Julie Roys ethics

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Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Julie Roys is a Christian investigative reporter who has called out some big names, and she has suffered for it. She first came to my attention with James MacDonald, then with Ravi Zacharias, and now John McArthur plus one of his side-kicks is in her cross-hairs. She also reports morally neutral Christian news and also good stuff, like someone wronged freely forgiving. She documents, she tries to contact both sides of disputes. I have mixed feelings about what she does. Would anyone like to offer an opinion? If what she does is not right, I will stop following her.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
Also conflicted.

The work they do is necessary and helpful.

But it seems to extract a price from them personally they may not recognize. So many of these types of ministry become very cynical and, occasionally, too quick to jump on any negative report because they read past experiences into the present situation.

"When all you have is a hammer..."
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Discernment bloggers were lambasted for their treatment of Ravi and Tom Chantry, too, before the whole truth was finally revealed. In those cases Julie Roys was shown to be on the right side. But call out a rich reformed preacher who lives in a mansion and employs his family members with lucrative deals, and the reformed circle their wagons against her. But something is fishy when you become a millionaire from the gospel. My father told me, "Never trust a rich preacher" and I still agree with him.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
Discernment bloggers were lambasted for their treatment of Ravi and Tom Chantry, too, before the whole truth was finally revealed. In those cases Julie Roys was shown to be on the right side. But call out a rich reformed preacher who lives in a mansion and employs his family members with lucrative deals, and the reformed circle their wagons against her. But something is fishy when you become a millionaire from the gospel. My father told me, "Never trust a rich preacher" and I still agree with him.
I've heard it said somewhere that there seems to be a sort of understanding in our society that the more personally rewarding and "making a difference" the job, the more financial sacrifice it should require.

Hence corporate law pays obscenely well, and ministry and education... not so much.

It might not be fair, but there's probably no way of fixing it that wouldn't make society on the whole worse.
 
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dhh712

Puritan Board Freshman
Also conflicted.

The work they do is necessary and helpful.

But it seems to extract a price from them personally they may not recognize. So many of these types of ministry become very cynical and, occasionally, too quick to jump on any negative report because they read past experiences into the present situation.

"When all you have is a hammer..."

I would worry about this. It is good to have church leaders' lives examined and I do believe that due to their position, their lives perhaps should be--and especially in light of how Satan has made such great inroads into many Church leaders' lives--more transparent to the public.

What also concerns me and what was brought to my mind is that this way however is not what Jesus taught when we have an issue with a brother or sister in Christ. We are to address them personally first, then bring a couple other people with us and then if they still do not listen to us to bring it before the church. It appears to me that she is skipping the first two steps. Yet, how are those supposed to be done? I suppose if she is discovering such things about these people then maybe there is a way, but maybe not?

It's definitely a tough issue. It's definitely needed. The corruption of church leaders is a massive problem, a word is not in existence to convey how great it is. It horribly disfigures the testimony of the church to the point where I can really understand why a Christian would not want to bother to attend church and have that knee-jerk reaction that "It's just me and my Bible". But does the end justify the means? I don't know that my knowledge of God's word is adequate to make a decisive judgment.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
I’m thankful for the truths she HAS revealed in some cases. However, it almost seems like a necessary evil due to ecclesiastical bodies failing to perform church discipline beyond writing public statements or either very influential speakers failing to submit to and be under the oversight of a faithful congregation. That said, in my opinion the ends do not justify her means, which I believe to be outside of the prescription of Christ for handling private or public sins of visible brothers/sisters in Christ. This detracts from and undermines the responsibilities/duties of the ordained office of the under-shepherd (sessions, presbyteries, and assemblies). Further, I believe these blogs feed our proneness (mine included) to examine other’s failures more than our own (self-examination), which will often breed pride and contempt for our neighbors.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
This is in some part why a Presbyterianism system exists with a succession of higher courts as in Acts 15. Men qualified and ordained to watch the sheep will have taken vows to do this kind of work. And when a man in leadership in a congregation steps out of line, he knows he must answer to other men qualified and ordained outside his congregation and circle of influence, and they will have a say in what must be done. And if the elders or the presbytery have not grieved the Spirit, they may expect to be guided in a course of action that will be good for the man in question and for the congregation. Which, sadly, doesn't always happen.

