June 6, 2020

A Better Writer Gets A Turn

writer.JPGUPDATE II: Ok. Plunge on ahead.

UPDATE: A number of memorable comments have appeared today, but none more entertaining than this one.

Really, it would be best to stop blogging. It’s the end of the road. Decision time. Carl’s devastating “fisk” has caused an eruption of cognitive dissonance. Deep down, you know the truth, but it’s too painful for you to act on, entrenched as you are. From this point on, for you it’s “Become Catholic or dissolve.”

Dissolve? What the…..

Carl Olson’s fisking of me today did something to me. It’s hard to describe exactly what, but I’m going to try. (And let me be sure to say that Olson’s piece was not a personal attack on me or offensive. He’s more than welcome to state his faith and use my post as fodder.)

For seven years on this blog (seven! Good Grief!), I’ve occupied a unique place and built a unique audience. I was been called and labeled everything from a Baptist fundamentalist to a postmodern emerging church guru to a Catholic sympathizer to a Catholic critic to the Spirit of the AntiChrist.

With this latest fisking, I have now been taken down and apart by Phil Johnson, Frank Turk, James White, Steve Hays, Ken Silva and Carl Olson. From the internet’s most well-known Reformed Baptist apologist to a Roman Catholic editor/author/apologist, I’ve been made famous on blogs far more widely read than my own. I’ve been called an enemy of Piper and an enemy of Calvinism, and I’m constantly receiving emails from Calvinists who love my critiques of evangelicalism. According to the dogs at Fide-O, I’m a Barthian apostate and according to fans of Joel Osteen, I’m the devil himself. I’ve criticized Driscoll and supported him. I’ve defended the SBC and shot at her. I’ve advocated Wright and Capon, and I’ve stood apart them as well, all to the applause and boos of the typing chimps.

Today, none of it made sense anymore. Standing in the middle of the fray. Standing with the other guy when he gets the bully treatment. Reaching out to Roman Catholics as my brothers and sisters, trying to be reasonable and accepting. Speaking as a post-evangelical to despairing evangelicals. Decrying team sport theology but winding up like the dead possum in the middle of the road. As one character said in a Hemmingway short story, “It all tastes like licorice.”

My wife said I ought to quit it, and she’s right. I can do better.

I’ve lost something today, and I don’t know if it’s coming back. Right now, I don’t want it back. If the answer to my blogging is Olson’s “Why I’m Not A Protestant,” I think my answer to Olson is…….completely irrelevant. If I call him my brother, I’m a damnable heretic with the truly reformed, and if I call myself a “Not a Catholic”, then the best I can be is just one more deficient, defective Protestant, outside of the true church with no authority to say anything anyway and never getting the real Jesus because I refuse to recognize transubstantiation. (Plus, I’m unwilling to read a Scott Hahn book to get all my questions answered.)

So I’ve got a lot less Piper books than I had last week because I’m obviously too critical to derive any benefit, and as of this weekend, I’ll have a lot less Roman Catholic books of my shelves, because this whole business of trying to build a bridge to people who don’t need a bridge is stupid on my part. (I’ll be sure and tell the priest at the local RC Church to give you credit for my generosity, Mr. Olson.)

This blog is going to take a turn, at least on the writing side. And I hope it’s a long-term turn for the better. Exactly where, I’m not sure. It will still be me on the confessional, honest side. I’m still going to advocate what’s important to me. But it won’t be me getting into the theological crossfire with these teams. Whatever I thought I was doing trying to be independent and reasonable, I’m not doing tomorrow or beyond. Have your little wars without me guys. Apparently there isn’t any place I can stand accept where I get buckshot in my ass.

If what I’ve written and said has been a blessing, maybe the blessing will continue. Or maybe you’ll not like what I’m going to do. What I can assure you of is this: as best I can, I am going to obey the constant call to “Find my own voice.” (One note: I do have some book review commitments that I will fulfill.) I’m a better writer and a better person than the one who wants to respond to Olson right now. I’m going to let that better writer have his turn in the captain’s chair.


