The Pen

On WWUTT and the Dressing Down of Discernment

You should keep watching, listening and reading WWUTT material. It’s pretty good.
That being said, I’ve been wanting to add two cents to the recent discussion surrounding a brief but brusque soundbite on a recent WWUTT podcast. While critiquing Nabeel Qureshi’s affinity for Word-Faith and Montanist cult, Bethel Church Redding, Gabriel Hughes said…

“…and Nabeel deserves an apology from Pulpit & Pen.  I have seen them make slanderous and un-true statements about Nabeel Qureshi and even when they were shown their errors they would not relent. I do not recommend Pulpit & Pen. They have an unhealthy craving for quarrels. Which is a real shame because they have had their moments exposing false teachers. They even provided links to WWUTT videos, but unfortunately I can simply can not share their articles as long as they continue this ungracious pattern of beating chest and brow … I maintain that they do own Nabeel an apology.”

I listened to the clip while driving my family across some forsaken highway in Iowa, and my jaw dropped open in incredulity. Was he serious, I asked? With dubiety, I listened again. Was Pastor Hughes really criticizing the Rolex of Polemics Blogs for “slander and untrue statements” about Qureshi while simultaneously repeating their concerns almost verbatim, six months later?
Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I reached out to Pastor Hughes via email at a rest stop decorated with corn art somewhere along Interstate 90 and asked him to give an example of anything “slanderous and un-true” that Pulpit & Pen had written. I exchanged emails with him a total of five times, asking specifically for anything “slanderous and untrue” that anyone affiliated with Pulpit & Pen had written or said. I gave assurances that any factual inaccuracies would be corrected (while I am no longer the editor or contributor at Pulpit & Pen, I am sure based upon the character and integrity of those authors). After much prompting, Pastor Hughes submitted as “evidence” the bellowing rodomontade of David Wood, which skewered Seth Dunn for his original piece and focused on his spelling and grammatical errors and displayed ire that Qureshi’s testimony would be questioned for its inconsistencies. Pastor Hughes also submitted as “evidence” my post in response, which sought to bring clarity to the situation by highlighting the following (direct quotations):

Fact 1: Seth didn’t say that Qureshi wasn’t ever a Muslim. He has pointed out the words of James White, that Qureshi’s sect is to Islam what Jehovah’s Witnesses are to Christianity.

Fact 2: Seth didn’t say that Qureshi wasn’t a Christian. Like, nowhere. Like, not even anything close to that.

Fact 3: Seth didn’t say that Qureshi’s vision wasn’t true. Yep. Read it again, if you doubt it.

Fact 4: Seth was charitable to Qureshi, stating that – and I quote, hence the quotation marks – that Qureshi has given “slightly different accounts.” Oh, the outrage. How dare he use such hyperbole and exaggeration. Oh, hold up. Yeah, so turns out that Qureshi has indeed given “slightly different accounts” of his conversion vision.

If the reader would like to make a sound judgment in this case, I would encourage them to read both Seth Dunn’s original post and my rejoinder. I truly do believe that you’ll find that no one “attacked” Qureshi, no one diminished his character, no one called him lost or a heretic or a “wolf” or any such thing. Rather, these posts encouraged Qureshi to be consistent in how he tells his novel conversion testimony and raised appropriate red flags regarding his insistence that Roman Catholics are saved and his dalliance with the charismatic. The latter point seems particularly poignant, considering Qureshi’s recent embrace of Bethel Church Redding, which Hughes critiqued in his podcast.

Later, on the WWUTT Facebook page, Pastor Hughes claims that he sent us “links” to evidence that we had made “slanderous and untrue statements.” Let the record show, the only links he sent was to Wood’s video and my own blog post.

Let me be very clear; to make an accusation of slander when you can’t substantiate your accusation with a single piece of demonstrable evidence is, in and of itself, slanderous

Rather, Hughes seems content in providing his subjective perception of Pulpit & Pen’s (and my own) intentions rather than substantiating his claim. Instead of providing any untrue statement made by polemicists, Hughes ascribes to them the intentions of the heart as an “unhealthy craving for quarrels” and “beating chest and brow.” One would think the way in which Pulpit & Pen contributors and myself went to Hughes privately and cautiously in a contrite way to ask for how they can make necessary corrections in their reporting would defuse Hughes of his argumentative insight into our hearts, but apparently this is not the case.

This isn’t the first time that Hughes – while agreeing with the substance of our arguments and repeating our arguments as though they were his own – decided to throw the polemicists under the bus with his judgmental and esoteric insight into our hearts.

During the days of #the15, which was a Pulpit & Pen inspired grass-roots revolution against the heresy and filth peddled by Southern Baptist-owned Lifeway Christian Resources, Hughes penned a post attacking the movement on the grounds of our negative tone and what he perceived to be ill intentions, all the while agreeing with the general substance of our concerns. That post was shortly removed from the Internet by Hughes. However, some of his words of rebuke for discerners still exist out there, including these words left under the heading “Lifeway Needs to Stop Selling Certain Books,”…

If you identify as #The15, quit whining over the Southern Baptist leaders who aren’t listening to you on Twitter. There’s a good reason you’ve been blocked. Grow up.

Again, it is interesting that Hughes shared the concerns of #the15 and even blogged his almost-identical opinions regarding Lifeway’s selling of heretical books. And yet, Hughes was quick to beat the brow and chest of all the thousands of Christians voicing the same opinion as he because he subjectively interpreted their activism as whining and being immature, while he viewed his rebukes of Lifeway as being somehow more sincere or mature.  When Hughes comes late to the party and blogs those same opinions, he views his own discernment as justified because – and this is my deduction – he views his own intentions far more charitably than the intentions of others.

This is the type of “dressing down” that discerning Christians often have to deal with. Pastor Hughes shares our concerns with Lifeway, but impugns us as being of ill-intent. Pastor Hughs shares our concerns regarding Qureshi’s sanction of Bethel Church, but impugns us as not being of pure heart in our almost-identical criticism.

Friends, please listen. It takes little pluck or mettle to repeat the arguments of others. But if you choose to be fashionably late to every party and have mostly unoriginal thoughts, it’s especially insulting to throw your muses under the bus when you repeat their ideas. The fact is, when it comes to discernment in the growing evangelical blight, the first Bereans to raise an eyebrow are often castigated as mean, chest-thumping curmudgeons, while late-comers claim to be more thoughtful, reasonable and more cautious (if altogether unoriginal) good brothers.

We are perfectly pleased that Pastor Hughes is doing what he is doing and wish him the very best in the ministry of WWUTT. We hope that he continues to articulate truth, and do it well.

We also wish that envy not exist, and that we will be glad that truth-tellers exist and thrive wherever they can be found… and that we view one another charitably and with graciousness in the future.