michael. We have learned that his cancer is too advanced and too aggressive to expect any sort of remission. Our oncologist estimates that with continued treatment Michael most likely has somewhere between six months and a year to live. This is not really a surprise to us, though it is certainly horrible news. From the very beginning, both of us have suspected that this would prove to be an extremely bad situation. I don’t know why; perhaps God was preparing us for the worst all along by giving us that intuition.

Words can’t express how much we miss Michael.

Sept 30 2010. Is There Life on Other Planets? (Jeff Dunn, 255 comments)

Jeff posted this open discussion on extraterrestrial life and asked people to chime in on whether or not they think we are alone in the universe, or if there are other “friends” out there to be discovered.

The question I have for you is two-fold: Do you think there is life elsewhere in the universe? By “life,” I mean intelligent life, not just some microorganism.

And if there is, how will God relate to this life? Is sin the same for them as it is for us? Would the payment for sin cost God the same on their planet as it cost him on ours?

Jan 9, 2010. Increasing Marriage Age and Its Implications (Michael Bell, 262 comments)

Michael Bell used his formidable skills of analyzing data and presented this post challenging the church to face up to the fact that people are waiting longer and longer before they marry. A 2008 study suggested that the average marriage age has risen to 26.5 years. Mike noted, “For a young person in the church, that is additional five years of sexual temptation that did not exist 50 years ago.”

But the temptation goes even beyond that. In the developed world over the last 50 years, the median age at which youth have had their first sexual experiences has dropped between three and five years. The graph above, derived primarily from the National Family Survey, shows the American experience, a drop of 3.5 years in the age in which youth first engage in sex. According to a study done by the U.S. Government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64.6 percent of American youth have engaged in sex at least once before the end of Grade 12. Overall 95 percent of Americans have had premarital sex.

The number and content of the responses indicated that this is a matter of great concern among Christians.

Oct 26, 2010. A Conversation We Must Have (Chaplain Mike, 302 comments)

This necessary conversation grew out of the findings in a book that has been generating a lot of feedback—American Grace, by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell. Their study led them to conclude that the culture war approach of the Religious Right has driven young people away from the church in droves.

Based on their research, Putnam and Campbell found that in the past several years there has been a significant decline in religious participation among younger Americans (those who have come of age since 1990). About 30% of them are now classified as “nones”—people claiming no religious affiliation. Folks, these are my children (my youngest was born in 1990), so this finding got my attention immediately.

What lies behind this shift? The research supporting the findings of American Grace led its authors to conclude that the “culture war” approach and conservative political agenda of evangelicalism over the past 30 years has turned young people off and prompted them to walk away from church. And the one issue that has been particularly troublesome for them is the church’s attitude toward homosexuality.

Sept 27, 20/10. What Are You Hearing about Hell? (Chaplain Mike, 305 comments)

This was the first post in my time at IM that cracked the 300 comment barrier. This “Open Mic” discussion focused on two questions:

  1. What are you hearing in your church about final things? There is a sense that these subjects, especially the teaching of hell and eternal judgment, is out of vogue and not being emphasized. I’d like to know what your experience has been in your own faith communities.
  2. How has your thinking developed over the years regarding these doctrines? I’d like to hear about your journey of thinking about these things before God and what he says in the Bible has developed over the course of your Christian life.

Dec 6, 2010. The Disney-ization of Faith (Chaplain Mike, 333 comments)

The most-discussed post on Internet Monk in 2010 was this article that I characterized as “prophetic ridicule.” The object of criticism was Ken Ham and those who are seeking to expand the “Creation Museum” to include a full-size Noah’s Ark and more in a new theme park in northern KY.

In the cartoon world of contemporary American evangelicalism, it’s all about bigger, better, and simpler. Help folks think their dreams can come true. Create “moments” for people in the congregation that they will never forget, that will “bless” families in safe and sanitized settings. Remove the messiness and reality of day to day life. Instead, put a sentimental, heart-tugging version of life up on the screen and make people feel it. Embrace the possibilities.

Evangelicalism has become “Disney-ized.”

For example, enter the Mickey Mouse world of Ken Ham and his theme park vision for the Christian faith.

. . . How can any thoughtful Christian support a project like this? I know some of you are going to write and complain that I’m being judgmental and why can’t God use this to bring others to Christ and teach people about the Bible? Please. I will respond as clearly and directly and forcefully as I can—this project has nothing to do with Biblical Christianity.

Thank you for your invaluable contributions to Internet Monk in 2010. Let the discussion continue!

Comments

  1. Chaplain Mike, Jeff, and all:

    I’m not one to comment often (or at all) but am a loyal reader and have been for almost eight years. Although we never met, Michael has been a huge influence in shaping my thoughts on faith and practice and I, like everyone else that frequents here, sorely miss him.

