What is the Purpose of the Puritanboard? - EVERYONE READ

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C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
I wanted to post this on the board about the board itself and its purpose. As of late, we have had a few people leave. I'm not afraid to tell you that because it has been blatantly posted on the board, and even if it was not posted, I would have still told you. Why? Because there is no reason for anyone to leave.

The purpose of the board is twofold: it is a means of influence, and it is a means of being influenced, all for the glory of God. We either influence one another, or we are influenced. Not everyone is at the same level of sanctification as everyone else. Sometimes the subjects that are discussed are far too heavy or weighty for newer Christians to be involved in. Other times some hot debate around theological issues causes zealous posts that may be fueled with some hearty theological pressure against ideas that may not be in accord with what you believe. That's OK. I did not start the Puritanboard with the intention that we would theological "baby" everyone. The purpose of the board is to exercise our theological minds so that we may become more like Christ - that we may help one another along to heaven.

The board has become a place where many who are dealing with critical theological issues debate one another. One issue is a the everlasting credo-paedo debate. Take this in perspective - there are many people who are thinking through this debate and trying to make a landing. Others have just crossed over. Other are more steadfast and firm in their position. Their posts reflect this because they are trying to figure things out. All that is well and good. Praise God we have a place where we can test our thoughts on other people, attempt to theologically overrule them by good argumentation, and enter into a thoughtful discussion. Pigeon holing someone is not a bad thing especially when the one trying to pigeon hole the other is working through their theology and trying to figure out if they are missing something. That helps them make a conscious decision which way they should go, and it also rubs others to consider that their position may not be as strong as they thought. All this comes down to debate. Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg hoping to DEBATE. His Theses were less than "kind" in many ways. His objective was to set forth solid biblical material (in his mind) and debate other to see where he may be right and where he may be wrong.

On the board we debate. Debating is good. We live in a society of toleration where people don't want to talk about religion, and politics. Do we want to be politically correct or theologically accurate?

In terms of HOW we deal with one another, we should be charitable and helpful. That does not mean we should stop debating. I quote one of our moderators, "I'm tired of the "he doesn't like my theology" "Oh he makes fun of my position" "Oh, you're inconsistent" "no, you're inconsistent" "no, you are really inconsistent" back and forth." This is very tiring for both the moderators to continually step in and baby-sit, and for others who really want to think through positions. When someone gives a position, and then someone else says "That is inconsistent" without proving it, that is what we call "ad hominem" argumentation - its just poking at them without offering anything to state the "real" position you think you have.

We are called upon by the Lord to contend earnestly for the faith. (Jude 3) That does not necessarily involve being contentious; but it involves avoiding compromise, standing forth for what we believe, standing forth for the truth of God-without welching at any particular moment. Thus, we are bound to meet, at various points and various levels, people with whom we disagree.

As roger Nicole said, there are three thinks we should be thinking about when dealing with people with whom we theologically disagree:

(1) What do I owe the person who differs from me?

(2) What can I learn from the person who differs from me?

(3) How can I cope with the person who differs from me?

If you are debating, but overlooking these, then you are sinning against your brother.

There is, therefore, an obligation if we are going to voice differences to make a serious effort to know the person and position with whom we differ. We must attempt to understand what a person means.

Similarly, in dealing with those who differ, we ought not to quibble about language just in order to pounce on our opponent because he or she has not used accurate wording. It is more effective to seek to apprehend what is meant and then to relate ourselves to the person's meaning.

In charity we should be thinking that the first thing that I should be prepared to learn is that I am wrong and the other person is right. Yes, you could be wrong. You are a fallen, but redeemed, human being. They could be a right. Consider this.

Our reputation will be better served if we show ourselves ready to be corrected when in error, rather than if we keep obstinately to our viewpoint when the evidence shows it to be wrong. I should welcome the correction. It makes me wise to welcome it: Proverbs 9:8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.

We should remember:
"God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any way contrary to His Word, or beside it in matters of faith or worship" (WCF 20:2).

We need here to be careful to make a reverent use of Scripture, quoting every reference in a way that is consistent with its context. This will protect our approach against the legitimate criticisms levied against "proof-texting," a method that lifts scriptural statements from their environment, and marshals them as if they were isolated pronouncements vested with divine authority without regard to the way in which they are introduced in Holy Writ.

We must therefore, be careful to use the Scripture in such a way that an examination of the context will strengthen, not weaken the argument.

Perhaps the most important consideration for the Christian is to remain aware at all times of the goal to be achieved. It is the consistent perception of this goal that will give a basic orientation to the whole discussion: Are we attempting to win an argument in order to manifest our own superior knowledge and debating ability? Or are we seeking to win another person whom we perceive as enmeshed in error or inadequacy by exposing him or her to the truth and light that God has given to us?
As Dr. Nicole rightly says, "A Christian in carrying on discussions with those who differ should not be subject to the psychology of the boxing ring where the contestants are bent upon demolishing one another. Rather "The Lord's servant must not quarrel: instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses..." (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

May we take this all to heart and be wise in the manner in which we deal with one another.