  1. Hi Michael,

    Long time reader, finally a commenter.

    Not sure what emotions I am experiencing as I read your words and the Olson blog.

    As a RC whose relationship with the church has been long (from childhood) but tenuous at best I wonder what benefit is derived from someone getting a hold of one of your writings in isolation and undertaking a line by line exegesis. So what?

    Maybe I am saddened at the thought of not hearing your “voice”, a voice that has blessed me more in the last couple of years than I can begin to express.

    You are in my prayers. Don’t let the turkeys get you down

    BTW I’m also unwilling to read a Scott Hahn book to get all my questions answered. Catholic fundamentalism is just as bad as other forms of Christian fundamentalism…no, maybe worse.


  2. It is one thing to be irenic and eccumenical. Another thing to recognize that all these ecclesicalical and theological designations only work on the premise that what separates us is more important than what unites us. For the most part, these are testosterone-induced philosophical debates that are disconnected from the daily practice of the faith. Show me how you live, and then I’ll listen to your philosophy.

    Many of these subcultures are intentionally schismatic. They profess a belief in some pure Gospel, however, from what I can tell, purity is really only a way of saying this is what and whom I exclude. And many of these slices of the Christian pie are so narrow as to not even resemble their source pie. The further away from the source we go, the more the issue becomes about power. Hence, shooting those who venture away.

    So, I look foreward to seeing what comes from the liberated keyboard of the I-Monk.

  3. Uh… what?

    I just read Olson’s blog entry, which I found lucid (even if I don’t entirely agree with all his points) and more than charitable. With all the other mortar shells that have been lobbed at you over the years, *this* has somehow deflated you?

    I get the sense that you feel you were building a bridge and have had your efforts at goodwill rebuffed. But I think the only reason Olson posted what he did is because he sensed you were providing a safe space, on that bridge, for him to engage in the very kind of “listening, digging, [and] discussing” that you value, in the fine Luther tradition. (For a counterexample, see Jenny Bluett’s first reply to Olson’s blog entry.)

    If you wish to choose not to counterfisk (and I do think Olson’s reply constitutes fisking, in the sense that it was a point-by-point rebuttal of your “problem with church authority” comments), that’s certainly fine, and maybe even commendable, but as for me, I don’t read Olson’s remarks as in any way “slapping away the extended hand.”

    IMHO: if anything, his interpretation of “constant reformation, listening, digging, discussing and savoring the Bible” as a description of “an unsettled body of believers” with “a [family] type that has no structure and few rules,” and his related preference for definitive answers instead of common questions, is a good, long conversation waiting to happen.

    But in the end, you need to write the blog you want to write, so Godspeed to you.

  4. Well, may I say that as an unabashed Lutheran I _have_ greatly profited from your writing, Michael, and I count that a blessing, indeed. Your blog is one of the few bright lights in my own neck of cyberspace at the moment. So I look forward with eager anticipation to hearing from this better writer you have within you. If there is _one_ good thing about our creaky, conservative, confessional Lutheran ecclesiology,it’s that it doesn’t stop us from wholeheartedly acknowledging even a Baptist brother as a brother in Christ! Pax and SDG!

  5. If everyone’s annoyed by you, then you must be doing something right.

  6. I don’t comment here often. But your posts are a blessing. And this post just makes me sad down to my bones. It makes me sad for the whole Body of Christ. What are we coming to?

  7. A man I consider imbued with holy wisdom once told me that “the thing” about being called to something such as your ministry (as opposed to deciding to do it) is that there are times when the only affirmation of your struggle is the memory of the call itself.

    Your writings have inspired, encouraged and blessed me. May you continue to work this out with fear and trembling…Truth is a lonely, lonely place it seems.