    Thank you all for continuing in his stead, for continuing to “nail your thoughts to the door of the world”; for continuing to make me think and ponder; for continuing to challenge my preconceived notions; for continuing to focus on Jesus and grace.

    May God bless you all!

  2. Chaplin Mike, Jeff and others….

    I don’t know where I am going or where my “faith” will be on New Years Eve 2011. I can’t believe where it came from. 5 years ago I was deeply entrenched in evangelicalism. I spent my grad school years in Campus Crusade, did multiple church activities, and acting on faith moved from one region of the country to the east coast thinking I was following “God’s will…”

    It all backfired, and then fell apart.

    From being singed by an accountability partner who lived a double life, dealing with the damage of Pharisees and to being crushed by doubt. To experiencing the mega churches and their culture with the culture wars written about first hand here, to crossing pathes with angnositcs, atheists and gays. Over the course of time I felt like I had more in common with agnostics than with “evangelicals”

    So I threw it all away. I took several trips to a dumpster where I tossed a large number of evangelical Christian material. My doubts had cost me my friends, and my anger over the situation really was controlling. It’s still a problem for me.

    It was after I threw away my faith and renounced God and considered myself to be an agnostic that I discovered the Internet Monk.

    Sadly I read the last couple of months of Michel Spencer’s posts. I wish I found this site sooner!! In the process of hanging out here I learned the following….

    1. I am not the only one who wrestles with doubt.
    2. I am not the only one who sees the flaws in evangelical Christianity.
    3. Others have been burned also,,,and are starting over.
    4. For a large number of people evangelical Christianity in the US has been harmful.

    All this gave me a lot of comfort. I’ve enjoyed the conversation here and will continue the process of detox. I wonder at times if there is a 12 step program for former evangelicals like myself.

    But Chaplin Mike, I’m grateful for your love, concern, and the community you create here. Maybe years from (though now I can’t see it…) my life will be in a different state and I will look back and see how the IM helped me to grow again – in faith.

    Thanks everyone 😀

    Eagle

  3. This is just an end of the year thanks. Thank you so much for this conversation about so much that I have been wrestling with this past year. I want you to know that your work is more than appreciated and that I print out and read and re-read many of the posts. My file is growing. But so am I!! It is scarey not to be as “sure”. Yet I am more “sure” about the Lord than ever. I just am not so sure about the “easy believism” that I had fallen into. So thank you and I look forward to the conversations continuing in 2011. God bless you Chaplain Mike

    P.S. I lost my husband 7 years ago. Please let Denise know that she is in my heart and prayers. Grief is a long, hard journey – longer than we imagine. May that “morning of joy” promised in the Scriptures after a long night of weeping come to Denise. But in the meantime, tell her to take her time and take good care of herself. Thank you.

  4. Yes, the audience is vital, but it starts with 1) having something of quality (both the topic, and the skill in writing) to talk about and maybe more importantly 2) rules of the house that encourage lively debate that doesn’t get out of hand. Well, RARELY gets out of hand, we’ve had a few food fights, but then Chap Mike shouldn’t have left us alone for a long and boring (without IMONK) afternoon.

    I’ll never tire of nudging my friends toward this venue.
    A blessed and Jesus-shaped 2011 to Chap Mike, Jeff, Damaris, and friends.

    GregR

  5. This is slightly off topic, but I was wondering about the wisdom about doing a post asking the IMONK audience for future topic possibilities. As in, “so what themes do you want to read about and discuss ??”

    I’ll pre-emptively throw out the NAR (new apostolic reformation) and the tension of having a kingdom “then” mentality, vs. living and persevering in the faith today. I realize those without any charismatic connections at all will go “Whaa…???”

    GregR

    • Whaa…???

      Actually, I think I understand what you are saying Greg. It makes me think of a future post that I would like to write: That is, how many of us speak a different “theological language” and expect that everyone else reading it understands. Either that or we think that everyone else is having the same conversations that they are having in their church that we are having in ours

      For example: In the church that I grew up in it was all about dispensationalism and the rapture. I don’t think I realized at the time that other churches weren’t even having conversations on those topics.

      • Dude, I have two words for you MIKE BICKLE. God help us all, I”m not outing him as a heretic (some have) but check out some of what he says about “revelation of the bridal paradigm” or “crying out in intercession with a bridal identity…” I could go on. I know this is not a big deal to everyone, I just happened to grow up 600 yds from IHOP, and my folks still live there. This special vocabulary leads to one thing (no pun intended): ELITISM.

        • IHOP? International House of Pancakes? That can’t be right.

