“Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them you have hanged! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” John Proctor, the Crucible
Imagine having a friend with a serious drug problem. How should that problem being addressed be with him? Would an anonymous note telling him that he is hurting himself and should be stop his drug abuse be in order? What about a personal confrontation telling him the same? Both the note and the personal confrontation would present a valid argument. He should stop abusing drugs. However, an anonymous note carries less weight than the wounds of a known friend as well as less risk to the personal relationship. There is a degree of safety in anonymity. However, there is also sometimes a degree of cowardice. The internet is full of people with controversial opinions and criticisms. Some of these people present their criticisms publically and with their names begins them. Others use pseudonymous or anonymous blogs, Facebook accounts, and Twitter handles. Such use, among Christians, is unfortunate. A comparison between two Christian bloggers, Mark Lamprecht and “Francis Turretin” illustrates why.
Many in the on-line Baptist community are familiar with Mark Lamprecht. Mark is a financial professional, licensed minister, and seminary student in the Atlanta area who used to regularly blog at his site Here I Blog. (He now more regularly writes at his eponymous website MarkLamprecht.com.) Mark was inspired to name his website “Here I Blog” by the stand that Martin Luther took at the Diet of Worms. Luther was asked to recant of his writings against the Roman Catholic Church. Instead, he stood his ground (allegedly) concluding, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.” A dramatization of Luther’s bravery is shown below.
Mark Lamprecht’s Christian testimony is a powerful one. He was raised in the as a Reorganized Latter-Day Saint, a “church” that is a heretical offshoot of a heretical offshoot. By the grace of God, Mark came to faith in Jesus Christ. Having come to Christ, Mark became a reformed Baptist…and Mark is a reformed Baptist of reformed Baptists. His street credentials include being married by James White, of Alpha and Omega ministries. (He’s also a super-nice guy.) Mark’s writing at Here I Blog could fairly be called “discernment blogging”. As a reformed Baptist discernment blogger, Mark was not afraid to be critical of religious schools of thought from Roman Catholicism to Oneness Pentecostalism. Despite working in a very client-sensitive industry, Mark boldly proclaimed and continues to proclaim his faith and speaks out on sometimes controversial societal issues such as homosexuality and abortion. Mark’s professional profile even states that he is a member of a Baptist church. Standing in the shadow of the reformers, he boldly proclaims biblical truth using his own name.
“Francis Turretin” is a pseudonymous blogger who writes about “Reformed Apologetics & Polemics”. (He’s also a nice guy.) Like Mark Lamprecht, he draws inspiration from a notable reformer. He has written, quite skillfully, about some of the same subjects as Mark Lamprecht, most notably the charlatanry of Ergun Caner. While Lamprecht criticized the litigious Caner openly and under his real name, “Turretin” did so from behind a pseudonym. A precious few men know who “Turretin” really is. Apparently “Turretin” has a high-level job that would be at risk if he spoke his convictions with his real name behind them. “Turretin’s” Christian testimony is a pseudonymous one. Hiding in the shadow of a reformer, “Turretin” issues polemics.
Martin Luther had a job as well. He was a friar and professor of theology. I can think of no job of a higher level than clergyman and teacher of scripture. Unlike Lamprecht and “Turretin”, Martin Luther did not live in a society with the same degree of religious liberty that Americans enjoy. Martin Luther’s very public proclamation of his religious convictions placed his very life in danger. Martin Luther is widely credited with starting the protestant reformation. This reformation began when Luther nailed his now famous 95 theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg church in Germany on October 31, 1517. Surely it made a difference to the reader of Luther’s theses that they were written by a theologian not some anonymous malcontent known only to a few.
Martin Luther criticized the Roman Catholic Church in its own buildings and in front of its own powerful bishops. “Turretin” criticizes it behind a keyboard. His real name is known only to a precious few reformed theologians who, no doubt, share his critical views of the Catholic Church and affirm along with him the 5 Solas. In the United States people off all religions and denominations peacefully work together and even play of the same sports teams and join the same clubs. Yet, “Turretin” eschews using his real name to criticize both other religions and other Christians for fear of repercussions. While apologists like William Lane Craig strive to help raise up a generation of influential Christian professors, engineers, and other professionals to be salt and light in society,” Turretin”, who is clearly well-read on theology, won’t so much as give his real name to the public.
Recently, “Turretin” has been critical of notable Christian apologist Matt Slick and notable polemicist JD Hall. Both of these men have popular podcast ministries and this blog was founded by Hall. By criticizing popular men such as Slick and Hall, “Turretin” is essentially drafting off of their popularity. His criticisms essentially draw “cheap heat” (This is nothing new for the Pulpit & Pen). All the while, Slick and Hall do not have the opportunity to face their critic. Are his arguments valid? They may be as a valid as note to the drug addict mentioned above. The question is, are his criticisms appropriate within the visible church?
Matt Slick has received death threats for his public activities. People have threatened him and his family.
JD Hall has had to post armed guards outside of his home, where he lives with his wife and children, after negative reactions to his actions.
“Turretin” is apparently afraid to lose his job for talking about Christianity. One might wonder if he even bothers to share the gospel in the parking lot or in the lunch room at his place of business. “Turretin” essentially has his cake and eats it too. Valuable web traffic is drawn to his blog by his writings, yet he is not personally on the hook for any negative repercussions…like all the Christian martyrs who died throughout history and continue to die in foreign countries without the freedom “Turretin” enjoys.
One is left to wonder why “Turretin” doesn’t address fellow believers Slick and Hall using his real name and criticize the world or apostate churches under his protective pseudonym if he is afraid of losing his job (Hint: it would draw zero blog traffic to his site). Could anyone imagine Bruce Wayne dressing up as Batman to give an interview at Wayne Enterprises or criticize a deal with LexCorp? Bruce Wayne wouldn’t hide behind the cape and cowl of Batman to do everyday business with other businessmen. Neither should a Christian, no matter how graciously, criticize a fellow Christian behind a pseudonym. Of course, Bruce Wayne does dress as Batman to fight the Joker. If he didn’t that psychopath would come burn Wayne Manor to the ground and murder Alfred. So why is “Turretin” dressing as a deceased reformer to criticize Slick and Hall (hint: see the hint above)? Are they fellow businessmen or the Joker?
I use my real name when I blog, both at Pulpit & Pen and my personal site. I also use my real name on Twitter and Facebook. It’s the name my parents gave me and the same one written in the Lamb’s books of life. I call on all anonymous and pseudonymous internet personalities to do the same.
[Contributed by Seth Dunn]
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.