Yesterday a commentator appeared on this blog assuring us that he’d welcome a “great open debate” about the good and bad things that megachurches are doing. The commentator, who identified himself as “Pastor,” came back this afternoon questioning my salvation, my church’s motivations, and, for good measure, throwing in a reference to my employer.
After I notified “Pastor” in the comments that he was no longer welcome to post on this blog, he responded tonight with the following:
What a tool you James. You do know a lot of NewSpringers give a lot of money to AU. I wonder if you stopped until you gt fired what would happen? Nope not a pastor but I bet I could cause you some serious job pain if I chose to .
And then, when he saw that the comment wasn’t automatically posted, he used the contact form to reach me under the heading, Not affraid to stand up for Jesus:
Why are so scared of post that point out what you are really about. And what are you teaching your students at anderson. This really concerns me. Calls will be made to deans tomorrow and board members. And before you dismiss what I am saying make sure you know that I directly or indirectly can effect about 500k in donations.
So after saying he wanted a debate, what he really wants is to blackmail my employer for $500,000 to have them fire me. We’ve seen this script before. The quick resort of some NewSpring supporters to threats and force should trouble the church’s leaders, though it’s hardly a surprising reaction given their continued aggressive rhetoric towards critics like me.
I have enough confidence in the integrity of my employer that they won’t be bothered by these phone calls should he make them. My university robustly supports freedom of Christian conscience and speech. Even so, this blog doesn’t speak for the university, its students, faculty or staff. It speaks for me alone in my role as a member of the church universal, not as a professor.
I have passed this gentlemen’s comments and contact information on to NewSpring church, assuming that he is probably a member there. If he is, I have confidence that their pastors will provide him with some wise and calming counsel.
UPDATE: Dec 2. After posting this, “Pastor” contacted me again privately, though still anonymously, to express regret for his messages and assure me that he didn’t mean them. Today, a senior staff member at NewSpring emailed “Pastor,” using an address I had provided them, on behalf of the church’s leadership team to tell him to desist and that such inappropriate actions did not help the church and were not encouraged by it. I am grateful for their swift cooperation.