But we must never, ever forget that we are after TRUTH. TRUTH that transforms us into the body of Christ, and like Christ, is what this discussion board is all about.

[Edited on 6-27-2004 by webmaster]
[b:83de02c3cf]Matthew wrote:[/b:83de02c3cf]
The purpose of the board is twofold: it is a means of influence, and it is a means of being influenced, all for the glory of God. We either influence one another, or we are influenced.

I'd say that the board is definitely serving its purpose for me. I appreciate the influence that my paedo and credo brothers and sisters have on me. Iron truly does sharpen iron, even when we aren't part of the battle, but are meerly onlookers.
Many thanks,
According to the Purpose of the Board...

To me, this type of speech seems out of place for such "discussions":

X says: "C'mon Y, I have explained this point to you over and over for months and you refuse to listen to me!!!"

This is insulting of Y, not uplifting or exhorting or even correcting. And it is arrogant of X, who misses the possibility that arguments that are convincing to himself are not [yet] convincing to others.

This stuff comes across to me as pure impatience, among other things, and it goes both directions (credo/paedo). Gently correct those who are in opposition. Be patient when wronged. Deal gently with the ignorant and misguided <Heb 5:2> (whomever you identify them to be).

My two cents... :)

I apologize for my more sour posts critical of the way you guys debate. I thought twice about posting that (should've thought thrice) but really, I think it was that tough love attitude that got me hooked here in the first place.

Matt, when you started this board did you have any idea of the community it would turn into?
I just wanted to apologize for any anger ive shown towards anyone here alot has been going on for me in my private life and I can easily get angry and take it out on the wrong people.

I do say though that for all us me mostly should respectfully disaree with each other no matter how ridiculous you think the other person s argument is being rude and insulting only creates tension and animosity towards oen another.


p.s. matt you sent it twice to me via email.
I'm still sorting out where I am with paedo/credo but won't read the discussions, because 1. they get acrimonious, 2. Everyone says the same things again & again. I've been baptized 3 times(God help me!) and did it the last time because after all these years I really was saved and wanted to make a break with the past. I enjoy the board, but it does get vicious around here sometimes. I just stay off those threads that seem to be going west.

[Edited on 6-28-2004 by turmeric]
I am still wondering if I should join the Antiochian Orthodox church and stop posting here.
[b:b3c8fb045b]Meg wrote:[/b:b3c8fb045b]
I enjoy the board, but it does get vicious around here sometimes. I just stay off those threads that seem to be going west.

That's wise. Viewing things on the board is just like watching TV in some ways. If we don't like what we see, we can change stations (forums). One advantage this place has over the TV is we don't have to constantly be looking for the clicker (we're always misplacing ours in the couch cushions, or under a chair, or wherever).

Daniel -

Matt, when you started this board did you have any idea of the community it would turn into?

Scot actually had to talk me into it for a while. I was very skeptical. But look at what God has done!
[b:e41a620bbc]Matthew wrote:[/b:e41a620bbc]
Scot actually had to talk me into it for a while. I was very skeptical. But look at what God has done!

Let's hear it for Scott! :banana:
When I got Matt's e-mail this morning I just HAD to pop in and see what all the brouhaha was about! (No, I didn't disappear because I couldn't take the heated exchanges. Somebody here posted a link to Sermonaudio.com and I got hooked!)

I think the paedo/credo debate, which evokes so much passion, is always worth reading, because of the bigger theological picture which emerges. It's sad that some members have left, and a little ridiculous. You don't run away from home every time you get in a fight with your siblings! It would be understandable if they found heresy and/or blasphemy here, but that isn't the case. Withering criticism of your ideas is iron sharpening iron.

I always listen to the Intro before I log in here. It makes me think of the sounds at my favorite bodybuilding gym. You know what they say. "No pain, no gain."
When I first joined this Board I kept up with every post. Every post. But then it was a lot less than it is tody. Now I can't keep up anymore. As such, the paedo/credo debate has not received my attention like should have. What I am saying is that I too got the attitude that I heard it all before, and I don't need to hear it again. That is a wrong attitude to carry on this Board. I have as much a need to listen to a new voice saying the same old things as that person has a need to say them to these old ears. I should be listening to the person, not just the arguments.

At first I laid back on many threads, reading mostly and submitting my own views sparingly. As I got to kow everyone, I realized that I too needed to let others get to know me. So I posted on things that I felt strongly about, or that I felt I knew something about that would benefit others. At the same time I practiced my writing skills and my articulation. But mostly I sat at the feet of the ones who were educated, were wise, and were spiritually gifted. I have come to some very important decisions in my life, and this Board has been ery helpful in making them. (Decisions whch were of much more import than which strings to buy for my guitar.)

