December 5, 2020

Updated Internet Monk FAQs (part one)

By Chaplain Mike

We will update the Internet Monk FAQ page in the near future, but I thought it would be worthwhile today to give us all a reminder of some of the basics and “rules” around here.

I will include Michael Spencer’s original answers (MS) so that you can:

  1. Contrast mine (CM) with his where we differ, and
  2. See the standards that will carry on unchanged on the site.

1. What do you believe?

MS: Apostles’ Creed. Nicene Creed. New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith.

CM: Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, and an appreciation of various confessional positions expressed in each of the great Reformation traditions. I’m particularly fond of Luther and Calvin, but also appreciate some of the emphases in the Anabaptist tradition.

I also happen to think we are at a key moment in the history of the church and in Biblical and theological studies. People like N.T. Wright have opened up wonderful new vistas of understanding for me. And I, like so many others, are gaining a renewed appreciation for the Fathers, the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. I am drawn to the paleo-orthodox movement.

Bottom-line, if you can’t handle someone who simultaneously appreciates the Reformers and N.T. Wright, you won’t like me.

2. What denomination are you?

MS: I’m a Baptist. My church is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

CM: I am currently a member in an ELCA Lutheran church. I was a pastor for 25+ years in non-denominational, evangelical churches before taking up my ministry now as a hospice chaplain.

I am not settled in my long-term church affiliation. I am convinced, however, that I will only affiliate with a church that worships God every week through Word and sacrament, confesses its faith through the historic creeds, practices a worship liturgy that has stood the test of time, hears Scripture read from the OT, NT, and Gospels, prays the Lord’s Prayer, and emphasizes the grace of Christ that welcomes sinners.

3. What does post-evangelical mean?

MS: I believe the way forward for evangelicalism is the way back to the roots of the broader, deeper, more ancient, more ecumenical church, not forward into more of what evangelicals have been doing the last 50 years.

CM: I heartily agree. In addition, I would say that the reason this is the way forward is that “post-evangelical” for many at ground level evokes a deep disillusionment with the culture of American evangelicalism, a sense of exile or “wandering in the wilderness” in relation to the church, and a hunger for historical rootedness, community that cannot be found in programmed settings, and participation in mission that penetrates the world with the love and truth of Jesus.

4. What is a Reformation Christian?

MS: I believe the reformation was a tragic necessity and I embrace all the solas of the reformation.

CM: Likewise, though I think the understanding of “Sola Scriptura” needs to be clarified in our day to include a proper understanding of the role of tradition. (Michael did also.)

5. What is a Jesus-shaped Christianity?

MS: A Christianity that Jesus would recognize as being like him, about him and formed around him, not religion.

CM: For further insights into this, read Michael’s book that will be released in June. It contrasts “Mere Churchianity” — a church-shaped spirituality — with a Jesus-shaped spirituality. I will also be doing a series of blog posts on my understanding of the concept.

6. What is the commenting policy at IM?

MS: Comments are welcome. Sometimes comments are held in moderation, but not most of the time.

I moderate assertively. I delete comments that are irrelevant, too long, off topic, selling things, pimping blogs and especially those that reject the Christian profession of other posters.

A primary commenting rule is to not engage in attempts to convert other Christians to your tradition or away from their own.

If I announce a policy in a particular thread, I will moderate assertively according to that policy.

Comments that denigrate the discussion itself or participants in the discussion will not be posted.

You do not need to be obnoxious, mean or profane to be placed on moderation or banned. If your comments consistently are obstructive to the conversation, I will moderate accordingly.

I have no problem banning commenters that offer no positive contribution to the discussion. I have a large audience and I moderate so they can have a civil discussion. I do not have any commitment to absolute free speech on my blog. I have worked hard for the success I have in this medium, and I do not share it or allow others to denigrate or manipulate it. You may participate, but I do not sponsor wars, slander, threats or pointless arguments.