          • International house of prayer

          • another rabbit trail here: IHOP, the pancake people, want their acronym back, so litigation is dragging on; so far IHOP the 24-7 prayer ministry is mum about what will happen with the name and when.

          • I think it probably WOULD be best if the International House of Prayer changed their name. The IHOP pancake place has been around for a long time and I am sure there are lots of folks like me that think of pancakes when someone writes IHOP. But I suppose the prayer place can just not appreviate their name and then they would be OK, but people being people, you KNOW that folks will refer to it as IHOP rather than saying or writing out “International House of Prayer.” They could change it to “Worldwide House of Prayer.” Doesn’t sound as catchy appreviated though…WHOP.

  6. Question to Michael Bell – do you mind if I ask what, if any, church you are involved in now? I was interested in your “dispensationalism – rapture” comment. Thanks.

    • I grew up Christian Brethren (also known as Plymouth Brethren). Through Inter-Varsity at University (some 25 years ago) discovered that other Christians existed. Theologically I am probably closest to the Christian and Missionary Alliance where I was involved from 1987-2006 with a brief hiatus. I got my M.Div. from their Canadian Seminary which was then located in Regina, Saskatchewan. At one time their were three Alliance churches in our immediate area which have all closed. So for the past four years we have been attending a North American Baptist. Interestingly enough, the North American Baptist is of German origin, which may partly explain why our local congregation does not get wrapped up in some of the evangelical issues that seem to dominate discussion in other churches.

      • Another interesting possible topic: how many of the hot topic items for U.S. christians are…..well….particularly United States connected, issues about (a-boot) which Canada and Martha’s friends wouldn’t give a fig for.. why are these issues barn burners here and not there ??

  7. All I can say is THANK YOU! I found this sight back in February–writing about things I could only think about or discuss with a very few. I discovered like-minded believers; this is a breath of fresh air for me.
    Although I have wanted to leave our church for several years now, the dilemma is, as always, where to go.
    If nothing else, I can drink long and hard at the IMONK well every morning.
    God bless all of you there doing the front-line work, and PLEASE keep it up!
    Happy New Year to you all.

  8. Yes and Amen to what Eagle and charlie said.
    MANY THANKS for all of you and all of your labors – especially to those of you who write the articles and also to those of you who contribute. My faith has been challenged, strengthened, and encouraged by ALL of you.

  9. Going by that Top Ten, all you need to generate the maximum discussion is a post on gay mega-churches with female pastors who, while dressed as Mickey and Donald, are teaching evolution and denying the existence of Hell to aliens who marry late?

    🙂

    Thanks to you for taking up the ball when Michael so sadly passed on, and to all of you who contribute here. Wishing you an early Happy New Year’s Day/Feast of the Circumcision/Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God/Octave of the Nativity!

  10. Thanks to all for the hardwork maintaining this site. Lots of “audience participation” is one of the great things about this blog, but that wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for the efforts at encouraging that participation. Some blogs have initial essays/posts which are either too short to be meaningful or so long that it takes an hour to sift through all the details—-neither approach encourages readers to stick around or to really participate. You have the right length of initial posts and the right depth of content to encourage wide participation. In addition, many blogs seem to go days or weeks without updates—the consistent update pattern here keeps readers checking back for what’s new. Neither of these two key elements happen by accident but require time and thought—both are appreciated.

    I’ve learned a lot from reading the comments of others here. I miss some of the former regulars who seem to have disappeared. I’ve learned not just factual information but gained an enhanced appreciation for those who may be theologically different but clearly from what they say and how they say it are part of the body of Christ. Discussions sometimes get heated and it’s a good learning experience to see the civil ways some are able to share their thoughts and just as good a learning experience to see the bad ways others do so. It’s unfortunate that sometimes the written word doesn’t always convey a person’s attitudes and intents as clearly as in-person discussions.

    Thanks again for all the good and meaningful work.

  11. Thank you so much for your dedication to this site, and to keeping the conversation going that was started by Michael Spencer. When I first discovered this blog, years ago, I was wavering somewhere between atheism and agnosticism. This site has been a huge influence in my (however slow and unenthusiastic) move back to Christianity after 15 years of not thinking twice about it.

    Here’s wishing a happy and blessed 2011 to everyone who helps to make Internet Monk the thought-provoking, soul-feeding site that it is!

  12. conanthepunctual says:

    Just want to add my thanks as well. It’s great to have places within the body of Christ where questions aren’t feared. At this moment in my life, I find that primarily with my wife, at my church (I know that’s something of a rarity and I thank God for it), and here. Thank you for being the blessing you are.