I wish to champion the dispositon of the Board. It may not have been perfect, but this Board has shown itself to be a reflection of that very ideal which I have found sanctifies discussion of any kind. The unity I see Eph 4 and Philip. 1-2 teaching is a kind where our being of one mind is the means to overcome not our differences, but our own and each others' misunderstandings and erroneous views. These latter we will have all our lives, but that does not mean we cannot have unity in being of one mind.

Yes, I think that there is a certain view within our Reformed setting that is only a reflection of the world's modern philosophies instead of Scripture. But it may yet be that I am wrong. I am convinced, but I know the difference beween being convinced of that and being convicted by the Word. The former is not necessarily the latter.

So I think it is important to learn to submit to each other, even when we think ourselves to be convinced of certain things which disagree with what others are convinced of; because we each bear the mark of our Saviour, not the stamp of each other. The mark of salvation is on my brother, and we both bear our misunderstandings and erroneous views until the Spirit frees us from them. Whatever we are given to know is of grace, whether we know a lot of a little. We should not despise that grace in our brothers.

We may have failed from time to time, but yet this Board makes a great effort to esteem that grace that is in each of us, and to guard the dignity of Christ's body.
:ditto: & :amen:. I had some stuff to say, but there's not much to add anymore, especially after the last post. I plan to stay in fellowship with you all on this board until one of the following three things happen: 1) The board ends; 2) I die; 3) Christ returns. Thanks for posting this thread, Matt; it needed to be said.

In Christ,
Hey Melissa, it was good to see a post from you on here again. Good Sabbath to you for all the opportunities I missed to wish you a Good Sabbath in the last few months.

I have long felt like the odd man out in the rest of the church world. A calvinist in a world of arminians. A presup in a world of evidentialists. A post trib in a world of pretribs. Seeking God centered worship in a world that worships the creature. Finally, a Sabbatarian in a world of Suday keepers. Ok, that one carries over to the board.

The PB is like an island of learning and a place to pursue Truth. It is not a place of like minds but of folks united by the Lords spirit. I couldn't disagree with some of you more on some subjects - but there is not a one of you a wouldn't be proud to stand beside and declare, "This peson loves the Word and His Church and understands some things, listen to this person."

We will argue about church government, mode of baptism and apologetics until the Lord brings all things to an end. Whenever I get confused or mindnumbed I simply return to the one thinkg I understand for sure, it's where I came into this wonderful adventure - God Saves Sinners of whom I am the chief.

There are strong and passioned statements made on the board but there is balance. Overall, I've received both education and edification.
Thank you Matt for the board and thank you everone on it who is helping to equip the saints.

To those who have left, "Don't go away mad.... COME BACK!!!!"
[quote:aead8b287c][i:aead8b287c]Originally posted by Wintermute[/i:aead8b287c]
I am still wondering if I should join the Antiochian Orthodox church and stop posting here. [/quote:aead8b287c]

Its where you catachize kids in blade runner:D


I dont know what he is talking about either but he is blade runner brother:)

I heard rick warren is coming out with a book called "purpose driven chat rooms"

perhaps we should consult ....

I must say that I'm very thankful for this board. When I found this forum I quickly discovered this is a place where I could learn from my brothers and sisters in Christ, those who know much more than I do.

I have been really interested in the debates here, they are good, they cause me to think about my position and consider the other persons. I'd never have such a chance apart from this board, there just aren't the people around me to facilitate such discussion. Because of this puritanboard is very important to me.

I have been challenged, and I have grown because of it. For that I thank you all.
Matt, if you want me to look around for some free chat rooms I can put them on my site if it's impossible (or impractical, too time consuming, etc) for them to be here. I've seen a few members ask around for it.

Or, I could try and set up some kind of IRC server and instruct people to download clients, and on how to connect, etc.
Fred, Craig & Nathan...regarding Mark's post, I'm pretty sure he's being totally sarcastic. I went to the [b:051b924caa]official site[/b:051b924caa] of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, and one thing they have to say is that "God loves all mankind and desires that all human beings should believe in Him, know Him, abide in Him, and receive eternal life from Him." Furthermore, they list the Nicene Creed as their official statement of faith. So Mark's post seems to have been a "hidden" yet good joke when uncovered.
I knew you were joking with the first part of your post, Nathan, but you also said that you weren't sure what he [i:788117e458]was[/i:788117e458] in fact talking about, and that's what I was addressing.
Thanks for bumping this, Bob. I appreciate the PB. My primary reason for being here is to help me in my understanding of Calvinism.

This board will do nicely for that purpose.
As one elder pointed out to me that yes we exercise love but today's "nice" compromising climate is more like two cotton balls rubbing against each other under the guise of love. He concluded that when Iron truly does sharpen iron, sparks will fly.
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