I’m not a perfect moderator, so if you want to accuse me of being hypocritical or inconsistent, I already agree with you and it doesn’t matter. You won’t win the comment war.

CM: Michael was a little more aggressive than I am in confronting commenters, putting them on moderation, and banning them. I am learning how to do this moderating thing, and I ask that IM participants be patient with me.

I welcome diverse points of view. The IM auditorium has seats on the right, in the center, and on the left. Why would I want to be part of a discussion that only includes people who agree?

The main things that tick me off are:

  1. Those who only care about spouting their opinions and don’t listen to others,
  2. Name-calling, hitting below the belt, or questioning someone’s salvation just because they disagree on some point of theology or interpretation,
  3. Those who try to hijack the comment thread and lead it away from the point of the post in question,
  4. Those who refuse to heed the warnings of the moderator.

I want to reinforce what Michael said above: “I do not have any commitment to absolute free speech on my blog.”

This is not a place for people to say anything they wish. Like life, you may not think the rules are fair or get applied consistently all the time.

And you’ll be right.

A primary goal here at Internet Monk is to carry on Michael Spencer’s legacy.

He entrusted the blog to me because we were sufficiently like-minded for him to believe that I would maintain his theological emphases in the content of IM and in the spirit of how its discussions run.

That’s what I plan to do, by God’s grace, and with your help.


  1. Hi Chaplain Mike,

    Thank you for continuing on as the voice of While your voice is not identical to that of Michael Spencer’s I agree whole heartedly that “He entrusted the blog to me because we were sufficiently like-minded for him to believe that I would maintain his theological emphases in the content of IM and in the spirit of how its discussions run.”

    I appreciate the breadth of views that both M.S. and C.M. have allowed, and look forward to being able to chime in with an Arminian perspective as well.

    • P.S. My wife’s flight to Heathrow was cancelled because of the Volcano. That is why I am up so late. Going to try again tomorrow evening.

  2. You are doing a great job, CM. Thanks for this post.

  3. Keep up the good work. It is appreciated.

  4. I like these rules. I like this site. Stick with it.

  5. I think these are wonderful rules, Chaplain Mike, and I like the parts you have added. You are doing an excellent job.

    It’s interesting to see the differing opinions on the blog. Like you, I don’t like commenters saying that fellow Christians are going to hell or are heretics because they have differing positions from themselves. But even that is educational in a way to help us understand that there are people like that among us. I always hope that if they stick around long enough, perhaps they will learn from other Christians and will not be so quick to judge what they really don’t understand.

  6. Jo Ann Peterson says

    Thank you Chaplain Mike, for carrying on Michael’s work. I feel safe here.

  7. David Cornwell says

    Thanks for carrying on Michael’s work in a way that is both intelligent and kind. I learned of this site less than one year ago, and since then continue to be strangely drawn to it. This site has made a huge difference in my life and thinking. For one thing it gives me hope about the future of the Church.

  8. I am so glad that you will be continuing to maintain the iMonastery. Your voice will offer a slightly different perspective than Michael’s, and I appreciate your including the “classic iMonk” essays. I am looking forward to the conversations to come!

  9. Okay, I get it. You are not Michael Spencer.

    I was attracted to this blog initially because Michael Spencer was definitely not Scot McKnight. Please don’t let this blog become JesusCreed Junior.

    • I’m not sure what you mean by that, Bob, but I hope we will remain a unique voice that thinks as deeply and communicates as clearly as Michael did.