  8. Michael,
    Long time reader, first time commentor. Don’t loose heart. I don’t care what you’re writing about as long as you keep up your withering and empowering honesty. I look forward to meeting you someday, perhaps in the sweet by and by. Until then, I benefit greatly from you blog. Thank you.

  9. I’ve got to wonder whether we’re kin somehow Michael. We get worn out in the same ways. I’ve seen a few comments that seem to express a puzzlement about your reaction to this deal. Actually, I get it – I think I really do.

    I’m not you, but it seems like a “straw that breaks the camel’s back” kind of thing. It’s not looking at one post in isolation. It’s not one experience, and it’s not without very personal connections. I’ve experienced things like this and I can say I do get it.

    Of course maybe this has something to do with some kind of personality trait we share in some way. There are times I value these things in myself and times when I’d rather not be like this. Right now, for me, is one of my “get this out of me” times. Anyway, I’ll pray for you as well. Put one in for me if you think of it.

    Count me as another Catholic who’s not a fundy fan. Peace to you.

  10. Michael,

    I’ve always appreciated that “own voice.” I hope it doesn’t wander to far away from the site; I hope it doesn’t get squashed by all the Lemming voices 🙂

    Thanks for your authenticitiy,

  11. Hi Michael, I’am also a long time reader (from the Netherlands). Your posts have been a blessing for me and for my family. You opened our eyes for the charismatic chaos we were in a couple of years ago, and helped us relying again on the gospel – and this time: only the gospel (so no more “you’re saved by permorming supernatural gifts of the spirit” for us). So thanks for that! Your blog makes a lot of people think about stuff. So I want to encourage you to keep the faith, the humor, the liberating relativism and honesty, and your sharpness! Looking foreward for what’s coming…

  12. Michael,

    Add me to the list of people who don’t really want you to change. You’re simply not going to make everyone happy no matter what you do. But I like the way you approach things and the way you present perspectives from varying traditions. That’s refreshing. Don’t give up talking about certain theological topics just because people aren’t happy with your conclusions.

    That doesn’t mean you should cling to obvious error just to be “different”, but neither does it mean you should be tossed about by every critique either, bending to placate the “fiskers.”

  13. Michael–

    I sympathize with how this has got to frustrate you. I had to do a very short stint as defense counsel for an accused Arminian blasphemer over at Triablogue last week, and all efforts at calm explanation got lost in the angry firestorm coming out of the prosecution. Then a while back, I was on Mark Shea’s blog, trying to defend K-LOVE radio against Catholic suggestions it should be sued (seriously) for daring to open an affiliate in Ireland and say it was spreading the good news. The attack dogs on that one finally got me so mad I absolutely lost my temper. And my wife is always hearing me complain about these sites…

    I’m a conservative Methodist with a Presbyterian wife and a Catholic co-blogger, and I’ve liked your approach of extending an ecumenical hand to Christian brothers within the wide range of denominations. It’s frustrating how online apologetics is so prone to descend into ugly attacks and insults, and it’s a rare site that can keep disagreements polite.

    And despite this, I’ve been kind of ashamed of myself that my interest in theology is often an eagerness to see my team score a point against the other side, rather than to learn God’s lesson on how to serve Him and my fellow man. But your writing, by staying on topic and not getting into personal swipes, and by maintaining a friendly look at other sides, has really fit the bill.

    I’ll look forward to whatever you write about in the future.

  14. This makes me very sad. There are many people out there who are or have been on some pretty tough journeys with churches of which they were once a part and who are no longer welcome because of “disagreements” with the direction taken by the “rulers” of the church. It’s a lonely road. But your blog has become a regular part of each morning for me, and I will greatly miss hearing you voicing these same concerns. It has been a comfort to know that we are not alone. The church in America (pick a denomination) is in a lot of trouble today, and unless people take a stand against what is becoming accepted practice, where will it be in 5-10 years? I know how difficult it is to be in the line of fire (from all different directions), but you are doing have done a great work encouraging people to take a stand against the unacceptable. Your courage in taking this on has been greatly appreciated by your readers and, I think, by the Lord. I wish you God’s blessings and thank you for your words.