  13. If you get 205 comments on this post, will you revise your list? 🙂

  14. Dave Hidlebaugh says:

    I just finished Michael’s book. I am deeply sorry for his passing. This is one of the few books that I have read that have made such a great impact on me. I love his sense of humour and honesty. In fact reading his book led me to subscribe to the IMONK and this is my first crack at participating in this type of forum. Thank you and I look forward to future conversations.

  15. I have so appreciated this site over the past couple of years and was one of the many who grieved Michael’s death even though I didn’t know him personally.

    I was so grateful to find people experiencing the same thing I and my family are. We have been in the wilderness for a couple of years now and the depth of analysis and insight here as well as the thoughtful approach to so many issues are really a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

  16. For a diversity of thoughtful viewpoints, for civil discussion and steady hands in the way the site’s moderated and administered, I think it’s hard to beat IM. I wish there were more sites like it, or at least more sites that follow its example.

  17. I have just read through your FAQ/Rules and am saddened that you seem to ignore them when giving your ill informed opinion of Answers In Genesis and Ken Ham.

    If the best you can manage is childish name calling then that is a sad testimony to the point of this blog.

    If you wish to aspire to being a Christian commentator then maybe you should comment in a Christian manner.

    • Go back on the week of the original post and read Michael Spencer’s post on the role of the Christian critic. Sorry we don’t measure up to your standards, Glenn.

  18. Let me see if I understand this. If I Christian organization holds to a Biblical view of Genesis (including creation and the global flood), if another “Christian” disbelieves the Bible, then the believer is subject to ridicule. Do I have this right?

    Some of us do not look for excuses to compromise with evolutionists and old-earth advocates (read: unreliable, ever-changing science and presuppositions).

    • OK. Where do I begin, Stormbringer?

      1. A “Biblical” view of Genesis. Premise one rejected.
      2. We are real Christians and we believe the Bible here. Premise two rejected.
      3. We are not looking for excuses for anything. Premise three rejected.
      4. “Evolutionists and old-earth advocates” sounds like name calling to me. That approach rejected.
      5. “Unreliable, ever-changing science and presuppositions” misunderstands the entire nature and purpose of the scientific enterprise.

      Stormbringer, with all due respect, you didn’t say a single thing that’s worth responding to here.

      • You responded, Cupcake. And all you did was reject everything out of hand. “‘Unreliable, ever-changing science and presuppositions’ misunderstands the entire nature and purpose of the scientific enterprise.” Wrong-O! You’re elevating man-made, ever-changing whims into a position where you compromise the Word of God.

        I think it’s simple: If you did believe the Word, and were not compromisers, then you would not be engaging in your own hypocritical name-calling and derision of other Christians who DO believe the Bible.

        • Hambuster says:

          Amen, Stormbringer.
          Quite a contradiction, Chaplain Mike:
          1. A “Biblical” view of Genesis. Premise one rejected.
          2. We are real Christians and we believe the Bible here. Premise two rejected.

          If you reject a “biblical” view of Genesis what other “view” is there?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Where do I begin, Stormbringer?

        First, start packing Mournblade.

  19. Thank you for this. A while ago, there was a post that asked why we were reading imonk. I replied with the fact that, as a non-believer, I feel that I am welcome here and that, as long as I tread with respect, equal respect will be given. I received a reply or two saying that they were glad I was here and that I was welcome. I still feel that now and I thank you for keeping this site going.

    (It’s also fun to see the puzzled looks on my friends’ faces when I say that one of my favorite blogs is Christian.)

    Best to you and yours in this new year.

  20. For a christian site I see very little of God’s word spoken here. I challange anyone to defend your position of a long age belief on scripture .And since that cannot be done, you, in fact are saying that you believe the intelligence of men over the word of God. This I believe is un-wise because God’s word says that He will show the intellegence if men as foolishness. All the knowledge of all the men on this planet is nothing compared to the Lords.I believe Jesus would respond by saying as He did many times; “Oh ye of little faith”. Scripture says to not give the devil a foothold. This lack of faith/trust does just that. Jesus also said “let the little children come to me”. Genesis is written with the simplicity that a five year old can understand. It is done so on purpose. I find it saddening that “adults” complicate it. God creates time in Genesis, that being the days and the measurment the His creation would live by! IT IS NOT A MATTER OF INTERPRETATION. It is a issue of faith. I know that some do not wish to admit this. I wish to offend no one, only to build up, but I also believe it shows a lack of courage, because it does mean that you open yourself up to ridicule in this day of the science gods. We weaken our own position and open ourselves up to defeat because we are not a united front ( one body) and we do a GREAT injustice to God becaues of our lack of unity. This is a very important issue . Your responces indicate this. The enemy has been attacking this weak area. It is a spritual war in case you do not percive it. The enemy uses the same tactic as was used in Genesis 3:1…….. “Did God really say”.