But Presbyterianism aside and addressing eldership work across the board, I don't know this lady, but I have some initial reservations about a Christian investigative journalist. From what you describe @Leslie it seems she is taking on something that would fall under the responsibility of elders. To gather info on a controversy and publish it, particularly when it comes to someone's flaws, crosses into a shepherd's precinct. The investigation, admonition, and if need be the public censure, belongs to those authorized to do it. In some cases outside voices, or any broadcasting of the issues publicly, can get in the way of the church dealing with such things, which I have seen happen. I don't doubt the lady's love for the church and truth, but the zeal to investigate can't be mistaken for a shepherding gift that's necessary to deal with such things. On top of that, she is ultimately an outsider to the events, so there's a real potential limit to what she can know, and what conclusions you can draw, and cannot ultimately be called Christ's oversight of the flock.
 
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ChristianLibertarian

Puritan Board Freshman
Julie Roys is a Christian investigative reporter who has called out some big names, and she has suffered for it. She first came to my attention with James MacDonald, then with Ravi Zacharias, and now John McArthur plus one of his side-kicks is in her cross-hairs. She also reports morally neutral Christian news and also good stuff, like someone wronged freely forgiving. She documents, she tries to contact both sides of disputes. I have mixed feelings about what she does. Would anyone like to offer an opinion? If what she does is not right, I will stop following her.
"Investigative journalism" is nothing more than scandal journalism. It could also be called advocacy journalism because the author almost always has an agenda he or she is pushing, for which scandal furthers their broader argument. I am not opposed to it across the board but it's important to note that these journalists aren't usually on the up and up regarding their intentions.

Most of what I'm seeing from Roys is stuff elders should be taking care of. In the case of MacArthur, she's pushing a wicked agenda that wealth is evil and the fact that someone is wealthy is worthy of attack. That's rank cultural Marxism, to say nothing of a violation of the 9th and 10th commandments. It is sensational though and it hits on a massive cultural problem we have, the jealousy of people who have wealth. The church really needs to preach against this wickedness.
 

Jonathco

Puritan Board Freshman
But Presbyterianism aside and addressing eldership work across the board, I don't know this lady, but I have some initial reservations about a Christian investigative journalist. From what you describe @Leslie it seems she is taking on something that would fall under the responsibility of elders. To gather info on a controversy and publish it, particularly when it comes to someone's flaws, crosses into a shepherd's precinct. The investigation, admonition, and if need be the public censure, belongs to those authorized to do it. In some cases outside voices, or any broadcasting of the issues publicly, can get in the way of the church dealing with such things, which I have seen happen. I don't doubt the lady's love for the church and truth, but the zeal to investigate can't be mistaken for a shepherding gift that's necessary to deal with such things. On top of that, she is ultimately an outsider to the events, so there's a real potential limit to what she can know, and what conclusions you can draw, and cannot ultimately be called Christ's oversight of the flock.
Well said, Jake. Discernment bloggers like Julie Roys, Pulpit & Pen, etc... have stepped outside God's design for the church, by assuming a role that is (1) outside that of eldership, and (2) outside of their local church (if Baptist) or outside of their Presbytery/Synod (if Presbyterian).

One could argue that since RZM was a para-church organization and therefore not under the oversight of church elders, discernment bloggers are not overstepping church authority - a valid argument, perhaps. However, the larger discussion should be that para-church organizations like RZM should not exist. I strongly question ministries that exist without valid oversight from the church.

I am not trying to ridicule Roys unnecessarily; however, God's design for the local church is elders (in plurality), not discernment bloggers. Independent journalists, celebrity ministers, and pastors without co-elders all have something in common: they lack accountability and oversight from the local church.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
My father told me, "Never trust a rich preacher" and I still agree with him.
There needs to be nuance here. I agree this can be true, but it does not hold up as a blanket statement especially when considering some of the figures in the Bible that were both faithful and rich. The love of money is a sin, not being rich.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
What place is there for independent news that reports on controversies? There was consternation if not attempts to silence independent reporting by Presbyterians over 19th century controversies in the church, and similarly there was independent reporting last century as the church descended into liberalism. In not granting Ms. Roys a place, how do you avoid the consistency of decrying all independent reporting? Recall the most recent defense of such when there were attempts to silence Frank J. Smith's Presbyterian News service when he was reporting on the PCA (when still part of the PCA; he's RPCNA now).
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
One could argue that since RZM was a para-church organization and therefore not under the oversight of church elders, discernment bloggers are not overstepping church authority - a valid argument, perhaps. However, the larger discussion should be that para-church organizations like RZM should not exist. I strongly question ministries that exist without valid oversight from the church.