  15. Michael,

    I love your blog and I’ve become a richer Christian because of it. Thank you.

    But I do think you are overreacting just a bit. I’m not sure I get it. I read Olson’s piece and thought it was a fair and charitable response from the Catholic point of view.

    You say you did not see it as a personal attack on you and that you are not offended. So why the reaction? It makes no sense.

    This is your blog and you can do with it as you please. You are an excellent writer and I am looking forward to continual blessing from you.

    I’m just confused about your reaction.

  16. Michael,

    First, thanks for this blog. It’s an oasis of humility in a desert of polemic noise. Secondly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with your decision to rethink/retool/reexamine what you’re doing here. I look forward to the result!

    Michael A.

  17. The blessings of your writings far outweigh any “controversial” rants or replies you may receive. I think what I appreciate most about your essays is your ability to unify us as Christians. Your recent “What belongs to all of us” series is a testament to that fact. In this tragic world we live in, that may be your best offering and the most needed.

  18. I say Amen to your new direction. Keep on writing confessionally. Write about Jesus. Write about what it looks like to be missional. But don’t engage the quarrelers. Stay above the fray.

  19. Michael,

    I encourage you to continue blogging in some form or fashion. As a fellow post-evangelical I have really profited from your blog and hope you continue with it.
    That being said, I can certainly understand your desire to wash your hands of all the theology wars on the internet. Just this morning I saw that Steve Hays has gone after Josh’s posts from your site on predestination. I was tempted to respond and defend Josh from what I thought were unfair attacks. But then I realized that these people thrive on arguments and that holding a conversation with them is a waste of time. They don’t want a friendly little discussion. They want a long long drawn out debate. They want a fight so that their side can “win.”
    You’d probably be better off just to ignore these kinds of folks. But I hope you continue to share your thoughts!


  20. Michael:
    Long time reader.

    If I may be so bold…when you were writing your RC/Protestant “bridge” articles, who exactly was your audience? If your audience was one or two RC “probloggers” then I can see how Olson’s post might get you down a bit (although, like Jay H, I did not see it as an attack on you). It would be frustrating if part of that “audience” seems to not “get it” and rejects the bridge.
    However, if your intended audience was all of us little people out here in outer blogistan, trying to make sense of our faith, and the competing traditions, then Olson’s post should have no effect on you at all. If there’s any encouragement for you here, it’s that your IM posts on this topic have helped me, and probably dozens/hundreds of people like me, understand and appreciate the commonalities that reach across the RC/Protestant divide. You have been a reference point and encouragement on this issue. It would be a shame if this part of your audience lost you on this issue.
    This is your blog and do what you like. Just be encouraged that there’s a larger universe of folks out here that learn much from your struggles and teachings.

  21. This Lutheran says: Get over it, and keep your Catholic books. You haven’t been “taken down”, unless you decide you have been.

    Think about a bridge over a river……it is built so that those on each side can travel to the other side and back with ease. Interacting with each other becomes easier to do, and more likely to occur. It doesn’t cause the two sides to become one side.

    Continue your bridgework.

  22. Having only recently begun to read your blog (though aware of previous controversy, as I read many Reformed blogs at one time), I am sorry about your discouragement. I want you to know the difference reading your blog has made in such a short time.
    As I read many of your previous posts on the evening of September 22, I had one of those “aha” moments. (I had become a Catholic at age 19, then a Free Methodist, then began reading nothing but Reformed writers and considered myself Reformed. I am back to my Methodist roots. But I often felt inferior to other Christians, as I am always looking–within the Christian tradition–for what is really right.
    Here is what I wrote in my journal: “But today I can see God’s hand in all my wanderings. He is able to use it all to make me who I am today. The Catholics are not all wrong. The Reformed and Calvinists are not all wrong. The Arminians are not all wrong. And none of them (or us) are completely right.
    “Instead of being humbled at the majesty, greatness, and goodness of God, we inscripturate our man-made institutions and castigate all who do no think just like us.”
    I felt the most incredible joy and freedom! God in Christ is much bigger than we want him to be. After decades of being a Christian, God used you to help me experience real freedom in Christ and know the love of God.
    So, God bless you “imonk”. I look forward to whatever direction God leads you take with your blog. Just don’t quit communicating. You are appreciated.