  10. I’m in the Amen Corner.

    • And in keeping with the more liturgical tradition, perhaps we could also have a congregational amen to this post. =)

  11. Great reminders of the rules of the house; also, nice subtle pic, there, Chap Mike… if we still don’t “get it” after that little nudge, then……

    what is Paleo-orthodoxy ?? am I typing that right ??

    you are a wonderful standard bearer of the IMonk colors; carry on, sir
    Greg R

  12. I prefer the older IM.

  13. Savannah says

    I appreciated MS because he was unafraid of taking on the challenges of being a modern-day evangelical (we have seen the enemy, and it is us!). He was not afraid to tell us why people really hate us (and it isn’t because they “hate the gospel”), he wasn’t afraid to recommend books like that of Andrew Marin, Love is an Orientation, which discusses ways to elevate the discussion with the gay community. He called ’em as he saw them, whether it made “the church” look good or not. I appreciated him because he was a fellow traveler in this post-evangelical wilderness, encouraging the rest of us with his own special brand of wisdom. I miss him because I miss him as a person, even though I never met him IRL.

    I appreciate CM because he has taken up the mantle of MS, and is carrying on his legacy. He is different, which is to be totally expected, but has the same commitment to “Jesus-shaped spirituality” that MS had. He is a little looser with the moderation, which I actually mostly appreciate, actually, even when I vigorously disagree with a poster.

    So thanks to CM for carrying on!

    • Michael would have posted my comment to Mark above and allowed the ensuing conversation to take place. I never met him or knew his face, but I mourned his passing as though he were my brother. I am trying to find a similar feeling here now because I do enjoy the subject matter so very much.

      • Debra, the comment was off-topic and it brought up old grievances. A few posts back, Chaplain Mike said that Mark had been “duly warned” and it was time to move on.

        And I think Michael was tougher with moderation.

      • Savannah says

        I’m sorry, Debra, I didn’t mean to imply that Michael would or would not have posted your comment (or any comment). I was just speaking generally – not to any specific comment at all. I don’t have a negative thing to say about either man’s approach (just that they’re a bit different – which is fine and to be expected).

        Sorry for any confusion!

        I join with you in mourning his passing. I don’t know how to say how much I miss him, because I didn’t know him IRL, and don’t want to be seen as comparing him to anyone else. But it hit me like a punch in the stomach when I opened up IM that day and saw that he was gone. He will be missed forever, but thank goodness he left this site in good hands!

        • Savannah, I shouldn’t have replied to your comment, but should have stood on my own. Sorry for the confusion. I wasn’t trying to put words or intent anywhere. And, I didn’t feel that anything I said was negative about anyone. They are different, that is all.

          And to Ted above this, I had my own experiences with Michael and know what he allowed from me, and he would have corrected Mark on the spot, at the place where he implied my relationship with Christ is a sham. He did it on more than one occasion to more than one “Marks”. IM seemed to live the Golden Rule without effort. In his heart maybe he thought I was wrong, but in living out his Jesus shaped spirituality he would never be rude and tell me how I feel about Jesus. It’s as though he assumed if I am here seeking fellowship and truth I may already know my own heart concerning Christ, and that ultimately, it isn’t up to us to say how another is right or wrong. I do miss him very much, and I appreciate that others are trying to carry on in his honor. I will do my best to stay on topic and not be disruptive or Mark-like.

          • Hi Debra,

            Just remember that both Michael Spencer and Michael Mercer both have day jobs.

            I have had occassions in the past where I have sent emails to both of them to let them now that there have been inappropriate comments.

            If you feel a comment is inappropriate, then send an email to Chaplain Mike for his consideration. With sometimes 100s of comments in a day it can be hard to keep up.

            And for what it is worth, I thought that both Mark’s comment in the original post, and your original comment in this post had crossed the line, for reasons Ted mentioned above.

            I would also note that you were replying to a “Mark” who may or may not have been the “Mark” who had offended you earlier.

            That being said, as I stated before, I am glad you are continuing to contribute to this community.

          • Debra, I have confronted Mark and others plenty of times, and will continue to do so. Generally, when two or more commenters break off from the main point of the post and pursue their own conversation (usually a fight), I will break it off and encourage folks to take it outside.

  14. changing the subject….

    What a great first chapter. I am glad I pre-ordered so long ago. I can’t wait till it arives at my door and I can read the rest

  15. CM, I am very grateful to see that this work continues.