Agreed. Parachurch ministries should only function under the church. In my opinion, those who don't are fair game. And Roys did a great job in taking down Vision Forum.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
it seems she is taking on something that would fall under the responsibility of elders.
Except it isn't that hard to find cases where elders have abdicated their responsibilities at the church, presbytery (Louisiana Presbytery PCA) (Pacific Northwest PCA) and even the General Assembly level (St. Louis PCA)
 

Jonathco

Puritan Board Freshman
What place is there for independent news that reports on controversies? There was consternation if not attempts to silence independent reporting by Presbyterians over 19th century controversies in the church, and similarly there was independent reporting last century as the church descended into liberalism. In not granting Ms. Roys a place, how do you avoid the consistency of decrying all independent reporting? Recall the most recent defense of such when there were attempts to silence Frank J. Smith's Presbyterian News service when he was reporting on the PCA (when still part of the PCA; he's RPCNA now).
That's a good question, Chris. I am not familiar with the specifics of the PCA example you mentioned, as I typically run in Baptist circles, but you raise a valid point. One need go no further than ARBCA to see the problems that can arise when larger bodies do not allow accountability, and instead hide the truth for years.

I guess my question is this: do the historical examples we see with the PCA and ARBCA warrant Roys and others to do investigative, independent reporting from outside the church and post it for the unbeleiving world to gawk at, or... does this show the need for the church to increase it's accountability, oversight, discipline, and transparency among the body, so as not to require muck-rake journalism to expose long-hidden abuse within the church?

*I am not implying Roys is a muck-rake journalist; however, discernment blogging as a whole is eroding into that.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
That's a good question, Chris. I am not familiar with the specifics of the PCA example you mentioned, as I typically run in Baptist circles, but you raise a valid point. One need go no further than ARBCA to see the problems that can arise when larger bodies do not allow accountability, and instead hide the truth for years.

I guess my question is this: do the historical examples we see with the PCA and ARBCA warrant Roys and others to do investigative, independent reporting from outside the church and post it for the unbeleiving world to gawk at, or... does this show the need for the church to increase it's accountability, oversight, discipline, and transparency among the body, so as not to require muck-rake journalism to expose long-hidden abuse within the church?

*I am not implying Roys is a muck-rake journalist; however, discernment blogging as a whole is eroding into that.
Add the question, who gets to judge the muckraker and legitimate reporting (and we're basically talking journals too; you had independent pro and con reports on GAs in various journals in the 19th century)?
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Add the question, who gets to judge the muckraker and legitimate reporting (and we're basically talking journals too; you had independent pro and con reports on GAs in various journals in the 19th century)?
Calling out public unaddressed sin, heresy, or dangerous doctrine is 1 thing. Targeting a minister because he is wealthy and has hired family members is quite another that imputes motives and grossly violates the 9th, in my opinion. Show me proof of sin, have witnesses, or something. The other example being raising questions about a minister training ministers in Africa who is undergoing heart treatment.
 
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Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
I think there are two principles to keep in mind here, each one balancing the abuse of the other:

1) Investigative reporting is not per se a bad thing.
2) There is a difference between exposing sin and being a busybody.
 
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Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Granted that discipline should come from within the church, if and when it does not, is it better for investigative journalists to do their thing, or should church corruption be allowed to continue?

Exposure of one pastor may motivate another to clean up his act, to avoid embarrassment; on the other hand, it helps unbelievers scoff at the church.
Silence ensures that when the corruption does become public, it's a far, far bigger deal, with many more vulnerable people being hurt in the meantime.

I had some acquaintance with the MacDonald problem long before it broke open. It only became the big deal that it finally was because the evangelical community in the greater Chicago area kept shutting up Julie Roys.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
I think there are two principals to keep in mind here, each one balancing the abuse of the other:

1) Investigative reporting is not per se a bad thing.
2) There is a difference between exposing sin and being a busybody.
Exactly and there is a difference in offering critique on ones word’s and actions, and presbytery decisions vs. the sin of imputing motives.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
do the historical examples we see with the PCA and ARBCA warrant Roys and others to do investigative, independent reporting from outside the church and post it for the unbeleiving world to gawk at, or... does this show the need for the church to increase it's accountability, oversight, discipline, and transparency among the body,
I would say "and" instead of "or" there. There are too many cases of problematic persons being quietly shifted to another geographic area as part of a cover up for any of us to pretend that the system actually functions as advertised.