  23. Folks, friends and fans of the iMonk–Michael Spenser:

    In an August 18, 2007 post Michael told us what his schedule was to be this semester. He asked us to pray. I simply remind us all to bring Michael and Denise before the Lord today in interecession. Ephesians 1 would be an appropriate basis upon which to pray IMO and experience.

    Secondly, and forgive me Michael if I am misguided, I believe that there are many of us who find in Michael a voice that with great beauty and with that catholicity of spirit has articulated things that rattle around in our minds and hearts but that we find difficult to give expression to.

    I personally find the snarkiness of the web, Christian and otherwise, to be spiritually draining. I can’t imagine Jesus writing a great portion of what I read in comments sections let alone in blog posts. I honestly don’t know how Michael has lasted this long.

    One of things I have appreciated and perhaps you have too, is tht Michael is deeply involved in the call of Jesus to make disciples. Every day he is shaping the lives of scores of teens under his ministry at OBI. I would bet that most of the commenters who pick apart Michael’s writing don’t have half the kingdom impact and influence that he has and judging from their posts–it’s not surprising.

    If as many of us believe that in many ways 20th century Evangelicalism has run it’s course then this site has been a welcome if not invaluable stopping place. If the InternetMonk is not that for you then please consider for the sake of the rest of us for whom it is such a place finding other sites to practice your theological gladiatorial contests. if you must comment then please remember that Grace is only secondarily a doctrine. It is first and foremost the nature and life of God and a life-style for His people.

    Michael, let me express for the many who read and do not comment (I have only commented a handful of times) our appreciation for the gift you have given us. We will pray for you and in the name of the Lord Jesus and on his behalf as agents of his kingdom in this world we give you the Peace, wisdom and healing of God.

  24. Michael,

    I have good bretheren (and sisters) all over the theological spectrum. I’ve just come to ignore those on the extremities of whichever camp – but it is easy for me, I don’t have a high profile.

    I for one would like to encourage you – as Josh said, if everyone is annoyed at you, you must be doing something right.

    Praying for you and yours.

  25. Michael,

    As a reader for a few years now, let me say that your writings have been vastly encouraging to me, as well as (by turns) moving, educational, entertaining, and humorous. Hanging yourself out on the ‘sphere for all to see is a huge personal risk, and it’s regrettable that there’s no shortage of darts launched in your direction. I only encourage you to rest, heal, hear the voice of the Father, and write your heart. You’ll never be roadkill, brother. They ain’t made the rig big enough to run you down.

    This A/G bro is praying for you. I’ll be anticipating what you come up with in the future.

  26. Yours is a refreshing voice in the Christian blogosphere. I hope and pray that it won’t go silent. As many others have said, your writings and podcasts have been blessings to me, and helped me see and think beyond the ever-narrow parameters of this or that denomination or group. I know it is difficult to be a constant target of critics, but that means you are striking a chord and saying something worthwhile. Whatever you decide, my thoughts and prayers are with you; but from a selfish point of view, I hope to be able to continue to be edified and informed at internetmonk.com.

  27. Re: Caplight

    AMEN! and AMEN!

  28. Michael,

    I agree with those who don’t get your response. Why take it so personally? As I wrote over at the other blog, you need to get more callous. That’s probably hard-hearted of me, but when you put your thoughts out to the world you’re gonna get feedback you don’t like. Olson we very respectful, I thought. He’s just a Catholic and he found your musings a good take off to tell the world why he isn’t a protestant. Big deal. God’s got us all covered.

  29. And many of these slices of the Christian pie are so narrow as to not even resemble their source pie.

    “A fanatic is someone with one piece of a pie who thinks he has the whole pie.”
    — Pope John Paul II

  30. Well, in looking over Olson’s post, I think this was a “straw that broke the camel’s back” situation as well. You were trying to build a bridge and I think at least Olson looked at it and even took a few steps on it before he told you why he wasn’t walking.

    I don’t think it was the content he objected to as much as the fact that he told you why he didn’t think bridges could exist. Fine for him. After all, Catholics and Protestants have been battling for centuries. I was going to take more than a blog, no matter how well meaning, to make people get on that bridge.

    Maybe your “job” is to keep offering that bridge. I think a lot more people are on it than you think. But certainly not EVERYONE is going to get on it; and some will object that you try. I say, let them fall in the water and swim for themselves. But that doesn’t mean bridges don’t or shouldn’t exist.

    Or to put it another way, if being a diplomat was easy, then Vulcans wouldn’t be doing it. They are the only ones who can take the pressure. 🙂

    Also, I think ultimately, you goal of only being ‘confessional’ won’t work anyway. Michael, being theological and reflective within that theology is part of who you are. Therefore, for you being theological IS CONFESSIONAL.

    I say, just be who you are; write what you think is right; damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead! Those that see and need the bridge will walk on it; those that won’t will get themselves wet, make a lot of splashing sounds, and be insignificant to what you are trying to do anyway.

    As one “homeless man” to another, I can say the greatest ray of hope you should have is the fact that people are arguing with you. It is only if they ignore you that you can be pretty certain you are failing.

  31. Straw that broke the camels back–that’s precisely what I was thinking… I’m praying for you and I wish you the best no matter what you decide to do with your blog.

    Just so you know– your blog is the ONLY blog that I follow on a regular basis. It has really spoken to me and confirmed many things that I have felt (but couldn’t always articulate) about the traditions I have been involved in. Thank you for your positive influence in my life and walk with Jesus.

    Josh Tschirhart

  32. Michael,

    I agree with Josh S. You’ve been traveling the middle path, so you get bricks thrown at you by the folks traveling the sides and the ditches. It’s not at all an easy path to tread, and it’s understandable that you are weary of it.

    I offer my encouragement as well. I appreciate you sharing what you have over the years, and I (selfishly, I must confess) hope you will continue. I’ll also pray for you and your family.

  33. Bob Sacamento says


    I have benefitted quite a bit from my short time here reading your blog. What caplight said a few comments back says alot of what I feel. C.S. Lewis said that we read to know that we are not alone. That’s kind of why I come to this blog. I’m not a Catholic, not a liberal Protestant, not a Word of Faither. So what am I? Well, I used to be an evangelical. But at some point when I wasn’t noticing — maybe 1990 or so — someone yanked the evangelical rug to the other side of the ecclesiastical living room. It carried alot of my evangelical buddies with it, but left me by myself sitting hard on the floor. It’s just so great to visit your site, because I think you really “get” what I have gone through in this. So I’m a little bit less alone because of your blog.

    I understand your frustration though. For what it’s worth, I think the main problem is just the d@mn internet. I started perusing Christian blogs a few years ago in hopes of finding a sort of on-line community of thougthful, reflective, committed Christians, because where I live, there aren’t too many people at all who fit that description. But it just ain’t happening, not even here at Imonk, though I appreciate you and your commenters. There are just too many “Christian” people out there with too many attitude problems, too many pet doctrines, and too many axes to grind. I have admired you for putting up with it as long as you have.