That being said, North Texas Presbytery of the PCA seems to have a pretty good batting average when it comes to discipline.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
She has done some good work, but as of late, she seems to be losing objectivity and becoming a partisan player in some disputes. Her targeting of MacArthur looks unfair and obsessive. She complains of being momentarily doxed by Phil Johnson, but overlooks Aimee Byrd's doxing of hundreds of innocent folks and promotes Byrd's faux victim narrative.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Calling out public unaddressed sin, or heresy, dangerous doctrines is 1 thing. Targeting a minister because he is wealthy and has hired family members is quite another that imputes motives and grossly violates the 9th, in my opinion. Show me proof of sin, have witnesses, or something. The other example being raising questions about a minister training ministers in Africa who is undergoing heart treatment.
I think there are two principals to keep in mind here, each one balancing the abuse of the other:

1) Investigative reporting is not per se a bad thing.
2) There is a difference between exposing sin and being a busybody.
The only guard I see is for the reporter to be open to ninth commandment charges and slander; but there's a long way from "didn't answer my questions" to anything that is actionable. News people seem to not think they need to guard the good name of their neighbor and avoid bringing lesser faults before the public. If the gofundme for Rev. Baucham has been tardy or negligent to state how the excess funds are to be disposed of, let it go. Doing an article just as the guy is trying to or just made it to Mayo, and leave dangling "questions were not answered" leaves the impression something is not being on the up and up. I don't even follow the guy's ministry; it just seemed like a hit piece leaving that implication rather than just reporting the news of it.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
What place is there for independent news that reports on controversies? There was consternation if not attempts to silence independent reporting by Presbyterians over 19th century controversies in the church, and similarly there was independent reporting last century as the church descended into liberalism. In not granting Ms. Roys a place, how do you avoid the consistency of decrying all independent reporting? Recall the most recent defense of such when there were attempts to silence Frank J. Smith's Presbyterian News service when he was reporting on the PCA (when still part of the PCA; he's RPCNA now).



Is she merely an independent reporter, or is she trying to be judge/jury? The former is good in my book with discretion, if they know the difference between reporting fact and interpretation; the latter I think is usurping bounds.

I had in my mind among other things the Iain Campbell case. PB had put a moratorium on discussing the matter so the presbytery could sort things out unhindered. That act taught me a healthy respect for boundaries in church affairs. Things get online, they end up in presbytery meeting discussions, and it complicates things. Even the power of suggestion in a report could make things difficult. There is often more to a case than actually goes public. Some things are not said for good discretionary reasons.

Of course if a Presbyterian/synod commits a grievous sin and there's no repentance, it may just be Christ's method of cleaning the clock to let the news out; and I can't say that the independent journalists are wrong to report, warts and all. @Edward

Frank Smith is in my presbytery.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Of course if a Presbyterian/synod commits a grievous sin and there's no repentance, it may just be Christ's method of cleaning the clock to let the news out; and I can't say that the independent journalists are wrong to report, warts and all. @Edward
Then there was the sorry story out of Scotland of Iain Campbell and the churchfolk who only began to do the right thing after 'discernment bloggers' exposed what the good folk in the church leadership were doing to the victim. Public embarrassment led to public apology. https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/2151240/anne-campbell-iain-campbell-isle-of-lewis-free-church/

Of course, sometimes it is hard to see the line between what can be the exceedingly slow process of the church courts on one side and stonewalling and cover-up on the other.

For the record, I consider Frank Smith one of the good guys.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Frank Smith is one of the good guys. Thanks Edward. He lives and speaks to where he lives and breaths. He understands boundaries. You have to love a person like that.

I try to do the same. If you post here you are in my boundaries. Just saying.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Then there was the sorry story out of Scotland of Iain Campbell and the churchfolk who only began to do the right thing after 'discernment bloggers' exposed what the good folk in the church leadership were doing to the victim. Public embarrassment led to public apology. https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/2151240/anne-campbell-iain-campbell-isle-of-lewis-free-church/

Of course, sometimes it is hard to see the line between what can be the exceedingly slow process of the church courts on one side and stonewalling and cover-up on the other.

For the record, I consider Frank Smith one of the good guys.
Who’s frank smith?
 
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