    For what it’s worth, before you make any final decisions, I would suggest you just sort of take a break for about six weeks and then see how you feel. I’m on your side whatever you decide, but I really like Imonk the way it is. 🙂

    As for Olson’s fisk, I found it, frankly, facile. It is the same stuff that I heard from Catholics in dorm room bull sessions years ago. I would expect better from someone who wants to post publicly on the internet. (And before the Catholics get mad at me, please note that I did not say that all Catholic responses to Michael’s points are facile, just that the ones presented by Olson.)

    Anyway, do what you feel you have to do, and thanks for all you have done.

  34. In “The Road to Daybreak” a Jesuit priest tells Henri Nouwen to “keep a careful eye on the difference between urgent things and important things.”

    The weblog scrum creates so much “urgency” that has used up so many good writers. The imonk tenacity so far is to your credit, but we all have our limits. How much buckshot in the ass can any of us manage?

    The prophet/writer in you is calling you back to the important things. I think you’re wise to let the urgent craziness be. Sometimes I’m sure it feels like only the piranhas and buzzards read your blog, but the rest of us are blessed on a regular basis.

    Don’t give too many books away

  35. iMonk, (long time reader, first time commentor)

    Don’t lose heart, but perhaps its better this way. Instead of wrangling with all the Christianese and theological semantics until everything gets so esoteric nothing means anything anymore, write about your life. Maybe even just write poetry for awhile. No one’ll write an essay attacking a poem, and even if someone does, deep down they’ll feel silly about it.

    As a reader, I enjoy your transparency. Don’t lose that. Be the enigma God made you, or write like St. John and put everything in cryptic code. Your critics can be beasts with 6 horns coming out of a sea of pixels. If it’s good enough for biblical writers…..

    Sing a new song always,

  36. I am a very recent subscriber to your blog, but am finding much here to think about. I just read Olson’s piece, and (of course, it wasn’t written in response to me, so I have a different POV) it seems to have been an honest response, and possibly even appropriate, as I’ll explain:

    Fisking or no, what happens is that whether folks agree with you or disagree, what you says provokes thought. Much of what appears to be fisking may actually be self-examination, using someone else’s post as a guide. Whether people agree or remain in disagreement, what is important is that some honest thinking is being done.

    I, however, think I understand your feelings (from my own personal experience); being thought-provoking is often a wearying task. My encouragement is to keep thinking and keep writing. It’s good for people. It’s good (imho) for the church.

  37. >God’s got us all covered

    So I believe, but I’m pretty sure the feeling isn’t mutual.

  38. Michael,

    I’ve been to the point you’re describing. Don’t try to overcome it, brush it aside, ignore it, or obsess over it. My greatest time of growth in Christ came in the months following that point. God bless you,


  39. Matt Andrews says

    My initial response to your post is to quote U2’s “Acrobat”, but I think caplight’s suggestion to pray for you is better.

    iMonk, know that I greatly appreciate your writings, and that I will continue to pray for you.

  40. Long time reader, 2nd time writer, I think. Maybe 3rd.

    Michael, I love your blog. It’s one of the best. You don’t get a bunch of pyro-style fanboys with every post because the people who read your blog aren’t the people who need to reply.

    And you don’t need to blog.

    I would miss you, but you’ve been putting yourself out there for years (and I’ve been reading you from back in the old “Why I love Calvinism” days) and you have gone through these spurts of complete defeat b/c of the blogworld.

    I love it when you write, but I just want to say that it’s OK.

    Log off.

    We’ll be OK.


  41. I still fail to understand why it is okay for you to blog about why Catholicism is okay, but…..and why you are not Catholic, what you think is wrong or deficient or counter-Scriptural about Catholicism, but it is a deal-breaker for happy, confident Catholics to share why they are, indeed, happy and convicted of the truth of their faith in Christ through His Church.

  42. As for Olson’s fisk, I found it, frankly, facile.

    Well, both frank and facile. I can’t top that, Bob. I appreciate many of the comments here, especially those that recognize the true spirit and tone of my post. But the insinuation by some that I am a “fanatic” or “fundamentalist” is more than a little revealing. Regardless, I, too, have said more than once how much I appreciate Michael’s blog, even when I disagree with him. And one thing I appreciate is that he doesn’t resort of ad hominem “criticisms”. Pax Christi!

  43. I just want to let you know that as a Christian (albeit one influenced by reformed, evangelical, charismatic, and missional folk), I find your post thoughtful, encouraging, and generally some of the most enjoyable on the web. I hope you keep it up for a long while to come.

  44. Patrick Kyle says


    I have long enjoyed your blog,and think it is one of the highlights of the internet. Your blog is a mix of critique,commentary, and self examination. This makes for compelling blogging. However, the combination of criticizing others and revealing your own weaknesses is a tough one. In the past you have thrown some heavy blows(the recent post on the Lifeline is just one example) at various things you disagree with. You have also exposed your weaknesses. To expect the people you piss off not to fire back is probably unrealistic. I read Olsen’s post,and other than the garden variety internet verse by verse critique of your essay, it didn’t seem to be particularly hostile. I have noticed that you have the class to ( for the most part) not name names. I don’t want to sound flippant or trite, but it may help to take some of these things less personally, and if your critics get personal, to care less what they think. The internet is basically the wild west and can be a rough place. Keep doing what you are doing,and don’t let them get you down.

  45. Bob Sacamento says


    Yeah, my comment on your fisk was obviously not calculated to give anyone a warm fuzzy. Maybe I should have been less blunt. Maybe I should apologize. But I think we’ve all thrown our cream pies in this little fracas. And I still have to stand behind the substance, if not the style, of what I said.

    But what I really want to get to is,

    But the insinuation by some that I am a “fanatic” or “fundamentalist” is more than a little revealing.

    I want to point out that I wrote nothing, no matter how implicit, to suggest that you are a fanatic or a fundamentalist. And, since I apparently need to, I will take this moment to distance myself from anyone who did say that: I have no reason whatsoever to believe that you are a fanatic or a fundie. I think you are wrong, and clearly so, but that’s totally different. And I don’t feel too bad about calling you clearly wrong because I’m pretty sure you can say the same about me.

    And also …

    And one thing I appreciate is that he doesn’t resort of ad hominem “criticisms”.

    Neither did I. My brief comment on your fisk was directly solely at its content. My comment may have been wrong, and even rude, but not at all an ad hominem attack.

  46. There are a wide variety of topics that just can not be adequately discussed in prose non-fiction. I think some of the things you’re saying, Michael, need a more complex format.

  47. Michael,
    Peacemakers and reformers are generally not appreciated by many. Most people do not like boat rockers and question askers. Similarly, I suspect that most people listen to “talk radio” simply to have their own prejudgices reinforced.

    It is too easy to be a fanatic and not think. Perhaps you have been called to think (and to write). Yes, you could back off and only write vanilla. You could “fit in” as it were, but if you tried that, it would not be you fitting in, but some characture of you.

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.

    Woe when all speak well of you, for so they spoke of the false prophets.


  48. Michael: I’m sorry you’re feeling discouraged by recent events. OTOH if this change of direction means more posts along the lines of your “Baptist Way” series then that would be no bad thing.

  49. Long time, daily reader. First time writer. You are the voice of my own thoughts. Whatever turn your blog takes, I’ll be reading it with the knowledge that you are always following Christ … whether we as your readers always like it or not. So from a charismatic sacramental Nazarene, please know how much I value seeing your back at the front of the crowd following Jesus. Thanks.

  50. Really, it would be best to stop blogging. It’s the end of the road. Decision time. Carl’s devastating “fisk” has caused an eruption of cognitive dissonance. Deep down, you know the truth, but it’s too painful for you to act on, entrenched as you are. From this point on, for you it’s “Become Catholic or dissolve.”